Today’s Featured Author – J. D. Horn

Today I welcome my first author of 2018 – J.D. Horn – to my blog. His latest book, The King of Bones and Ashes, will be released Tuesday, January 23. Be sure to check out the excerpt after his author interview.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a Wall Street Journal bestselling author. My first published book, The Line, came out in February 2014, and earned me a spot as as an official nominee in the category of best debut author in the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards. Three other titles (The Source, The Void, and Jilo) have been published as part of the Witching Savannah series. The Witching Savannah series has now been/is being translated into eight languages (Russian, Polish, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Turkish, Romanian). I have also had one standalone novel (Shivaree) published. Shivaree is kind of my ugly baby. Not nearly as popular as the other books, but in my opinion either ties with or comes in second to Jilo as my best published novel to date. Fingers crossed that The King of Bones and Ashes outdoes both.

I’m married, have two step-daughters who both graduate from law school in 2018, and I’m the proud pet father of the world’s most wonderful Chihuahua. He was a rescue boy who rescued me. (Adopt, don’t shop.)

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

I’m going to use a quote from the great television writer, Agnes Nixon, to answer this one. “The Great and the Least, The Rich and the Poor, The Weak and the Strong, In Joy and Sorrow, In Tragedy and Triumph, You are ALL MY CHILDREN.” (sic)

My characters are all on some level reflections of me, even if the relationship is limited to my aspiration to share a character’s better qualities, or my battle to keep from giving in to their worst.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I’m currently working on the final round of edits on The Book of the Unwinding, second book of the Witches of New Orleans series, and writing the first draft of The Final Days of Magic, the third in the (so far) trilogy. Writing a trilogy is a bit like juggling. In the first you hope to catch attention by throwing the balls high into the air. The second, you’re keeping them in motion, and the third you have to catch them all without dropping any. The Book of the Unwinding feels like a good “bridge” book between the other two, progressing the story, but taking it in hopefully unexpected directions. Three minor characters from the first book become huge players in the second.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Dreams can come true, but it may not feel the way you expected it would when they do.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

No. At least hardly ever. I get critiques from a team of trusted professionals, and I do the best work I can. I know I am neither the best nor the worst writer ever, regardless of what a five or one-star review might say. That being said, my publisher forwarded me Publishers Weekly’s and Booklist’s reviews. You darn well know I read those.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Rarely. The character most solidly based on a real person appears in the new Witches of New Orleans series,  Nathalie Boudreau rises from a minor character in the first book to a lead in the second. I’ve borrowed several characteristics from a woman I used to know way back in the 1990s. Nathalie’s inspiration was, and hopefully continues to be, as tough as nails, but as sweet as sugar.

Oh, but that may not be quite true. It all depends on whether you count cats as people. If you do, then Sugar Caissy wins. I based the character on our beloved, departed Sugar. I know it may sound goofy, but trust me, Sugar Caissy is one of the major characters and helps drive the plot. It’s actually been wonderful writing her as a dramatic heroine, as it’s made me feel like I have her back on some level. Got to give her a tenth life, if you will.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

I’m going to borrow from the answer I gave when we were discussing Jilo. I start out with a broad summary—basically what I’ve promised my editor I’m going to write—and then sit at the keyboard until the characters tell me what’s really going to happen. As I tell my publisher whenever I present them with a proposal, my writing process resembles what happens when you store your carry-on luggage in a plane’s overhead bin. At the other end of the journey you find pretty much what you expect, but the contents may have shifted during flight.

One of the characters, actually the first POV character we encounter, came out nothing like I’d intended. Alice Marin had secrets, and she made me dig deep until I discovered them.

Excerpt

Lisette Perrault

Just over the blonde’s shoulder, through the window, Lisette caught sight of a familiar head of closely cropped gray hair. Her father, Alcide Simeon, came weaving down the sidewalk, threading his way through the throng of tourists, stopping and bowing theatrically before a young girl, stepping into the street and ceding the sidewalk to her and her parents. The girl’s father reached down and swooped the girl up into his arms as a car horn blared a warning at Alcide. The driver swerved around him, and he stepped backward onto the uneven sidewalk, stum­bling but righting himself. The glint of something silver in his hands caught Lisette’s eye.

Lisette’s father did not take drugs. He did not touch drink. Always said he’d watched too many of his buddies lose it all down those roads. But here he was, stumbling toward the shop. Still, seeing her teetotalling father drunk was a lesser shock than the sight of the strange instrument he carried. Bessie was his “brass belle,” the horn such a familiar sight that it seemed an extension of her father’s hand. Seeing him with this new horn cradled in his hands made her feel like she’d caught him car­rying on with a strange woman.

“You’ll excuse me for a moment,” she said without looking at the women. “You all just keep on looking around as much as you would like.” She stepped around the counter and brushed past the blonde. She grasped the door handle, and, walking through the bell’s protest, slipped out to the street.

She strode up to her father, whose lips tipped into a smile as he threw his arms wide to welcome her.

“There’s my baby girl,” he said. “I was just coming by to see you.”

She stopped just beyond his reach, and his stupid, drunk glee faded—but only a touch. For the first time in her life, she felt ashamed of him. “Why are you all lit up?” she said, her hands on her hips, unin­tentionally mimicking her mother. “And what are you doing with that horn? That isn’t yours.”

“Oh, it’s mine all right. I bought it special this morning.” He raised it to his lips and ran up a quick scale, ending with a flourish.

She held her stance and narrowed her eyes. “Special for what?”

His head jerked and his eyes widened in genuine surprise. “You haven’t heard?” He turned to a passing stranger. “She hasn’t heard!”

She stepped forward and grabbed his forearm. “No, she has not heard,” Lisette said, her words breathless, angry, “but she is standing right here in front of you, so maybe you should get busy with the telling.”

He looked at her, his lips drawing into a thin line. Then his face loosened, and he began to laugh. “Celestin Marin,” he said, his eyes twinkling, “is finally dead. Funeral’s day after tomorrow.” He winked at her. “Gonna be a band and all. This tin horn and I are gonna join in right before they cut the bastard’s body loose,” he said and laughed. “May end up a devil of a second line.”

“Celestin wasn’t a musician. Why would anyone throw him a jazz funeral?”

Her father didn’t respond with words, but a wide smile crept across his lips.

“You did not . . .”

“I sure did. I arranged the whole thing. How the hell else do you think it could happen?” He wagged the offending horn at her. “Just rang up a few friends. Charles Delinois made up a little white lie for me about how Marin was a secret donor for years to a charity to keep music in schools, and how it’s the least we can . . .”

“You lied to Vincent,” Lisette cut him off, regretting it before she could draw her next breath. It was ridiculous. Even after twenty-five years, the mere thought of Vincent darn near took her breath away . . . like someone had kicked her hard in the gut. She loved her husband. She loved the family they’d made together. Still, it hurt to speak Vincent’s name. It hurt like hell.

“Yeah. I reckon I did a bit,” her father said, sobering, Lisette could only surmise, from having witnessed the expression on her face. “The boy ate the story right up. Seemed kind of hungry for any kind words about his defan papa.”

“Vincent’s a good man. You’ve got no reason . . .”

“Vincent’s a Marin.” Her father’s jaw stiffened, the mirth in his eyes turning to hatred. “Reason enough.”

“You were friends once, all of you. Mama and you and the Marins.” She hoped her words would summon a happy memory for him, but he remained stock-still and silent. “All right,” Lisette said. “So how about you tell me why. What do you get out of this parade?”

The smile returned to his face, but it had come back cold and cruel, making him look less like the father she knew and loved. He held the horn to his lips and blew a few bars of the “Cross Road Blues” before lowering the horn. “I’m gonna play that son of a bitch’s soul right into hell.”

Lisette felt her jaw drop. It took her a moment to find words. “What kind of fool nonsense are you talking?”

“It isn’t nonsense,” he said, clutching the trumpet to his chest. “You aren’t the only one who learned a thing or two from your mother. Gonna use this horn to blow his soul straight to the lowest pit of hell, then I’m gonna toss it in the river. Make sure it never gets played again. Would be too dangerous to let it fall into innocent hands afterward.”

Lisette raised her hands to her temples. She shook her head. This could not be happening. Her father really couldn’t think himself capable of speeding another man’s descent into the fiery pit. She’d come so close, so many times, to telling her father that she no longer believed. That she knew none of this, not the vèvès, not the candles, not the gris-gris bags—especially not the table of premade ones at the shop now marked down to $19.99 each—was real. She’d only held her tongue out of respect for him and her mother’s memory.

Dropping her hands, Lisette glanced back over her shoulder at the shop. She almost gasped, sure she caught the image of her mother mov­ing behind the vèvès painted on the windows. No, that could not be. It was just a creation of her mind—more fodder for her next therapy appointment. Blinking the apparition away, she turned back to her father. “Listen, Daddy, even if you could . . .” She stopped herself, choosing her words more carefully. “Even if you do know how to do what you’re planning, what good would it do? What happened with Mama and Mrs. Marin was so long ago.”

“Maybe to you, but not to me. To me, it still seems like yesterday.”

“But, Daddy, Celestin didn’t have anything more to do with it than you or I . . .”

“Oh, he had something to do with it all right. I know it.” Tears brimmed in his eyes, and he pounded on his chest with his free hand. “I know it in here.”

What harm can it do? Lisette thought. Might even do him some good. Do all of us some good. Bury this damned animosity between the families once and for all. Lisette looked up at him. Patted his chest. “All right, Daddy. You do what you need to do.” She leaned in and kissed his cheek.

As she pulled back, she noticed his eyes were reddening. His bot­tom lip began to quiver. For a moment, she wondered if the storm had passed, but then he raised his chin, his expression hardening, defiance growing in his eyes. “You could help, you know.”

She traced her hand down his arm. “No, Daddy,” she said, turning, heading back toward the shop. “I really couldn’t.”

Book Blurb

Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.

Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.

Author Bio

J.D. Horn, the highly praised and bestselling author of the Witching Savannah series, now debuts a new contemporary fantasy series, Witches of New Orleans. A world traveler and student of French and Russian literature, Horn also has an MBA in international business and formerly held a career as a financial analyst before turning his talent to crafting chilling stories and unforgettable characters. His novels have received global attention and have been translated in more than half a dozen languages. Originally from Tennessee, he currently splits his time between Central Oregon, San Francisco and Palm Springs with his spouse, Rich.

You can find out more about J.D. on his website or Facebook.

You can check out a trailer for The King of Bones and Ashes here and pre-order it on Amazon. (The book comes out Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.)

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Today’s Featured Author – Charles O’Donnell

Author Charles O’Donnell visits my blog today promoting his novel, Shredded: A Dystopian Novel, which came out earlier this year.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Last year I retired to write full-time after thirty-five years in engineering and manufacturing—three and a half decades during which almost all of my writing output consisted of technical standards and email. While my career did require a certain facility with language, neither plot nor character development earned me any praise. Not a total loss, though—dealing with people from diverse cultures in all manner of situations gave me insight into human nature, which I try to bring to my writing. And the time I spent in faraway locations such as China and Italy inspired the settings for The Girlfriend Experience and Moment of Conception.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

My list of inspiring writers is long! I tend toward more literary works—Inferno, the one by Dante, not the one by Dan Brown, was a favorite when I was a teen, as were The Odyssey and Moby Dick; later A Clockwork Orange and more recently Freedom and The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen made an impression. But it wasn’t until I started reading Dan Brown, John Grisham, Ken Follett and others that I thought I could write a book of my own, perhaps a story as exciting as a Dan Brown thriller if not as literary as Jonathan Franzen. When I got the idea for The Girlfriend Experience about eight years ago, I wrote the first chapter and I was hooked.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

If you had asked me when I was four years old what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d have said “author,” although at that age I pronounced it “Arthur.” Through grade school, middle school and high school I wrote stories, both for school and for myself, and then I took forty years off to earn a living. I never actually considered myself a “writer” until one day, when attending a writing workshop at a local college, I asked the workshop leader what advice he would give to a non-writer who wants to write. He said, “Well, first, if you’re writing, then you’re a writer.” On that day, I awarded myself the title of “writer” retroactively to age four.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

As much as possible! A writing instructor once told me “I write to erase myself in the creative act.” For me, that means allowing myself, sometimes forcing myself, to explore every aspect of every situation in my novels, whether or not the result of that exploration makes it into the final draft. Since the author reveals to the reader what he or she thinks about the world, the act of writing forces the author to actually think about the world, often with surprising results. I think that’s what makes writing such an intensely personal experience. The hazard, of course, is that the author, by injecting his or her viewpoint into the story, may intrude on the reader’s experience, rather than leaving the reader alone with the narrative. Avoiding that intrusion is one aspect of writing that I find most challenging—one wrong word, one ham-handed exposition, one preachy moment, and the spell is broken.

Please tell us about your current release.

Shredded: A Dystopian Novel went live in April, 2017. This is my first full-length sci-fi novel, set in the not-too-distant future, a time when almost all human activity takes place in Virtual Reality and privacy is nonexistent. It’s the story of Grace, a recovering drug and sex addict who’s managed to stay clean for four years since being shocked straight, having lost custody of her son Dylan to her sister Donna. She’s determined to get herself respectable, to win Dylan’s respect, but also to regain control over her life, never again to become a slave to her addictions.

One day Grace discovers that her life data—words, images, and events recorded indelibly in the Worldstream—have been woven into a lifestream, a full-immersion VR experience. It goes viral, with millions of perverted stream riders are getting their thrills reliving Grace’s sordid past. The thought of her life being invaded by strangers offends her need to be in control, but worse than that, Grace discovers that Dylan is experimenting with riding lifestreams, and is only days away from stumbling onto the past that Grace has so carefully kept from him.

Grace finds a shredder, an expert in the ways of the Worldstream, to remove her lifestream, deleting every last bit of her life data since the day she was born. Her life will be hers again, but she’ll be outside of the Worldstream, a non-person, cut off from Dylan and everyone else she cares about—and she can never go back.

What inspired you to write this book?

Technological and social trends seem to be toward a society in which we interact less and less with one another in person, while paradoxically sharing more and more intimate details of our lives with utter strangers. At the same time, with the rapid development of augmented and virtual reality, we may be only years away from virtual experiences that are indistinguishable from real life. Might we see a future, not too far off, in which the virtual world is the venue not only for leisure, but also for work and social interaction? And in such a world, how would we protect our privacy, when all of our actions, words, perhaps even our thoughts, enter the virtual reality stream? While I’m excited about the possibilities, I fear the side effects. Shredded is my exploration of the promise as well as the hazards of these trends, which seem unstoppable.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

I really enjoyed writing Grace—generally speaking, I enjoy writing female characters more than male characters. In The Girlfriend Experience, it was Gina, the call girl who gets tangled up in a web of espionage; in Moment of Conception, it was Ronni, the brilliant and beautiful political operative. Grace is the first female lead character in any of my books, and I’m happy with how she came out—she’s strong, complex, and likeable. All that said, if I had to pick a favorite in Shredded, it would be Raúl, the cynical Worldstream master. I put a lot of myself into him.

The only characters I dislike are the ones that I’ve written as unlikeable. Andrew, Donna, and Joan from Shredded fit that description. But I don’t dislike all my unlikeable characters!

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

In chapter 35, “Empathy Setting,” Grace has reached an impasse in her attempts to shred her life. Seemingly out of options, Grace makes arrangements for the distribution of her belongings after her death, and records a final message to Dylan. Climbing to the roof of her building, she approaches the edge, contemplating her own destruction. Grace’s tortured conversation with herself, imagining the impact that her death will have on Dylan, is a portrait of a woman determined to master her own fate, who nevertheless is at the end of her rope.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

Shredded is the first book of a planned three-book series. Shredded tells Grace’s story, from the time she discovers that her life has been hacked to the time she resolves that crisis. The second book, with the working title of Shade, continues Grace’s story as she navigates through the secret world of the Shade, outlaws who have cut themselves off from the connected world. In the third book of the series, we can expect Grace to reassert herself in the connected world to champion the cause of personal liberty and the right of individuals to choose what to share and what to keep private.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

Just based on the number of times I’ve read it, that would have to be A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. I read it for the first time when I was nineteen, and I read it again for the fourth time last September. But the book that made the deepest impression on me was Moby Dick. I’m still not sure why, other than the brilliant writing and visceral imagery, and I’ve only read it once, but when asked to name my favorite books, Moby Dick is always at the top of the list.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m working my way through the canon of virtual-reality-themed fiction, starting with Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, both of which I enjoyed but found a little too tech-heavy. I’m reading William Gibson’s Neuromancer, in the same genre but distinctly more literary than either Ready Player One or Snow Crash.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m the eighth child from a family of fifteen. Whenever I mention that fact, the reaction is astonishment followed by a long and predictable list of questions. I have them printed out, with answers, citations, and cross-references, on a handy laminated sheet.

Book Blurb

How do I erase my existence from the mind of God?

Grace, a civil servant with a sordid past, wakes up one morning to find that she’s a viral sensation: her life has been hacked, woven into a lifestream, a full-immersion, 3-D, virtual reality experience. Knowing that she’s powerless to keep thrill-seeking stream riders from reliving her life, fearing that her teenage son, Dylan, might stumble upon her explicit lifestream, Grace finds a shredder, an expert in the ways of the Worldstream, the infinitely detailed record of every event, person, and thing. He’ll erase her lifestream and all of her data since the day she was born. Her life will be hers again, but she’ll be outside of the Worldstream–and she can never go back.

About the Author

Charles O’Donnell writes thrillers with high-tech themes in international and futuristic settings. His works include The Girlfriend Experience, an espionage thriller and the first book in the Matt Bugatti series; Moment of Conception (Matt Bugatti #2), a political and medical thriller; and Shredded: A Dystopian Novel, a cautionary tale about the potential for technology to either augment reality or to replace it entirely, and about the erosion of privacy in a world in which everything is shared online, and nobody reads the terms and conditions. 

Charles recently retired from a career of thirty-five years in engineering and manufacturing to write full-time, drawing on his years of experience leading technology teams in many countries on three continents to create compelling settings in faraway lands.

Charles lives with Helen, his wife and life partner in Westerville, Ohio.

You can find out more about Charles on his website.

You can purchase Shredded on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – Diana Rubino

Today, I welcome author Diana Rubino to my blog. Her time-traveling novel, Dark Brew, was released in July 2016.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

My passion for history and travel has taken me to every locale of my books, and short stories, set in Medieval and Renaisance England, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, and New York. My urban fantasy romance, FAKIN’ IT, won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. I live on Cape Cod with my husband Chris. In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play my piano and devour books of any genre.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

Born in Jersey City, NJ, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, and now call Cape Cod home with my husband.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I am now writing bio novels with no fictional characters, and have written 4 so far. I just began my next, which will be about Susan B. Anthony. I enjoy writing about strong women who shook things up, and call my books The Sassy Ladies Series.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I outline very thoroughly. I still use Donald Maass’s Writing The Breakout Novel Workbook, because it makes me explore every aspect of the storyline and characters, getting right down to minute details.

Please tell us about your current release.

My last book to be released is Dark Brew, a time travel romance.

What inspired you to write this book?

The story took 12 years from start to finish. I’m a longtime member of the Richard III Society, and in the spring of 2004, I read an article in The Ricardian Register by Pamela Butler, about Alice Kyteler, who lived in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1324, and faced witchcraft charges. After her trial and acquittal, she vanished from the annals of history. I couldn’t resist writing a book about her.

How did you come up with the title?

I originally called it Strange Brew, but thought Dark Brew was more dramatic and compelling. It refers to the herbal brews Kylah, the modern heroine, mixes and drinks to transport her to 14th century Ireland, to solve the mystery that consumes her life today, and her past life then.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I thoroughly researched Druids, because Kylah is a practicing Druid. I also researched Alice Kyteler…I found a book about her trial that explained all the details about how the church influenced the court in 14th century Ireland.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Alice actually lived, along with the judge, her lawyer, her husband and stepsons who lived in 14th century Ireland, but all my characters in modern times are fictional, not based on anyone.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

I’d say Kylah is my favorite, as she’s determined to travel to her past life to right an injustice, and she’s very brave to attempt living in those times, which were very dangerous.

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

The black moment occurs when Kylah is accused of murdering her husband Ted and arrested. I don’t want to give anything else away.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

Time travels (I’ve written 3) are difficult in general, and since Kylah is the reincarnation of Alice, I found it difficult to describe what she experienced emotionally and physically as she traveled back in time. I also found it difficult to write the scenes in which she’s accused of murdering her husband, because she was innocent. It made me realize how much injustice is in the world.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

I would like to be Eliza Jumel Burr, who became the richest woman in New York City, a very astute businesswoman, and solved two murders. She led a fascinating life.

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

I’ve always wanted to spend a few days in the court of Richard III, and see what life was like in 1483-5.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

I always have a jar of nuts at my side to munch when I get peckish. And always a glass of water in reach.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

Oh, so many….but one of my faves is THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF HENRY VIII by Margaret George. She puts you right there in Henry’s world. A CROWN FOR ELIZABETH, which I read in high school, is also another favorite.
I read a trilogy of novels when I lived in London, which are set in London, the first is THE L-SHAPED ROOM by Lynne Reid Banks. I read these over and over, never grow tired of them.

What book are you reading right now?

I usually read two or three at the same time, so I’m reading THE ROGUE LAWYER by John Grisham and
George Washington A Life in Books by Kevin Hayes, about the books Washington had, combined with a timeline of what was going on in his life as he acquired each book.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

Neither are alive–Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m a big believer in the paranormal and have gone on many paranormal investigations, though I have no psychic ability.

Book Blurb

DARK BREW

A time travel romance
Learn from the past or forever be doomed to repeat it.


Accused of her husband’s murder, Kylah McKinley, a practicing Druid, travels back through time to her past life in 1324 Ireland and brings the true killer to justice.

Two months of hell change Kylah’s life forever. On her many past life regressions, she returns to 14th century Ireland as Alice Kyteler, a druid moneylender falsely accused of murdering her husband. Kylah’s life mirrors Alice’s in one tragic event after another­ she finds her husband sprawled on the floor, cold, blue, with no pulse. Evidence points to her, and police arrest her for his murder. Kylah and Alice shared another twist of fate­ they fell in love with the man who believed in them. As Kylah prepares for her trial and fights to maintain her innocence, she must learn from her past or forever be doomed to repeat it.

About the Author

My passion for history has taken me to every setting of my historicals. The “Yorkist Saga” and two time travels are set in England. My contemporary fantasy “Fakin’ It”, set in Manhattan, won a Romantic Times Top Pick award. My Italian vampire romance “A Bloody Good Cruise” is set on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean.

When I’m not writing, I’m running my engineering business, CostPro Inc., with my husband Chris. I’m a golfer, racquetballer, work out with weights, enjoy bicycling and playing my piano.

I spend as much time as possible just livin’ the dream on my beloved Cape Cod.

You can find out more about Diana on her website or her blog. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Dark Brew for the Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.

WANTED – Authors for Featured Author Spot

wantedNOW Looking for August, September & October! 

Are you an author looking for some additional publicity for your latest book?

I host guest authors every Friday – any genre, both traditionally and self-published. In the past 5 years, I have hosted 288 authors on my site!

The Featured Author post can take one of three formats: author interview, book excerpt or a guest post on any aspect of writing, publishing, or book marketing.

Sign up is on a first-come-first-served basis, though I do have a few Tuesday openings to accommodate special requests for dates related book tours, book releases or cover reveals. (Click the Featured Authors link on the left to check out past authors.)

If you are interested, send me a message along with any date requests, and we’ll take it from there.

Today’s Featured Author – Pat Simmons

Today, please welcome author Pat Simmons. Her latest book, Love by Delivery, was released in February. She is currently finishing up her novella, Late Summer Love, which should be out by the end of summer.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My Name is Pat Simmons. I’ve been a wife for 34 years and a mother of a son and daughter. I graduated from a great college in Boston, and eventually worked in my field of broadcast journalism for over twenty years. I started in radio and was truly blessed with an opportunity to transition into television news for ten years. Because of my media experience, I head the publicity team for the RT Booklovers Conventions. In my free time, when I’m not writing, which seems like all the time, I enjoy sewing, tracing my family roots, reading, and watching romance movies.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

It was my play mother, the late Lorna Robnett. She had faith in me that I could do anything, especially after she heard me weave a story to a houseful of guests.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I received an email from a reader about my first book. That’s when it kicked in that I really was an author. That was 10 years ago.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

I think each story has a little bit of Pat Simmons’ personality in them, or my alter ego, like Grandma BB or Sandra Nicholson in the Jamieson Legacy series. Grandma BB is the seventy something smart talking childless widow who says what she wants, when she wants. On the other end is sweet and sanctified Sandra Nicholson, who finally found love in her early sixties and married him. She was the epitome of an uncompromised Christian woman. The Confession won the Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance in 2016, so I was happy readers fell in love with Sandra and Raimond’s story. My news background has sparked many a plots in my stories. It’s my curiosity about a subject that has created great storylines, like Guilty by Association. Kidd Jamieson wasn’t fond of carrying his absentee father’s last night, but thanks to my genealogy search, I was able to write his story when I uncovered documents that showed pages of enslaved African Americans who were buried without last names.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Actually, I’m sitting on the second edits of a completed novel, Mystery of Love, because I’m trying to finish Late Summer Love before summer is over. I’ll close out the year with my annual Christmas novellas, Prayers Answered by Christmas, which is a sequel to Couple by Christmas. I’m looking forward to writing it.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

Yes, I’ve been writing full-time for about nine years. When I run short on cash, I’ll work a temp assignment, but my steady income is from my monthly royalties, mainly from eBooks. Since I’m a Christian author, I begin my day with prayer time, I study my Bible, hoping God will give me a message to incorporate in a scene, or a personal word of encouragement for me. After that, I try to start writing my ten a.m., and many times will write until midnight. I do take breaks for chores, eating, and a movie with my husband, but I spend a lot of my time doing administrative tasks: reading and sending emails, looking for blog content, newsletter content, monitoring my social media accounts, looking for stock photos for book covers, and most importantly, staying on my writing schedule to meet my releases. I think every author is always in search of promotional opportunities, me included.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

I want to say I’m in control of my income, but it’s God who supplies my needs, especially when I’m on the road and can’t write, or my funds get low. The worst? People don’t think I work—that writing isn’t a job, and therefore, I have to tell me people I’ll call them back or let it go to voicemail, then I forget to check voicemail. The other thing is some people think I can write a book in a month or less—I wish.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

Since I release three to four books a year, I appreciate outlining them. I didn’t at first. When I did, I would go off the outline anyway, usually by chapter 7. But even now, God gives me fresh scenes every morning and I say, “Thank you, Lord that is a good one.”

Please tell us about your current release.

My recent book, Love by Delivery, was released in February. Since then, I’ve completed a full length novel entitled Mystery of Love that is waiting for me to do the second round of edits until I finished Late Summer Love.

What inspired you to write Late Summer Love?

It’s a sequel. Readers wanted Paige Blake to find happiness.

How did you come up with the title?

I got the idea last year while I attended my husband’s family reunion. The plot was perfect for Paige’s story, so I had planned to name it Summer Reunion, but a fellow friend had a release called Winter Reunion, so I changed it to Summer Love, but when my first round of re-writes for Mystery of Love worked me over, I knew my novella wasn’t going to hit a May or June release. I told my husband the story had to come out before the end of summer because it was called Summer Love. He joked, “It’s going to be a late summer love.” I thought about it, and tweaked the title and gave him the credit.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Of course. They are a mixture of physical characteristics, personalities and mannerisms. My best friend says she can hear our voices in my characters’ conversations.

Which of your characters is your favorite?

My hero: Blake Cross. It’s easy on the eyes and has a good heart.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

This is book 2 of the Perfect Chance at Love series. I have to come up with another scenario for my main character’s cousin. I don’t have anything yet. I’m sure it will come to me.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

All my characters have too many issues for me to jump into their shoes. LOL. They all have happy endings, but their journeys aren’t easy. I’ll pass.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I have a home office that faces the front. I can write and be nosy—a great combination for an author.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

That I read—The Warmth of the Other Sun; That I’ve written—Crowning Glory.What book are you reading right now? I won’t read until I finish a project, then I’ll read three and four books to detach from my characters. I have a TBR pile.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

I’m around a lot of authors—indie and New York Times bestselling authors like Sylvia Day, Charlene Harris, Brenda Jackson, and Francine Rivers. So I count it a privilege to mingle with these ladies and others at the yearly RT Booklovers Convention

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I do have bouts of shyness, but nobody believes it—seriously!

Book Blurb

Could a chance meeting during two family reunions be God playing matchmaker? Paige Blake recently witnessed her best friend marry. Now, Paige is struggling to tame the pity party stirring within her heart, questioning whether God had forgotten about a husband for her. After twelve years of serving his country, Blake Cross is ready for civilian life. He soon learns there is another battle he must fight. When he meets Paige on an elevator, he’s drawn to her. There’s one slight complication to win her heart. Blake has to surrender to the Lord’s will in his life first.

About the Author

Pat is the multi-published author of more than thirty titles, and is a three-time recipient of Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance. She has been a featured speaker and workshop presenter at various venues across the country.

As a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth, Pat is passionate about researching her ancestors, then casting them in starring roles in her novels. She describes the evidence of the gift of the Holy Ghost as an amazing, unforgettable, life-altering experience. God is the Author who advances the stories she writes.

Currently, overseeing the media publicity for the annual RT Booklovers Conventions, Pat has a B.S. in mass communications from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.

Pat has converted her sofa-strapped, sports fanatic husband into an amateur travel agent, untrained bodyguard, GPS-guided chauffeur, and her administrative assistant who is constantly on probation. They have a son and a daughter.

You can find out more about Pat and her books on her website.

You can sign up on a wait list for Late Summer Love here or check out the rest of Pat’s books on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – Susan Leigh Noble

Today, I am featuring myself as my featured author. I have done this in the past when I have had an author flake out and not turn in their author interview or book excerpt. This time that isn’t the case. I just failed to fill this spot, but don’t worry, I have the rest of July filled up. August isn’t so lucky so if you are an author (self published or traditionally published, any genre) and would like to be featured on my blog in August or beyond, I urge you to contact me.

Typically when I have been the Featured Author, I have done book excerpts but today I have decided to answer some of my author interview questions. If you would like to take a look at my books, click here to find links to book excerpts from all four of my full-length novels and my short story.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I wear many hats. I am a blogger on this website where I post four times a week. I am a fantasy author with four full-length novel and a short story published. I am currently working on another fantasy full-length novel due out in 2018.

I am a mother to two children – Lexie and Jase. I am an officer on the Parent-Teacher Associations for both their schools. I am also a wife and animal wrangler (we have 3 cats and 2 dogs). My husband and I have been married for twenty-two years. I do the bookkeeping for his small law firm. I am sure I am forgetting something else that I do but as you can see, I am one busy lady!

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Maine. My dad was in the Air Force so we moved around quite a bit until I was twelve when we settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I attended high school and college in New Mexico before marrying my husband and moving to Texas. We have lived in Lubbock, Brownsville and finally now San Antonio where we have lived for the past fifteen years. I feel pretty confident that we will be calling San Antonio home for many, many more years.

Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

As you can see from above, I certainly am not a full-time author. I am busy so I have to squeeze in writing when I can. That might mean I spend an hour (or just a few minutes) here or there. It means sometimes I am writing at home and sometimes I am using my iPad while I am taking the kids to their activities.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I typically do what is called headlight outlining. That is where you plan out a few moves ahead at a time. This allows for greater flexibility than outlining the whole novel but doesn’t leave me directionless. It saves me from staring at a blank page and also cuts down on rewriting in subsequent drafts which can happen if you write without planning.

Why did you choose to write fantasy novels?

I love magic and dragons so it just seemed natural to pick a genre that incorporates those two elements.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Yes, I have just completed the first draft of my next book Blood Bond. It is a story about a man (Soren) whose life changes drastically when he meets a dragon (Dex) and becomes “linked” to him. I came up with the idea for the book because I like dragons. In fact, all of my books so far have contained a dragon. The dragons were really a big part of The Elemental trilogy, and I wanted to write another book where dragons played a crucial part of the story. In this one, man and dragon have broken off all communication until an approaching army threatens both which forces them to work together again.

Please tell us about your current release.

My last release, The Heir to Alexandria, begins with Alista, a young woman searching for her parents who abandoned her at birth. She is a bit naive and trusting but also harbors magic that she has kept secret. It is this magic that leads her to be chosen to be tested as the possible heir to the powerful Alexandria family who was murdered many years ago. There is a rumor that the youngest daughter survived and it is her descendants that the Kings are searching for. While the Kings believe the heir will restore peace to their troubled kingdoms, there are others who will do anything to stop the testing and possible return of the heir to Alexandria.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I do most of my writing in my office. Sometime if I want a change of pace, I bring out my laptop and write either on my bed or the couch. With my busy life, I can write anywhere.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I have a black belt in Aikido.

Book Blurb

Believed the descendants of the Gods themselves,
The Alexandria line ensured peace,
Until they were brutally murdered.
But rumor spread a maid escaped with the youngest daughter.

Now as the world rushes toward a period of unrest, the nations’ Kings continue their 200-year-long-search for the Heir to Alexandria – the one person who can bring peace and stability through divine power.

Alista has her own search – for the parents who abandoned her as a baby years ago. When her only lead proves to be a dead end, she heads to the capital with a reluctant escort. Grayson is just following his aunt’s order, but he would rather be on one of his solitary scouting missions for the Landra Guard. However, when Alista unintentionally curses a guard in front of the King’s court, everything changes for both of them.

Now forced to travel to Covington for testing, danger lurks at every turn as a secret society strives to prevent the return of the Alexandria line. Are Alista’s visions of the future enough to save herself and those traveling with her?

About the Author 

Susan  Leigh Noble has always loved dragons and magic so it is no wonder that she became an author of fantasy novels. As a cat lover, she also had to throw in a telepathic cat to the mix in her The Elemental trilogy as her short story, The Search, which features Tosh, one of the main characters from the trilogy. She published a stand-alone novel, The Heir to Alexandria, 2015, and just finished the first draft of her latest book, Blood Bond.

In addition to writing, Susan spends her days taking care of her two children, three cats, two dogs and husband in San Antonio, Texas.

You can purchase her books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and anywhere e-books are sold.

Tips on doing a better author interview

As a way for authors to promote themselves, many blogger (including myself) offer author interviews. This is a chance for your readers – or potential readers – to get to know more about you as an author and to learn more about your book.

But in the five years that I have been interviewing authors, I would say about 40% of them struggle with the interview. It isn’t that I make it hard. I email them a list of questions and let them choose which ones they want to answer. It is the answering of the questions where they run into trouble.

Here are some of the problems…

 

  • Offer TOO Much Information – This is where they go on and on while answering a question. I can say, “Tell me about yourself” and they give me their whole bio instead of providing a few interesting facts.

Tip: Keep answers to a few sentences. No one wants to read long paragraphs.

  • Offer TOO Little Information – Some authors go the other direction and give just one or two words answers. These answers give almost no insight into the author. I try not to have questions that can be answered with a yes or no. But instead of just saying “the library” is your favorite writing location expand on that and tell us why.

Tip: Write in complete sentences. And make your answer clear, concise and interesting (give us the reasons behind your decisions, if applicable).

  • Forget the Interview Purpose – The purpose of the interview is not only to promote your book but to promote your brand. And that is you! There is nothing wrong with being friendly, but you still need to come across as a professional. (see #4) This may be your first impression with a potential reader so make it a good one.

Tip: Remember readers are judging you and your books based on what you answer in your interview. You want to share some of the “mystic” of being an author with them.

  • Forget to be Professional – So everything you post on your own website or other websites, every communication you make should be a reflection of the best “you.” If you are an author, your communication needs to be clear and grammatically correct. This holds true with all forms of communication as a writer. (Check out my post on being professional in your e-mails.) Readers are going to assume that if there is poor grammar or writing in your interview that your book will be this way too.

Tip: Be professional in all forms of communication. This means complete sentences and correct spelling and grammar.

  • Answer questions that don’t apply – If you write non-fiction, you should skip questions about characters and black moments in your book. The same goes for the writers of memoirs. Since your story is based on real events, you probably don’t have a “favorite” character.

Tip: Read the interview instructions and only answer questions that appeal and apply to you.

If you want to check out a few good author interviews – check out Tracee Lydia Garner and Victoria Zak.

Author interviews are all about letting readers – and more importantly potential readers – get to know the person who wrote the book. As a writer, you need to know how to portray yourself and your book in the best light. Think about what you would be interested in knowing and share that information. Just remember to watch the length of your answer, use complete sentences and check your grammar.