Category Archives: Interview

Interview with Robert Herold

Welcome, Robert. Let’s get to the questions.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I play sax and flute in a jazz/blues band (currently on hiatus due to COVID-19) and love listening to music particularly jazz and classical (I’m totally into Beethoven right now!). I also love to read and watch films and tv shows (particularly dark detective series from Europe).

I also collect books and records. Lately, I’ve been collecting Mexican Lobby Cards for famous horror movies. I have about a dozen, some of which are autographed by famous writers (Robert Bloch, author of Psycho, and Richard Matheson, author of I Am Legend). Why Mexican? They are much cheaper than their English language counterparts!

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

Whenever I get the least bit stuck, I ask myself, what is the worst thing that could happen to my characters? It invariably works! 🙂

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

After losing to my wife at cribbage over breakfast, I retreat into the bowels of my house where my office is located. There I spend the first few hours answering emails and doing promo-related work on social media.

During or after lunch I typically spend writing/editing, which I do until around 5:30 when I watch BBC America on PBS. My whole day is punctuated by walks with my 5 ½ pound chihuahua, Jangles.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

My dream vacation is to visit NYC and binge on theater, ethnic food, museums, and jazz clubs. This was a regular pilgrimage until COVID reared its angry head. ‘Hope to resume this as soon as it’s safe.

In what genre do you read?

I have eclectic tastes and tend to read broadly; however, I most enjoy historical mysteries/adventures/horror. I am currently Mexican Gothic.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

Yup, pet person. We inherited Jangles, our 5 ½ lb. chihuahua, from my sister when she passed away. He alternates between being incredibly loveable and incredibly annoying. Jangles watches television and barks at any animal or animated figure. He also doesn’t like violence. Given my penchant for the news, period pieces (when using horses were common), spooky movies, and dark detective series, he has plenty of opportunities to bark!

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

Horror can be a wonderful vehicle for social commentary in a fun and exciting way. My 19th Century characters are dealing with racism, sexism, drug abuse, and many other social ills that still haunt us today.

The Eidola Project travels to Petersburg, Virginia, to investigate a series of murders in the Black community—rumored to be caused by a werewolf. Once there, danger comes from all quarters. Not only do they face threats from the supernatural, the KKK objects to the team’s activities, and the group is falling apart. Can they overcome their human frailties to defeat the evil that surrounds them?

          Moonlight Becomes You earned two first place wins from the Southeastern Writers Association, including Best Novel!

BUY LINKS

Amazon US

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Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Apple books

EXCERPT

Doc Curtis fought for every reserve of strength and managed to quicken his pace. He could hear them shouting behind him and dared not look back, fearing it might slow him just that much more.

He made it through the field and emerged onto a rough access road running between the cultivated land on one side and the woods on the other. The doctor dashed across the dirt road and through the weeds and scrub bordering its opposite side. The trees stood twenty yards ahead. He would make it, find a thick trunk to hide behind, and fire a warning shot. If he could drive them off, it would be best. If not, he would do what needed to be done. Life had reduced itself to its most basic terms: kill or be killed.

Just five yards from the trees, a gigantic black beast bounded from the woods and landed before him. The doctor skittered to a stop, and his feet went out from beneath him. The creature stepped closer, looming. Its eyes glowed red, and the skin around its muzzle drew back, revealing a mouthful of sharp canine teeth.

The Klan had come at him in two directions, the doctor realized.

He raised his pistol and fired into the snarling face above him.

Snippet from 5+ Star Review From N.N. Light Book Heaven:

“Moonlight Becomes You is exceptional in pacing and storytelling. The reader is captivated in myriad ways… (It) was a great read from start to finish.”

The supernatural has always had the allure of forbidden fruit, ever since Robert Herold’s mother refused to allow him, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved-in. (Well, not literally!)

As a child, fresh snow provided him the opportunity to walk out onto neighbor’s lawns halfway and make paw prints with his fingers as far as he could stretch. He would retrace the paw and boot prints, then fetch the neighbor kids and point out that someone turned into a werewolf on their front lawn! (They were skeptical.)

Mr. Herold has pursued many interests over the years, but the supernatural always called to him. You could say he was haunted.  Finally, following the siren’s call, he wrote The Eidola Project, based on a germ of an idea he had as a teenager. Moonlight Becomes You fulfills his childhood wish to become a werewolf, at least vicariously.

Ultimately, he hopes his books give you the creeps, and he mean that in the best way possible!

WEB CONTACTS

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Sign up for his newsletter by sending email to email@robertheroldauthor.com

Interview with Zeppy Cheng

Welcome to my blog.

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I went to college at Louisiana Tech University, studying psychology, but my passion really lies in writing. I watch a lot of anime and play some video games, and I hope to become a full time writer at some point in the future.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

I start with the story and let the characters do what they want with the thing. It’s an exploratory process.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

My writing style is very freestyle. I am very much a pantser.

If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.

I really enjoy dubstep, chillstep, and electro swing.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

Just keep writing, even if you don’t want to! It’s the only way to truly finish what you’ve started!

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

A sense of adventure, a sense that anything can be done if you really want to do it.

BLURB

Forty years ago portals opened all around the world, leading to dungeons with dangerous monsters inside, monsters that can escape into the real world and do incredible damage. At the same time, people began manifesting spirits that allowed them to fight back.

Markus Red just manifested his spirit and it’s a weak one, the weakest one there is. But he squeezes into the position of Adventurer and is sent to Ixtham Academy, where he’ll learn to fight those monsters and destroy the dungeons invading New York City. He is on the lowest rung, but he soon finds an ally in Dr. Barrimore, an eccentric scientist with views that no one else seems to take seriously.

Together the two of them work on a project that will change everything Markus is. But will surviving at the bottom give him the power and courage he’ll need to make it to the top?

Dungeons and Dragons meets Harry Potter in this new, imaginative urban fantasy that will keep you turning pages long into the night!

The Lesser One is available only at Amazon:

EXCERPT

“Good luck,” mouths the commander.

The three of us nod and jump off the tank at the same time. The tank backs away as soon as we hit the ground. The balrog is a block and a half away, striding through the streets with the presence of a movie monster

Corbin kicks in the door of the building closest to us and points to the interior. “I’ll stay here and keep the devils out!”

Esla nods. She and I run inside and start climbing stairs.

I’m happy that I’ve been working out lately. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with her. As it is, I barely manage. We reach the twentieth floor just as the balrog passes by the nearest window. Esla holds up the laser device. There’s a timer. A minute and twenty seconds. She runs to the window framing the balrog and points the laser at the spot between its horns. I make sure my bow is in its place on my back.

A green dot appears on the balrog’s head. Half a second later, it stops and looks straight at us. With a single meaty hand, it claws out the nineteenth floor. The ground begins to tilt. Steel groans.

Esla manages to keep her balance, and keep the dot trained on the balrog’s head.

The balrog rips out another floor out beneath us. I’m starting to slide, but manage to lean against a pillar and hold on.

Esla is not so lucky. She slides towards the window, feet first, and hits the glass. The glass shatters and she falls out. Grabbing the ledge with one hand, she uses the other to toss the device. “Catch!”

I catch the device — a feat I have never managed before in my life. Holding on to it with my free hand, which is now completely green, I notice the time is almost done. Quickly, I point it back at the balrog’s head.

10… 9… 8… 7…

The roar of a huge droneaircraft blossoms overhead.

6… 5… 4…

The balrog smashes the building with its side, sending ripples through the concrete. My hand is now completely green. It is so close, its heat haze drifts over the floor. Worse, I can see the whites of its eyes.

3… 2… 1… 0…

A blast of fire with the intensity of the sun rips through the air and slams into the balrog right where the light was shining. Molten metal and rock flies everywhere. The balrog reels. The pillar I am leaning against collapses, sending me sliding straight towards the firestorm in front of me.

I am in a life or death situation.

I am near a huge monster.

And I don’t even care about what will happen to me next as long as I survive.

I brace my heels against the floor, stabilizing myself for a half-second, then grab my bow and nock an arrow. The fire around the balrog slips down its body, revealing a patch of its head where the red crackling slade-rock armor has been broken. The balrog is still very much alive, and is turning to me with its gigantic, devilish eyes.

My Anima vision spots a tiny point. It’s where the missile hit, about the size of a penny.There, the balrog’s very essence is exposed.

I fire my bow. My entire body turns green, and I am suddenly am convinced that I am a papaya. A piece of fruit sliding off a grocery store shelf.

My arrow buries itself inside the balrog, diving deep. The balrog’s eyes go wide. A light switch flicks in its brain. It staggers, rips some holes in the buildings around it, and stomps on a tank. The flames around it erupt in a display of fireworks that shoots hundreds of meters into the air. The balrog moans, roars, and then collapses to the ground. I slip off the tilting floor and float into the open air.

I am aware of everything. Yet I know nothing. A beam of light cuts open the balrog’s body. A blood-red ring floats out of its chest, spinning, and wraps around my stomach. I am floating, not falling.

Unimaginable power flows through me. My entire being explodes into magic, pain, and the pure essence of reality. I scream without making a sound as I float towards the street.

I land with a bump. My vision snaps back into focus, and so does reality. I am no longer a papaya, and my hands are back to normal — except for the blood-red cracks running through them. They shimmer with a starry radiance, almost as if they are alive.

Zeppy Cheng is a Wisconsin author who loves to write, play video games, and watch anime. He spends most of his time doing one of those three. He has a BA in psychology from Louisiana Tech University.

 

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Inerview with Nancy Brashear

Welcome to the blog, Nancy. Let’s get to know you.

I’m a Southern California gal who grew up in some pretty unusual settings and situations, one of which became the inspiration for Gunnysack Hell. Through life experience, I’ve learned two things (well, more than that!). The first is that God watches out for children. The second is not to judge others; they’re usually doing their best in the moment, and everyone has opportunities to grow into better versions of themselves. A little more about me? I’m living a pretty terrific life at the beach as a faith-filled wife and mother of grown children with seven grandgirls ranging in age from five to twelve. And the sunsets over Catalina Island are magnificent.

What’s the logline that describes your writing themes?

“The truth will set you free.” For example, in GH, one of my main characters struggles against a “big lie” fed to her by the perpetrator. If she can grasp the truth of the situation, she can free herself from silence, take action, and forgive herself. My writing usually includes a character who’s struggling with some kind of a “demon”—an untruth that’s keeping them captive to something.

Do you start with plot or characters first?

The characters usually find me and mull around in my subconscious for a while before they pop onto the page. I begin with the outside perimeter (the general story frame) before I assemble the smaller, interior scenes, which are character driven. It’s a little like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

During the final stages of editing, I morphed into an artistic conductor and orchestrated the visual feeling tone, lengths of paragraphs, and white spaces on the page. It was like I was using visual magic to create a book that would draw the reader’s eyes throughout it from beginning to end. I enjoyed this entirely different creative process after all the hard-core editing and line-by-line proofreading! (By the way, I took Linda Carroll-Bradd’s editing course, and it was very helpful in writing tighter and eliminating reader distractions in my text.)

What other genres do you write in?

I’ve published poetry (and won first place in a poetry contest recently!) as well as short stories in anthologies and stand-alones (a creepy, retold fairytale for grownups). I’ve written two unpublished adolescent novels (science fiction and time-slip fantasy), completed rough drafts of two contemporary adult novels, and have the beginning of another psychological thriller hiding in the wings. As a recently retired English and Education professor, I published in academic venues and designed content for educational publishers and websites. For the last several years, I’ve been reviewing new books for children and adolescents (International Literacy Association website).

What visual aids do you use when writing?

I love, love, love Pinterest! For almost every storyline, I have a separate board. Check out the one for GH (https://www.pinterest.com/nancybrashear/writing-ideas-gunnysack-hell/) with 136 pins, which even includes actors I would cast in character roles. For “Dare to Wish Upon a Star,” the prequel short story to GH (download here: www.nancybrashear.com), I compiled a 1940s board on Victorian mansions, furniture, clothing, tub claws, etc. (https://www.pinterest.com/nancybrashear/claires-story-gunnysack-hell/)

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope readers connect with my stories as “mirrors” that reflect their own experiences or “windows” that give them insights into the lives of others. Either way, I’d like them to come away from my writing with a renewed sense of compassion and hope for themselves and others.

BLURB

“There’s more to fear in the desert than scorpions and rattlesnakes.” It’s the summer of 1962, middle of the Cold War, and the O’Brien family has moved off-grid to the Mojave Desert in Southern California. After all, the desert has to be a safer place to raise a family than the crime-ridden city, and there they can build a new future. But evil also stalks dusty desert roads, and eight-year-old Nonni finds herself harboring a terrible secret: Only she can identify the predator who has been terrorizing the community. And he knows where she lives.

BUY LINKS

Barnes & Noble buy link: Nook and Paperback

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gunnysack-hell-nancy-brashear/1138547553

Amazon buy link: Kindle and Print

https://amzn.to/3pFfBpk

EXCERPT

I read this morning that Donald Fricker was granted parole after serving twenty years in prison. Once I saw his name in print, the decades disappeared in the flick of a newspaper page. My childhood flooded back to eight-year-old me, too scared to identify him and save my family.

It was May of 1962. My family had recently moved to our new home, our grandparents’ one-room homestead cabin in the California high desert with tarpaper and chicken-wire lining the walls. It never occurred to me to ask my father why we had moved from our three-bedroom suburban home by the beach to “off the grid.”

All I knew was that we used kerosene lanterns, the chemical outhouse under the tall water tank, a wood- burning stove, and an old-fashioned ice-box that our father replenished daily with a big block of ice from Jolly’s Corner.

Tessa, my six-year-old sister, and I walked home alone, every school day, from the bus stop, a mile and a half down an isolated dirt road.

That’s when it happened, the thing that changed our family. I’ll never forget that day. I protected Tessa even though I broke all of my promises to Mama I’d made just the night before. To walk directly home from the bus stop, not to talk to strangers, and to stay away from open wells.

That afternoon, when the bus’s hissing air brakes signaled our stop, we leapt from the bottom step onto the dirt shoulder of the road.

I picked the perfect stone from the side of the road. It had to be small and round, with no sharp edges, and light enough to kick all the way home.

Tessa followed on my heels, talking my ear off, and stepping on the heel of one of my tennies. “Gave you a flat!”

“Back off!” I glared at her. Mama said those shoes were like gold, and we were to protect them. I gave the rock a punt and forged ahead.

Oblivious to things going on out there in the desert, we were lulled into a sense of safety and routine. Like Eve, we didn’t feel the danger around us until it was too late to escape. Instead, I should have been paying attention to the truck following us slowly.

Down the deserted road.

Yes, this is our story.

My story.

 

REVIEW COMMENT

“I can’t recall the last time I was so impressed with someone’s writing style. It’s pure genius! Gunnysack Hell, told through the various family members’ point of view, takes the readers down a tunnel filled with mystery, thrills, and excitement. This masterpiece is not to be missed.”~L. C. Hayden, Award-winning and best-selling author, http://www.lchayden.com/

(The Harry Bronson Thriller Series, When Memory Fails as seen on NBC and ABC, and others)

Nancy Brashear lives in Orange County, California, with her husband, Patrick, and their rescue dog, Goldie, where her grown children and seven grandgirls have supported her writing adventures. A professor emeritus in English, she has published short stories, poems, academic articles, textbook chapters as well as website content and writing projects with educational publishers. Gunnysack Hell is her debut fiction novel and was inspired by a true-crime event. And, yes, she did live off-grid with her family in a homestead cabin in the Mojave Desert when she was a child. Visit www.nancybrashear.com to learn more.

WEB CONTACTS

Author website: www.nancybrashear.com

Author FB: www.facebook.com/nancybrashearauthor

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/drnancybrashear

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/nancy-brashear

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Nancy-Brashear/e/B083JNZGPR%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/nancybrashear/

 

Enter Nancy’s Free eCopy Giveaway Drawing of Gunnysack Hell at her blog (ends February 26) by leaving your name and choice of the version you’d like if you’re one of the three winners: Mobi (Kindle), ePub (Nook), or [scrolling] PDF! Winners will also be mailed a postcard of Gunnysack Hell.

(https://www.nancybrashear.com/february-drawing-for-free-e-copy-of-brashears-gunnysack-hell-ends-feb-26/.)

Also by Nancy Brashear – Ready or Not: A Creepy, Retold Fairytale for Grownups

https://amzn.to/3reLgOK

Author Interview with Wendy Kendall

Welcome, Wendy. I can’t wait to get started.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

I start with the characters. My stories come from the characters, their personalities, lives, backgrounds, dreams, flaws, strengths, and what they want. Each character is the hero of their own story. I love to develop the characters, and then see how they grow. Then the plot. It’s the characters who always drive the plot and shape the story. Sometimes I expect a character to act a certain way, but then I learn from them how they must proceed, and that’s how I must write the scene.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

I’m a hybrid author, and I love it. All of it is so creative. First come the characters. Then an outline of the plot. Followed by a timeline that visually shows me what is happening and what characters are involved, scene by scene. Then I write the scenes. As I write, things change, and I go with those changes happily because it’s all so creative. I belong to a wonderful critique group who give me helpful feedback as I go through the process. After the first draft comes the editing. Lots of editing. And then the beta readers tell me what they think, followed by more editing. It’s all exciting for me.

If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.

I love listening to music, especially when I’m writing. When I’m working on a story I prefer instrumentals, lyrics sung while I’m writing are a big distraction. My favorite music is Kevin Eubanks cd’s. I also enjoy all kinds of jazz music. It’s such a creative style, it really creates an atmosphere that inspire my imagination. When one of my sons was in high school he played in a jazz band. He taught me so much about the music, that’s when my appreciation for it really grew.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Sort of. Katherine Watson, purse designer and amateur sleuth opens her own purse museum that shows women’s history through the decades with purse exhibits. My research for my cozy mystery included a trip to the Esse Purse Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas. It’s owned by a sensational woman named Anita Davis who started it with her own collection and it’s grown incredibly since then. This is one of four purse museums in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, learned so much from the exhibits, and also from the very nice and helpful staff. If you want to learn more about my visit, please visit my blog – A Passion For Purses

In what genre do you read?

I love a story! I’ve been an avid reader all my life. My favorites have always been mysteries, all kinds of mysteries. My favorite cozy mystery author, is Laura Childs. No reason to stop at one genre though. When it comes to reading I can’t get too much of that good thing. I haven’t found a genre I don’t like from classics to contemporaries. I’m a big reader of Shakespeare too – now that’s amazing plotting and characters. I love sharing my reading recommendations too. If you’re looking for your next read, you might want to take a look at my column Recommended Reads. I also recommend books for kids in my column Kids Are Bookin’ It.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

I am a pet person. Over the years my family have enjoyed a bit of an assortment. Parakeets, lizzards including geckos, cats, and dogs. Pets are such a sweet joy in life. In Kat Out of the Bag Katherine Watson has adopted a stray cat. Katherine names her Purrada and what a pampered pet she beomes. Jason Holmes is a cop in my mystery, his K-9 partner is Hobbs. I researched police dogs for my book. What amazing, smart animals. I have such great respect for all service animals. When police dogs are off duty, they’re wonderful pets. My research included a ride along with a K-9 patrol. What an experience! I’ve included so much from this adventure in my novel. If you’d like to know more about the ride along, you can hear about it on my YouTube podcast Kendall and Cooper Talk Mysteries.

BLURB

Celebrated international purse designer Katherine Watson hosts a gala for her Purse-onality Museum, she never expected the next day’s headline to read: Murder at the Gala Premiere. Working to solve the murder, Katherine matches wits with local cop Jason Holmes and his K-9 partner Hobbs. Although Holmes and Watson disagree often, they discover an undeniable attraction building between them. But they’ll have to put their feelings on hold and focus on solving the murder, before Katherine becomes the killer’s next knock off.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Barnes & Noble,   Google Play,   Kobo

EXCERPT

Someone had their arm around her, and she couldn’t scream because they were tightly holding a big white handkerchief over and in her mouth. It was also over her nose and she could feel that it was wet and sweet all at the same time, like a chemical. She struggled, kicking back with her feet and trying to get her arms free, but those were tightly held down. Katherine was in a panic and all her muscles seemed to seize up as she fought. Her last conscious thought was of a huge, black, furry growling beast jumping up at her shoulder height, knocking the person holding her away, as she fell hard on the ground.

A review

“Inside every handbag are artifacts – pieces of personality, glimpses of the past and often the deepest secrets. Vintage purses have a story to tell and for Kendall’s mystery, these stories unveil more than just purse-sonal history; they’re the clues to catch a killer.” – ESSE PURSE MUSEUM, Little Rock, Arkansas

Wendy Kendall has a passion for purses and stories of the women through history who carried them. Her cozy mystery Kat Out of the Bag is the first book of the In Purse-Suit Mystery Series, introducing Katherine Watson an international purse designer/sleuth. Wendy is a blogger, editor, speaker, project manager, and syndicated columnist. Catch exciting author interviews on her YouTube Podcast—A Novel Talk, and the debut of her podcast – Wendy Kendall In Purse-Suit of Fashion. She loves her two sons, Alex and Brad and her Purrada cat.

WEB CONTACTS

wendywritesbooks.com

Facebook – Wendy Kendall, Mystery Author

Twitter – @wendywrites1

Instagram – wendyekendall

Goodreads

Interview with Susan Furlong

Welcome, Susan. Let’s get started.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

I don’t write the typical Scottish historical romance. All my stories wrap around a true event in history. Then I drop my characters inside that event and see how they survive. There are so many fascinating episodes in history that fall under the category of “You can’t make this stuff up!” Some are laughable, and some are tragic.

Clicking around the web led me to information about the troubled life of Mary, Queen of Scots. Then I stumbled onto King Henry VIII’s war, called years later as “Rough Wooing,” to force Scotland into agreeing to Mary’s betrothal in infancy to his son, Edward and that led me to the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh. “Cleugh” is Gaelic for “valley,” and the name “Pinkie” caught my eye. This battle ended in Scotland’s defeat, and, subsequently, Mary, age 4, was sent to France to wed the Dauphin of France who was five. Her betrothal was the price for France’s support of Scotland against the English.

All of this got me thinking about how many people lost their lives to protect their young queen who obviously was too young to understand the sacrifice, and that led me to wondering who would be protecting her? It had to be my heroine! Since she would be devoted and trustworthy, her hero had to be a rogue who would eventually change his ways. Thus (Katherine) Kit and Hugh were created.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Four years ago, I took a cruise with my sisters around the British Isles. Our family heritage is Scottish, and north of Edinburgh Scotland, we toured a castle that once belonged to our long past ancestors. The land there is beautiful and gave me a real understanding of how the people lived, something I could not have gotten from photos alone. I also picked up an ear for the accent, which I used in the book. After reading it, my sister asked me if “I got off the boat at night and talked with Scottish wenches!”

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

When I get stuck on what should happen next, I have learned that I have to take a step back and “live in” the story in my mind with my characters. I leave my desk and go for a walk or take a turn on the treadmill or sit in my chair and close my eyes. I try out various scenarios, usually most don’t work, but eventually one makes sense. Some great ideas come to me while I sleep, so a notepad beside the bed is a necessity. Sometimes this process takes an hour, sometimes several days.

What is your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

My biggest surprise in going back over my work is asking myself “Who wrote this?” Whether it’s really good or really bad, I’m stunned that those words came out of my head. How could I have thought of this and put it together like that?

What resources do you use for picking character names?

Medieval tax records offer authentic names from that era. Google also has a large variety of lists of medieval names as do baby name books and Pinterest. Sometimes I see a name and right away it fits my character perfectly. Other times I use several names while I write before I find the right one. I also search photos online until I find one that is my hero or heroine, which helps me match a name to a face.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

I am a Cat person. Six years ago I adopted my two latest cats from the Humane Society’s “Cat Boutique, Meowza” at a local shopping mall. Here rescued cats are available in a pet store-like environment. My granddaughter and I looked over all the kittens and decided on two, one male, one female, who were alone in their cages after all their siblings had been sold. I couldn’t resist making them mine. They are not litter mates, but have been best friends from the start. My granddaughter named them Calvin and Hobbes after our favorite comic strip.

 

Left to right: Hobbes, Calvin

 

 

 

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I love history, not the dates, battles, etc. but how the people must have lived. I hope that readers will see that history is not a boring, dull, repetition of facts, but actually “see” the real people with real lives living through it. I often refer to a phrase I’ve used in my non-fiction historical books about my hometown. In an interview one man said, “We were so busy living our lives, we didn’t know we were living history.” History is made up of incredible stories of people who lived through incredible times!

TAGLINE: She wants to take off his head. He wants to win her heart.

BLURB for By Promise Made

Hugh Cullane, accused of murder and sentenced to hang, is forced to deliver a message of betrothal to four-year-old Queen Mary of Scotland. He faces death yet again when, in rejecting the proposal, the queen’s guardian orders his severed head sent back to England in a jar.

Trained to protect her queen at all costs, Katherine Payne can show no mercy to the handsome messenger, despite the way his stolen kiss unsettles her single-minded sense of duty. Trapped between the English and Scottish armies, she must escape with Mary. Hugh joins her as they are chased by men determined to murder the young queen in their own quest for power.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Barnes&Noble

iBooks

KOBO

To add to your Goodreads bookshelf

EXCERPT

(After escaping the disastrous Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, Kit, Hugh and young Mary flee north)

In the distance, bobbing heads of the horses of an English patrol headed in their direction.

“Down the cliff is the only way. Ye take Mary,” she said, tugging the straps of Mary’s carrying sack off her shoulders. “The wall of the cliff has a small cave in it about halfway down. We can hide inside. I’ll go down first and lead the way. Ye follow with the babe. I’ll guide ye. Here.” She hefted Mary and the carrying sack onto Hugh’s back. “The straps will rub on yer shoulder and start the bleeding again, but there is no other way.”

“Doesna matter. Are ye set, little one?” he asked Mary.

She kissed him on the cheek. “Aye, the man will take good care of me, Kit”

… “I think I see the cave.” She pointed. “I’ll start that way and call for ye to follow.” Swinging her legs over the side, she quickly started the climb down.

Hugh watched her from the top, trying to memorize where she put her feet and hands. “Mary, ye watch Kit verra carefully so ye can help me put my feet in the right places. Ye can even grab hold of the stones with yer hands to help me. Can ye do it?”

“Aye. Kit and I climbed this cliff more than once. Captain Rand put a rope around her waist, but we didna need it. Kit and I climbed up and down all by ourselves.”

“Are ye ready?”

“I am!”

Hugh adjusted quickly to Mary’s extra weight, and he found it relatively easy to follow Kit’s route down over the jagged rocks.

About halfway down the face, Kit called to him. “I see it. The cave. About thirty feet to yer left. I’ll get there and lead ye to it.”

“Aye,” he said.

That’s when loose rocks started sliding down the cliff, not the pebble or two that fell off when his hand hold wasn’t secure, but bushels of debris falling fast and hard. Looking over his shoulder, he saw Kit fighting to find a foothold. She had a grip on a rock with both hands, but her legs swung uselessly. She grunted and strained, but she didn’t cry out.

“I am coming to ye!” called Hugh.

“Nay!” she called back. “Get to the cave where Mary will be safe. I’ll find a way.”

Her right hand slipped off the stones, followed by her left, and she fell fast and hard. Time slowed down  as she flew through the air, bouncing repeatedly against the face of the cliff. Two, three times she slammed into the wall. Her tunic caught on a stone and ripped nearly off. On the fifth time, another jagged edge caught her boot and tore it from her foot and twisted her body until she fell headfirst toward the ground. She landed on her back at the edge of the road below with a sickening thud.

Mary screamed.

Quote from Five Star review by N.N.Light Book Heaven.

By Promise Made is a historical romance I couldn’t put down. I have read a lot of books dealing with Queen Mary of Scots, but this story puts a new spin on the young queen. From the first page, I was transported to medieval Scotland. The descriptive narration is so well done, I sniffed the air and heard the sounds of everything going on in By Promise Made.

By Promise Made was a finalist (top 3) in the N.N. Light Book Heaven Book of the Year in the Historical Romance category.

Susan Leigh Furlong was born at the University of Michigan before moving across the country six times before the age of fourteen. At college she met her love and moved to his hometown, where she taught first and fourth grades. While performing in community theater, she realized she wanted to play ALL the parts, and she now writes and/or directs church plays and performs with a music and drama ministry, LightReaders.

She wrote two historical non-fiction books published by Arcadia Publishing. Susan first discovered romance novels when she won a copy of Velvet Song by Jude Deveraux at the local bookstore.

WEB CONTACTS

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Email: SusanLeighFurlongwriter@gmail.com

Interview with Larry Farmer

Happy Wednesday and welcome to author Larry Farmer~

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I grew up a baby boomer in rural Texas on a cotton farm. After high school, I went to Texas A&M where I earned two degrees. In between degrees I joined the Marines, hoping to go to Vietnam. After my stint I travelled around the world, looking for my head as we used to say. I work as a computer programmer as a career for Texas A&M University. I have three children and have been married twice.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I am an avid reader. Mostly non-fiction. I love history and politics. I am very into writing my novels. All this and my daily life keeps me busy.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

They are based on my true-life experiences. Between my Texas background, Marine Corps and my travels around the world, plus romantic endeavors involved, I have much material to deal with.

What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?

Looking up the time and place and setting. Only to fill in the gaps in the story to not miss any details.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

All of them.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

Keep going and let it work its way through, even if I have to return to the story part where I got stuck.

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

To contemplate where I am in the story and how I want to deal with it and keep moving with it.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

Entertainment, but also I hope my storyline interests them and they get in the setting and circumstances. I want people to relate.

There was a new age. One called the Age of Aquarius with a restless, ideological generation in the spirit of Woodstock and a reverence for new worlds opening up to new ideas. When the Beatles presented a mystique of India into pop culture, the Hippie Trail derived where hip adventurers traveled overland from Europe to Kathmandu and India. Hunter was not among these hipsters. Still bitter over treatment as a Marine combat veteran from the Vietnam War, he nevertheless shared allure for the open road. While getting visas in Vienna he came across a Polish girl, Ewa. A Warsaw Pact girl whose politburo father got her unequal privileges she gladly abused to join Hunter on the trek to India to check out the new age together. Shared experiences and hardships bonded them. But Cold War politics made falling in love the worst hardship of all.

Amazon buy link

EXCERPT

By 1978, I wanted to go overland. Overland by way of what was called the Hippie Trail. India was the chic place to go anymore, if you were a true adventurer. I still hated hippies, but I did love this part about them. The free and open road way of life. The wanting to get out of the mold, away from the rat race, and see things and places you only read or heard about. The Marines got me started on that, structured as it was in a war zone called Vietnam, but I loved my generation’s open road spirit and wanted to do it too. To see these places first hand, and not as a part of a group tour package of five countries in three days.

I wanted to mingle with the crowds, the locals. To eat their food and put up with the hardships, to sleep in a ditch if I must, or in some sleazy hotel. To experience the joy and pure fun of staying in exotic place after exotic place.

The Hippie Trail began in Vienna. That’s why I was there. Vienna was the capital of Austria, which meant it had embassies where you could get the travel visas you needed for the Asian countries you passed through on the way to India. And Vienna was on the edge of Asia Minor where these Asian countries began.

It seemed fitting that it was my search on the internet for a Beatles song that reminded me indirectly of those days and my meeting Ewa. For it was the Beatles that introduced my generation to India. Not the historical India so much as the India of the new mystique.

WEB CONTACTS

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Guest Interview with Sorchia DuBois

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I taught English in small schools and community colleges for about twenty-five years. Now I am an editor/customer service representative for a virtual education provider which allows me to work from home. I have a couple of grown kids and one delightful granddaughter who, unfortunately, lives for most of the year in Germany.

Writing is something I put off for far too long because I bought the ideas that you can’t make a living at it and anything you can’t make a living at isn’t worth doing. These things are both wrong. I’m never happier than when I have a story in progress—unless it’s when I’m promoting a finished book. This is what I wanted to do since I was a kid and I could kick myself for letting myself be influenced by naysayers.

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Magic, Mystery, Romance, History, A little Whisky, and a Cat

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

While the idea of a plot may trigger my interest, it’s the characters that build the story for me.  The Zoraida Grey series, for instance, started with an idea for a character—and not even the main character. Zoraida’s granny was the instigator—and once you get to know Granny, you’ll see how this had to be the case. I wanted to write about a witchy lady who lives in the wilderness in Arkansas. Which led me to wonder why someone with those skills would be in Arkansas. Which led me to wonder about her family. Which led me to her granddaughter, Zoraida.

When I start thinking about characters, I need to know all about them. I have a list of questions and I use Tarot cards to get the answers. This takes me in strange directions, and this was how Zoraida went from Arkansas to a haunted castle in Scotland to the Yucatan jungle and back. The plot sprang from her and Granny’s family history.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

The Zoraida Grey trilogy is an urban fantasy/adventure series. I’m currently working on a small-town mystery series—probably also a trilogy since that seems to be the way my so-called mind works. Working titles are All the Pretty Knives, Birds of a Feather, and Corked. I’ll always include bits of fantasy and magic realism to see how those elements work in other genres—anything speculative sounds like fun to me.

In what genre do you read?

I will read nearly anything including the backs of cereal boxes. I steer clear of gratuitous violence and while I have read erotica, I get a little bored unless the writer can think of new, um, angles. My favorites are psychological thrillers, mysteries, any kind of fantasy, and humor.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

I’m a cat lady and proud of it. The current count is nine—mostly rescues. Everyone in the house is fixed, including the humans, and most of us have had our shots, too. I live in the country where the cats can roam as they want—no indoor litter box except in really bad weather when the divas in the pride refuse to wander far from the fireside. While I did not plan to have this many cats and am not seeking any more, I do enjoy their company.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

An author I admire named M.C. Beaton once responded to this question by saying, “I never wanted to be a literary writer. I wanted to be an entertainer. All I wanted was to give what a lot of writers had given me: a good time on a bad day.” While I would like to give literary writing a try one day, I have to agree with M.C. I write what I enjoy, and I hope that enjoyment translates to my readers. Bad jokes, quirky characters, and absurd situations make me laugh so I try to add those things to my books.

Blurb for Zoraida Grey Trilogy

How many Scottish witches does it take to destroy one small-town fortune teller?

The Zoraida Grey trilogy follows Zoraida from Arkansas to Scotland on a quest to retrieve a healing stone to save her granny’s life. But it seems Granny hasn’t told her everything. Soon Zoraida is smack dab in the middle of a witchy clan war and in danger of being ensorcelled by not one but two smoking hot witches. The truth of her own heritage is buried deep beneath Castle Logan. Trouble is the only one who strikes fear in the black hearts of the Logan witches has stepped in a steaming pile of Voodoo thousands of miles away in the Caribbean.

To save her granny and her best friend, Zoraida must choose between her old, safe life or a new one filled with magic and danger.

The task may be the end of her—or the beginning.

Start the adventure with Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones in which Zoraida discovers just what a mess Granny has let her in for. Continue the story in Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen in which Zoraida journeys to the Yucatan Jungle to retrieve a Scottish wizard who turns out to be naked and painted blue. The trilogy ends in Zoraida Grey and the Pictish Runes as Zoraida returns to Castle Logan with vengeance on her mind.

Buy Links: (each book just 99 cents through Jan 22)

Stop by Sorchia’s Universe for more info or go straight to buy links at your favorite sites:

Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones: books2read.com/u/mKJkvZ

Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen: books2read.com/ZoraidaGrey2

Zoraida Grey and the Pictish Runes: books2read.com/ZoraidaGrey3

Excerpt from Zoraida Grey and the Pictish Runes

Dinner guests at Castle Logan look like a traveling Halloween party in search of a human sacrifice. Why am I surprised? A few of them stare at the looming figure of Jock in the doorway, but the majority seem to be people not put off by a giant wizard and his feathery familiar in the foyer.

Castle Logan looks much as I remember it, but I’m changed in more than appearance. The place is as creepy as it ever was. Dark shadows lurk in the upper hallways, a cold mist flows along the floor, and the prickle of magic crawls across my skin like a dozen tiny spiders. The first time I walked into Castle Logan, I had a severe case of the heebie jeebies. Now, the weirdness feels homey. I’m glad to be back.

Normal rules don’t apply here. We’re going to sit down to dinner as if nothing monumental has happened. Our unexpected appearance is but one of many odd happenings in the last quarter hour alone.

Zhu materializes beside me and hands me a glass of wine. I marked her presence and apparent good health the first minute I walked into the castle. I’m glad to see her, and not just because of the wine, though that’s a nice plus.

“You took your sweet time,” she says, grinning like a drunken Cheshire cat. “This place is nothing like Arkansas.”

“You’re the one who wanted to see witches and real magic. I didn’t want to come back too soon and ruin your fun.” I breathe a silent sigh of relief. She’s safe and she’s not bewitched. The world is still right side up. “You look pretty chummy with all these folks. I had the idea you were being held hostage.”

As I lift the glass of wine to my lips, I notice a tall, blue-eyed man standing close to Zhu. If I didn’t know better, I would say he was her bodyguard. And if not for the large, dark Scotsman holding my hand, I would be giving this blond fellow a longer look. Instead, I raise my eyebrows at Zhu.

Zhu smiles sweetly and sips her wine. By this, I understand I am not the only one with a story to tell.

Snippet from Reviews

“This is a really fun magical adventure. It is light-hearted but has a serious, suspenseful edge to it as well. Zoraida is a great narrator for the tale and hearing everything from her point of view allows the author to surround her with characters who we are not really sure of their intentions.” LIAL at The Romance Reviews for Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones

~*~

“Zoraida’s inner narrative is a dazzling combination of humorous self-deprecation, sarcasm, and wit. It’s like Practical Magic, Charmed, and The Craft had a baby and named it ‘Zoraida Grey’.”  On My Kindle Review of Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen

~*~

“So many secrets and surprises it keeps you guessing and wondering. You should definitely read this book-series!!” HG review of Zoraida Grey and the Pictish Runes

Sorchia Dubois is the pen name of a mysterious, retired English teacher who lives deep in the forest in a tall house with nine cats. Sorchia writes paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and small-town murder mysteries. She published her first book in 2018 at the ripe age of mumblety-seven and plans to publish at least ninety-nine more. Her latest accomplishment is to survive cancer, which was no fun, but served to broaden her perspective—that’s for sure. Currently, she’s working on All the Pretty Knives, the first in a new trilogy to be released 2021-22.

WEB CONTACTS

You can find Sorchia on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. You can also follow her at Amazon, Bookbub, and Goodreads. Check out the current sale on Sorchia’s website, Sorchia’s Universe, and sign up for my newsletter to get updates on new releases.

Guest Interview with Liz Flaherty

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I’m retired from the post office and live with my husband and three cats in the cornfields of Central Indiana. I’ve written 20-some books and every time I think about retiring, I write another one

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

I get people first—always. Sometimes I end up with people hanging around just waiting for a story of their own

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Other than a scene or two in England, where I’m still waiting not-so-patiently to go, I’ve been everywhere I’ve set a story. The towns themselves are always created, but with an actual place in mind. Fionnegan, the setting of Back to McGuffey’s, for example, has its roots in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

It sounds almost like cheating, but if I’m stuck, I look up story prompts on the Internet. I may not end up using the prompt for much, but I can always find a starting point.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

This release is the one that’s actually different. With one historical aberration, I’ve always written contemporary romance. Window Over the Sink is a compilation of essays chosen from the 30-year history of my column, “Window Over the Sink.”

In what genre do you read?

I read mostly women’s fiction these days, but also love to find a romance with “seasoned” protagonists or an Americana historical written with a voice like Cheryl Reavis’s or Cheryl St. John’s.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope they feel as if they’ve been there—and that they enjoyed the trip.

BLURB:

It’s been nearly ten years since we retired. I’m still in the office Duane and the boys created for me. The seven quilts I promised to make have been completed. A few books. He has new knees and new guitars. We’ve had grief and loss in these years, occasional discontent, times of being alone even when we were together. We’ve also had a blessed amount of fun. Of music and laughter and family. Of the other side of being alone that comes of knowing we never really are.

Much has changed in those nine years and change, and much has stayed the same. At first, it seemed as if this book was a vanity thing. Or a thing for the grandkids to look at and think Okay, Nana, what do you want me to do with this? But in the end, like most other things in life that are worthwhile, it is a labor of love. A gathering of thoughts and dreams and memories.

Thanks for joining me on the journey.

Buy links: Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08Q5T2Y5S/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2

For everywhere else D2D:

https://books2read.com/u/bw7NM0

EXCERPT:

My father-in-law was here this morning for a while. Seeing him, naturally enough, made me think about my mother-in-law, and miss her. And my mom—and miss her, too. I gave him a cup of coffee and thought about how many cups of coffee there had been at how many tables and then I thought of places that have been important to me.

In case you didn’t know it, this is how a writer’s mind works. Forget any idea of sense or linearity or neatly dovetailing thoughts—there aren’t any of those. A writer’s mind is a whole lot like the junk drawer at the end of the cabinet, full and messy.

But, yes, places. Starting with kitchen tables. My mother’s, where the homemade bread and sugar cookies cooled and she taught me to iron pillowcases. My sister’s, where no one was ever a stranger. My mother-in-law’s, where we sat while she cooked and gave the grandkids whatever they asked for. The tables from our 30s where girlfriends and I sat and shared coffee and confidences. Our kitchen island now, where we play Farkle and I write Christmas cards and make plans. Kitchen tables are so many things—pulpits, confessionals, meditation sites, places of both privacy and society. They are where we laugh and cry and make life-changing decisions. They are important.

Desks have been instrumental since the first day of first grade, when I learned the word “Look” and from there on couldn’t be stopped from reading every written page that crossed my path. It was at a desk where I learned to love American history although I never got good at it and where I had to stay through several recesses because of talking in class. It was where I was sitting when an editor first called and said, “I want to buy your book.”

Bleachers are way up there on my list. They are where I watched my kids grow up and learn things that might have been missed outside the arenas of sports, drama, and music. They’re where I had my first experience with civil disobedience back in high school. When I was 19, I sat in the bleachers at the softball diamond in Maconaquah Park and tried to figure out what I was going to do next.

Church. Obviously, it’s the accepted place to worship, but I believe you can worship anywhere. It’s also where people are married, baptized, dedicated, and eulogized. It’s where we have chili suppers, noodle suppers, sauerkraut suppers, and tenderloin suppers—and that’s just in September and October; there are plenty more to be had throughout the year. It’s where, if we’re lucky, party affiliations and grudges are left outside the open-to-all doors. It is, when all else fails, a safe place.

Norris Lake, Tennessee is important because our family in its entirety spent Thanksgiving weekend there a few years ago. It was one of the best times I’ve ever had—it’s also the last time we’ve all been in the same place at the same time. That could be bittersweet, but it’s not—it’s all sweet. Although it’s important not to live in the past, keeping good memories in a pocket inside your heart is just as important.

The Nickel Plate Trail. I don’t walk much these days, but it’s still my favorite place when I do. I’ve done a lot of plotting there, spent quality time with family and friends, and remembered what a gift nature is.

The school up the road is important if for no other reason than there have been family members in it ever since it was built. It’s where I have so many memory bank deposits I can’t begin to keep track of them all.

There are so many others. Favorite vacation places, the side yard where the deer graze and the birds dive-bomb each other and the sun slips quietly and beautifully into the horizon, places I’ve voted, music that has been so stirring it created places of its own.

The pleasure in important places is that you don’t have to go back to them to experience them. As faulty as memory becomes—and it does—happy times still live there. You may not be able to remember how to get back to the physical places that are important to you, but you’ll remember how you felt there. You’ll remember the perfect meal with 16 of you at the table and the day you were laughing so hard you were falling off the barstools in the kitchen and the taste of those sugar cookies that you’ve never once been able to emulate. And you’ll know those places—and times—were important. Capture the joy.

Review snippets:

… you’ll laugh and cry and feel good all over!” – Nan Reinhardt

“The book is a delight to read with vignettes that are like warm hugs.” – Patricia Bradley

BIO: Retired from the post office, Liz Flaherty spends non-writing time sewing, quilting, and wanting to travel. The author of 20-some books and her husband Duane share an old farmhouse in North Central Indiana that they talk about leaving. However, that would require clearing baseball trophies from the attic and dusting the pictures of the Magnificent Seven, their grandchildren, so they’ll probably stay where they are.

Liz can be reached at lizkflaherty@gmail.com or please come and see her at  her website, Facebook, and Twitter

Guest Interview with Pam Crooks

I’m happy to introduce a writing friend, Pam Crooks. We met while contributing stories to a couple of multi-author series–one is the newly launched “Bachelors & Babies” series.

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I grew up in the ranch country of western Nebraska.  Cowboys and pickup trucks were everywhere, and though I was a city girl through and through, those cowboys were thrilling.  My husband and I had four daughters before we moved to Omaha, and it was here where I discovered a writer’s group, Romance Authors of the Heartland.  Without RWA, I wonder if I’d be published today.

I’ve been a writer forever. I (like many other readers) read Kathleen Woodiwiss’ The Flame and the Flower, and I was hooked.  Back then, we didn’t have computers, and I typed out my story on a Smith-Corona electric typewriter, which was a birthday gift from my husband.  I was in heaven!  Imagine my delight a few years later when my brother gave me his cast-off Apple computer.  Oh, my goodness.  No more correction tape or White-Out.  Now THAT was heaven!

It took me nine years to make my first sale to Leisure Books, but when I did, the sales kept coming.  After four books with them, I got picked up by Harlequin Historicals and wrote ten more.  By then, they were having some distribution troubles, and the self-publishing phenomena hit.  I jumped on the band wagon with a few more titles, and well, the rest is history.

In 2019, I released three titles, two self-pubbed historicals and one contemporary with Tule Publishing.  I have come to love multi-author groups like Bachelors and Babies!  TRACE is my 23rd book, and it’s been quite a joyride.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

It’s a little bit of both.  I have to have a framework (doesn’t everyone?) with hero and heroine, their conflict and goals.  I love making them as opposite as I can since it makes the story writing easier (yeah, right).   But other than that, I am very much a pantster.  No matter how much I try to pre-plot, my brain goes in a different direction while I’m writing, and admittedly, a better one.

If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.

I do use music. It has to be instrumental, otherwise I’d sing along with the artist and that’d be a huge distraction. Ha!  Piano, flute, guitar, or harp are my favorites.  Top of the list, though, are Gregorian Chants.  So soothing.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

My tip has to be my critique group and brainstorming verbally with them around my dining room table.  It’s that give and take, a lively and spirited discussion, that really gets my juices going.  After all these years, brainstorming is still my favorite part of writing.

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

I’m retired.  My brain can’t focus on writing until I get my daily slate cleared.  That means breakfast eaten, bed made, bathroom tidied, dog walked.  I have to finish email and some computer work, too.  By then, it’s usually late morning, and I finally get myself in front of the computer.  I stop for lunch with my husband and then take a brisk walk.  Inhaling deeply while I walk is miraculous and amazing.  I can then sit at my computer again and really focus.

I use a calendar to plot out my weekly page goals. I do a minimum of three pages a day, and if I don’t make the three pages one day, then the shortage gets tacked onto the next day.  Good incentive!

What’s your dream vacation destination?

Europe.  Specifically, Italy.  My grandparents immigrated from there, so the country’s influence has been a strong part of my childhood.  I hope to get there soon.  Fingers crossed!

Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?

I am VERY visual.  Pinterest is my salvation.  Very inspiring and just plain helpful.  And like I mentioned above, I need to see how many pages I’m accomplishing, too.  Writing them down on paper makes me feel like I’m actually accomplishing something.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

I wouldn’t call myself a pet person, but when my husband and I retired (a few months apart), I wanted a puppy to give a layer of purpose to our days.  We got a purebred Golden Retriever named Louie.  He lights up our days, keeps us walking, gives us something to talk about and take care of, and he is just a joy.  (Notice I didn’t say I enjoy the dog hair, cleaning up the backyard or his barking, but oh, well.)  I wouldn’t say the puppy stage is easy, but he’s almost three years old now and mellowing. Very smart and very sweet.  I can’t imagine my life without him!

BLURB

Trace McQuade has lost everything–his ranch, his brother, and the woman he wanted to marry. When his quest for justice fails, he leaves Texas to head north, but he never expects to gain an outlaw’s baby along the way.

Morgana Goldwater needs to be needed. After she endured a terrible tragedy, she lives in a narrow, protected world. When Trace needs help caring for the baby girl, she is quick to take them both into her heart and into her life.

But their troubles return, and Trace and Morgana must face their past to keep loving the little girl–and each other–in their future.

SNIPPET FROM REVIEW

5 stars–“Awesome book. I couldn’t put it down till I finished it. Now I have to wait another month for the next one to come out… great job, Pam.”

BUY LINK

Amazon  (free in Kindle Unlimited)

EXCERPT

If the basket held a tangle of rattlesnakes, Trace couldn’t have been more apprehensive looking inside.

Sure enough, there was a baby lying there, sleeping, with one miniature fist curled next to her cheek. She wasn’t much more than four or five months old. She had more hair than most, at least from other babies Trace had seen. Dark, with ends that curled over her ears and temple.

Slick-Shot had curly hair, too.

The knowledge churned inside Trace. Cruel twist of fate the man’s bastard daughter had been forced upon him. Wasn’t it enough the outlaw had stolen the woman Trace once loved, and worse, shot and killed Robbie? Who wouldn’t be angry over it? Who wouldn’t try to refuse?

Trace wallowed in a thick pool of righteous indignation, for sure, but the longer he stood there, the harder it got to pull his stare off the infant. He couldn’t see much of Emma in her, but that part might come out later. Too early to tell what kind of woman she’d be, too. If she’d have her father’s inclination for crime or if she’d take on a more lawful frame of mind.

Regardless, the baby was innocent of her father’s murdering ways and Emma’s poor decision-making. A miniature human being that, through no choice of her own, now depended wholly and completely on a stranger—on Trace—for survival.

He blew out a breath from the immensity of it.

But he’d not be beholden to this child just because Emma wanted him to be. Trace had plans, Nebraska plans, and none of them included taking care of an outlaw’s baby.

He just had to get through tonight, that’s all.

Tomorrow, he’d make arrangements. Whatever he needed to do for the baby’s best interests—and his own.

His mood lifted. Careful not to jar the child into waking, he cradled the basket and knapsack in his arm and entered the cabin, easing the door into a quiet latch behind him. He managed to set the basket onto his bed with little more than a faint stirring from the baby, then went for the knapsack, hoping its contents would make caring for a child easy and quick.

Not surprisingly, the bag yielded several sleeping gowns, diapers, a can of condensed milk, a contraption for a feeding bottle and a letter.

Taking it, he ripped open the envelope, unfolded the paper and read the feminine handwriting:

Trace,

You took care of me once, now I’m asking you to take care of my daughter. Her name is Harriett, and she was born on January 28, 1881.

There’s no one I trust more than you.

Emma

Trace’s lip curled. She might as well be standing right beside him, speaking the words in her Texas drawl. It was just like her to expect such a thing from him, too, taking on the care of her daughter as if the girl was a geranium in a pot, needing only watering now and then. Trace could imagine her lashes fluttering, her smile coy, cajoling his promise to do what she wanted. As if he had nothing else to do with his life.

Until he remembered how she’d suffered because of him. A physical pain that would’ve paled compared to the knowledge she wouldn’t live to see her baby daughter grow up. The prospect of leaving her behind, of forcing her into the care of a stranger, well, hell. Trace couldn’t think of anything worse.

Emotion welled up in his chest. He owed Emma, for sure. He’d take care of Harriett as long as he could. Until he found someone better capable and more deserving.

Emma trusted him to do at least that.

A whimper intruded into his thoughts. He tossed the letter aside and strode back to the wicker basket. Seeing him, Harriett suddenly quieted. Her dark eyes fastened onto him and rounded.

Then, her little face scrunched, turned red, and she filled her lungs with a howl that reached to the rafters. The girl must’ve known Trace wasn’t familiar. Might be she was even afraid, and Trace scooped her up and put her to his shoulder to offer some comfort.

A wet diaper soaked into Trace’s shirt. Grimacing, he rummaged one-handed through the pillowcase stuffed at the foot of the basket for something dry to put between them, only to discover it held more diapers, just as wet and soiled with who knew what else, carrying a godawful smell that nearly felled him to his knees.

Trace stuffed it closed again and bolted toward fresher air. The howling grew to a fevered, shrieking pitch, and no matter how he patted and soothed and bounced, no matter how hard he tried to think of the best thing to do, he had no choice but to accept the cold, hard truth.

It was going to be a very long night.

While expecting her first child (more years back than she cares to count), Pam Crooks read her very first romance novel, and she’s been in love with them ever since. She grew up in the ranch country of western Nebraska, and it was inevitable she’d eventually write lots of books about cowboys. Pam still lives in Nebraska with her husband (who is not a cowboy), four married daughters and a whole slew of perfect grandchildren.

She’s a long-time member of RWA and RAH, her local chapter. Pam is also one of the founders of Petticoats & Pistols, a popular blogsite for western romance.  She loves to cook, hang out at her lake cabin, and decorate birthday cakes for anyone who will let her.

WEB CONTACTS

To see more books Pam has written, visit www.pamcrooks.com

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Guest Interview with Jean Adams

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

Although I was born in England, I have lived in New Zealand for more than thirty years. I developed an interest in writing romance and founded Romance Writers of New Zealand, which has now been going for more than 21 years.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

I usually begin with a plot and build the characters into it. However, on one occasion I had a secondary character who I felt deserved her own book, so I built a plot around her. That book turned out to be one of my personal favorites.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

When creating a book, I prefer not to plot in advance. I’ll never write a detailed outline. I tried it once but it was as though the story had already been written, and I never finished it. What I prefer to do is think about the plot for a few days, let it play around in my head, then write a bullet list of things that I want to happen in the scene. Nothing much, just a word or two. That way I don’t forget anything, and if necessary, it’s very easy to adjust the story as I write.

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

I’m not so keen on revision. I’m doing that right now with a story, and it’s a real pain because half the story has had to change.  However, I love editing. I enjoy taking a raw, unedited story, expanding on it and making it better by using different phrases, words, etc.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Yes, I’ve been to Egypt, Greece and the United States.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

If I’m still stuck after a week, I call my friend and we have a brainstorming session. It’s a funny thing because after I’ve written down all possible scenarios, when I get home the ideal answer just pops into my head. A sign the little gray cells are still activated, I suppose.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

Yes, I’ve written a time travel novel and am working on an historical trilogy set in ancient Egypt. I’ve also tackled a few erotica.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope readers will enjoy this heart warming story of courage at the holidays, and share a tear or two. Other than that, I hope they find them entertaining.

 

BLURB

Devon Alexander intends to hide away this Christmas. Forget the terrible memories of the last holiday. She couldn’t bear to relive the past. Until she finds a Christmas angel looking for a new mommy.

Chase Kennedy’s little daughter has run away from home and he’s frantic with worry. When he gets a call saying his daughter has been found, he goes to collect her and meets the most beautiful woman he’s ever met.

Can little Sara bring a touch of magic to both their lives?

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EXCERPT

“I just wanted you to know so you’re sure you’re not releasing Sara into the care of an ogre whose daughter runs away from him every chance she gets.”

She laughed. Such a pretty laugh that went straight to his gut. And his nether regions. Holy cow! It had been a long time since that happened.

“I’d hardly think that, Mr. — Chase.”

Better think about going. “Good. Well, thanks for the coffee, and thanks for taking such good care of Sara. We’d better get out of your hair now. Let you get ready.”

”Get ready for what?”

He looked around the festive-free room. Although it was warm and tastefully furnished, the fact that there was no sign it was Christmas intrigued him. Come to think of it, there were only a couple of what he took to be family photographs on the dresser. “I see no sign of any decorations, so I assumed you’re going away for the holidays.”

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying right here, quietly hibernating ‘til it’s all over. I’ve got a pile of good books to keep me busy for days.”

He frowned. Hell’s teeth. Even his single friends had a card or two. “Not a fan of Christmas, huh?”

She shifted her feet. “You could say that.”

This was puzzling. “What do you do, Devon?”

“I’m in advertising.”

He winced playfully. “Ah, that would explain it. You guys have probably been preparing for months so that when the time actually rolls around you’re sick of the sight of it.”

Devon sighed. That wasn’t the reason, but it would suffice. She didn’t want to go into her past to a perfect stranger. Or delve into her guilt.

He got up and walked to the armchair where Sara was soundly sleeping, and bent to kiss her forehead. “Sara. Sweetheart,” he said quietly. “Time we were leaving.”

Sara stirred.

“Come on, Pumpkin. Time to let Devon have her life back.”

Life? What life?

Sara mumbled and slowly opened her eyes. “Daddy!” Instantly awake, she threw her arms excitedly around his neck and hugged him, a big grin spread across her face.

“Come on, sweetheart. Let’s go and leave Devon in peace.”

In peace. Did she deserve peace? These two had brought a little magic into her life and now she was loath to let it go. She wanted to cling to it. But why? She didn’t even know them.

“But, Daddy. She’s my new mommy.”

If only. She’d have liked kids. A daughter especially.  Devon blinked furiously. Her teeth caught her bottom lip and she looked away.

“No, she isn’t, Pumpkin. You must have been dreaming.” He looked up at Devon. “Sorry about that,” he said awkwardly, and rubbed the back of his neck.

Her gaze on Sara, Devon managed to disguise her watery eyes. “No need to apologize. She’s just a little confused.”

“But, Daddy. She needs us.”

He smiled into his daughter’s face. “Really? And why’s that?”

Sara made a bad job of trying to whisper in his ear. “‘Cause she hasn’t got any Christmas.”

“My daughter. The consummate diplomat.” He got down on his knees. “Come on, put your coat on. It’s cold out there.” There was a brief pause while Sara slipped one arm into one sleeve, then the other. He buttoned it up, then glanced at Devon and shook his head. His voice dropped to a whisper to match his little daughter’s. “Maybe she doesn’t want any. Scarf.” He held it out to her and waited while Sara wound it around her neck.

“She can share ours. We’ve got heaps.”

When he answered, amusement sounded in his voice. “She might not want to.”

Devon grabbed up her coffee mug and took a drink. It was cold. She knew he was doing his best to be diplomatic, but best laid plans.

“Why?”

“Not everyone likes Christmas as much as we do,” he said with a patient smile.

“Why?” His inquisitive daughter seemed determined to get the best of the argument.

And the way the two of them were looking into each other’s eyes so earnestly, tugged at her heartstrings. She busied herself tidying the occasional table.

“Well…because…” He looked up suddenly. “Help me out here, Devon.”

“It might be a very sad time for them. Makes them remember sad things.” The words were out before she could stop them. Help. She hadn’t meant to blurt that out. Likewise, neither could she stop a tear escaping.

Chase caught her gesture just as she swiped a tear from her cheek. From the look in his eyes, it was as though he knew she was hiding her anguish. “That’s enough questions for one day. Let’s go.”

“But, Daddy!”

He eased to his feet. “Listen to me, sweetheart. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and Daddy has only one day left to write to Santa so he can bring your present in time. You’re only getting one this year, remember? So be sure you know what you really want.”

A big grin spread across her face. “Devon!”

Chase laughed. “You can’t give people as presents.”

“Why?”

He pulled a face. “Questions. Always unanswerable questions. Because it’s not a very nice thing to do.”

“Just this once, Daddy. Pleeeease.”

Devon swallowed at the closeness of these two. At the little girl’s words, realizing she had a lump in her throat the size of Texas when she saw her eyes gaze pleadingly into her father’s.

Embarrassment was written all over his face when he stood up. “Once again, I can only apologize.”

She hid a brief smile behind her hand. “No apology needed. That was a very generous thing she said. I’m honored.”

“She’s like that. I’m very proud of her. And now, we’d better get out of here before she tries to twist me round her little finger, like always.”

A Touch of Magic is also included in Christmas Tidings, an anthology of four holiday stories by four authors.

Other titles include:

A Viking for Christmas by Cynthia Breeding

Santa’s Own Angel by Annette Louise

The Christmas Shop by Cynthia Owens

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