Meet Rachel Tamayo

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Today, I’m hosting Rachel Tamayo. She’s on a blog tour to promote her latest book, a 92 page novella, Once Upon a Kiss. It was just released by Foster Embry Publishing. Rachel has written romance, paranormal, and thrillers. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her with her family. She’s Mom to two small kids and has been married 14 years.  Her full time profession as a 911/police dispatcher in the Houston area gives her an interesting perspective into people that others might not have. Rachael was born and raised in Southeast Texas, where she lives with her family.

As part of the tour, I was given a pre-release copy of Once Upon a Kiss. I loved it! See my review at the end of the interview.

About the book:

Kiss

Why did you decide to write this book?

Writing thrillers is hard, so sometimes between thrillers I like to write a romance to clean my brain, so to speak.  Like cleansing the pallet so you can really get into the darkness of the next thriller.

What genre is your book?

Contemporary Romance

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

I think it’s really both.  I write in deep POV, and this gives my characters layers and flaws and makes them easy for the readers to connect to.  But what good is a great character with no place to take them? I like fast paced, so that’s what I write. You won’t find useless filler in my books, they are all page turners!

What makes your book unique?

I like to call this one a reverse fairy tale.  What that means, is the damsel is in distress—but this time she saves herself, and him too!  She’s a strong woman, she was born in Israel, and she’s not taking any crap, but she’s still very likable.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

Although I have tried, I can’t outline my books. I’m what’s called a “pantser.”  It comes to me as I write. Very often what I end up with is totally different than what I intended when I sit down to start a book.  I let the story write itself.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

Easy, I Google baby name sites and scroll until I find one I like.  

How do you decide on the setting?

My books are all set in Texas, that is where I am, it’s what I know.   

Do you have a writing mentor?

Nope.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I can write anywhere, anytime the mood hits. I use OneDrive, just so I can write anywhere. I’ve written on my phone waiting in a doctor’s office before.  As a “pantser” it’s the only way. I can’t force wordcount, or a writing schedule. My books don’t come out well when I try to do that. I have to wait for the story to talk to me.  

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve had so many tell me “just write” or that it doesn’t matter, just put words on paper.  I have to say that isn’t right for everyone. I can’t write without purpose. I’ll start over again and again until it’s right. I actually ended up writing Release (my September short erotic book that just released) in one draft. So, if you are a budding writer, there is no right or wrong way.  YOU DO YOU, as they say. Learn from everything, every mistake, every book, and make the next one better. Listen to editors and don’t keep making the same mistakes. This is how you grow.  

Where can readers find you?

Website: Rachel Tamayo Writes

Twitter: @rtamayo2004

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tamayorachael/

Nancy’s review: 5 stars

What a fun book! It truly is a reverse fairy tale. Instead of being saved, the princess is the one doing the saving. The main character, Talia, has grit and determination. Once she’s left high and dry at the altar, she manages, with the help of her bridesmaids and a healthy does of tequila, to keep her dignity intact. Running into Jessie, an old boyfriend, one she never really got over, helps.

But the relationship with her ex doesn’t end at the altar. When she discovers he’s been scamming her for months, she comes up with a way to turn the tables. But things get complicated….!

I really enjoyed how the author moved the story along.  I love the eye-catching cover. The book is fast-paced, and an easy, engaging read. The erotic sections are very well done. Definitely recommend.

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Meet Lynne Marino

I’m excited to be picking up my interview series again! This week, I’m happy to host Lynne Marino, author of  The Cha-cha Affair and Five Things. Lynne was born and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, where she was always the first in line for the Bookmobile.  She has spent most of her adult life in the Southwest, still reading away. Now she writes her own stories. She currently resides in Tucson, Arizona.

Book blurb for The Cha-cha Affair:

Stephanie Ledger isn’t a Scottsdale princess anymore. Her messy, never-ending divorce has left her with an empty upscale house, and an even emptier bank account. She swears that she doesn’t want another man in her life-ever, until she meets Joe Schmidt at a ballroom dance class, and the sparks begin to fly.

The more time Joe spends with Stephanie, the more he wants their fledgling partnership—on and off the dance floor—to become something more. Unfortunately, he works for the IRS and they are investigating her soon-to-be-ex-husband, and Stephanie’s connection as well. Joe knows that if she ever finds out, he’s toast.

Still determined that she’ll never fall in love again, Stephanie ropes Joe into a riotous caper to get some leverage on her lying, lecherous husband in the hopes of finally bringing her divorce to a close. The duo dance their way in and out of trouble, and into each other’s heart, until Stephanie discovers what Joe has been hiding. But will she also discover what everyone around them already knows? While the two of them may be annoying and imperfect together, they are also annoyingly perfect for one another.  

The Cha-cha Affair is 263 pages long and was published by Solstice Publishing in June, 2018.

Why did you decide to write this book?

Before my daughter got married, my husband and I started taking dance lessons. We are still dancing away, and I had many funny stories in my head to tell about the experience.  

What genre is your book?

Comedy romance

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Character driven, although the plot entanglements drive the novel along, too.  

What makes your book unique?

Besides a cadre of hilarious characters (even when they’re trying not to be), this book takes place in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. Not many books are set there. Additionally, it pokes a lot of fun at the plastic surgery business that flourishes in Scottsdale.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

This one just came flowing out of my head.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

I usually pick names that are indicative of the generation I’m writing about.

How do you decide on the setting?

I’ve lived in Arizona for the last twenty-five years, twenty of which were in Phoenix. I know the city and its inhabitants well.  

Do you have a writing mentor?

There are many writers whose use of humor I enjoy. Carl Hiaasen comes immediately to mind. Also, Fredrick Backman.  

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

With a laptop, I write in a number of places around my house. Whatever feels right.

I try to write on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Right now my Tuesdays and Thursday are spent learning the ins and outs of book marketing.

Where can readers find you?

Website: https://lynnemarinoauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lynnemarinoauthor/

Buy links:

The Cha-cha Affair

Five Things

Anything else you’d like to add?

Go to my website and read the first chapter of The Cha-cha Affair. You’ll also find the first chapter of my other comedy romance, Five Things. I hope you enjoy them.

Meet Dr. Bob Rich

Bob Charlie EmilyAs of July, 2018, Bob has had 17 books published. He has retired 5 times so far, from 5 different occupations. He is still a Professional Grandfather. Anyone under 25 only needs to apply. Many do so by sending him an email of despair. His words often make a difference, and hundreds of young people blame him for now living a good life. Because he passionately cares for all the youngsters everywhere, he has been an environmental and humanitarian campaigner since the 1970s. Everything he does, including his writing, is intended to change the insane global culture, which encourages and rewards the worst in human nature, particularly greed and aggression. He works for one that encourages and rewards the best in human nature: compassion, empathy, decency. Only, he hates being preached at, and won’t do that to others. Instead, he writes exciting fiction his reviewers tell him is gripping. Find out more about him at his blog https://bobrich18.wordpress.com and his writing showcase http://bobswriting.com.

Today, Bob is talking about his book Hit and Run:

84-year-old Sylvia Kryz barely escapes death when a teenage driver plows down six children and a crossing guard. Shaken, Sylvia draws his portrait, creating a connection with this 14-year-old boy that allows the police to locate and arrest him. That night, he appears to her through a supernatural process neither understands. At first, all he wants to do is to murder her, too, but then she helps him to look after his little brother. She is the only adult, ever, to have treated him with decency and respect…

Can one woman’s belief in the power of love make a difference in the life of a boy who wants to change?

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Hit and Run was published by Writers Exchange http://www.writers-exchange.com in May, 2018. It’s 198 pages, but since currently it’s only available in electronic format, there are actually no pages at all.

Why did you decide to write this book?

You make it sound like I was in charge. I am an obedient scribe, and do as I am told. Sylvia decided to write an account of her nine months of contact with the young murderer, and she needed someone to put it into a computer. I was elected, and who am I to say no to a lovely old lady?

What genre is your book?

All my life, I’ve had a complete inability to fit into other people’s boxes. One novel, Sleeper, Awake, and one short story collection, Bizarre Bipedsare clearly SF. All the other works of fiction are healthy mongrels of whatever genres happen to fit.

Hit and Run is inspirational, with paranormal elements, and given all the troubles my young protagonist suffers, probably a thriller too.

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Again you have me scratching my head. It is both. The people in the book are the left wing. What happens to them is the right wing. Flapping both, I fly high.

It all started because I needed to displace my outrage at a real crime, so I could work with the victim in my psychotherapeutic role. So, I invented a far worse crime. Right, that was plot. But this crime had people in it: 14 year old Chuck, who would have blown up the whole planet if he could. So, he stole a car to kill people. I needed a witness, and there Sylvia was.

After this, she took over. Things happened, though I didn’t invent them. New people came along, and introduced themselves. Some were Sylvia’s beloved friends and relations, and she told me about them incidentally, while recording events in her journal. Others were new to her, and we learned about them together.

What makes your book unique?

My beta readers, fans who have read it, and other reviewers have said it’s my best novel so far. Mind you, they said the same about the previous one, Guardian Angel, and the one before that, Ascending Spiral.

Maybe I should do a controlled experiment and get different people to read the three books in different orders. Perhaps the last read will always be the best? 🙂

It’s not unique to this book, and not unique to my writing, but I think it’s noteworthy that what happens in the story has strong scientific backing. I have a PhD in psychology and 22 years of running a counseling psychological practice. One of my interests for many years has been research on the rehabilitation of criminals, especially young ones. Sylvia didn’t have this knowledge, and I certainly wasn’t thinking of it while writing, but the boy’s change is entirely believable in the light of this evidence.

So, the unique feature may be that, after you’ve read this story, you will have learned a set of tools on how to lead anyone, criminal or not, to a good life.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

This kind of question always makes me think of cooking. A beginning cook either has a recipe or a disaster. With experience, you can adapt the recipe to what’s in the cupboard, and what’s seasonal. A chef writes recipes. And a master chef can cook without one. If you analyze the process afterward, you can extract the recipe, but it wasn’t explicitly set out before or during the cooking exercise.

In the same way, a beginning writer either develops a plot or ends up with a structureless ramble. With practice, this can free up and become more intuitive. After sufficient experience, the story comes the way it is supposed to, without prior planning. The plot is still there. You can analyze the final work and set out its plot. It may well be tighter than a beginner’s original plan. But it wasn’t there before the writing.

I wrote a little essay about how to develop a plot in 2013. http://mudsmith.net/bobbing12-7.html#plot

My first organically grown novel was Sleeper, Awake, which won an international award.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

The main characters tell me.

Chuck got his name as a form of abuse: his mother had vomited right through pregnancy. Sylvia introduced herself as “Sylvia Kryz” to the policewoman. It wasn’t until well into the book that she explained her surname to me, in what I find a very touching scene, even now after dozens of re-readings.

There is a 12 year old girl in the story, who is now Jenny. She is an exception. When she came onboard, she was Petra, and it really suited her. But then, I found out that she and her mother were hiding from an abusive man, so she needed a far more common name. It took me ages to get used to the change, but fortunately the characters in the story didn’t even notice.

With some characters, particularly those from a different culture, I may do an internet search. So, Sylvia’s husband became Wotjek. I was puzzled for a while why her son had to be Ron (but they insisted), until I did another search for Polish names and found Hieronim.

How do you decide on the setting?

This story takes place in a geographical and social setting very close to the one I live in, but this is almost a coincidence. My previous novel, Guardian Angel, is in a different part of the same country. When my little heroine told me this, I needed to do considerable research to get the details right, but then I enjoy research.

Sleeper, Awake took place all over earth, but this was 1500 years into the future, so for example southern California was the island of South Calif, and Sweden was the Swedish Islands, and southern Africa was split into Eastrica and Westrica. And I only found out these details as the story unfolded.

Do you have a writing mentor?

When I started out in fiction writing, I paid for an edit of three different novels by three different external editors. That had to be done by posting off a boxful of papers in those days before email. I learned an enormous amount from each, so now I do my best to give the same kind of educational service to my editing clients.

One of my clichés is, “If someone else can do it, I can learn it.” Therefore, my most important writing mentor is Bob Rich.

I have a wonderful team of beta readers who comment on my work before anyone else sees it. Some of them do it from friendship and interest. With others, I have an ongoing trade: we beta read for each other.

Here is a description of a beta reader’s task: https://bobrich18.wordpress.com/2017/01/01/bobbing-around-volume-16-number-7/#beta

One of this team is Professor Emeritus Florence Weinberg https://florenceweinberg.com/ who writes historical novels, many of them whodunits. Not only do we give feedback to each other on our writing, but also we are great friends, although we’ve never met. She is my ultimate authority on questions of grammar and word usage.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

With the luxury of retirement, I spend much of my day in my recliner chair, with my computer on my knee. When I am typing stuff into it, that’s where I am.

However, that’s recording, not composing. That I do during all the many tasks of everyday living. Here is a hopefully amusing little essay that sets out the process: http://wp.me/p3Xihq-Lx

Anything else you’d like to add?

I am part of an informal network of writers, organized by Rhobin Courtright: http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

The funny thing is, I am the only thorn in this bunch of roses.

Rhobin organizes a monthly topic related to the trade of writing, and somewhere between 6 and 20 of us each write a blog post on it (or some modification of her topic: writers are individualistic beasties).

So, this is a treasure trove of insight into writing of a variety of genres, interests and skills.

All my contributions to “Rhobin’s Rounds” are listed at http://wp.me/P3Xihq-Ae and from there you can access past contributions of all the others.

And once more, thank you for having me here. I wish you, and all your visitors, a life full of successfully met challenges, and spiritual growth.

How can readers connect with you?

Twitter: @bobswriting

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AscendingSpiral/

Meet Geoff Nelder

Geoff-IOM-12Geoff Nelder escaped from his roots in the south of England and now lives in the north. He would do most things for a laugh but had to pay the mortgage so he taught I.T. and Geography in the local High school. After thirty years in the education business, he nearly become good at it. A post-war baby boomer, he has post-grad researched and written about climatic change, ran computer clubs and was editor of a Computer User Group magazine for 11 years. He read voraciously after his mother enrolled him in the children’s science fiction book club when he was four, and has written for fun since his fingers moved independently. His experiences on geographical expeditions have found themselves into amusing pieces in the Times Educational Supplement and taking his family on house-swap holidays years before they became popular added both authenticity and wild imagination to his creativity.

Geoff lives in Chester with his long-suffering wife and has two grown-up children whose sense and high intelligence persist in being a mystery to him.

Today, he’s talking about Xaghra’s Revenge. It was published on July 23, 2017. It’s 360 pages and was published by Solstice Publishing. And he’s lucky enough to have a YouTube trailer for the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P76jl8qMdEg

Note: Most people pronounce Xaghra as zagra. The Maltese would say shaara.

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When Reece and Zita become lovers, past and present collide as the spirits of their ancestors force them to relive one of the greatest battles of the 16th century.

Xaghra’s Revenge follows the fate of a sixteenth century abducted family, and of two contemporary lovers thrown together by the ancients. Reece and Zita are unaware that one descends from the pirates, the other from the abducted family. While ancient Gozo spirits seek revenge, so do the Ottoman Corsairs, who intend to roll back history, and this time win the siege of Malta.

The history is real. The places are authentic. The tension and excitement are palpable.

“A gripping tale, full of energy and mystery, keeping you wanting for more with every line you read.” John Bonello, First-Prize Winner of the Malta National Book Award

“I liked it. There’s a foreground of interesting characters combined with a skilfully fed-in hint of weirdness.” Jaine Fenn – Hidden Empire series.

Link to buy Xaghra’s Revengehttp://myBook.to/Xaghra

Why did you decide to write this book?

The Maltese islands, not far from Italy, is a popular tourist honeypot for Brits and more recently for Japanese and Americans. Everyone speaks English and it sports an ancient history. While on vacation there I visited a nearby tiny island, Gozo. To my horror I discovered that in 1551 pirates abducted its people, threw them onto a fleet of 148 galleys and after sailing them to Libya, sold them as slaves. Some to row, farm, or to be harem women. Those souls cried out for revenge. I gave it to them.

What genre is your book?

It’s a historical fiction with a strong element of fantasy. It’s also horror and some hot sex  – what genre is that- romance?

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

The characters drive the plot. Yep, the plot is crucial here: a revenge for a vile kidnap, rape, destruction of lives act, but the people are larger than life here too. Funny because in April 2018 the hotel in Malta at which I stayed to do the research invited me back to do a signing. A splendidly elegant Maltese lady handed me my euros and asked what historical fiction books I’d read before writing my own. I rattled off a few then added that all of them, like so much historical fiction, focused on the rich, the nobility, royalty and knights. (Fair enough because readers have heard of them and suppose more facts are known blah blah). However, while I reference those powerful players in history, I concentrate on the humble man and woman – ordinary folk to whom extraordinary things happen. “Ah,” she says. “It is good to feature the humble. My partner is a Knight of the Order of Saint John you know.”

I cringed. What if she wants her money back? I needn’t have worried. She works in the Advocate Chambers and often defends the poorer sections of society. In fact she gave me twice the price of the book saying it is worth it. I need a thousand more readers like her!

What makes your book unique?

As above it is the only fiction leading with the peasant victims of the abduction. It also takes point of view from the Turkish pirates—both galley sailor and admirals. It might be the only book featuring one of the oldest buildings in the world. The Ggantija Temples on Gozo in the town of Xaghra are older than the pyramids, older than Stonehenge. Nothing is known of their builders or whether the building is really a temple – common assumption of anything old! I get a buzz when I hug those rocks and they play their own part in the novel.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

The plot summary: abduction; fate of the taken; a contemporary couple thrown together by ancient spirits—one descended from the pirates, one from the abducted; finale with the 1565 Siege of Malta—a cusp in time between the Ottoman and Christian empires. All this came while on the pushme-pullme Gozo to Malta ferry after learning of the 5000 abducted. Nuances emerged later as research unfolded new facts and as the characters took hold.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

It’s great naming characters. It’s like having children without the pain! Stjepan (the 1551 Gozo farmer) is Albanian / Croatian but I found it on a list of genuine Gozo dwellers of the time. Love its unusual sound. His wife was Lydia until a Maltese beta reader told me there is no letter y in Maltese.

Some of the names are of real historical characters of the time. Rais Dragut and Sinan Pasha were real leaders of the Ottoman / Turkish invading forces.

How do you decide on the setting?

I live in chilly, rainy Britain and often have the urge to write of a hot, dry setting. Hence while the story sets itself in historically accurate Mediterranean islands and a hot, arid Libyan desert, my heart encouraged that.

Do you have a writing mentor?

I have a group of writing mentors – one very large composed of the world’s greatest writers of all time and quite crucially, a small group of fellow writers in a critique group. It’s run by the British Science Fiction Association. We send each other our stories – fantasy, hard SF, time travel, historical fiction if it has a alt-history slant, and surreal stories.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I used to have a schedule of getting home from my teaching job, marking and planning lessons in the evenings then write stories afterwards, often around midnight for a couple of hours. When I was told to retire early with a full pension (I was becoming deaf) I could write in the daytime too but I didn’t follow a schedule. I aim for 2,500 words a day but often fall short. I’ll write anywhere given half an hour peace. Have laptop, will travel. However, I really enjoy a writers’ retreat in Methana, Greece and go there for a couple of weeks every year.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’d like to add a thousand dollars to my royalty income. Thanks for asking!

People often ask me from where I get my story ideas. I think I must have inherited a creative gene from my father who helped produce one of the first science fiction magazines in the UK. He’d illustrate them including the cover art. I thought all dad’s did that! To trigger that quirky gene, I’d go for long walks or bicycle rides. Perhaps the enriched oxygenation of my brain helped the ideas to spawn. It did with my ARIA Trilogy when halfway up a steep Welsh hill I suddenly thought how lucky we are that amnesia wasn’t infectious. I stopped. Wrote down that thought and hence was born-as far as I know- the world’s only novel on infectious amnesia.

Where can readers find you?

Webpage and blog: http://geoffnelder.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/xaghrasrevenge

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/geoffnelder

 

 

 

Meet Jeannie Sharpe

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Jeannie Sharpe has a deep love to write. Her first attempt at writing resulted in two children’s books, Once There Was An Orange Truck and Orange Truck Helps Katie the Kangaroo Find Her Friends. She has sold 8,900 copies of these titles. Her love for romance came to life when she landed a publishing contract with Solstice Publishing. Her first novel, The Baker’s Husband: A Second Chances Book, was first released by Solstice, and was re-released in June, 2018 by Foster Embry Publishing. Her second book  Her Daughter’s Preacher: A Second Chances, was also published by Foster Embry and was released on August 1.

A career in writing is a dream coming true for this mother of two, Brent, 23 and Bailey, 16. Jeannie has been married for over thirty years to Vance Sharpe. But more than her admiration for writing, her love to sing outweighs it all. She shares her talents with her husband in many venues around the United States and Canada. Be on the lookout for new books by this aspiring author.

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About the book:

Corey’s life fell apart when her preacher husband turned his back on her and their family. Corey is raising the kids on her own, but she is struggling. She has no support from her family and she is estranged from the faith that was her foundation for most of her life. So, when she meets a handsome man that turns out to be her daughter’s preacher, she is determined to keep her distance.

No way, no how, will she make that mistake again.

But this preacher has his eyes on Corey and he will not give up easily. Will Corey learn to love again and possibly find her faith in the process?

Why did you decide to write this book?

I was asked by an editor friend of mine to write a romantic suspense story.

What genre is your book?

Romantic Suspense

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Both with about 10% more character driven.

What makes your book unique?

For one thing it doesn’t have any bad language in it and has a clean romance and it is Christian based.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I let it flow while writing.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

I try to think of different names – to try to figure out names that are usual.

How do you decide on the setting? 

I write for present time normally.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Not at the present time. I’ve gotten help from Nancy Toback in recent years.

What’s your writing schedule?

I try and write some every day, but not on a regular schedule.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I love writing and would love to make it my career.

Where can readers find you?

Facebook: https:// www.facebook.com/ jeannie.sharpe

Twitter: https:// twitter.com/ Jws415Sharpe @Jws415sharpe

Instagram: https:// www.instagram.com/jeanniesharpe/

Instagram: https:// www.instagram.com/sharpejewelry/

Facebook: https:// www.facebook.com/ Sharpe-Jewelry-739595549453517/

 

Meet Bruce Bond

AuthorPicToday I interview Bruce Lee Bond. Bruce grew up in Studio City California at the foot of Laurel Canyon, hitchhiked around the west coast at seventeen and fled the San Fernando Valley at eighteen. He attended San Francisco State’s creative writing department when it was headed by Kay Boyle, the only undergrad in her graduate writing course at the age of twenty-one where he won national awards. He aided in the American Indian Movement’s occupation of Alcatraz Island, and left for South Dakota on an invite from a Lakota medicine man to study the rituals of the Native American Church. He soon found he was a great medicine man but had issues with alcohol and women, and Bruce ran off with the medicine man’s abused girlfriend for the Black Hills.

He came down with double pneumonia due to a ceremony performed by the shaman, had a temperature of 106.7 and almost died, spent time with the Hopi tribe on Black Mesa, helped set-up the first Rainbow Gathering in Colorado, and ended up on an old homestead in Oregon with a tall young lady who ran away at the age of twelve and was sixteen when they met.

He lived in Alaska and met a Nordic goddess on his return, was active in the largest worker owned coop in the Northwest, attended the University of Oregon’s journalism department and with his partner moved to a homestead of an old man in Alaska who wrote the state’s constitution and whose family now has a TV show. He built log homes, raised three kids and owned businesses.

He has written nine novels in the last few years, published five and was a founder and on the board of directors of the Alaska Writers’ Guild.  He has won several writing contests including stories in the University of Alaska’s Cold Flashes, has published stories in US and Britain in anthologies and was involved in a plethora of other legal and illegal endeavors in his youth that spawned many characters in his work. He also does a great deal of historical research with novels in the Klondike gold rush in 1899, the Barbary Coast of San Francisco in the days before the earthquake of 1906, and early Hollywood in 1919. His last two published novels are in the underworld of modern day Alaska, and in the underground counterculture of the early 1970s in the Pacific Northwest about things the larger culture was never meant to know.

For this interview, he’s talking about Hippie Hill Or How I Spent My Vacation. It is 321 pages and was published by Montag Press on April 18, 2018.

Hippie-Hill-cover

Why did you write this book?

I waited for years to write this book about the outlaw counterculture of the 1970’s that few know of and few believe happened. I sat down with the survivor of the gunfight near the end of the novel between the only two blacks in the novel twenty years later over beers to get it right. Hope I’ve kept my promise.

What genre is the book?

This novel is at the top and in the middle of the genre bookshelf of Hippie Outlaw Fiction which is empty otherwise, although most of the events actually happened.

Is it character driven or plot driven?

Got it say it’s character driven since so many of the characters are a novel in themselves, but there is a PLOT.

What makes it unique?

Beginning with two seventeen year old runaways, there is no other book about the psychedelic outlaw culture of the time that uses characters who lived it with the events that happened.

Do you plot ahead of time?

Not with this one so much. The characters experience actual events and react according to their individual natures although I knew how it would end. I actually had to leave out 99% of the things I could have written about and pared it down to a small area of the Siskiyou Mountains in southern Oregon where the major events happened.

How did you develop the character names?

Most of the names were actual people. Who could come up with a better name for a girl living in the woods high on psychedelics wearing nothing but leather bikini briefs, knee-high moccasins, a great tan with long blond braids and a .45 Colt Peacemaker in a bullet filled gun belt than Fauna? Other names like Darla Argyle just popped up. Two of Charlie Manson’s fugitive girls have their real names, as did Black Michael, Abdullah, Rayella and Cindy the runaway Olympic gymnast.

How did you decide on the setting?

That’s easy. In this one the settings were real.

Do you have a writing mentor?

I had a writing mentor a long time ago. Kay Boyle who taught at San Francisco State. She ran away at sixteen and married an Austrian count, was a spy in WWII, spoke several languages, wrote eighty books and had six children by six men.  I was the only undergrad in her graduate writing class and told her I would stay ahead of everybody on assignments but was leaving six weeks early to study the peyote church with a Lakota medicine man in South Dakota. She agreed. Kay lived to ninety-eight years old.

What is your writing schedule?

My writing schedule entails not working any other job when I have a novel project which can clash with making a living elsewhere as once you’ve published a novel that and four bucks will actually get you a latte. My favorite place to write is any space where I can park my laptop without distraction.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I would suggest to any aspiring writer who wants to make money to not be too imaginative or individual as that is what people only claim they want. Most desire the familiar and something that bonifies their own opinions and experience no matter what they say. My path has always been different.

How can readers get in touch with you?

OfAlaska@aol.com

OfAlaska@gmail.com

Meet Jack Strandburg

Jack_Strandburg2 (2)

Today, I interview Solstice author Jack Strandburg. Jack was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a degreed professional with a background in Accounting and Information Technology and recently retired after more than 33 years working for a Fortune 500 company. He has been riting since his teenage years.

He self-published an inspirational titled An Appointment With God: One Ordinary Man’s Journey to Faith Through Prayer, by Trafford Publishing. His first published novel by Solstice Publishing is Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid, a parody of the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

His third work, a novella titled The Monogram Killer, published by Solstice Publishing, was released in May, 2016. His fourth work, A Head in the Game, published by Solstice Publishing, was released on January 20, 2017.

He is currently working on a novella titled Honor Among Heroes, writing journals for an upcoming inspirational non-fiction book titled The Hand of God; and completed 70% of a first draft for a second mystery novel titled War Zone.

He is an editor for Solstice Publishing, and currently developing a freelance editing business. He has edited over 30 fiction works in various genres.

Jack currently lives with his wife and two grown children, in Sugar Land, Texas. He has three grandchildren.

A Head in the Game is 327 pages long and was published in January, 2017 by Solstice Publishing.

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About the book:

Chicago Homicide Inspector Aaron Randall faces his toughest case while dealing with doubts about his career and the potential of a romantic relationship.

Jared Prescott, a Heisman Trophy winner and Vice President of a large and respected pharmaceutical company, is found murdered at a seedy motel. The investigation uncovers multiple suspects with multiple motives. When the body of his close friend and informant is found stabbed to death in a deserted alley, followed by the murders of two women, Randall suspects a conspiracy.

Randall is hamstrung during the investigation by pressure from the commissioner down the chain of command because the president of the pharmaceutical company, anxious for resolution to Jared Prescott’s murder, is a close friend with a Senator whose sights are set on the Oval Office.

Why did you decide to write this book?

The original idea arose from the following writing prompt: “Imagine that you are downtown in a major city during rush-hour. Suddenly a woman walks toward you, holding a bag. She meets you eyes, smiles, hands you the bag, and says, “Here you go.” Before you can say or do anything, she turns and walks off. (Scott Edelstein – The No-Experience-Necessary Writer’s Course).

I chose the contents of the bag to be a fake head. The exercise led to a short story, but over time grew to a novel, and the idea held my interest enough to seek publication.

What genre is your book?

Mystery.

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Plot-driven – I believe that even if you have the most interesting characters in the world, if nothing happens, you have no story, and in my outline process, I’ve learned that characters will react in different ways to significant events, and even stray from the original character profile.

What makes your book unique?

The antagonist is always at least one step ahead of the protagonist (until the climax), planting evidence to implicate other characters as suspects in the original murder.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

Over the years, I tried different approaches to writing, but learned I need to have at least an idea of how the story ends in order to outline events, conflicts, and obstacles in the middle. That’s not to say the plot does not emerge, but at the very least, I need a road map to guide me through the story.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

The more significant the character’s role in the story, the more memorable I try to name them. For example, a name with more syllables will generally make a bigger impression on the reader. Also, a character’s profile sometimes (not always) lends itself to one name v. another. For instance, the original last name of my protagonist in A Head in the Game was Crawford. I changed it to Randall, simply because “Randall” sounded a little like a tougher character to me.

How do you decide on the setting?

Once again, some settings will stand out better – a cemetery v. an amusement park for example. It will also depend on what a character or characters do for a living. A hospital in one or more scenes is likely when one of the characters is a doctor or nurse.

Do you have a writing mentor?

No.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I usually do my best writing in the mornings. I like to vary my places to write, but usually will write where I feel most comfortable. A reclining chair v. a chair in my office. I sometimes listen to music (usually nature or New Age).

 

 

Meet Isabella Adams

X Izzy author pic

Today, I’m happy to host Isabella Adams, AKA Izzy. Izzy was born in New York in the 1970’s. She has lived all over the world, and currently lives and works on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Izzy enjoys her three children (unless they are intent on rupturing everyone’s ear drums in a mile radius), the beach, her husband, and her dog, Isaac. And naps. Izzy loves a good nap.

Favorite Author: Ursula K. Le Guin, close second is FF Amanti
Favorite food: Baklava
Favorite beverage: water

Isabella draws her inspiration from the world around her. The ever evolving, ever surprising, and never boring, rock in space upon which we all sail along.

The book she’s talking about today is called Dancing For A Stranger. It’s 213 pages long and was released on April 2, 2018 by Foster Embry.

Dancing cover from Rachael

About the book:

Donny is looking for The One.

How many women will he kill before he finds her?

Five young dancers are found dead, their windpipes crushed by a serial killer. When Aphrodite, a burlesque dancer, interrupts his latest attack, she becomes his new object of desire. Dr. Andromeda Markos, along with Detective Sean Malone, and their childhood friend, Dr. Anastasia Antoniadis, fight to discover the killer’s identity before more women fall victim to his brutal violence. As they close in, the killer’s mind unravels and the friends must race against his tangled psyche in order to save one of their own.

Why did you decide to write this book?

This is the second novel based on the same characters. The first story came to me in a dream. I wrote it down, and away it went. The second one came to me in a dream as well, and begged to be written. My best friend is a burlesque dancer in France, and I believe the dream stemmed from a conversation with her about a show-gone-wrong. I work in the Greek community every day, and if I don’t write about it I will go nuts. Well, a little more nuts than I already am.

What genre is your book?

Mystery, cozy mystery, women’s fiction, or chick lit, as my husband likes to say.

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Both live large in my brain, so I think it’s hard to tease them apart. If I had to choose I would say character. I could hang out with my characters and write twenty pages about them in the car on the way to a movie, so I suppose I just like spending time with them.

What makes your book unique?

The characters, the setting… not much is out there about the Greek culture in the US right now. We had My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but after that it kind of fell away (until #2, but we won’t talk about that). Physician protagonists have been done to death, in my opinion, but Dr. Markos… well, she’s not just a doc. She’s a single mother, newly in the dating pool; she’s a daughter caught up in cultural expectations; she’s a best friend and confidant. In addition, the friendships in the story are almost as important as the plot. They are based on my own relationships, of course (write what you know, right?), and I wish that every woman in the world had the opportunity to have close friends the way I do, and as Andie does.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I am a super duper pantser. I have an idea and I sit down and see what happens. ‘Oh, look at that, who knew there was going to be a magic bowl in the story!’ (not in this story, of course, but another one). Things show up, twists write themselves in… I remember saying to my best friend, the dancer, “I can’t wait to sit down to see what happens next,” because even I didn’t know. That being said, I often have a general feeling as to what the end is going to look like, but as some of my closest friends can attest, endings have been known to change at the last minute.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

In this story the main names came to me in my dreams. To be fair, I do work with a woman named Aphrodite and a woman named Kaliope every day. Andie’s name likely came from a discussion the night before my dream about the Andromeda galaxy, and Sean, well, that just kind of fell into place. Sophia was my roommate in college, and Sully, while an overused nickname in my estimation, was in the dream as well.

How do you decide on a setting?

As above, most of my ideas come to me in dreams. As far as setting…if I had to think about it I’m sure I would choose a setting that would lend itself well to the theme of the book, or in which my characters would naturally reside. Unless the story was about them being out of place, then it would be in a contrary setting.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Nope. Actually, I face a lot of criticism on a regular basis. Does it count if I have a negative mentor, like I write in spite of something or someone? Because then yes, I do.

What is your writing scheduled? Do you have a favorite place to write?

Ah, yes. I do not have a schedule. I work full time, Monday through Friday, and have three children, AND am married, which is a full time job unto itself. So here’s what I do: I get up earlier than everyone else and pray, do yoga, and make coffee. I then hope for at least half an hour to myself to write something. If not, oh well. If I get it, great. Then, at work, I write on my lunch hour. I do get kind of cranky when that gets interrupted, as it often is the only time I have for my creative expressions. There have been moments, while putting the kids to bed, or standing in line at the grocery store, where a scene occurs to me, in which case I put it in my phone and transcribe it later.

As for place to write, I love my leather armchair at home. My husband’s desk is great too, but that doesn’t happen often. I write at my work station out of necessity, but I could take that or leave it. I have written on the couch watching cartoons, in bed, in a hospital, and in my car. Basically, I write where I can, when I can.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I have to say this: For anyone who has a story that lives loud in their head, write it down. And for those of you who perhaps are stuck, my best advice is this: write. Just write. Don’t censor or edit, don’t listen to the voice that tells you your work is horrible. Just write.

Don’t give space in your life to those that would sap your creative energy. There will always be someone to tell you to “be real,” or “stop thinking you can write, that’s not reality.” I write my own reality, it’s part of what we do as writers. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do this. Just write.

Where can readers find you?

Email: mfamanti@gmail.com

Website: www.izzyadams.com

Twitter: @izzybellaadams

 

 

 

 

Meet Virginia Babcock

author_photoToday, I’d like to introduce you to Solstice author Virginia Babcock. Virginia grew up in and still lives in Northern Utah with her husband and cat. In college, she started in Engineering and ended up in Art and English, which makes for weird syntax when she writes. The picture of her includes some “yard art” a fellow student made that she bought for her mom. She  likes to walk outside while listening to music. She uses that time to meditate on her writings and work out tricky parts. Virginia’s latest book is Hear Me.

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Page count: 174

Date published: September 26, 2017 by Solstice Publishing

Ebook: click here

 

 

 

About the book:

Maddy has always been different, but lately she’s been lonely. Even those who love her avoid her because of her “gift” and the strange things it makes her do. Then one night, a ghostly visitor warns her to go with the handsome stranger who shows up at her door before dawn.

Jacob needed a change in his life, so he quit his job. Before he could head out on his next adventure, his brother reached out to him for help. Will he ever know why a haunting dream told him to leave to help his brother now? On his way, he meets the beautiful Maddy.

Together Maddy and Jacob help those they are called to help. Through triumph and tragedy they find their own way and try to blend two varying paths into one.

Why did you decide to write this book?

I wondered whether I could write something supernatural. I found I couldn’t. I just couldn’t come up with an otherworldly feel to the story, so it morphed into a story about a “psychic” heroine. I then ran with it based on some personal experiences and memories of my own “grannies.” I also wanted to keep working on romances highlighting how normal guys can be attractive. The hero doesn’t need to be an immortal, a millionaire, or even a cop or FBI agent. Jacob in this book happens to be ex-army, but I know a lot of guys like him.

What genre is your book?

Romance>Action/Adventure

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Both. I find myself telling stories based on what happened, with information about the characters tying it together.

What makes your book unique?

The idea that someone would actually live following the wishes of dead relatives. It’s also set in Idaho and Utah.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I try to plot out major events and a basic timeline for the book. Then I write the events. If it starts going a different way, I will go with the new flow if it’s better. For instance, I never intended to have the heroine in Hear Me get so hurt; it just came out that way.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

I typically look up baby names online. Madeline Lena got her names from one of my grandmas and one of my great-great grandmas. I used Madeline, because that granny was Madeline Udora (like Eudora) and went by Udora, when I’d thought she’d go by Madeline given a choice.

How do you decide on the setting?

I place my characters in places I know or where I’ve been. The first hospital in Hear Me was in Provo, UT, because I’d visited a sick family member there while writing the book.

Do you have a writing mentor?

No, but I’m thinking of getting one. Other Solstice authors recently read Hear Me and rated it on Amazon and Good Reads. They gave some good constructive feedback that I wish I’d had when writing it. I do have a best friend who’s a real bookhound like me. I usually test my plots on her.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I try to write when I feel like it. I try to dedicate time to writing each week, and usually write on my huge iPad Pro while being a couch potato in my husband’s recliner.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I am working on a few stories and hope to get a couple of manuscripts done this year. I’m also going to my first writing conference in a few weeks. There I’m hoping to sharpen my skills and strengthen my plots. I’m also doing #TwitterTales flash fiction and am enjoying crafting these mini plots.

Where can readers find you?

@VirginiaBabcockBooks on Facebook

@VBabcockBooks on Twitter

Meet Michael Thal

Smaller SearsI’m happy today to host Michael Thal. His book Koolura and the Mayans won the Gold at the 2018 eLit Awards in the Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction category. Wow! For more information on this amazing award, see Koolura and the Mayans Wins Gold at the eLit Book Awards.

Michael Thal is the author of five published novels—Goodbye Tchaikovsky, The Abduction of Joshua Bloom, and The Koolura Series—The Legend of Koolura, Koolura and The Mystery at Camp Saddleback, and Koolura and the Mayans.

Moving from the frigid Northeast to comfy Southern California in 1973, Michael taught elementary and middle school for 28 years until a freak virus left him deafened at the age of 50. He reinvented himself as a writer composing over 80 published articles in print magazines as well as novels for middle grade and high school aged students.

You can learn more about Michael Thal on his website and blog at www.michaelthal.com. His books can be purchased on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble in print and as e-books.

Today, he’s talking about Koolura and the Mayans. As a bonus, I’ve read the book and loved it! See my review at the bottom of the post.

About the book:

Koolura, a girl with extraordinary psychic powers, is back again with pal Leila. The duo is off to Mexico for Koolura’s father’s wedding. When touring a Mayan archaeological dig, the girls uncover a mysterious device that hurtles them 2000 years back in time. They soon discover aliens from the planet Aquari living amongst Mayan natives. Are these Aquarians planning to take over Earth? And can Koolura and Leila stop them in time?

Mayans

Koolura and the Mayans was published in 2016 by Solstice Publishing and is 131 pages.

Why did you decide to write this book?

Koolura and the Mayans is the third installment to the Koolura Series. Each book can be read independently without pressure of reading the other books in the series. I got the idea for Koolura and the Mayans when I traveled with my daughter to Oaxaca, Mexico for my cousin Adam’s wedding. We took a day trip to Monte Alban, an archeological site of Mayan civilization. That’s when I got the idea that perhaps Koolura could visit this site and be plunged back in time to the age of the Maya.

What genre is your book?

Koolura and the Mayans is historical fiction and science fiction.

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

The book is plot driven.

What makes your book unique?

Koolura and the Mayans won Second Place in the 2016 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards. One of its main characters, Leila, is deaf. Koolura met her in book two of the series, Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback, and learned American Sign Language from her friend. Readers will see that deaf people are smart and resourceful. I think exposing young readers to characters with disabilities is important in broadening their horizons.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

The book I’m writing now, The Lip Reader, is a novel in which I’m letting the novel emerge as I write. However, I plotted each chapter of Koolura and the Mayans before I started writing. Of course things changed as the novel evolved and I had to add chapters and throw out others that didn’t seem to work.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

That’s a great question. I gave Koolura her name because she’s very cool. She can read minds, lift objects with a thought, and even fly. Now that’s cool. Leila got her name in memory of my Aunt Lilly.

How do you decide on the setting?

My visit to Monte Alban forced an obvious setting on me. In Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback I visited a lake in the Santa Ynez Mountains outside of Santa Barbara when my wife and I visited our daughter Koren at college. I thought that would be a perfect site for a summer sleep-away camp, and I was right. There was such a camp nearby, which I toured and took copious notes for Camp Saddleback.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Yes, I have two. Anne McGee, the author of Anni’s Attic and the Cedar Creek Mystery series, looks over my chapters giving me ideas for improvement. Susan Schader, a professional editor, is a huge help in pointing out my errors. Thanks to them, I feel my writing has improved tremendously over the past few years.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I make it a point to write one chapter per month. I usually write the rough draft in pencil at my desk, then type it up on my computer as I make changes.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I was a teacher for 28 years until a virus robbed me of my hearing. Getting a good education is extremely important. We never know what life will throw at us and it’s important to be prepared. Not able to understand my students any longer, I took disability and taught myself how to write. Readers can visit my website at www.michaelthal.com where they can learn about my five YA novels and read my blog.

Other books by this author:

The Legend of Koolura: http://tinyurl.com/a63jamp

Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback: http://amzn.to/1ifKn39

The Abduction of Joshua Bloom:  http://amzn.to/1mTgLGP

Goodbye Tchaikovsky: http://tinyurl.com/bh95ht7

Nancy’s review:

Michael Thal has written a marvelous story. Koolura is off to her father’s wedding in Oaxaca, Mexico. To get there, she uses her superpowers to pick up her BFF, Leila, and magically transport both of them to the Oaxacan airport. Once there, on a harmless tourist trip to Monte Alban, the ruins in the Valley of Oaxaca, the girls stumble into a pyramid and are whisked back in time. They find the ancient Mayans are under the thumb of alien invaders. In order to return to modern-day Oaxaca, the girls have to help.

Both of these girls are great role models. They’re good friends, they’re brave and strong, and they do what’s right even though it’s dangerous. Leila is hard of hearing, and the girls communicate using American Sign Language, adding another dimension to their friendship.

This is the third book in the series. I’ve read the other two, and was glad to discover this one. It’s educational, with the history of the Mayan civilization woven in. In addition, it’s also got a sci-fi element. Michael Thal gives us a glimpse of the society of the alien invaders; not somewhere you’d want to live. But Koolara must travel there in order to save the Mayans, and the arc of human civilization.

This book is one that can be enjoyed by adults as well as tweens. You don’t have to have read the other books in the series to enjoy this one. But warning: once you pick it up, set aside the afternoon, sit back, and hold on for the ride!