Friday, February 28, 2014

Featured Author: Dennis Hart

I am happy to have Dennis Hart back to A Blue Million Books today, to talk about his new novel, Gulf Boulevard, a humorous mystery, published by The Permanent Press. I’ve known Dennis since our days of reviewing each other’s work on an online writer’s site. (Fun fact: there are lines in both Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction and Gulf Boulevard that refer to each other.) I loved his work then, and I love it now. I’m thrilled that he has been published, and I’m excited to share his latest book with you.

About the book:

Every night, Jason Najarian dreams of a secluded tropical island where he fantasizes about living the good life as a hermit. No more rat-race. No more people. When a long-odds occurrence compels him to buy a lottery ticket, the resultant $63 million jackpot sets in motion a series of events that allows him to depart snowy Boston forever and begin living out his dream in comfort and style. But as Jason soon discovers, not even financial security can rid a man of life's little annoyances.

Having settled in to his new gulf-front home on Sand Key, a barrier island off the west coast of Florida with turquoise water, gentle breezes, and spectacular sunsets, Jason quickly learns that his idyllic life of solitude will require more effort than he anticipated. From the opposite end of the island comes a rotund and frustratingly nosy neighbor, Salvatore Scalise, who turns out to be a contract killer and a marked man. The unlikely friendship between the two leads to a madcap caper involving an unbearably clingy ex-wife seeking a share of Jason's windfall, an expletive spewing parrot, a revenge-seeking mafia family, two mysterious men dressed in black, and a gorgeous young woman called Running Bush who catches Jason's eye.

If Jason hopes to escape unharmed with the woman of his dreams, he must determine how to safely extract Sal from his life. But in this hilarious tale of misplaced intentions and mistaken identity, no one is quite who they seem.

Just a taste of Gulf Boulevard:

My name is Jason Najarian. I live on a barrier island off the west coast of Florida, under lazy palm trees and salt-laden air. Warm breezes sway my hammock. Dolphins play in turquoise water just beyond my reach. Sandpipers dance along the shoreline. There's not a person in sight. I live here until I wake up each morning just north of Boston. This is why Ambien is my best friend as well as my travel agent.

Interview with Dennis Hart

Dennis, tell us about your work.

My current work, Gulf Boulevard, is a mystery with a lot of humor, because we could all use more laughter in our lives. It tells the story, in first person, of Jason, a burned-out accountant, who moves to a barrier island on the gulf side of Florida in an attempt to live the life of a hermit. But he soon meets his neighbor Sal, a hitman in hiding, and that’s where the trouble begins. There is a lot of Jason in me. I know if I was a hermit on a secluded beach, I’d write a bestseller.

Tell us about Jason Najarian.

Jason is a twenty-eight-year-old burned-out accountant. He hates his job, the cold New England weather, and his cheating ex-wife. So when head meets pillow, he escapes to a place where the palms trees sway, the sun shines bright, and the water is warm. He wishes for this, but as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for.  

How much is Jason like you?

We travel along similar paths of the mind and spirit.

So basically, Jason’s a younger you. Got it. What would he say about you?

He’s an idiot. Get me another writer.

What is Jason's best quality?

His sense of humor.

What's his worst quality?

Assuming tomatoes can be used as weapons.

It may not be much of a stretch of imagination, but let’s pretend Jason has decided to kill you for...putting him through all that you put him through... How would he do it?

He’d fix me up with his ex-wife, Megan O’Mally.

Ooh, a slow, painful death. I like it. Who would play Running Bush in the Gulf Boulevard movie?

Selma Hayek.

Where do you get your plot ideas?

I collect different personalities from real-life test dummies, meld it with easy to describe environments, and then let my characters make something happen.
Have you ever bought a lottery ticket? Ever won anything?

Yes and yes.

Hmm...a writer who's a man of few words. How many M&M's do you consume in an average day?


In the book, Jason hates it when people ask, "Is it cold enough for ya?" So, I have to ask...Is it cold enough for ya? (I’m smiling a cheesy grin.)

I’m rolling my eyes.

Let's pretend The Permanent Press will send you on a book tour and you get to pick the cities. Where would you go?

Louisville of course. After that, I’d Google the cities that laugh the most and go there.

When you're a best seller, what will you do with your riches?

Before I answer that, I need to take my dream weaver Ambien. Once in a dream state I suppose I’d do something unusual like quit my day job and move to an island. 

Not unlike Jason. Do you consider yourself an author yet?

No. You must write a book and have the masses like it before you can even entertain the thought of adding author as your occupation.

You’re always changing the rules. You have a book published by a traditional publisher. A book with your name on it is in bookstores. You’re an author, buddy. Get used to it. Who is your favorite author? I mean besides me.

Besides you, a distant second is Nelson DeMille, followed by Grisham, Hiaasen, Crichton, Flynn, Child, Brown, Lehane, and McCarthy, just to name a few.

Why green M&Ms? Why not red, orange, green, or blue?

Because if you blindly pick out a handful of just green M&M’s from a 64 ounce bag of assorted colors and then go play the lottery, you will win. That’s why.

Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction quiz: what line in the book refers to Gulf Boulevard?

Easy. Page 156—“A buddy of mine once told me he got lucky with green M&M’s.” If that’s not it, I want it to be.

Correct. But that was a trick question. There are actually two lines. Ha! What are you reading right now?

This interview.

Cheater! You know what I mean. What book are you reading now?

Sycamore Row, by John Grisham.   

Kindle or paperback?

MAC Pro.

Cheater, cheater. I have my mean face on now. Plain or peanut?

Duh! Plain.

Boat or truck?

Both thank you.

Okay, I’m officially changing your name to Cheater. Paper or plastic, Cheater?

I use paper . . . Sal uses plastic.

You did what very few authors ever accomplish--you got an agent and a publishing deal. Tell us about your road to publication, and do you have any advice for newbies?

My first bit of advice is to find an agent that drinks heavily. No matter what I send her, she loves it. Then have your agent find a desperate publisher and if he/she also drinks heavily, all the better. Then sell all your hard work for a pittance and pretend you like it. My advice for emerging authors is to perfect your craft and then move in with Stephen King.

Where did you get the idea for the expletive spewing parrot in Gulf Boulevard?

That fell out of the nowhere. Originally the parrot was going to stay within Jason’s imagination, but then I watched Scarface and thought . . . why not?

I’ve read most of the reviews for Gulf Boulevard, and they are quite favorable. However, one reviewer really made me mad. What would you say to a reviewer who complained about your portrayal of Florida summers?

I’d say, “I went to Disney World for a week back in 1986. So there.” Actually I vacationed on Don Pedro Island off the coast of Englewood for many years and ended up buying a condo there. 

What would you say to a reviewer who said Phyllis the real-estate agent wasn't believable?

I’d say, welcome to the world of fiction. But a wealthy and retired woman I met, who was a real estate agent for the barrier islands, was the inspiration for Phyllis. I remember her sharp tongue and endless wit.

How did you obtain your setting details?

Every detail from Gulf Boulevard comes from my actual experience in Florida.

How do you feel about reviews?

Humor is subjective. Constructive criticism is priceless. People who abuse the power should be killed.

I'm going to add that to my list of favorite quotes. Besides Jason, who was your favorite character to write?

Sal Santini, the mafia hitman in hiding.

What was your favorite scene to write?

When Jason spikes his phone in the sand and screams, “Freedom!” prompting Sal to say— well . . . you have to read the book to find out.

Do you laugh at your own dialogue?

Only when I hear Megan talk.

You've also written a memoir and an action/detective story. Do you like writing humor or action better?

That’s a tie. I’ll let the reader decide. If the Gulf Boulevard series sells better than the Harrison Gamble series, I’ll get the message.

I’m betting they’ll both sell equally well, and I’ll be able to say “I knew Dennis Hart when...”

Excerpt from Gulf Boulevard

Ah, New England weather.

It is the time of year when most people verbalize their contempt for the elements.

“It’s too friggin’ cold.”

“What happened to global warming?”
Or my favorite: “Is it cold enough for ya?” Who answers no to that inquiry?
Six months from now, when winter is a distant memory, those same amateur meteorologists will ask: “Is it hot enough for ya?”
Who answers no to that inquiry? Me.
I’d rather be toasting my buns on a tropical sugar-white sand beach, under the fronds of a palm tree, surrounded by the scent of multihued flora seducing my senses, than trudging through knee-deep powder with air so cold it shrink-wraps my testicles.
I despise winter so much that my final wish clearly states the following: Cremate me; urn me; carry me to a warm, deserted shoreline; buy a beach chair and position it facing the setting sun; gently pour me out on the seat and leave me alone.
Go away.
Screw off.
I will disperse of myself when the first sea breeze embraces me.

About the author:

Dennis Hart lives in Massachusetts where he dreams of winning the lottery someday and moving to a secluded tropical island...without hitmen. Gulf Boulevard is his first published novel. He is currently working on the sequel to Gulf Boulevard, titled Gulf Boulevard: Postcards from the World.

Connect with Dennis:
Website | Facebook | Facebook author page | Goodreads

Buy the book:

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Featured Author: Connie Smith

Connie Smith's novel, Emblazed, (Book two of The Division Chronicles) has just been released, and I'm happy to share an excerpt from the book as well as feature Connie in a guest post. Connie talks about what helps keep her sane through the writing process, and with the exception of the fan (keep reading) I couldn't agree with her more. If you'd like to read the first book in the series, Essenced, now's the time, as it's being offered for free this week (February 24-28). But first, read about Emblazed:

About the book:

After all the preparations, Nicholai’s warriors stand on the threshold of warfare, the demons entering the realm in battalions and the world unknowingly depending on the army’s success to continue intact. But the battle is only the beginning of deadly struggles, and the soldiers will soon realize how little they know, how many things are at stake, and how much they have to lose.

Love, hate, hope, despair, anguish, joy... The journey is a gauntlet of emotion and combat, threatening their resolve as much as their lives.

Will their training and ties be enough, or will the complications and the forthcoming evil forever cripple the world’s last hope of survival?

Guest Post from Connie Smith

Apparently Lord Byron once said, “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”

There might be a smidge of truth in that thought. As of right now, I have at least half a dozen ideas for future books in my head – not including stories related to The Division Chronicles. That’s a whole lot of characters and places and situations and romances and disputes...All jumbled and waiting to be put to paper. I wouldn’t go mad, but I’d definitely have my own daydreams that no one could really relate to.

Still, writing can be a stressful process. Trying to get from Point A to Point B, making judgment calls for characters, worrying over consistency... And when you finally get the first draft penned, it’s time for the cruelest piece of the writing puzzle: Editing. I HATE editing. It takes a loooong time, it’s tedious, and I end up finding numerous reasons to think I’m a moron within my own text. Possible complaints include:

“Why did I think that sounded good?”

“That doesn’t make any sense!”

“Why can’t books edit themselves?”

So yeah. It isn’t a fun process, but there are certain things that help me maintain my sanity, just like letting my characters free makes my daydreaming mind less odd to other people. Care to know some of them?

1) Candles. Yes. Candles. I can’t tell you how unbelievably relaxing it is, after hours of editing, to turn off the lights, put a cool compress over my tired, tired eyes, and just linger in candlelight for a few minutes. It’s rejuvenating, even if I can’t completely explain why. All I know is that candles have become quite an appreciated part of my life.

2) My fan. And yes, I mean a literal fan. Like, hot summer day, fan in the window. I do my best writing in quiet, and my fan is kind enough to block out the craziness that goes on around me. Granted it makes noise, but it’s a constant drone rather someone talking or music, something that’s more fluid. The monotony of it is such a constant that it doesn’t bother me, instead drowning other noises. It’s a weird habit, I suppose, but it’s helped me write and edit.

3) Maintaining a schedule. This seems simple, but it works wonders. I like to have a time frame or a goal in my mind when I start writing as to what I want to accomplish that day. Of course there are times when I might have to push past those intentions, but in general. If I say I’ll work for four hours, or write one chapter, it helps to maintain that goal throughout the process. Sometimes the mental ball is rolling, and it pays to see where it’s going. Maybe I’m in the right mood, and I just *want* to keep writing. If that’s the case, great. But if not, there’s no shame in calling it quits. Taking my time. Keeping my sanity. Ideally my story will be better because of it.

4) Taking a day off. Again, there are times when not working might be a stupid option, but when things are on schedule and everything is flowing well, letting myself have a day off is one of the best things I’ve found. It coincides with the keeping-to-a-schedule fiasco. My mind can flutter around to other things, rather than feeling continually dragged down by the same project every day for weeks on end. A breather day here and there has become a staple in my process.

5) Pinterest. Does this sound stupid? Trust me. It isn’t! Ways exist to be productive where my books are concerned other than just writing and editing the actual stories. Blogging, Twitter, Facebook... There are social media options that I can work on – still being the diligent author – while letting myself step away from the craziness of the book’s text. Pinterest, I’m finding, is one of my favorites. I can go to the site and work on a board made for The Division Chronicles, and while it’s time separated from the piece itself, it isn’t wasted.

There are other things that help me out, but five is such a good number, don’t you think? I think so. In any event, thanks for reading my post and helping me celebrate the release of Emblazed (The Division Chronicles: Book Two)! Keep in mind that Essenced (book one of the series) is scheduled for a free promotion throughout this blog tour (Feb. 24th-28th), so if you aren’t ready for Emblazed, you can catch up! I’m also planning giveaways for each day included in this tour for my Twitter account, so you might want to check that out!

Excerpt from Emblazed

AJ sensed him there, standing wordlessly some feet in the distance, just like she always recognized his presence when he lingered near. She absorbed the comfort and happiness he brought her – not that she’d admit that out loud – before sighing and speaking. “It’s called making a bed, Julius. It’s pretty commonplace.”

He didn’t push away from the doorframe, instead leaning further against it while he continued to observe her. “Sweetheart, nothing’s commonplace when you do it.”

Hearing the grin and affection in his voice, she smiled, peeking at him over her shoulder. “Is that a compliment or an insult?”

He gazed upward to stare at the ceiling with a thoughtful expression, then returned his attention to her, his shrug carefree. “Both.”

She smirked. “Sweet talker.”

“Odd ball.” He finally moved from the threshold, unhurriedly advancing toward her. “You know, most people make their beds in the morning. Not ten o’clock at night.”

She snorted. “Yeah. I’m gonna make my bed as soon as I roll out of it at six AM. I wouldn’t be making it now if I didn’t have to wrestle the sheet back on four times a night.” Finally setting her pillow in its position, she turned to him with an unashamed grin.

He chuckled, his adoration plain, and brushed a lock of hair from her face. “You’re one of a kind, you know that?”

“Compliment or insult?” she teased again.

“Compliment.” He smiled, cupping her cheek. “Definitely a compliment.”

“Sweet talker,” she repeated, standing on her tiptoes to press a kiss to his lips. Wrapping her arms around his neck, his circling her waist, she dove into the moment, reveling in the wonderful sensations only Julius incited. Safety. Warmth. Passion. So many more she couldn’t quite put a name to, the combination too heady and consuming to adequately decipher. It was simply a Julius effect, and its wonder had no equal in her life. Gradually breaking away, she knowingly lifted an eyebrow. “You didn’t come here just to make fun of me over my bed-making habits.”

“Maybe I came up here just to kiss you.”

“If that were the case, dear Julius, you wouldn’t have waited until I kissed you.”

Narrowing his eyes, he barely restrained his smirk at her forwardness and how well she’d grown to understand him in their time together. “You have a point.” He stepped back from her embrace, grasping her hand in his. “Come on. We have a mission.”

“A mission?” Her brow furrowed, though she made no move to retrieve her palm from his, following him in confusion as he neared the hallway. “At ten o’clock at night?”
“I believe we already covered the time in this conversation, AJ.” He made a clucking noise with his tongue, shaking his head in mock disappointment. “You really need to keep up with matters a bit more.”

She glared at the back of his head, lips thinning despite her vexing boyfriend’s inability to see her from his location. Realizing the futility of her frustrated efforts, she clenched the fingers he clutched, smiling in accomplishment at his grunt of discomfort. “Yeah, we covered it, but in household chore way. Not in a mission way. What could we possibly have to do this late at night?”

He sent her an amused glance – one she deemed condescending, particularly after the physical hint of her annoyance  – while tugging her through the doorway. “You do realize it isn’t ten o’clock everywhere, right?”

“Of course I realize that! I’m not a moron!”

“I never said you were…”

She growled, steeling her feet against the floor and prying her hand from his. “You didn’t have to. Your little grin said it all for you.”

His stare revealed sincere bewilderment – maybe a speck of frustration as well – and his arm dropped to his side. “So let me get this straight. You’re angry at me… because I smiled at you?”

Her eyes widened in fury, one finger raising to point at his chest while her left fist braced against her hip. “Don’t try to turn this around like I’m crazy!”

He scrunched his forehead, gaze traveling up and down her form while he held his hands out, as if silently offering his evidence.

She groaned, unhappy, turning away from him to rein in her irritation. For several seconds, she simply scanned her room, livid exhale after livid exhale falling from her lips, but the attempts did little to calm her turmoil, Julius actually flinching when her focus again landed on him. “It’s the grin you used. It’s the same one that was on your face when you drove into New Mexico, and I was surprised the facility was stationed here. Like I’m the dumbest person in the world and your number one source of entertainment.”
Instantly, his expression softened. “You can’t possibly think that I think that way?”
She just glared at him.

“Look, I’m not gonna lie.” He approached her, smiling tenderly. “You do amuse me, but not because I think you’re stupid. You’re… animated. And quirky. But not stupid. And I get it’s late, and no matter what time zone we’re entering, it’s ten o’clock here and we’re handing over sleeping hours, but Nicholai insists we need to go now.”

She kept pinched eyes on him, but her posture loosened a bit.

He laughed, reaching for her hand once more. “See? Animated. I can pretty much watch the wheels in your head turn.”

“Does that make you my mental stalker, too?”

Processing the playful edge of her words, he kissed her knuckles and led her into the hall. “Trust me, sweetheart. I have no desire to wander through your mind. I can’t imagine all the weird things I’d encounter.”

She tilted her head to the side, smiling. “Compliment or insult?”

Smirking over his shoulder, he caught her eyes with his. “Insult.”

About the author:

Connie L. Smith spends far too much time with her mind wandering in fictional places. She reads too much, likes to bake, and will be forever sad that she doesn't have fairy wings. And that she can't swing dance. When she isn't reading or writing, there's a good chance she's goofing off with her amazing, wonderful, incredible, fabulous nieces and nephew, or listening to music that is severely outdated. She has her BA from Northern Kentucky University in Speech Communication and History (she doesn't totally get the connection either) and likes to snap photos. Oh, and she likes apples a whole big bunch.

Connect with Connie:
Blog/Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads 

Buy the books:
Essenced FREE!! | Emblazed

Monday, February 24, 2014

Featured Author: Lindy Dale

CLP Blog Tours brings Lindy Dale here today to talk about her chick lit novel, Storm in a B Cup, published by Secret Creek Press. In the book, Lindy deals with the serious subject of breast cancer in a humorous way.

About the book:

“It’s my funeral. If I want you to play Bon Jovi as they wheel my body away to be cremated you’ll do it.”
The horrified look on Brendan's face says he'll do anything but. “People will laugh.”
“I want them to. I want a funeral where everyone stands around and remembers the funny things I did, and then they get really pissed."

Sophie Molloy has breast cancer. She didn’t think it was cancer to begin with, she thought it was another cyst. She also didn’t think it would be the catalyst for a series of life changing events, none of which involved chemotherapy. Within months of her diagnosis, Sophie loses not only her right breast but her boyfriend of three years, her house and her best friend. Her life spirals from great to bad, then ugly. Nothing can make it better, not even the crazy care packages her mother keeps sending from Melbourne.

To make matters worse, Sophie fears she’s developing a crush on the plastic surgeon that will be reconstructing her breast. Dr. Hanson has the bedside manner of an angel and the looks to match. He’s so caring and compassionate, Sophie begins to believe he cares about her in a most non-doctor-patient kind of way. But he doesn’t, of course. He’s merely her doctor. Or does he?

A fictional tale, based on the author's medical journey with the disease, Storm in a B Cup is a warm-hearted glimpse into the world of a breast cancer sufferer that will have you laughing out loud.

Other books by Lindy:

The Taming of the Bastard (Bastard Tales #1)
The Bastard Takes a Wife (Bastard Tales #2)
Perhaps… Perhaps
Heart of Glass
Angel’s Bend
Daisy Darling Meets a Man
A Cupid Kind of Day
It Started with a Kiss

All books are available on Smashwords, iTunes, Kobo, Barnes &Noble, Amazon

Interview with Lindy Dale: 

What’s the story behind the title Storm in a B Cup?

Storm in a B Cup is fairly obviously about boobs. As it’s a breast cancer story, I wanted a title that would reflect the fun side of the book. I didn’t want readers to think it was one of those sad breast cancer books all about doom and gloom and medical procedures because it definitely isn’t. It’s a story about breast cancer, obviously, but also about turning negatives into positives and having a good laugh. I think the title and cover represent the contents very well.

I do too! Do you have another job outside of writing?

Yes. Three days a week, I’m a teacher. I teach Year 1 & 2 students who are experiencing difficulty with literacy. It’s really rewarding teaching kids to read, especially when they start to make comments about books and show a love of books. I also have a writer’s group for kids. It runs on a Saturday morning. At the moment we’re plotting fantasy stories. Not every kid wants to play footy.

How did you create the plot for this book?

It was pretty easy, really. The medical side follows my own journey with cancer (right down to being in ICU for a week and having 10 surgeries). Most of the funny events actually happened to me, though I may have embellished a little for comedy’s sake. The plot, itself, just came out of my head. I made it up.

I knew it had to be a romance, with a happy ending, but I wanted to show the bad side of cancer too, the one that doesn’t have anything to do with treatment. Also, I’d read a lot when I was ill and talked to other breast cancer survivors about their journeys. They had some funny stories, which I included.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

Lots of them. In Storm in a B Cup, the characters came from people I met along the way. They’ve just been exaggerated to make it funny. There’s a lot of me in Sophie, more than in any other character I’ve ever written. My editor thought, in parts, Sophie was not angry enough or sad enough but that’s how I dealt with my disease.

The Bastard series has a lot of characters invented from people I know too. In fact, my husband is convinced that Sam, the main character, is him (which he is, but I will never tell him).

In Daisy Darling, the characters were inspired by a dream I had about Jon Bon Jovi and a blue baseball cap. Daisy is a bit like me, too, living alone on the farm (my hubby works away).

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

One of my favorite scenes in Storm in a B Cup is when Sophie and Brendan are discussing her trip to hospital for the mastectomy and he’s cross about the amount of money she spent. Sophie likes to be prepared for any eventuality and because she can’t control the cancer, she wants to control the things she’s able to - like how she looks, what she’ll wear. She’s paranoid that people will judge her when she’s unconscious on the operating table if she’s not fully waxed, manicured and had her hair done. There’s also a bit about what will happen if she dies and the consequences if Brendan doesn’t fulfill her funeral wishes.

What song would you pick to go with the book?

Sophie’s song for her funeral: "Have a Nice Day" by Bon Jovi
“When the world gets in my way, I say, ‘Have a nice day!’” 
What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

Wish Upon A Star by Trisha Ashley on my Kindle. Ninety-nine percent of my reading is on Kindle. Since I got it three years ago, I’ve hardly touched a paperback. When I was sick, my son bought me a book to read and it felt really strange holding a book after such a long time. I tried reading on my iPad but the glare hurts my eyes.

I don’t claim to be an expert on writing, but there are some writing techniques (or mistakes) that stand out to me when I read (e.g. when an author switches POV mid-scene). What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?

Oh. My. God. I hate misspelled words and words used incorrectly! E.g.: were - we’re. I am meticulous about proofreading my work and not having spelling errors. Once, a reviewer gave me one star because the book was ‘riddled with mistakes’ but it turned out she didn’t get that I write in UK English not US. She never changed the review though, and I was very upset. I can totally handle if you don’t like the plot or the characters (it’s your opinion and we all have one) but to say my work is poorly presented or badly written devastates me.

Do you have a routine for writing?

I’m a binge writer. I’ll write for weeks on end, sometimes a whole novella in a week and then I have to rest for a month or so. Being disciplined and writing a little bit every day doesn’t work for me.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

Anywhere, anytime. I write on the plane (it’s a long flight from Perth to the East coast), I wrote while I was in hospital. I write in my lunch hour at work. I also write in front of the TV.

Where’s home for you?

I’ve lived in lots of places in Australia but whenever I go home to Hobart, where I was born and grew up, it always feels like home. I don’t know if we’ll go back. It costs so much money and our children would be so far away.

Neil Gaiman said, “Picking five favorite books is like picking five body parts you'd most like not to lose.” So…what are your five favorite books and your five body parts you’d most like not to lose?

1. The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
2. Lady of Hay - Barbara Erskine
3. The Witching Hour - Anne Rice
4. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
5. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
6. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
(Weird how none of them are chick lit, I just realised that! Well, except Austin.)
I am a huge devourer of chick lit authors, mostly UK ones.

Body Parts: Well, I’ve already lost two and that didn’t worry me much, but I don’t think I’d like to lose my sight or hearing, even though they’re not technically body parts. It would be very hard not hearing music and laughter or being able to read a book. And because so much of what I write comes from what’s around me, I think writing would be difficult for me.

What’s your favorite candy bar?

By candy, I’m assuming you mean chocolate because that’s what we’d call it in Australia. And I have a million favorites. In fact, I would live on chocolate if it didn’t make me look like the side of a barn. My absolute favorites are anything peppermint, like Aero. Also Kit Kats and Cadbury Twirls but you can put any chocolate in front of me and I’ll eat it. (As long as it’s not that cheap $2 shop kind. Ick!)
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I looove to spend time with my kids. They are adults now and live away from home so I don’t see them often. Likewise, I like to be with G, my man. He works away from home and is only at the farm on weekends. Being together is a big priority since I was ill.
I like going to Zumba and walking, and I spend a lot of time listening to music and going to live gigs when I can. I’m passionate about rugby, so we go to lots of matches around Australia. Oh and I read. Of course, I read. Every night before I go to sleep.

What are you working on now?

I’m finishing the first draft of my new novel The Cupcake Guy. It’s about a guy with a cupcake shop and a girl who falls in love with him but finds herself unable to be with him because she’s addicted to cakes.

Excerpt from Storm in a B Cup 

About an hour later, Brendan arrives home late from squash to find me surfing the net on the new TV. Having located the last stash of chocolates — which I’d hidden so well even I couldn’t find them in the first search — I’ve demolished the lot, washing them down with a bottle of red. I’m feeling a little bit tipsy. Or it could be a sugar rush.

Raising his eyebrows at the coffee table, which is littered with wrappers and bearing a couple of wine rings, Brendan screws the papers into a tight ball and takes them and the empty bottle to the kitchen. He returns with a sponge, which he uses to wipe the table before returning it to its plastic bowl under the kitchen sink.

“Are you drunk?” he asks, returning to the room.


“Is that wise?”

“Probably not. I’ll have a massive hangover in the morning.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“I realise that.”

I glare at him. Since the first traumatic days of my diagnosis, Brendan appears to have returned to his old self. Yes, he’s sporting a lot of new ties and at odd moments, I catch him studying me with a sad look on his face, but I think he’s trying to support me as best he can by acting as normally as he can. Which would of course, include chastising me for drinking too much and making a mess on his coffee table.

He walks around the sofa and flops down beside me. His body is clammy from his game of squash and his hair is standing in jagged spikes on top of his head. Somehow, he still manages to look devastatingly handsome.

“What’s this?” Brendan picks up my To Do list.

“A few things I need to sort out.” I try to snatch the list away but he holds it at arm’s length and begins to read.

“You’re planning your funeral? Jesus, Sophie!”

“You don’t think I’d let you be in charge do you?”

With the piece of paper in his hand, Brendan gets up and heads for the fridge. He pulls out a bottle of water and drinks half before wiping his mouth on the back of his hand. He slings an arm over the open door. “Why are you planning your funeral?”

“In case I die on the operating table.”

“You’re not going to die on the operating table.” Shaking his head, he finishes his water and takes a three point shot at the recycling bin.

“I know, but in case I do, I’ve left you a list of requests.”

Brendan comes back to the sofa and picks up a second piece of paper from beside me. It has a heading entitled ‘Sophie’s Funeral’ and a page-long dot-pointed set of ideas. His eyes scan the page and he shakes his head again.

“I’m not playing Bon Jovi at your funeral, Soph.”

“It’s my funeral. If I want you to play Have A Nice Day as they wheel my body away to be cremated, you’ll do it.”

“But it’s a rock song.”

“I know. I want people to be happy. That song makes me happy. Speaking of which, I want U2 as well. Walk On.  And P!nk, Bad Influence while you do the photo montage.”

“People will laugh.”

“I want them to. People shouldn’t cry because I’m gone. They should have a wake where everyone stands around and remembers the funny things I did and then they get really pissed. I do not want crying and I definitely don’t want you to sprinkle my remains in some tacky rose garden somewhere.”

“Where will I put you then?”

“In an urn on the mantel. Then I can heckle you when you put the moves on a new woman.”

He looks horrified.


He takes another look at the list. “They can’t sew your boob back on after you die.”

“Why? It's no good to anybody but me. The surgeon’s going to sew me up anyway, so I don’t see the difference. It doesn’t have to be neat sewing. It just needs to be there so I’m complete and look nice in my death outfit.”

“Maybe you should discuss that with the doctor next Thursday.”

I snatch the pieces of paper from him. “All right. I will. I might get a sensible answer from her.”


I put the list aside and glancing at my watch, I pick up the phone. I scrawl another item while I wait.


“Hello? Anna? This is Sophie Molloy. I was wondering if you could fit me in for a full body wax, mani-pedi and an eyebrow wax and tint before next Thursday?”

Brendan’s mouth has hit the carpet. “You’re going to hospital, not the Oscars,” he hisses.

“Shhh!" I hold my hand up and turn away so I can't see him making faces at me. "One o’clock will be great. Thanks Anna. Yeah, see you then.” I hang up the phone and calmly scratch an item off the list.


The only thing I need now is luggage. I really need luggage.

“Sophie!” Brendan snatches the remote from me and turns the TV off. I can see he’s getting annoyed, so I try to give him my attention.


“How much have you spent? So far?”

I do a quick tally. “Roughly eight hundred.”

“You do understand that’s two plane tickets to Melbourne?”

“Says the man who spent a small fortune on technology the other day.”

He gives me the look.

“I’m going to hospital. I need to look my best. People are going to see me naked.”

“I’m pretty sure they’ve seen naked people before. They won’t care if your toes aren’t buffed."

"I know, but I will. If I’m going to be unconscious in an operating theatre with a bunch of people I don’t know, I won’t be giving them any excuse to talk about me, except to say how pretty my hair is.”

My lip starts to wobble when I hear how incredibly shallow I sound and I collapse into Brendan’s arms. Sobbing.

“It’s okay. I understand. You can’t control the cancer, so you’re trying to control everything else in your life. You don’t like not being in control.”

“Are you saying I’m a control freak?”

He pauses for a minute, knowing that his sex life hangs in the balance here. If he says the wrong thing, I could cut him off. For a very long time.

“I’m saying you like to be organised and this has thrown you for a loop. You can’t orchestrate this part of your life. You have to let the professionals do their job.”

I understand what he’s saying and he’s perfectly right. I am an organiser. But I like things to be a certain way. That’s me. I reach up and peck his cheek. I feel so much better now I know I’m not having some sort of pre-op breakdown.



“If you don’t play Bon Jovi at my funeral, I’ll come back and haunt you while you’re having sex.”

“That sounds kinky.”

“Don’t bet on it.”

About the author:

Lindy lives on acreage in country Western Australia where she spends her days teaching, writing, walking and looking after orphan lambs. (See Daisy Darling)
She’s a hopeless U2 and Bon Jovi fan - as judged by her collection of tour t-shirts. She’s also rugby union fanatic, coffee and champagne lover, chocoholic, over-exaggerator, trashy TV, music and iPhone addict.

Lindy has been writing in the genre of Chick Lit & Women's Fiction for the past ten years but has also tried her hand at a paranormal romance in the book, Angel’s Bend. Chick Lit remains her main love.

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

Buy the book:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Featured Author: Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Pamela Fagan Hutchins was here in January of last year to talk about Saving Grace, book #1 in her Katie & Annalise series. She's back today to talk about her newest release, Finding Harmony, book #3 in her romantic mystery series, published by SkipJack Publishing.

About the book:

Katie’s already on edge when a dead guy shows up at Annalise and shady locals claim there are slave remains in the foundation, but when Nick doesn’t come home to her and the kids, she’s ready to lose it. A frantic Katie launches a Caribbean-wide manhunt, calling on Kurt, her stoic, steady father-in-law, and Collin, her badass big brother, to help her search air, land, and sea for her husband, who may be in very big trouble indeed.

Other books in the Katie & Annalise series:
Saving Grace, Book #1 
Leaving Annalise, Book #2

Interview with Pamela Fagan Hutchins

What’s the story behind the title of your book?

Dang, this was a hard book to name. I used a different working title, but ultimately stole that one for the first book in the series, which left me flummoxed. My husband, my editor, and I spent about two months brainstorming, arguing good naturedly, and shopping out titles. We knew we wanted a gerund phrase (-ing verb and female proper name) as we used with the other books in the series. We wanted a positive connotation for the verb, and a veiled story association for the proper name. We narrowed it down to two and let the beta readers and blog followers vote. There were very strong, impassioned opinions flying around, but Finding Harmony won. Phew!

Do you have another job outside of writing?

I have a kick ass day job. I’m a workplace investigator -- and as a result I do a fun speech called “Colonel Mustard in the Conference Room With His Pants Down” relating workplace law, criminal law, and mystery writing -- a former human resources executive, a coach, an employment attorney, and president of the Houston Writers Guild. And I write funny romantic mysteries. Seriously, does it get any better than this?

How did you create the plot for Finding Harmony?

My husband is a native of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where I lived for nearly ten years. A man was found near our rainforest house, Estate Annaly, dead by what appeared to be a self-administered gunshot wound to the head. From there, a universe of what ifs rocketed through my brain until Finding Harmony emerged. I wanted to create a sense of how close together the Caribbean islands are, and yet how isolated each is. There’s a helpless feeling of imprisonment by water at times, and of the immensity and ruthless power of the ocean. And, simultaneously, there’s its indescribable beauty. That same dichotomy exists between the kindness and savagery of the people you meet. The Caribbean is not for the faint of heart, and I think readers will really feel that in Finding Harmony.

Tell us a book by an indie author for which you’re an evangelist.

It comes out later this spring: The Closing by Ken Oder. Romantic, atmospheric, historical legal thriller set in West Virginia. I can’t wait for him to share it with the world!

What song would you pick to go with Finding Harmony?

"Underneath it All," by No Doubt.

Who are your favorite authors?

I love the larger-than-life characters of Larry McMurtry, the emotion and descriptive excess of Pat Conroy, the psychological intensity of Ruth Rendell, and the hilarity of Janet Evanovich. And then there is just this incredible list of mystery/thriller authors that’s too long for publication, but let me give it a shot: P.D. James, Elizabeth George, Sara Paretsky, John Sanford, Tami Hoag, Sue Grafton, Mary Higgins Clark, etc.etc. etc. My goodness. I love them all.

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

Secret Sex Lives, paperback, by my friend and NY Times-bestselling author, Suzy Spencer.

I don’t claim to be an expert on writing, but there are some writing techniques (or mistakes) that stand out to me when I read (e.g. when an author switches POV mid-scene). What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?

Poorly executed and inconsistent dialect/accent. Gack!

Do you have a routine for writing?

Don my sleepy sheep flannel pajamas, sit down with my laptop, and grind until my husband and kids revolt. Notice my hands are swollen, groan, pop four ibuprofen, ice, and elevate. Overcompensate with the family for ignoring them. Repeat.

What would your dream office look like?

My dream office would have a second story wall of windows onto a balcony overlooking our gorgeous wooded property in Nowheresville, TX, especially the three massive pines that drop a thick bed of needles at their feet. I would have a salt lick and deer feeder right in the middle of them, with bird feeders closer in and my husband’s garden off to the side, but in view. There would be a fireplace and a dumb waiter. It would have what my mother calls a “shake and bake” recliner (heater and massager), a bed for my one-eyed Boston terrier Petey, a Keurig coffee maker, and my husband at his desk next to me. I would have a basket of fuzzy socks beside the recliner. One wall would be filled with pictures of our family, one with book shelves, and the one behind me would have my supplies. I’d have dedicated chargers always plugged in that no one else was allowed to use.(ahemmmm, my children, are you reading this???)

What are you working on now?

Mostly right now I am battling for time to write so I can get my next book out on time (October 2014)!! It’s called Going for Kona. It’s a romantic mystery, and it’s a bridge from the Katie & Annalise books into the next series, which will start in 2015. In other words, I will have characters popping up from both series in Kona. Kona is the favorite of all my novels so far of both my mother and my husband. I hope that’s not the kiss of death! It’s very special to all of us, and, like the Katie & Annalise books, it pairs deep pain over life’s casual brutality with surprising hilarity. Because that’s what real life feels like to me, laughing in the face of the devil. The “working blurb” is “Adrian Hanson brings tightly-wound Charlotte to life and the Triathlon World Championships, but his suspicious hit and run death leaves her with an empty heart and a full plate. Charlotte must convince the police her teenage son Sam did not kill Adrian and identify the killer before she or Sam meet the same fate, while completing her Ironman tribute to the husband whose devotion to her seems ever more questionable as her investigation unfolds.”

Excerpt from Finding Harmony:

Chapter One

One hundred pounds of squealing pig juked left and went right, and my husband fell for the fake. Mud splashed over his head and splattered our three-year-old on the other side of the fence. A coconut palm did the wave in the distance, lending support to the swine, one island local to another.

“More, Daddy, more!”

Taylor hopped up and down, his hands gripping the middle rail above his head. He looked like the 102nd Dalmatian in his muddy white shirt, a poor choice in retrospect. Even a year after Nick’s sister’s death had left Taylor in our care, I still wasn’t quite up to speed on motherhood.

A loud chuptz sounded behind me as the pig’s owner sucked his teeth derisively. The Pig Man shaded his eyes from the sun and peered over at Nick past a rusted-out Buick and some wandering chickens. His voice belied faith in the pig-catching abilities of a mere continental.

“You got to get your arms around the neck and behind the shoulder, meh son. Lock your hands around your wrists. Like this.” He demonstrated with his hands clasped over his head. “Then you slip the rope over he head.” Then he turned his back and went about his business of doing nothing—limin’, as they say on St. Marcos. Strains of Jimmy Cliff singing “The Harder They Come” spilled from his radio. Nick caught my eye and rolled his.

“Yes, sir. I think I’ve got him this time.” My husband stuffed the length of twine back into his waistband, smearing what may not have been mud on himself in the process. Luckily, we had driven separate cars.

Not for the first time, I wondered how I had gotten from there to here so quickly. “There” was my old life in Dallas as a single attorney with a penchant for Bloody Marys; “here” was my new one as a mother of three, married to Nick Kovacs on a Caribbean island.

I looked back at Nick. The pig still had the upper hand. Maybe he knew his fate; tomorrow he would be the main course at a christening party for our three-month-old twins, Jessica and Olivia. On St. Marcos, it wasn’t a party without a roasted pig. That meant a visit to the Pig Man to buy one—but first, you had to catch it.

Nick appeared closer to doing just that. Taylor, the little traitor, was cheering on the pig, which looked like it was getting tired. Nick lunged like the Pig Man told him to and finally slipped the halter over our swine’s head.

“One hour and seven minutes,” I called out.

“I spotted him the first half hour,” Nick replied.

I stifled the smirk tickling the edges of my mouth. The alternative to Nick catching the pig was me in that pen—supportive, appreciative, and awestruck seemed the way to go. “Woo hoo, Nick, I am so impressed. You caught the baby pig. We’re roasting Wilbur!”

“Daddy caught Wilburn,” Taylor announced. He turned to me. “Can we keep Wilburn?”

I wondered what Charlotte would have spun in her web if she’d heard that. “Wilburn” had a nice ring to it.

“Now you’ve started it, Katie,” Nick said as he moved in for a kiss. Despite the pig muck smeared on his shirt and caked on his pants, I let him. I patted him on the behind, too.
The Pig Man nursed a rum and Coke and continued limin’ while Nick wrestled the pig into the small trailer we had borrowed for the day. I applied some spit and elbow grease to Taylor’s smelly spots. When Nick closed the trailer’s door with a clang, the Pig Man roused himself. “That be one hundred and fifty dollar.” He held out his hand. Nick filled it and we bid him good day.

The Pig Man lived even farther up in the rainforest than we did. We pointed our SUVs back down the one-lane dirt road that ran the ridge over the island’s northwestern shore. The cliffs fell away to crashing blue waves below, where the sea was whipped into a meringue against the rocks. Home, rugged home.

Nick’s banged-up maroon Montero pulled to a stop before a small wooden barricade that hadn’t been there earlier. Neither had the wild-eyed man who appeared from the bush, a Heineken in one hand and a machete in the other. His hair stood away from his head in a patchy Afro and his camouflage pants and ragged jam-band t-shirt hung on his bony frame. This should be good. I rolled down my window.

“Dan-Dan, how are you doing?” Nick said.

“You got to pay the toll to pass,” Dan-Dan answered.

“No problem. I’m paying for the lady in the next vehicle, too.”

“That two beers. One for each. You got to pay me two beers.”

Nick pulled out two of the four beers he had stashed in his console for just this reason. Dan-Dan must have been sleeping off yesterday’s collections earlier; we had made the round trip for half price today. “Here you go.” Nick handed him the beers and the sack lunch of fry chicken and johnnycake we had picked up earlier at the Pig Bar. As a recovering whatever-I-was (I refused to say alcoholic), I insisted we give him food, too, even though I honored the requirement of beer. Hopefully Dan-Dan would eat it. “You take care of yourself, now,” Nick said.

Dan-Dan pulled the barricade aside just long enough for our vehicles to pass and then hustled it back into place. I waved at him as I drove by, but he gave no sign that he had seen my gesture.

Taylor waved and shouted, “Hi, Dan-Dan!”

This brought the man’s head up. He smiled, showing his snaggly teeth, and motioned me to stop. I did; Nick kept going. Dan-Dan ran into the bush, then back to my truck. He was not one to waste effort on the niceties of small talk.

“Who that man in the bush at your house?” he asked.

“You mean my husband Nick? Or maybe my father-in-law, Kurt? Kurt is older but he looks like Nick, and you know Nick, right? The one who just drove off, Taylor’s dad.”

He shook his head. “Not dem men. A man like me, a local man. A man who talk about dead people dem.” Pluralization, West Indian-style: them, after a noun, pronounced “dem.”

I swallowed. “Well, I don’t know, but if you see him, tell him to go away.” I tried a laugh. It came out flat.

He pulled a wooden figure out of his pocket and handed it to me. A pig. “For the boy.”

How in the world had this man carved the perfect gift on the perfect day for Taylor?

Taylor strained against his seat belt. “He made Wilburn for me. I want Wilburn.”

I handed it to him. “What do you say, Taylor?”

“Thanks, Dan-Dan!”

I turned to thank Dan-Dan myself, but he was gone, back from where he’d come. Some people feared the old guy, but he was all bluster and had never harmed anyone. He was just one of the ragtag personalities that made St. Marcos unique—and one of the reasons that tourists and snowbirds avoided this part of the island. I considered that a good thing.

My phone rang: Nick calling, although we had caught back up to him. “I’m headed into town to the abattoir,” he said.

“I’m so glad it’s you and not me,” I replied.

“I have my uses.”

“Yes, you certainly do.” The tone of my voice left no doubt as to his other uses.

“Hold that thought for later,” he said, and clicked off.

Nick turned left at the next fork and Taylor and I stayed to the right to head back to Annalise. We bounced down the dirt road under a canopy of green vines and pink flowers, past the ruins of an old sugar plantation and up to her gate. A wild tropical orchard lined her drive, and I often slowed down here and rolled down the windows to breathe them in. When the trees parted to reveal her, Annalise stood tall and proud on the crest of a hill, overlooking a forest of mango trees on the valley floor.

We lived in—I might as well just say it and get it out there—a jumbie house in the rainforest. Jumbie as in voodoo spirit.

Yeah, right. I know. I didn’t believe it either at first. I promise I’m not some crazy woman who needs her head shrunk. Living at Annalise just showed me there’s more out there than our first five senses can detect. On St. Marcos, I’d discovered a sort of sixth sense that made me aware of things. Things that were almost undetectable back in Dallas, like someone had hit the mute button. But on St. Marcos, by the sea, I could feel them. I could feel her. Annalise.

The crazed barking of our pack of dogs broke my reverie. We had started with six of them but were down to five after one succumbed to a swarm of bees; the rainforest could be as brutal as it was lovely. Our dogs served us well as security force and welcome committee, and they did both jobs well. Today they alerted my live-in in-laws to our presence, and Julie met us at the door.

“Hi, ’Lise. Hi, Gramma,” Taylor said to the house and Julie before showering our German shepherd with the full force of his attention. Poco Oso and Taylor were best pals.

“Shhh, Kurt is putting the girls down for their nap,” Julie said. “Did you get a pig?”

“Wilbur is on his way to slaughter. And I’m a recently converted vegan.”

Julie and I shared a grimace. No matter how abhorrent the thought of cooking Wilbur was to me, the girls came into this world on St. Marcos, and their christening deserved the full island wingding. Except for the roasted pig, all the food would come from Miss B’s Catering, which we had ordered for delivery two hours earlier than we needed it, in the hope that it would then be on time. Life ran at a slower pace here.

 I tiptoed into my daughters’ room. If you closed your eyes and sniffed, you’d know you were in a baby girl’s room: powder, lotion, baby wipes and new diapers. I loved the scent. Not that it always smelled this sweet; with twins, there’s double the diaper issue, but I’m slightly OCD and we took care of stinkers fast. Kurt was rocking Liv in our yellow and blue plaid glider; Jess was already sleeping in her crib. Soft mewling sounds slipped from her lips as I kissed my fingertip and placed it on her cheek. She’d better hope those dainty mewls didn’t become the growly snores of her father someday. I stroked her head, enthralled by the fuzz of the hair she almost had.

Kurt, Julie, and I spent the next few hours preparing Annalise for the party while Taylor had lunch and a nap. Annalise loved a good party, and we could feel her energy level throttle up, but mine began to throttle down as the hours passed and Nick didn’t return. How long could a butcher take, anyway? Maybe it was delayed postpartum depression talking, but it occurred to me that whatever was in town must be a lot more appealing than a wife who still needed to lose ten pounds of pregnancy weight. But I pushed the thought out of my mind. Not my Nick.

At dusk, he drove up to the house, pulling the trailer behind the truck. Kurt, Julie, and I each grabbed a child and ran out to greet him. It’s not every day Daddy brings home a big dead pig.

“Hi, Daddy,” Taylor yelled.

Nick grinned at us and turned off the ignition. He stuck his head out the window. “Who wants to help me bring in Wilbur?”

“Wilburn!” Taylor said as he hopped from one foot to the other.

“Nick . . .” I pleaded, but he ignored my hint to ix-nay the ilburn-way. OK, I’d started it, but ewww.

Kurt handed Liv to Julie and helped Nick carry the dressed pig—swathed in innumerable layers of plastic wrap—to the dining room.

“Oh, no, fellas. Not my dining room table. No way,” I said.

“It’s here or the coffee table,” Nick replied.

“Neither! How about the garage floor?”

“You really want to leave a slaughtered pig on the floor of the garage overnight, up in the rainforest? Really?”

I thought of the traps we kept baited for the rodents of all sizes that ventured in looking for food. The monthly visits from the exterminator. The mahogany birds known in the states as roaches. “Maybe not such a good idea,” I admitted.

“Ya think?” Nick said.

Before I could think of a snappy comeback, someone knocked on the kitchen door. I answered it with Liv poised on one hip. We didn’t get many visitors up here. I opened the door onto a complete stranger who was standing outside the span of light in total silence. No sound or sign of our dogs. Weird.

“Good evening,” I said.

Nick appeared and stepped in front of Liv and me. “Good evening to you. May I help you?” Nick said.

The scruffy local stepped forward and looked around Nick to the baby and me. “I here to see the missus.”

“Go ahead,” Nick said.

“It private business.” He ducked his head forward in an attempt to indicate respect.
Private business? What in Hades could anyone want to talk to me about that Nick couldn’t hear? How odd, I thought, but I wanted to know what the man had to say.

“No offense, but—” Nick started to say.

Uh oh. Nothing good ever came out of Nick’s mouth after “No offense, but.” I interrupted. “It’s OK, Nick. You’ll just be a few feet away in the kitchen. I’ll call you if I need you.”

I immediately regretted my words. This man had an unsettling vibe. I didn’t want to talk to him alone, but it was too late. The look my husband gave me would freeze the blood in the veins of a lesser redhead. He stalked to the kitchen, his footsteps drumming his displeasure in a deep bass tone. I suspected I would have some making up to do later. I almost called out for him to come back, but I pushed my nerves aside. Don’t be a wuss.
He’s only twenty feet away.

“You Ms. Katie that buy this house?”

“I am.”

“I here about the dead.”

“The dead pig?”

“I don’t know nothing ’bout no pig. I here about all the dead people dem under the house.”
Liv whimpered. “Shush, love.” I bounced her lightly. She was falling asleep; not me. This man had shocked my system like a triple espresso. I wasn’t the only one wide awake, either; I could feel Annalise rise up. She didn’t like this man any more than I did. The dogs reappeared in the yard. Where the hell had they been? They kept their distance but formed a rough perimeter around the stranger.

“Excuse me?” I spoke loudly, hoping to draw Nick back to me without scaring my visitor away until I’d heard him out.

“All the dead men and women dem buried under this house,” he said. “I work here, long time ago, building the house. I see skeletons dem with my own two eyes. The boss man—the bad man—he try to cover it up so nobody know. But I know. He put this house on sacred ground. He disrespect the dead.”

Eerie night music filled my ears as thousands of bats’ wings beat the air, vacating Annalise’s eaves to begin their evening hunt. “I’m not sure I understand what you mean,” I said to him.

“This house built on a slave graveyard. The law say you can’t go digging up the dead.”
Was it built on a graveyard? Against the law? I had no idea about either point. He went on.

“Maybe I think you don’t want me talking to the government about this. Give me a little something for disrespecting my people dem, and I won’t say nothing. I going now for a time, but when I reach back, maybe you have something you want to give me and my family.”
He turned on his heel and walked off toward the bush, but as he crossed the yard, the light above the door exploded, showering glass in a wide arc that left Liv and me untouched. Glass flew at him and the sound chased his back, but if he was hit, he didn’t flinch.

Only I could see the tall black woman with the knotted headscarf standing two steps away from the porch. A scowl puckered her young face, and her calf-length plaid skirt whipped around her bare legs as she slowly disappeared. Well done, Annalise! I could have told him not to piss off my house.

The dogs gave way to him, growling low and I felt an urge to whisper, “I see dead people dem,” in my best local accent. This guy was spooky. What if he was telling the truth? My mind reeled from the possibility. It was highly unlikely, though. I felt Nick’s hand on my shoulder and relief surged through me.

“I’m sorry, sir, what did you say your name was?” I called after the old man as his black skin disappeared into the black night. He didn’t answer.

About the author:

Once Upon A Romance Calls Hutchins an "up and coming powerhouse writer." If you like Josie Brown or Janet Evanovich, you will love Pamela Fagan Hutchins. A former attorney and native Texan, Pamela lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands for nearly ten years. She refuses to admit to taking notes for this series during that time.

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

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple | Kobo | Smashwords 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Featured Author: JL Redington

CLP Blog Tours brings JL Redington here today to talk about her newest romantic suspense novel, The Lies That Save Us. Get to know JL in the interview I did with her, read an excerpt from the book, and don't miss the chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card with the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of this feature.

About the book: 

Alexa is beautiful, smart and alone in the world, a result of devastating losses in her life.  She purchased a diner in the quiet out of the way town of Startup, Washington and hired employees to help run it. She’s just beginning to feel secure in her loneliness. 
Suddenly her world is jolted awake by Cayman, a handsome young stranger that enters her diner seemingly from nowhere. Event’s happen quickly, and soon Alexa is deep into secret lives, deception and desire.
Will she figure out the riddle of her father’s death?  Will she be able to resist the temptation to fall in love with Cayman, in spite of her suspicions?  Will she live to tell the tale?

JL's YA series:

A Cry Out Of Time
Pirates of Shadowed Time

A View Through Time

JL's romance series:

The Lies That Save Us 
Solitary Tears 
Veiled Secrets
Love Me Anyway 

Interview with JL Redington

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

I’ve been writing about a year and a half.  Twenty some years ago I wrote a YA book that totally stunk.  As my children grew and left home, my ‘adopted’ daughter who is now a NY Times Bestselling author and my birth daughter’s best buddy, told me I needed to get that story out and start writing.  So, I did.  I redid the story, started with a YA series called the Esme Chronicles and it became A Cry Out of Time, the first book in that series. 

What is the story behind the title of your book?

I usually have to write a few chapters, and in the case of The Lies That Save Us, I had to write the whole book before I could think of a title.  Then I’ll pick out key words I want to use and head to the Thesaurus.  Titling my books is a fun process, and one of my favorite parts.  It’s like putting a puzzle together.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

I did with my YA series, I was a realtor and would write from about 10 pm – 2 a.m.  Now, I’m blessed to be able to stay home and write full time. It’s a dream come true for me.

How did you create a plot for this book?

I usually have a story piece that pops into my head and plants an idea. Nothing happens with the story until my fingers hit the keyboard and the movie in my head starts playing, then off I go! Usually about three or four chapters into the book I have to stop and go to my iPad and write out the remainder of the book in a chapter heading format that keeps me moving in the direction I want to go.

How do you get to know your characters?

As I write a story, the person in the character emerges.  It’s like making a new friend with each new character, the more I write about them, the more I learn about them.  Often, this requires some adjusting to the earlier story line, as I learn more about them, but usually by the third or fourth chapter I’ve got their personality down and the rest is just writing.  I’m a little backward that way, I guess.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

I think I had the most fun with Greyson from my newest release, Love Me Anyway. Actually, it was the two main characters that kept me smiling in that book. Similarly, I had a great time with Patrick and Kate from the second in my Broken Heart series, Solitary Tears.  The more I answer this question the harder it is to pick a character!

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

In The Lies That Save Us I would have to say it’s where Alexa’s dad finds her in the warehouse.

Who are your favorite authors?

Oh, many authors, so little time, but I would have to lead off with Robert Jordan and his Wheel of Time series. Amazing. Then there’s Brandon Sanderson, who finished The Wheel of Time series after the death of Robert Jordan (a sad, sad loss). His Mistborn Series is awesome. Also, anything Agatha Christy, or any of the Sherlock Holmes stories.  And those are just the tip of the iceberg!

I don’t claim to be an expert on writing, but there are some writing techniques (or mistakes) that stand out to me when I read (e.g. when an author switches POV mid-scene).  What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?

The word ‘had’ in every other sentence. I picked up a book by a new author and ‘had’ appeared in nearly every sentence. “He had thought about doing that...”  “He had remembered his wife doesn’t like...”  “She had put her book on the table” It kept jerking me out of the story, and I couldn’t even make it through the first chapter. Also, the word "that." It’s largely unnecessary and easy to leave out, but often an author thinks ‘that’ they need it. 

Do you have a routine for writing?

I write for six-eight hours a day. I get up in the morning and get ready for the day, so I don’t have to interrupt my train of thought once I’m started. I eat breakfast and head back upstairs and start writing. I stop when I hear my husband come through the door from work. My children are grown and gone, so it makes it much easier for me to have this wonderful block of time to write.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

I work at my desk in my office. I don’t write at night, though in Alaska it does tend to get dark a bit early through the winter, often by 3:30 in the afternoon. When my husband comes home I like to have wound down my story for the day so I can spend the evening with him.

Where’s home for you?

In January of 2013, my husband and I moved to Juneau, Alaska for a job change for him. It was a job change for me as well, as I was selling real estate full time and decided in Alaska I would write full time.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

Bookstore. Better chance to see all the new authors and newest releases.

Where is your favorite Library and what do you love about it?

My favorite library would be in the grade school in Granite Falls, Washington. That is where I learned to love books and found a world where children were loved and cherished. Often in my mind I go back to that library just to remember the warm, comforting feeling I would get when I walked through its doors.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I feel like a publishing house makes decisions daily about what people will read. It’s not the general population that gets to make that decision, it’s made for them and I have a hard time with that. I want to choose what I find interesting to read, and self-publishing puts the decision into the hands of the reader where it belongs.

What steps to publication did you personally do, and what did you hire someone to do?  Is there anyone you’d recommend for a particular service?

I put my books up myself, except for iTunes, and I have a publisher, Gossamer Publishing that does that for me and a bunch of other things, as well. They’re great. I still put my books up myself, thanks to training from my daughters and sharing their experience with me. My covers are done by Nicole at Trevino Creative. She does an excellent job and her prices are reasonable. is a good way to contact her.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

My all time favorite quote is from the book A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson as quoted by Nelson Mandela:

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God! Your playing small does not serve the world.  There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so other people won’t feel insecure around us.

We were meant to shine as children do. We were meant to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone! And when we lout our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. When we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others.”

What is your favorite candy bar?

Three Musketeers!!!

What three books have you read recently and would recommend?

Actually, it’s more like fourteen books, because it’s the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, read for the third time! Absolutely the best.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently on the second book in my Passions in the Park Series, Cherish Me Always.  I hope to have this one live by the end of January.

Excerpt The Lies That Save Us

“Don’t play those games with me, young lady,” said Keith, “I’ve been around too long, and don’t have that much time left that I would enjoy the game now.  You liked him, and you know it.”

Alexa dropped dejectedly down in the seat across from Keith.

“Did I really blow it?  I can’t fall for anyone again, Keith.  I really can’t.”

Keith chuckled and looked down at his empty coffee cup. 

“How old are you?  Twenty-six?  Twenty-eight max?  Don’t you think that’s kind of a long time to be alone?  You may have to do that ‘kissing-the-frogs’ thing for a while, but you don’t have to sleep with every frog you kiss, and you don’t have to expect every one of them to turn into a prince.  But you could at least enjoy yourself along the way.  I need some coffee.”

Alexa sighed and reached across the table to pour the steaming coffee into his cup.

“I can’t, Keith.  I mean it; and I don’t want to.  I don’t want to deal with another human being in my life.”

“Yes, you do.” He said with determination.

“How do you--How could you even remotely know that?”

Keith looked at her across the table.  He picked up his coffee cup and took a slow sip, then put the cup back down on the table and stared into the dark liquid.

“I know that because there isn’t a human being on the face of this earth that doesn’t need to be loved.”  He looked into her eyes.  “You’re not betraying the memory of your father, nor are you giving in to a life you swore you’d never want.  Be human Alexa; live again.  Square your shoulders, take a deep breath and give it a go.  It’s a ride you can stop at any time.”

About the author:

JL Redington lives Juneau, Alaska,  with her husband Terry and puppy, Shelby. Together they are the parents of six grown children and nineteen grandchildren. She loves to read, camp, cook and be with her friends and family. In writing this romance series, JL has found a new love in her life, and that is writing books. JL has always felt books are a way to take us out of the everyday and into a place we can relax, be entertained and enjoy a different world for a period of time. Happy reading!

Connect with JL!
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Buy the book:
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Featured Author: Timothe Davis

CLP Blog Tours brings Timothe Davis here today to talk about his novel, Sometimes Ya Gotta Laugh, a romantic comedy.

About the book:

When friendships are threatened, how far will you go to protect it?

Jordan Spencer is thirty-six and hasn't had a relationship that's lasted more than six months. He's cool with that, though. He's got space issues. And what difference does it make anyway? He has his two best friends Gabby and Chris for happy hours, clubs, and weekend hangouts. But Gabby is falling for a guy that Jordan doesn't like and Chris-the-sex-machine is having a phallic crisis.

Jordan thought that their friendship would last forever. But with each day, they drift further apart. Without Gabby and Chris at his side, Jordan finds himself facing his own emotional loneliness. Should he fight for the friends who have become his family? Or has the season of their friendship passed?

Jordan Spencer will learn that in a world full of swingers, lies, and drag queens, even the best of friends occasionally lie to each other. Sometimes they cry for each other. But in the end, sometimes you just gotta laugh …

Interview with Timothe Davis

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

Wow! I don't know when I started. I've always loved words, and I've always loved writing. I can remember  being eight years old and wanting to write comic books. I didn't want to be a police officer or a fireman; I wanted to write "Batman" comics.

What’s the story behind the title Sometimes Ya Gotta Laugh?

Growing up, I had more than my fair share of family dysfunction. But we managed through armed with a bit of humor. I recalled my mother saying on more than one occasion, "Sometimes ya gotta laugh, if just to keep from crying." The words have always resonated and they seemed to sum up the roller coaster ride of the book!

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Tough question - I enjoyed writing all the characters (the good and the bad ones) primarily because they are all distinctly different. So every time I stepped into a character, I got to be someone different. But perhaps my favorites were Gabby and Gary. Gabby is a main character; Gary is what I call a major-minor character. Gabby is female; Gary is a drag queen. (I'm neither. I kinda hope that's obvious! LOL) The challenge is making these characters authentic and not stock. I enjoyed that challenge and would find myself asking, "Is this what the character would naturally do?" Honestly, I ask that question every time a character makes a decision. Hopefully, at some point, you become the character. Then the question is, "Is this what I would do?"
Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

Every character has bits and piece of people I know, I've met, I've seen, I've heard about. I think that's what makes the characters relatable. I want the reader to think "I know somebody just like that!" Or "That reminds me of my friends."

Are you like any of your characters?

Ask any of my friends and they'd say Jordan. I'm the spitting... or is it splitting ... image of him. We are both sarcastic, and introverted, and we weigh words carefully. We also can tend to keep people at arm's length emotionally.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

*Spoiler Alert* There's a scene about halfway through the book where Gary, Gabby, and Jordan are all in Gabby's living room. Jordan has his arms around Gabby and she is recounting her life with her ex, Brad. Gary is angry, but Jordan is trying to suppress his anger and just listen. Then Gabby begins to cry, not the type of crying where silent tears run down your face, but the sobs that make your entire body heave. All the while, Jordan is trying to soothe her. It's a raw scene, and I like how it displays the strength of the friendship these people have.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

"Nature Boy" and probably the Natalie Cole version. It's an old song in which a young boy admonishes, "the greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love, and to be loved in return." And that's what the book is about - about loving and accepting ourselves and our friends (and family) with all their glorious flaws and their beautiful strengths.

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

I'd have to have a CAST of people reading. Not just one person. I'd want different people to play each character. There are some "great voices" in Hollywood. But there is so much dialogue in the book, I'd want each character to have their own individual voice. Had you asked me, "who do you want to play the characters in a movie?" I'd could come up with a few names ...

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

I'd rather work in a bookstore. Libraries require quietness while bookstores are more vibrant!

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free, and then to learn that prisoner was you."

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

Spain! Every year I mull combining vacation time with some leave and living there for 2 months. Madrid and Barcelona are beautiful. And I began the book on my visit to Barcelona.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on my second novel. This one's entitled The Miseducation of the Zombie. And while Zombies tend to make people think of horror, this is really a tongue-in-cheek story on diversity and acceptance.

Excerpt from Sometimes Ya Gotta Laugh

The knot in Gabby's stomach constricted and released, emotional pain manifesting itself as physical pain. But she resolved not to cry.  At least, not again. What she would do is filter the emotion into work. As a teenager, when life wasn't good, she threw herself into her studies. As an adult, she threw herself into her work. That pattern hadn't led to many successes in the field of love but had brought her plenty of success on the job.
On the front seat beside her sat development plans for mid-level managers at the company, she planned on working on those this weekend. On the back seat sat a few groceries from Whole Food – a salmon feta burger, a bottle of Dr. Loosens Reisling, some pita chips, and few chocolate chip cookies. 

As soon as she got home, she would change into something more comfortable, pour herself a glass of wine, have one of the salmon sandwiches, turn on the laptop, and dive into work.
At some point she had to talk to Jordan. She had thought about calling every day this week; Jordan was a good listener. But she didn't want to burden him. Besides what would she say?
Sunday she'd go for a long run. Or better yet, she'd curl up with half a pint of Haagen Daz, her chocolate chip cookies, and some movie on Lifetime.
She parked her car in front of her townhouse and stepped out. The day was warm. Maybe she'd change into shorts and go jog now.
“Gabrielle?” A voice behind her startled her. She froze, hoping the voice was a figment of her imagination. But it called out to her again. “Gabrielle.” She refused to turn around until it called her a third time. “Gabrielle.”
She had been too swallowed in her thoughts to notice Brad’s car parked on the street. Had she seen it, she would've kept driving, avoiding him and the resurgence of raw emotion she was struggling to keep submerged deep beneath the surface. But now he was standing almost within reach of her, arms extended in a gesture that was half helpless and half come-to-me. His dirty blond hair was tousled as if he had been running his hands through it, he was wearing his white physician's coat.
How many cards, emails, and voicemails had she gotten from him this week?
How many peers had she lied to about the reason she kept receiving flowers at work?
How many times had one of her coworkers said, “He must really love you,” and she had agreed?
He took a step closer, she took a step back.
“Gabrielle,” his shoulders sagged. “I am so sorry.” She suppressed a desire to clamp her hands over her ears. Instead, she put out a hand to stop him from coming closer. When she did, a work file slipped out her hands and the papers scattered to the ground. “What can I say?” Brad asked as he bent down to help pick up the papers. “Anything?” He took another step forward as he handed them back.
She took the file without touching him. 
“I was cruel ... I know,” he continued. “I was an ass. I deserve you never speaking to me again. But believe me, I am so sorry. I was so … I guess I felt betrayed and I overreacted. But there is no excuse. None.”
He took a step closer. Gabby willed the tears back.
“Can I come in? Can we talk?”
Afraid her voice would crack, Gabby said nothing. 
“You are right, I'm going to therapy.” He pulled out the card of the therapist she had called. “I went on Monday. That's one of the reasons I've been trying to call you. I wanted to let you know. I've got to learn to get control of my … my moods. For you ...”
Gabby shivered, although the sun shone brightly.
“Another chance, please. I'm begging you. Gabrielle, I'm sorry. I love you. It’s … it’s my family. There are things I’ve never told you. But … you know the problems families can have.”
Family was the one thing Gabby had held withheld from Brad. But she knew all too well the stress family could cause.
“Neither one of us is close to our family. We need each other. I need you. A second chance. That’s all I’m asking.” His eyes welled with tears and he reached out to her.
Everybody deserved a second chance. Everybody did. He was going to therapy now. So Gabby walked past him, up the stairs, through the front door, and let him in.
Brad followed her inside, humbly shut the door behind them, and begged forgiveness until she finally said, “It’s alright.”  
She couldn't sleep that night, though. And she couldn't make love. Every moan and every orgasm had been faked for Brad's benefit. Hours later, as she stared at the ceiling and he slept peacefully beside her, she wondered if she should have been so forgiving. Once granted, Brad had moved around her place like they had never had an argument. She, though, had had a knot in the pit of her stomach all evening.
Quietly she slid out the bed. “Where ya going, babe?” Brad murmured. He touched her and his skin was hot on hers.
“To get a drink of water,” she replied before she kissed him on the forehead. She padded down the steps, poured herself a glass of wine, and laid across the couch.
Brad came downstairs around three am and woke her up. He asked her to come back to bed. She did. But she couldn't get back to sleep once she got there.

About the author:

Timothe Davis is a music-loving, martini-drinking, night owl. He spends his days confined within the walls of corporate America but (not so) secretly harbors dreams of writing best-sellers and getting books adapted to movies. Thank God he's wise enough to have a 401K plan.

You can find him wandering around his loft most times of the night. His friends say his sarcasm belies a warm heart and he's tried not once but twice.

Sometimes Ya Gotta Laugh is his first novel. It's a fictional story of love, friendship, acceptance, and the journey we take to make ourselves better each day. He hopes that those who purchase it will enjoy reading it as much as he enjoyed writing it.

Connect with the author:
Website | Facebook | Twitter |

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million