Monday, September 30, 2013

Featured Author: Glenn Shepard

I'm happy to have Glenn Shepard here today to talk about his thriller, Not For Profit, published by Mystery House Publishing Company.

About the book:

Renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Scott James is charged with murder after two bodies are found at his surgery center. Just weeks before the start of his capital murder trial, Dr. James is approached by a beautiful woman claiming she can help him gain information that would prove his innocence. 

As James hunts down the evidence that might free him, he faces a barrage of threats to his life and liberty--and makes one chilling discovery after another: Corporate corruption. A conspiracy to frame him for murder and for terrorist acts. A secret drone-control operation that takes out targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The true identity and intent of his beautiful ally. And a plot to blow up the local hospital and surrounding community.

Interview with Glenn Shepard

Glenn, how did you come up with the title for Not For Profit

From newspaper headlines and magazine and book titles dealing with some of the potential problems with non profit hospitals.

Describe your book in 5 words. 

Roller Coaster Ride in Writing. That's how I feel each time I read it even though I've read it thousands of times. My pulse races, and I turn the pages very fast as the end approaches, so much so that I've had trouble concentrating on the words of those last few chapters.

That's great! How do you get to know the characters?

When I write, I become the character I write about. I feel what they feel and see what they see. If they are happy, I am happy. When they are sad or scared or depressed, that becomes my mood. I become one with each person. It exhausts me at times.

That's the first time I've heard someone say that. Very interesting technique. What characters did I enjoy most in writing?

Scott James, Ethel Keyes, Detective Harris (it still saddens me that he had to die), Willie Wilson, Charlie Watson (I'm still depressed about this druggie), and in fact, I enjoyed each and every one of the characters. They were alive, vibrant, each had emotions and real feelings--even the "bad" people.

What would your main character say about you? 

He'd say that I put my heart and soul into his creation and the same into trying to save him from his inevitable fate.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

They are all real people in my world, a combination of people I've known, others that I've observed in daily settings (like people at restaurants I  hear and see). I have never copied movie actors or protagonists in a novel. Some are people who make news, and I try to project into their thoughts and motives for their actions. But in building them, I base the fictional characters on people I've met over the years, hence they're lifted from media sources and given a real place in the world as I see it.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book. 

I like the use of orchids, scattered throughout the book. The story of Orchis sets the mood for the plastic surgeon, who is in plastic surgery to create beauty, peace, and harmony. This all gets disrupted as his life is shattered by the murder charges and his humiliation. But he fights, overcomes many of the obstacles, and in the end restores himself, just as Orchis restores himself in the final paragraph. That final piece is my favorite everything about the book. It brings closure to all the words before it.

What's the first thing you'd buy with a million dollar book deal? 

I'd probably give it all away to one of the charitable plastic surgery groups that treat facial deformities, or an art museum (one of my hobbies is museum jumping to view paintings), or the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Or maybe for relief aid to Haiti, if I found a group that would really use to money to help the people there.

That's wonderful. What would your dream office look like?

I've already lived in my dream office, it had 10 foot ceilings with art work on every wall (some of it Hudson River genre antique art), a waterfall with an 8-foot drop-over, an open pond with fish, parquet floors and a couple oriental rugs, sculptures in alcoves, and you would guess...lots of orchids.

Wow. Sounds wonderful. What are you working on now?

Relief Aid Haiti is a novel, in the Scott James series, that will be ready for release later this year, projected for November. I gained a respect for the Haitian people in a brief rotation in a surgical hospital after the 2010 earthquake there. Plenty of money was donated to help, but it is slow to get back to the people. My story is based on people I met there and the poor conditions in which so many Haitians live.  

I hope you'll come back and tell us more about Relief Aid Haiti! Thank you for being here.

Excerpt from Not For Profit


Deep in a forest in Ancient Greece, a young man by the name of Orchis stumbled upon a festival in honor of the god Dionysius. It was a wild celebration filled with drinking and dancing. Young Orchis was drawn to the party and decided to join in. After a few hours and a few too many goblets of wine, he tried to rape a Dionysian priestess. Upon witnessing this violation, his fellow revelers tore him to pieces. The next morning,his father gathered together the pieces of his dead son, but he could not resurrect him. As he fell to his knees, Orchis’ father prayed to his gods for aid in bringing his son back to life. The Greek gods wanted to help, but they could not just restore Orchis. He needed to be punished for what he had done. So, instead of bringing Orchis back to life as a man, they transformed him into a slender flower—what we now call an orchid.

Cartersville, West Virginia

My patient was almost six months old. Bright blue eyes. Curly, platinum-blonde hair. Cute pink fingers. Her name was Britney Ann Cooper. She was a perfect twelve-pound baby girl—except for the angry, open gash that trailed from her nose to her mouth. For most children, the palate fuses together before birth, but for one in every 700, it does not.

Britney’s mother was distraught. Her friends kept saying that God had given Britney a cleft palate for a reason. They kept telling her that she was being punished by God for her sins. They said that if she tried to change Britney, God would strike her baby dead.

I disagreed. “Nobody’s dying in my operating room today. Not if I can help it."

Britney’s mom asked, “Is she gonna be okay?”

“Yep. I promise. Never lost one yet. Trust me. Gimme an hour, and she’ll be good as new.”

Britney’s mom had no insurance. She was unmarried, seventeen years old, and on welfare. I was standing next to her in a makeshift OR in the back of a free clinic in a single-wide trailer. Sweat dripped down into my eyes. It was 97 degrees, and there was no air conditioning. This part of West Virginia is as poor as some cities in Third World countries.

“Okay. Fine. Whatever. Just do it, but I can’t watch,” Britney’s mom said through tears before turning to run out of the trailer.

A nurse anesthetist stuck an endotracheal tube down Britney’s throat. One slip on her part and my skills would be lost on a dead baby. I tried to focus on the task at hand. I turned to the circulator nurse as she wiped my forehead. “Hey, if it’s too easy, it’s no fun—right?”

My patient rested on a gynecology examining table, the only table the free clinic had for surgery. The leg stirrups had been removed, but the attaching mounts stuck up so far from the table that it kept me at armsdistance away from my tiny patient.

I stared though my magnifying loupes and traced the length of the cleft. It opened at the floor of the nostril and down through the upper lip and back over the palate, dividing it all the way through to the uvula. I paused before lifting the scalpel.

If I had been in my air-conditioned cosmetic surgery office in North Carolina, I would have repaired the lip then and the palate the following year. Closing the lip early is essential to containing the mouth, so the baby can suck and feed on a nipple. Without the lip repair, the baby will become extremely malnourished. The palate closure is necessary for proper speech development, which doesn’t begin until eighteen months. But, since we were in a rural area and I wouldn’t be back next year, I had to do it all then.

I took a marking pencil and quickly outlined the cuts on the upper lip, with rotation advancement of the two halves of the upper lip and a tiny Z-plasty on the vermillion border. With my thumb and index finger squeezing the labial artery—the primary blood supply of the lip—I made the lip incisions, discarding only the thin rim of tissue that blocked the repair.

I heard Britney gurgle and took her pulse. It was slow, which meant she wasn’t getting the oxygen she needed. I ordered the anesthetist to take out the endotracheal tube and put it back in again.

The cautery machine was an antique. I hadn’t used one of these old ones since med school, and I was worried about excessive burning. To be safe, I touched the individual bleeders with a small 25-gauge hypodermic needle.

I took the smallest suture material available, 4-0 gut, for the muscle repair. I preferred much smaller sutures, but none were available. Three of the stitches aligned the lip exactly.

Twenty minutes and four forehead wipes later, I was almost done. Just the palate left to stitch up, but it was the most complicated part of the procedure. I felt sweat about to drip in the wound and turned quickly for another brow wipe. My back was killing me, but I adjusted my posture and put the pain out of my mind.

Just suture the palate. With some fine silk, 5-0, which was perfect for a mucosal repair, I placed five fine sutures in mattress fashion, to turn the lining of the palate outward.

I stepped back to admire my work. Damn! The vermillion borders of the lip didn’t match; the left side was lower than the right. The baby started gurgling and coughing. Crap! The nurse anesthetist had disappeared to prep another patient, and I was on my own. It wasn’t safe for Baby Britney to be out so long. I had to do this fast and finish up. I breathed in deeply and tried again. I made a 5-0 silk stitch and placed each side exactly in the vermillion border. I slowly tied the stitch and pulled.

Again, I stepped back and looked at my patient. The two sides slid into precise alignment as God had intended them. Perfect!

About the author:

Glenn Shepard was raised on a farm in eastern Virginia, went to college and medical school at the University of Virginia, completed surgery and cardiovascular residency at Vanderbilt and plastic surgery residency at Duke, and spent two years in the Army at Ft. Gordon Hospital in Georgia and the Second Surgical hospital in An Khe, Vietnam. He practiced plastic surgery in Newport News, Va. for 28 years  and directed the Riverside Facial Deformities clinic and the Riverside Laboratory for Microvascular research for most of those years. Writing has been a hobby all his adult life.

Friend Glenn:

Buy the book:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Featured: Double Helix Books

Perfection Challenged, the fourth book in Jade Kerrion's Double Helix series, is now available. I'm happy to have her here today with a guest post.

SERIES: To Be or Not To Be (and when to stop being…)

If Amazon (the company) were a river and all the books in its vast online repository were drops of water, you wouldn't be able to skim a pebble across its surface without hitting a book that is a part of a series.

Series are popular--they work in movies, on TV, and in books--and for good reason. No one ever likes saying goodbye to the people they've fallen in love with. We like to see our heroes and heroines overcome adversity, and then do it again, and again.

Novel series come in at least three different flavors.

1. Standalone books within a series with a rotating focus on various protagonists. Each novel within the series focuses on, and resolves, one major storyline, but the protagonist (usually a side character in one of the other novels) will claim the spotlight for one book within the series instead of all of them.
Romance novels tend to lean this way (after all, happily ever after usually happens only once per couple.) Nora Roberts has written many trilogies of families and friends, with each book focusing on a particular person finding his or her happy ending. Sherrilyn Kenyon does this with her (apparently unending) Dark Hunter series as well.

2. Standalone books within a series focus on one or two key protagonists. Each novel within the series tackles one major problem and resolves the problem by the end of the book. Many detective and mystery novels adopt this flavor. As a teenager, I enjoyed Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. These days, I read P.L. Blair's Portals series that features human detective, Kat Morales, and her elven partner, Tevis.

3. Non-standalone books within a series focus on one or two key protagonists, and story is typically best enjoyed in order from the first novel to the last.
Fantasy and science fiction novels, with their sweeping storylines and their tendency to put entire worlds and civilizations at risk of extinction (hey, high stakes, right?) tend to lean in this direction. Each book should resolve a major crisis, but some threads are clearly left trailing as feeders into the next book. Some of my favorite authors fall into this category, including David Eddings who wrote the Belgariad and Mallorean series, and Neil Gaiman, author of the Sandman.

Just about all of my favorite authors are series writers. In hindsight, it’s no surprise that I would, as an author, lean toward writing a series. My Double Helix series is a series of four novels. When I finished writing the fourth book, I finally tackled the issue I’d been avoiding since November 2010, when I first started writing Double Helix series.

When do you stop?

Sometimes, the answer is easy: “when you save the world.” But what if the answer isn’t as obvious? What if the world careens from crisis to crisis (sounds like our world, doesn’t it?) What if the world always needs saving?

I wrote the Double Helix series as a blend between a type 3 series (non-standalone) and a type 2 series (standalone.) The fourth book, Perfection Challenged, was actually the transition book between a non-standalone and standalone series. In theory, I could have gone on forever, coming up with yet another crisis for Danyael Sabre, the alpha empath, to handle. Challenges would always abound in a society transformed by the Genetic Revolution. Danyael would likely encounter most of them, but did he have to be the protagonist?

Let’s segue briefly into another series—Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series. Occasionally a storyline or plot transcends each book and unifies the series. In Kushiel’s Legacy, it is the rocky path to love and happiness between the heroine, Phedre, and her protector, Joscelin. That storyline is the single thread that runs through the series, and for the series to end, the thread needs to be neatly knotted by the final book.

My readers love Danyael. It was hard to make the decision to move him to the sidelines, yet in practice, I knew that Danyael’s story was done, and for one primary reason. His story had come a full circle. He dealt with different challenges and antagonists over each of the four books, but the storyline that unified the series—his apparently unrequited love for the assassin Zara Itani—reached its conclusion in the fourth book. It was my gift to Danyael, the ending he deserved.

“But,” dismayed readers howl, “you haven’t yet done this, or that, or another. You haven’t finished telling all the stories…” I’ve moved the spotlight off Danyael, but that doesn’t mean he won’t appear in a smaller role in another novel. Spin-offs are popular among series writers. Some side characters in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series show up as focal characters in her Dream Hunter series.

And so it will be for my Double Helix series. I’ve already written a young adult spin-off. I have others planned, including a standalone series of romantic thrillers featuring mercenaries from Zara’s agency, a novel about Xin, the Machiavellian clone of Fu Hao, a 1,200 BC general, priestess, and queen (busy woman indeed…), and a novel about Galahad, the genetically engineered perfect human being. Inevitably though, those novels and series will someday end.

Quoting one of my favorite characters, Death from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series: “It always ends. That’s what gives it value.”

“The best of the four books…the perfect ending to an amazing series.”
Perfection Challenged, the thrilling conclusion to the multiple award-winning, bestselling DOUBLE HELIX series, is finally here. Grab your copy today.

If you've never picked up the DOUBLE HELIX series, keep reading for a special offer on the six-time award-winning novel, Perfection Unleashed.



An alpha empath, Danyael Sabre has survived abominations and super soldiers, terrorists and assassins, but he cannot survive his failing body. He wants only to live out his final days in peace, but life and the woman he loves, the assassin Zara Itani, have other plans for him. Galahad, the perfect human being created by Pioneer Labs, is branded an international threat, and Danyael is appointed his jury, judge, and executioner. Danyael alone believes that Galahad can be the salvation that the world needs, but is the empath blinded by the fact that Galahad shares his genes, and the hope that there is something of him in Galahad? In a desperate race against time and his own dying body, Danyael struggles to find fragments of good in the perfect human being, and comes to the wrenching realization that his greatest battle will be a battle for the heart of the man who hates him.

E-books available at:
Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple iTunes / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords

Paperbacks available at: Amazon / Amazon UK
Perfection Unleashed

Perfection Unleashed

"Higher octane than Heroes. More heart than X-Men." Recipient of six literary awards, including First place in Science Fiction, Reader Views Literary Awards 2012 and Gold medal winner, Science Fiction, Readers Favorites 2013.

FOR A LIMITED TIME, E-BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR JUST $0.99 (Discounted from $2.99)

E-books available at:
Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords

Paperbacks available at: Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository  

Connect with Jade Kerrion:
Website / Facebook / Twitter

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Featured Author: Eddison McRoberts

Halloween is near, and Virtualbookworm Publishing brings Eddison McRoberts here today to talk about a delightful tale, Sneaking Treats (Tale of the Pumpkin Wraith), a children's book illustrated by Jessica Gadra.

About the book:  

Sneaking Treats is the Halloween tale of a candy-obsessed Prince. After a clumsy accident, he becomes so angry with himself that he inadvertently shoos away his own shadow. With the story given life by the remarkable artistry of Jessica Gadra, the royal family’s search becomes a playful game of hide-and-seek, the young boy’s shadow cleverly hidden among the illustrations’ intricate details. But whether the Prince will ultimately be reunited with his scorned ‘Self’ is not the only mystery that haunts the many twists and turns of the royal castle.

Interview with Eddison McRoberts

What inspired you to write a childrens book?

My own two Ethiopian-adopted children are excellent muses! But really, it’s about fundraising. Printing, publishing, and illustrating costs are expenses that need to be covered, but as the author, I’m accepting no profits of my own. Instead, all net proceeds are being steered to our favorite charity that helps teach underprivileged Ethiopian kids the reading skills they will need to transform their society into one of appropriate health and wealth and opportunity. Please buy our book and join the cause! Visit for more info.

How long have you been writing, and how did you start?  

This is my debut as an aspiring childrens author. As a new dad watching my kids grow and learn, it really tickled my creative side. I kept seeing things that seemed like clever storylines and started jotting them down. Sneaking Treats is not my first idea, just what seemed a good jumping off point.

How did you come up with the title Sneaking Treats (Tale of the Pumpkin Wraith)

The title is meant to invite curiosity...Who’s sneaking treats? What’s a pumpkin wraith? My hope is the reader will feel doubly rewarded when the story takes a clever twist beyond what is hinted in the title.

How did you create the plot for Sneaking Treats

You know, I just had the most basic idea in my head about a kid who becomes so angry with himself, his Self gets fed up and storms off. Eventually, I got put in touch with Jessica, and I fell in love with the gothic style of her work. With its haunting tale of shadows, this story seemed perfect to fit her inspiration. After some back and forth, we realized this really was best as a Halloween tale. When we both simultaneously got the idea to use Jack-o-lanterns as a sort of surrogate audience, we were hooked!

Tell us a book you’re an evangelist for.  

There is No Me Without You, by Melissa Fay Greene. Especially, a must read for international adoptive parents.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

The royal family is loosely based on our own adoptive family. Some of the personality traits were invented to fit the story and don’t quite match up with real life. However, it is amazing how my real boy has grown to perfectly fit the mischievous character of the Prince. And just try to keep him away from the treats!

Are you like any of your characters?

As the head of the family, I am of course represented by the King: a bumbling, shameful mockery of a buffoon. I’m not like him at all.

I'm sure you're not! What song would you pick to go with your book? 

Ha! It IS a part of my book! Visit my website and watch for news on how to view the video production of the story, set to Edvard Grieg’s haunting “In the Hall of the Mountain King”.

Who are your favorite authors?

Jane and Chris Kurtz are both wonderful children's book authors with a refreshingly different perspective born of their own childhood growing up together as Americans in Ethiopia. My story owes much of itself to Jane’s steady encouragement. Much love to you two!

You get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose? 

Michael Caine, are you available??? Please bring along the cast of Monty Python to voice the characters!

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?

Only one day? How does anything get accomplished in a single day! I guess I would ride my bike into the Cascade Mountains, strap on my crampons for a quick trip to summit of Mt. Hood, teleski down the far side and paddle the Deschutes into Hood River. Unless there was a Blazer game on TV that day, in which case I would just sit around the brew pub while sipping an ice-cold IPA.

Wow. You sure do pack a lot into one day. What are you working on now? 

Jessica and I are teaming up again to continue the adventures of the Royal Family in an all new saga! It promises to become a must-read for any family considering adoption of a new pet. Bookmark my webpage and watch for news on an eventual release date for The Princess and the Puppy...

I will! I hope you'll come back and tell us about it when it's published.


The Prince couldn’t sleep. ‘Where would I go if I were feeling unappreciated,’ he thought. Unable to come up with the answer, he decided to sneak downstairs for a treat from the Hallowed Cauldron of Candy, singing softly as he went:

‘The Good King warns to keep our faith
Or risk the wrath of the Pumpkin Wraith
But tempted by the sticky sweets
We steal away their trick-or-treats
And risk the wrath of the Pumpkin Wraith
We’ll risk the wrath of the Pumpkin Wraith’

“And THAT’S when he heard a noise…”

About the author: 

Eddison McRoberts lurks in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two beautiful Ethiopian-adopted children.  The Illustrator, Jessica Gadra, currently resides in Buffalo, New York, with her husband, Alex, her dog, Eisley, and ten thousand uninvited ladybugs.

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Barnes & Noble coloring book |

The coloring book format includes the complete story and pictures ready for your child’s colorful imagination.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Featured Author: Ciar Cullen

Virtual Writers Inc. brings Ciar Cullen here today with her historical/paranormal book, Lillian Holmes and the Leaping Man, published by Boroughs Publishing Group. After you leave here, check out the Facebook party page and the Goodreads event page.

About the book:

At the cusp of the twentieth century, an heiress turned detective enters a world of deception and danger and must learn to trust her nemesis with both her life and her love.

Tormented by a tragic past, Miss Lillian Holmes nonetheless found the strength to go on, to become the greatest female detective of her time. To make her uncle proud. Except...he was not truly her uncle. Sherlock was a fictional character, and Lil was less a true detective than a sheltered twenty-six year old heiress with taste for mystery...and morphine. But then she saw him. Leaping from her neighbor’s second-story window, a beautiful stranger. With the recent murders plaguing Baltimore, here was a chance to reveal the truth.

Except, the Leaping Man was far more than he seemed. A wanton creature of darkness, an entry point to a realm of deception and evil, and to a Truth she had waited countless years to uncover, he would threaten far more than Lillian’s life. He would take both her heart and soul. And she would rejoice in it.


Ciar, by my count, this is your sixteenth published book. Wow. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I started writing about 7 years ago or so. I’d done a boatload of nonfiction writing in the day job (I was in publishing for years), but no fiction. I think what I first wrote was actually Lord of the Rings fan fiction, but I didn’t know what fan fiction was or what to do with it, so heck, I just subbed it to a publisher. Ha ha! Sometimes it’s best to be naïve. I’ve been a voracious reader my whole life, and literally sat down and started writing on a whim. I suppose in some deep recess of my psyche, it was more than a whim, but that’s how it felt at the time.

What do you like best about writing?

Because, as Nora Roberts so eloquently put it, “writing is hard,” I’m pretty happy when a book is finished. But there are moments, sometimes many of them strung together, in which time and space go away and you’re really in the zone, in the characters. I love that feeling. It’s difficult to come back to the real world after one of those “episodes.” I hate promotion. Simply hate it. And the worry about sales. I think a lot of writers are introverts (not shy, there’s a huge difference), and we’d rather just enjoy the quiet around us, and listen to the noise in our brain.

I totally agree. How did you come up with the title Lillian Holmes and the Leaping Man?

Lillian Holmes and the Leaping Man originally had “mysterious” in there too. It’s a nod to the era, to Sherlock Holmes stories, which obviously figure heavily here, and as for the leaping man? That’s a secret, for sure.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

I do. I am a bureaucrat at an ivy league school. It’s a nice environment, but I’m surrounded by scientists and often feel the lone dreamer in a crowd of 500. It’s a big department.

How did you create the plot for this book?

Um, what’s a plot? One page at a time. And I think that answers the next question as well.

Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

Seat of the pants, the whole way. My editor, Chris Keeslar, asked me to tell him what happens in the next two installments. Holy moly! I’m not sure what happens in chapter 2 until I open my computer and see what the characters have been doing while I’ve been at work.

I’m constantly on the lookout for new names. How do you name your characters?

For this book, I used a lot of family names. As it is set in my birthplace, Baltimore, my Irish, German, and British ancestry worked out fine. Schneider, Twamley, Cullen, Lillian, George, Phillip, Henry, Harry, even Aloysius (Al-u-ish-us)…all family names. For other names, I often simply look around at work and recombine first and last names. Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

Your secret's safe with me. What would your main character say about you?

Lillian would likely say that I’m a bit melancholy, like she is, but would be best to put my energies into something concrete, and stop all that dreaming. “Do not spend your time waiting for a handsome suitor, Miss Cullen. There are crimes to solve, adventures to be had. Now get dressed!”

I love her! Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

This book is about my family, in ways I can barely get my head around, much less describe. My grandmother was born in 1890, so her stories of growing up as a Victorian child still resonate loudly in my brain. My grandmother, mother and aunt were all “repressed adventurers” in a way, born into the wrong centuries. My Lillian is very much the embodiment of that longing. I am also Lillian myself, because as I wrote this, I had recently lost all members of my immediately family, and felt a bit of an abandoned orphan, as she does. This book is very close to my heart, and parts of it were actually quite painful to write.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

This is so cliché, I know, but my hero George Orleans would identify fully with Coldplay’s "Viva la Vida." Brooding, disillusioned, fall from grace and all that.

Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix me? I mean, him. Or her.

I have to cook for you? Um, we’re having Nutrisystem out of a box, is that okay? Actually, my specialties are spaghetti and meatballs (go figure, this Irish girl makes a mean sauce), or sauerbraten. Can we invite someone else cool? Nah, I prefer small groups. Or I can make some great Baltimore crab cakes and bake a pecan pie. That’s the ticket!

I'm totally there! How do you handle criticism of your work?

From my editor, I’m good. All good, and I’d like to think I’m easy to work with. I enjoy edits. From readers, as long as it’s sincere and sensible, also all good. I’ve actually learned a lot about what to improve upon from reviews. I take them to heart. The ones that drive me bonkers are things like “there are gay men in this book” for a M/M, or “not sexy enough” for an inspirational…

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

I live in a teensy place so my writing spot is actually a cubby in the dining room. It’s just a little desk, my laptop and my hazelnut coffee. Oh, and usually a cat or two on my lap.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I think I mentioned I’m an introvert, so I’m happy knitting away, reading, going to the beach in the evening (while the husband surf-fishes), easy stuff. I do like travel, but time… ugh.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing Lillian Holmes and the Final Solution, in which my heroine continues her quest to find… I can’t give too much away… and to take on all the evil that besets her beloved city, and her beau.

Puleease come back and tell us about it when it's published!

Book trailer:

About the author:

Ciar (KEE-er) Cullen hails from Baltimore, Maryland. She started her academic life as a theater major, but when she learned she couldn't act her way out of a paper bag she turned to archaeology, another love. She earned her degree at Indiana University, summered on digs in Greece and England, landed a gig in New Jersey, and eventually went into nonfiction publishing. Her third career is as a bureaucrat at a university. She is married to a photographer and has two cats. Eventually she hopes to retire to a small cabin, with the same husband and more cats.

Ciar is not one of those authors who dreamt of writing since childhood. She took up virtual pen on a dare in mid-life and forgot to stop. She loves reading just about anything, but especially nonfiction. Some of her favorite novelists are Mark Twain, E.L. Doctorow, and Nora Roberts. When she¹s not reading or writing, she loves to knit, to study all things Major League Baseball, and to jog.

Connect with Ciar:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon author page 

Buy the book:
Amazon | Boroughs Publishing Group

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Have you ever been influenced by a character you created?

As a writer I can be a magician and with my magic wand; my pen, I can create or destroy on whim. I can create places, events and characters. A few years ago I created a character Maggie; I spent time with Maggie in my mind’s eye. Originally I wanted Maggie to be very Zen young woman, a seeker of inner peace. As the storyline developed and the image of Maggie grew so large that my mind’s eye in some ways did not feel big enough.

By tapping into memories of the great invisible friends I had as a child; one should note here that as a child I was fully aware that I created my invisible friends and it was simple to tap into that child-like creativity.

I started to play with my invisible friend, this time instead of making mud pies or having adventures with my dolls, I played like a grown up: I cooked with Maggie, I went for long walks with her and talked to her when I was alone in my car; one must note here that thanks to blue tooth no-one thought I was insane.

As Maggie’s personality grew, the inner peace angle was not enough and Maggie became a great pacifist, one willing to demonstrate to get her point across. A pacifist who believed and led her life with the principle that one of the greatest keys to peace is knowledge.

There is no magic moment when I realized how much Maggie influenced me. I always research when I want to include anything in a story, so I did start reading blogs and newsletters posted by peace groups. At some point I took a good long look at myself and wondered what defined me. What defined me not simply in my immediate surroundings and as a parent, a wife, an American by choice.

As a citizen of the world I am absolutely defined by the desire for PEACE. I was never a war monger per se, I did however feel that some wars were ‘understandable’ or justified. Having experienced Maggie I have come to feel that violence begets nothing but violence and that as unlikely as peace may seem for the world as a whole, every journey, whether made by an individual or by a large group, every journey does begin with a first something, a first step, word or action, so why not the journey towards Peace?

Tomorrow is September 21st, 2013. It is the 33 celebration for the UN’s International Day of Peace. There are movements worldwide, for prayer and meditation, peaceful statement for peace. I plan to attend the one in Miami. A link to the International Day of Peace Facebook page, where you can request if there is a Peace movement near you, is here.

Also visit my Blogs tomorrow where I will be hosting an International Peace Blog Hop.

MCV Egan's blogs:
Bridge of Deaths | 4covert2overt | Is History the Agreed Upon Lie

About the author:

M.C.V. Egan is the pen name chosen by Maria Catalina Egan the author of The Bridge of Deaths. She was born in Mexico City, Mexico in 1959 and from an early age became obsessed with the story of her maternal grandfather, Cesar Agustin Castillo, principally the story of how he died.

Catalina has lived in several countries and is fluent in Spanish, English, French and Swedish.

Maria Catalina Egan is married and has one son. Although she would not call herself an Astrologer, she has taken many classes and taught a few beginner classes in Astrology. This is one of her many past times when she is not writing or researching.

Peace is her ultimate passion.

Connect with the author:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Buy the book:
Amazon paperback | Kindle | Hard cover

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Featured Author: Joanna Campbell Slan

Why Once in a Blue Moon Is Often Enough for Me

Written exclusively for A Blue Million Books Blog

By Joanna Campbell Slan,

Author of Death of a Schoolgirl

“So you’re a writer? Well, I have a bunch of great ideas for you,” said a woman at a neighborhood gathering. “Really. You need to call me. Oh, the stories I can tell you.”

While I appreciate her offer, the truth is that I only run short of ideas once in a blue moon. The last “blue moon” happened a month ago when Rafferty, my three-legged rescue pup came down with a horrible urinary tract infection. At first, he seemed unusually restless. Then he started panting and needing to go outside every half hour. Things went downhill fast, culminating with a midnight run to an emergency vet clinic in a nearby city. We didn’t get home until five in the morning. The next day, I was a zombie. I couldn’t think at all! My mind was empty when it came to ideas.

But as I said, that was a month ago. I rarely suffer from a lack of stories. Hardly ever. My mind bubbles over with themes, settings, characters, and situations I want to tackle. My biggest challenge is sifting through my ideas and choosing just one.

For that I rely on the goosebump test. If an idea raises the hairs on my arm, it’s definitely worth pursuing. For example, I was sitting on a panel at a conference a few years ago when a moderator asked, “What’s your favorite mystery of all time?”

Jane Eyre,” I said. Looking out at the audience, I noticed that many conference attendees nodded in agreement. The skin on my arms began to pimple. Uh-oh. Fantastic idea alert!

Jane Eyre is not a mystery,” said another panelist.

“You’ve got a tortured man who regrets his past and keeps it secret,” I said. “There’s somebody bumping around in the attic and setting fires. When a visitor shows up, he gets stabbed, and is whisked away under the cover of night. Gee, it sure sounds like a mystery to me.”

So it happened that one of my finer ideas was to refashion Jane Eyre into an amateur sleuth. Since Jane is naturally observant, curious, brave, and intelligent, she’s good in her new role. Once I began noodling this around, I saw another advantage to casting Jane as a detective. Because she went to a charity school but is married a country squire, Jane can move between the upper and lower classes. And since she’s notable for being small and insignificant, she can snoop around without arousing suspicion.

Death of a Schoolgirl, the first title in my new series, The Jane Eyre Chronicles, recently received the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. Winning such a prestigious honor is definitely the thrill of a lifetime. In fact, it’s the kind of pat-on-the-back that only comes once in a blue moon.

About the author:

Award-winning and National Bestselling author Joanna Campbell Slan is the creator of three mystery series, including the Kiki Lowenstein Mysteries (an Agatha Award Finalist) and a new series featuring Cara Mia Delgatto, young woman who runs a recycling/repurposing shop. The first book in Joanna’s historical romance mystery series, The Jane Eyre Chronicles, is Death of a Schoolgirl, winner of the 2013 Daphne du Maurier Award for Literary Excellence. In her past life, Joanna was a television talk show host, an adjunct professor of public relations, a sought-after motivational speaker, and a corporate speechwriter. Visit Joanna’s website at See all her books at Follow her on Pinterest ( Join the conversation at Or communicate directly with her at

About Death of a Schoolgirl:

In her classic tale, Charlotte Brontë introduced readers to the strong-willed and intelligent Jane Eyre. Picking up where Brontë left off, Jane’s life has settled into a comfortable pattern: She and her beloved Edward Rochester are married and have an infant son. But Jane soon finds herself in the midst of new challenges and threats to those she loves…

Jane can’t help but fret when a letter arrives from Adèle Varens—Rochester’s ward, currently at boarding school—warning that the girl’s life is in jeopardy. Although it means leaving her young son and invalid husband, and despite never having been to a city of any size, Jane feels strongly compelled to go to London to ensure Adèle’s safety.

But almost from the beginning, Jane’s travels don’t go as planned—she is knocked about and robbed, and no one believes that the plain, unassuming Jane could indeed be the wife of a gentleman; even the school superintendent takes her for an errant new teacher. But most shocking to Jane is the discovery that Adèle’s schoolmate has recently passed away under very suspicious circumstances, yet no one appears overly concerned. Taking advantage of the situation, Jane decides to pose as the missing instructor—and soon uncovers several unsavory secrets, which may very well make her the killer’s next target…

Connect with Joanna:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Buy the book:

| Barnes & Noble | Bookworld | Book Depository | Powell's Books

Enter to win cool stuff:
A Lowood Institution Lacrosse sweatshirt, a “Being yourself is the key” pencil case, a Jane Eyre mug, and a small Jane Eyre quotations journal a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tess talks with Wicked Hunger's Vanessa Roth

In August, Delsheree Gladden, author of the YA urban fantasy Wicked Hunger, sent Zander Roth to talk with Tess, and today Tess is happy to talk with Zander's sister, Vanessa Roth.

About the book:

Vanessa and Zander Roth are good at lying. They have to be when they are hiding a deadly secret. Day after day, they struggle to rein in their uncontrollable hunger for pain and suffering in order to live normal lives. Things only get worse when Ivy Guerra appears with her pink-striped hair and secrets. The vicious hunger Ivy inspires is frightening, not to mention suspicious.

Vanessa’s instincts are rarely wrong, so when they tell her that Ivy’s appearance is a sign of bad things to come, she listens. She becomes determined to expose Ivy’s secrets. Vanessa tries to warn her brother, but Zander is too enamored with Ivy to pay attention to her conspiracy theories.

One of them is right about Ivy … but if they lose control of their hunger, it won’t matter who is right and who is wrong. One little slip, and they’ll all be dead.

About the character:

Vanessa Roth really tries to follow the rules her grandmother has put in place, because she knows it means keeping her secret safe, but it’s not easy. More often than not, her temper, emotions, or hunger land her in a whole mess of trouble.

Tess talks with Vanessa Roth

Vanessa, how did you first meet DelSheree?

If I remember right, DelSheree was visiting Albuquerque for some kind of dental hygiene test. It seems like that’s all she was doing around that time. Anyway, I probably would have walked right by, but her daughter tripped and skinned her knee. Poor kid had forgotten her glasses again and didn’t see the curb. My hunger responded—-don’t worry, I didn’t attack the poor girl—-but my response caught DelSheree’s attention.

Want to dish about DelSheree?

As much as I enjoyed working with DelSheree, she tends to be a little forgetful. If she doesn’t put it in her phone with an alarm to remind her, shell space it out. Her life has been a little crazy, though, with school, job hunting, and family, so I understood and just sent a lot of reminders.

Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

Oh, I pretty much knew someone would right my story from early on. I just expected it to be in the newspaper, under the crime blotter. Being the heroine of our story never crossed my mind.

Tell us about your favorite scene in Wicked Hunger.

I don’t want to give away too much, but under the bleachers after the football game. That is the first glimmer of hope that I can be honest with Ketchup about what I am and not have him run away.

Sounds intriguing. Did you have a hard time convincing DelSheree to write any particular scenes for you?

There is a scene where I’m working with Noah at his house that we had some arguments about. DelSheree wanted it to go one way, but I knew what direction it was really supposed to go.

I'm telling you, we have to be forceful with our authors sometimes. What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?

Controlling my hunger is always a high priority, so you’ll usually find me doing ballet or practicing Jeet Kune Do.

If you could rewrite anything in Wicked Hunger, what would it be?

If I could rewrite anything, it would be before the book started when my brother Zander nearly killed Ketchup and ruined my chances of being with him.

Ketchup. I love that name. Do you think he knows Pickle? Never mind. Back to the topic. Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?

Zander is one of the most pigheaded, frustrating people I know, but he’s my brother and I still love him. Ivy, that girl rubbed me wrong from the second I saw her stupid pink hair. Noah is so sweet and normal. Being around him makes me believe I can actually have that one day. Oscar, well, he’s certifiably nuts, but sometimes I still think he’s the sanest of anyone I know. And Ketchup…I better not say anything about Ketchup or I’ll jinx myself.

If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

Disappear with Ketchup, and NO I won’t tell you where we’d go or what we’d be doing. 

Gotcha. What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?

When I first meet people, they generally think I’m weird and moody. I’m generally just trying not to kill them.

How about after they've known you for a while?

Not many people stick around to get to know me, but the few who do realize I’m actually a pretty nice person—minus the hunger issues—and I love music and dancing. 

What's the worst thing that's happened in your life? What did you learn from it?

Both of my parents were murdered, and it taught me that protecting my family comes before anything else, including personal relationships.

Wow. That's horrible. You must have some good friends to get you through something like that. Tell us about your best friend.

My best friend is Laney. She never stops talking, falls off her shoes on a regular basis, and makes me laugh when I really need someone to pull me out of my dark thoughts. 

What are you most afraid of?

Losing the people I love. 

What’s the best trait DelSheree has given you? What’s the worst?

That would probably be the same trait for both. Passion. I am a very passionate person when it comes to protecting my friends and family, but it tends to put me in hot water fairly often as well. 

How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?

Pretty uncertain, actually. I know that there are some big, scary events on the horizon, but I can’t pinpoint what they are or who is going to set them in motion. I’ve had to put my life in the hands of someone I don’t trust at all and that scares me more than I can tell you.

What aspect of DelSheree’s writing style do you like best?

DelSheree always manages to capture the emotion of a scene just the way I remember it happening. She makes people feel what I felt so they really understand my story.

If your story were a movie, who would play you?

I’d have to go with AnnaSophia Robb. She seems tough info to take on my life!

Describe the town where you live.

I live in Albuquerque, NM. It’s big enough for us to hide in, but secluded enough that we won’t draw a ton of attention if something goes wrong.

Describe an average day in your life.

I’ve got school, like most normal kids, but along with classes to suffer through, I have to deal with keeping my hunger in check. There are dozens of kids at school that my hunger wants to make a snack out of, so it can get tricky trying to dodge all of them. After school I try to feed my hunger through the physical pain hours of dance practice gives me. When all else fails, Zander and I can always use each other to keep our hunger in check.

What's next? Will you encourage DelSheree to write a sequel?

I have been hounding her daily to finish the next book! She’s almost halfway through it, but I’ll keep on her until it’s complete and ready to land on the editor’s desk. Readers are already asking for the next book!

That's terrific! Tell DelSheree to let us know when the next book comes out.

About the author:

DelSheree Gladden lives in New Mexico with her husband and two children. The Southwest is a big influence in her writing because of its culture, beauty, and mythology. Local folk lore is strongly rooted in her writing, particularly ideas of prophecy, destiny, and talents born from natural abilities. When she is not writing, DelSheree is usually teaching yoga, coaching gymnastics, reading, painting, sewing, or working as a Dental Hygienist. Her works include Escaping Fate, Twin Souls Saga, and The Destroyer Trilogy. DelSheree's newest series, the SomeOne Wicked This Way Come series, follows Vanessa and Zander Roth, siblings with an uncontrollable hunger for pain and suffering that will either gain them limitless power or lead them to their deaths.

Connect with DelSheree:
Website | Blog | Facebook: DelSheree | Facebook: The Destroyer Trilogy | Facebook: Twin Souls Saga | Twitter | Goodreads: author | Goodreads: book | Wattpad

Buy the book:
Amzaon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Featured Author: Paul Anthony

I'm happy to welcome back Paul Anthony to A Blue Million Books. Please check out Paul's feature from when he was here in February. He's a prolific writer, with ten published books, to date. His latest book is Bell, Book and Candle. As a former police detective in the UK, Paul knows crime. And now he writes about it. It's my pleasure to have him here again to talk about his books.

Interview with Paul Anthony

Books, scripts, screenplays, oh my! How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I wrote The Fragile Peace in 1994 and tried to get a publisher. I kept getting letters telling me I needed an agent first. So I tried to get an agent and then received replies telling me I need a publisher first. Eventually I jumped off mad hatter’s roundabout and approached a vanity publisher in London. I did a 50/50 deal with them for the first 2,000 copies. Everyone said I was mad. They went to press and we were published in 1996. The contract ended in 2012, and I put it into kindle. It’s sold over 25,000 copies in hardback and now sells regularly on kindle with a paperback version that I updated. It reached #1 in its genre on amazon some months ago. It’s a great story, and there’s a film script doing the tour. I’ve learnt so much about writing since 1996. More interesting perhaps, is the fact that shortly after the publication of The Fragile Peace I did indeed end up with a literary agent. I then received a commission from a traditional house via my agent to submit a manuscript and Bushfire came along. Six months and 6,000 copies later, the publishing company went into administration, and we didn’t get a penny for our troubles. It was round about this time that the ‘net book agreement’ was being called into question in the UK. ( and the world of publishing changed overnight. Supermarkets flooded the market with books by celebrities, TV chefs and gardeners. I left books for a while and turned to writing a score of scripts for film and television with mixed success. Eventually, I returned, in retirement, to the book world with The Legacy of the Ninth.

Congratulations on those numbers! You have ten published books so far, not to mention scripts and screenplays. Do you have another job outside of writing?

No, I’m a retired policeman living close to Hadrian’s Wall on the edge of the Lake District in England. I was first published when I was a serving officer hence the pseudonym which was part of the regulations those days. I kept the pen name because when I retired I had a following and a regular readership relevant to Paul Anthony.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

I have a quadrilogy and a trilogy in place. The quadrilogy features the detective, Billy Boyd. He’s a Cumbrian who joins the police as a youngster and rises to head a specialized unit of the anti terrorist branch. As the quadrilogy develops, readers can see how his life story evolves with each tale. Each book stands alone from the others so it’s not a ‘follow on’ series. The main characters are consistent.

The Boyd Quadrilogy
consists of:

1) The Fragile Peace - a parallel story of two children - one grows up to be an IRA bomber, the other grows up to be the leader of an anti terrorist squad.

2) Bushfire - A group of police and MI5 officers go to a conference in 

Lisbon, but when a bushfire breaks out in the Algarve all hell breaks loose and a drug war explodes with a Columbian drugs cartel. (Books 1 + 2 are inspired by true events.)

3) The Legacy of the Ninth - When the Romans drive the Jews from
Jerusalem to King Herod's fortress in Masada, a Jewish artifact is stolen, ends up in a
river in Cumbria 20 centuries later, and is the basis of a contemporary assassination plot.

4) Bell Book and Candle – My most recent release of August, 2013, - when
Al-Qaeda send bombers from the Yemen and Pakistan to carry their war to the English mainland. The plot explodes on the Caldbeck Fells, Lake District but it also involves the disappearance of a local teenager. (Books 3 +4 are inspired by history.)

Boyd’s life is dominated to some extent by the women in his life – Meg, a nurse who becomes his wife. Antonia, an upper crust MI5 officer with whom he works closely, and Anthea, his deputy and close assistant. It’s the characters who make the books, and my readers often comment on how much they enjoy the Boyd character. He knows every trick in the book, and uses them all.

My Davies King Trilogy features a detective on the south coast of England. We join him as a widower who has thrown himself into his work - following the death of his wife, Angela - to the extent that he becomes ‘Chief of Detectives.’ He’s an ex boxer, the chairman of the local gymnasium, and as stubborn as a mule. A constant pain in the side of authority, Davies hates losing and will bend as many rules as possible to win. Davies runs the job from a local pub where he occasionally has a brandy, but interestingly, he’s not a big drinker. He plays chess with every Tom, Dick and Harry and these include a bag full of local hooks and crooks. The stories are sprinkled with criminal characters and the detective’s informants as King bends, makes and destroys the rules at every which way you turn. He even teams up with British Intelligence when he needs to. As the trilogy progresses, his adversaries are identified and vary from minor thieves to megalomaniacs. Basically, my editors love the King character. He’s really caught the imagination. The Trilogy is:

1) The Conchenta Conundrum is a murder mystery. There’s a murder or two, a murderer or two, and a mysterious cause of death not easily proven. Corporate corruption and greed on England's south coast.

2) Moonlight Shadows is an Espionage and crime tale. An MI6 agent is rehoused and given a new identity. The agent becomes a double agent when they discover a way to use technology to unbalance the world's money system. When the software goes missing an international chase explodes across the globe and Davies King ends up chasing two murdering megalomaniacs.

3) Behead the Serpent is an Espionage tale that takes us to the edge of dystopia. A corrupt British Intelligence officer teams up with the country's enemies to blackmail Her Majesty’s Government, launch a cyberspace war, and plunge the country into darkness along with parts of Europe and North America. Problem is, the case lands on Davies King’s desk and someone knocks over his chessboard. Look out.

Both Boyd and Davies are different in so many ways. Davies has a time-served elderly detective as a sidekick, an efficiently officious private secretary in Claudia Jones, and a second in command called Annie Rock.

Wow. Quite a list. Tell us about your favorite scene from one of the books.

I would say my favourite scene in Moonlight Shadows is one of the chases in Amsterdam. It’s a high octane rush which blows the story wide open.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be? 

A thesaurus. It’s the only book I read on a daily basis.

I'm totally with you there. Your last meal would be…

Swordfish steak washed down with a red Grenache from France

You won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy?

The mortgages of my entire family.

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?

Normally, head for the gym and kettlebells.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I enjoy travelling and would continue my extensive journeys across Europe.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Cumbria, supported by holiday homes in the Algarve and Fuerteventura.

What are you working on now?

I’m marketing Bell, Book and Candle, which was released in August, 2013. So I’m promoting that work to my current readers. I spend quite a bit of time promoting other authors on my facebook page,, and various social media sites. Sadly, I don’t have enough time to participate regularly in the hundreds of groups on these sites. On the writing side, I’m crafting Breakwater which I intend to self-publish later this year.

Thanks for stopping by again, Tony. You're welcome back anytime.

Thank you for the interview opportunity. Good luck with your own Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction.

About Bell, Book and Candle:

From an ancient Silk Road in the Spin Ghar mountain range and the red-bricked chocolate box skyscrapers of one of the oldest civilisations known to mankind, the travellers begin their journey. Fourteen hundred years of struggle and anguish arrive in the unspoilt backwaters of Cumbria’s Lakeland Fells and erupt in a bloody, deadly climax.

A simple bell, book and candle adorn the altar of a village church yet the parishioners are unaware of the gathering storm clouds that herald the arrival of the ‘Eternal One.’
Will the Cumbrian detective, Boyd, work out why it has taken since the seventh century for the problem to arrive in his back yard? It’s not until a child is kidnapped that Boyd realises he needs to separate out good from bad; normal from extreme, and the innocence of youth from the guilt of maturity. Boyd is fighting the biggest dog in the pack and the Shimmering Dawn is about to unleash its terrifying dogs of war.

Crammed with intrigue and drizzled with Machiavellian conspiracy, the plot dissects the culture and very existence of the Middle East as it gradually and passionately boils over into a turbo charged thriller of acrimonious conflict and religious aura when the history of yesteryear explodes with the reality of today.

About the author:

Paul Anthony is the pseudonym of a man born in Southport, Lancashire. He has written a number of fictional novels and a collection of poetry in Print, Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad and PDF Download. He has also written television scripts, screenplays and film scripts as an individual or with the award wining scriptwriter, Nick Gordon. The son of a soldier, Paul Anthony settled in Cumbria before becoming a police cadet. Seconded to Haigh Colliery in Whitehaven, he mined the pit face and then worked at a biscuit factory, in Carlisle, as a machine operator. Our author also worked with deaf people and was trained in the treatment of drug addicts and alcoholics. He went to Eskdale Outward Bound School but eventually joined Cumbria Police proper. Working as a detective, he served in the CID, the Regional Crime Squad in Manchester, the Special Branch, and other national agencies in the UK. He has an honours degree in social sciences, and diplomas in management and office management.

Connect with the author:
Website | Independent Author Network | Facebook |


Buy the books:
Amazon UK | Amazon US | Lulu

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Featured Author: Ellie Grant

I'm happy to feature another cozy mystery writer, or I should say writers, since Ellie Grant is actually the pen name for best selling husband and wife team Joyce and Jim Lavene, authors of several great mystery series. Check out their interview from when they were here in May. Now they're on tour with Great Escapes Book Tours for their new novel, Plum Deadly.

About the book:

Unjustly accused of cooking the books, Maggie Grady is forced to retreat from her high-flying New York financial career to the town where she grew up. Her aunt Clara greets her with open arms and a job at the family-owned business that has baked the best pies in the South for over forty years. Unfortunately, while Maggie is determined to return to banking, her reputation there seems permanently in the pits. That is, until her old boss, Lou, visits with news that he’s found the real crook. Before he can reveal the details, though, Maggie finds his body right behind the pie shop.

With only her own word that Lou planned to exonerate her, Maggie is in the spotlight. The police seem to suspect that Aunt Clara’s damson pie may not be just dangerously delectable, but downright deadly. Maggie doesn’t just have her own name to clear; she has to make sure that her aunt’s beloved business isn’t harmed, either. Yummy local reporter Ryan Summerour appears eager to help, and Maggie can’t help hoping that it’s not just the police who find her a person of interest-—but Ryan, as well. She’d thought it challenging to make the perfect pie crust that Aunt Clara demands, but that turns out to be nothing compared with finding a murderer. . . .

Interview with Ellie Grant

How did you come up with the title Plum Deadly?

Plum Deadly was named for the plum pie that the police think may have killed Maggie’s former boss.

Do you all have another job outside of writing?

No. We are full-time novelists since last year.

How did you create the plot for Plum Deadly?

We visited pie shops and spent time in Durham, North Carolina at Duke University. Once we had our main characters, Maggie and Aunt Clara, the rest just came.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

"Except that Lou would never see another blue sky."

How do you get to know your characters?

We eat and sleep with them for about six months. We take them on long rides and try to understand them. They go with us on vacation.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Aunt Clara. She was fun to play around with!
I like writing characters who do and say things I never would, as well as characters who do and say things I wish I could. Do you have characters who fit into one of those categories? Who, and in what category do they fall?

Aunt Clara is definitely that way. She can say off the wall things at inappropriate times and get away with it.

If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?

Aunt Clara. She’s great!
Sounds like it! Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

Our favorite scene is when Maggie and Ryan first kiss. We’re suckers for the romance!

I am too. What song would you pick to go with your book?

"Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones.

Who are your  favorite authors?

Barbara Hambly, Anne McGaffrey, Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher.

How long is your to-be-read pile?

Never ending. We only read when we’re not writing.

You get to decide who would read your audio book. Who would you choose?

Julia Roberts as Maggie!

Do you have a routine for writing?

We get up every morning Monday through Friday, eat breakfast, have coffee, and sit down to write. We write about 5,000 words each day and do promotion and revision later in the day. We try to be off on nights and weekends.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

We have a nice, cozy office in the house with big desks and computers.

Where’s home for you?

Midland, North Carolina.

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

Weird: People who live next door have peacocks who make sounds like cats fighting all the time.
Nice: We have a lot of beautiful trees and farm land surrounding us.
Fact: Our town’s population is 3,500 people.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?


What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“Do not be too timid or squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

What are you working on now?

One Witch is Not Enough, the first book in the Retired Witches Spell Book series, coming out with Berkley next year.

About the author

Ellie Grant writes award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook and Joyce and Jim Lavene. They have written and published more than 60 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family.

Connect with the authors:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Featured Author: Christina Freeburn

I'm happy to feature another cozy mystery writer today. Christina Freeburn is the author of the Faith Hunter Scrap mystery series. She's here today to talk about book number 2 in the series, Designed to Death.

About the book:

Faith Hunter planned the perfect event at her grandmother’s shop, Scrap This, featuring local scrapbooker and Life Artist Diva, Belinda Watson. But the extravaganza goes up in a cloud of glitter when Belinda and her cousin, Darlene, brawl over scraplifted designs. Faith attempts to break it up, but only makes things worse. Then when Belinda turns up dead behind the Scrap This store, Faith’s involvement goes viral.

As accusations against her turn vicious, Faith sets out to prove her nemesis, Darlene, committed the crime, only to realize they are both innocent. Now they must team up or the murderer’s plan will come together seamlessly with the frenemies sharing a jail cell—or worse, a funeral.

Interview with Christina Freeburn

Christina, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I’ve been writing since I was a freshman in high school so ... wow ... almost thirty years. I started during a long, boring bus ride to school. It was thirty minute drive so a friend and I decided to write a teenage romance book together. She grew bored after a few weeks, but I continued on.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

Since the first book in the Faith Hunter Scrap mystery series is Cropped to Death, I wanted to pair another scrapbooking term with “to Death.” The second book in the series deals with scraplifting/stealing designs so I went with Designed to Death.

How would you describe your book in five words?

Cozy, crafty, humorous, sassy, and engaging. 

How did you create the plot for this book?

The plot came from combining a couple of different incidents that happened years ago in the scrapbooking community and adding a twist or two to make it a little more unique. I didn’t want the plot to be similar to the actual events and also needed to up it just a little more so it seemed “reasonable” people would find themselves willing to commit murder. And since Faith is the kind of person who is driven to help others, I wondered what would happen if the person in need was someone she didn’t particularly like. 

How do you get to know your characters?

By writing about them. I try and do biographies and write out their back story, but I’ve discovered the most important things, and their deepest secrets, come out when I’m writing the stories and giving the characters freedom to do and say what they want.

What would your main character say about you?

That I’m bossy and fight to get my own way with the story even though she has a better idea and knows what’s really going on in Eden. I need to let go of what I want to happen so what is actually happening can take place on the page.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

Without giving too much of the plot away, it’s a toss-up between Faith and Darlene getting caught by Detective Ted Roget as their looking for clues at someone’s house, and a scene involving Washi tape.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

By the end of the book, Faith’s theme song is "Undo It," by Carrie Underwood.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

Travel Unscripted by Mark Murphy in ebook format.

Where’s home for you?

West Virginia.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

I used to work in a library and loved it. So I’d pick a library.

You won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy?

A house or condo in Florida that’s close to a port and also Orlando.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like to scrapbook, read or quilt. And my favorite thing of all to do would be traveling, especially to Disney World though we can’t do that very often.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on Embellished to Death, book 3 in the Scrapbooking series.

About the author:

Christina has loved books since she can remember. There was nothing better than picking up a story and finding herself in another place and meeting new people. The love of reading evolved into the love of writing, and she's been writing since her teenage years. Her first novel, Parental Source, was a 2003 Library of Virginia Literary award nominee. Whether it's a detective story or an inspirational romantic suspense, her stories usually involve some sort of crime where the characters are determined to see those wrongs righted.