Today’s Featured Author – Paulette Harper

Today I welcome author Paulette Harper to my blog. Her book, That was Then, This is NOW, was released in August. 

Excerpt: Walking in Purpose

How can I live in my purpose? While it is important to define what purpose is, I believe purpose must start with God. When I began to recognize my purpose for living, I realized it was about producing a life that was fulfilling, complete, and satisfying. As a believer in Christ, I believe that I am in a place where I am fulfilling the purpose for which I was created.

What I find most rewarding is making sure I’m doing what I believe the Lord will have me to do. I’m a strong believer in the fact that if God wanted me to do something else, I would be and if He wanted me to be somewhere else, I would.  True happiness comes when a person identifies his purpose and lives his dreams with God in the center of everything he or she does.

Inside each of us is a yearning to know why we are created and for what reasons we exist. I don’t believe we will be satisfied in life or even enjoy the life we have been given apart from walking in our divine purpose.  Finding your purpose in life should be one of your greatest goals. For one to fulfill his role and assignment here on earth, one must be aware of his own skills, talents, passions and abilities. Once those qualities are identified it makes doing what we love easy.

Some of my life’s challenges and struggles lead me to God’s divine purpose and plan for my life.  I found that in my own personal struggles there were ideal and dreams that God had birth inside me that where pulled out when I went through the most challenging times in life.  I learned that God’s purpose and will in my troubles were being fulfilled through my life’s experiences.

I live by my own motto…”Intentionally Living Life on Purpose.”

Book Blurb

HOW COULD GOD HAVE A PURPOSE FOR ME AMIDST THIS MESS?

WHY DO SUCH BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?

If you’ve recently asked yourself these questions, Paulette Harper’s That Was Then, This is Now has the answers. Struggling to recover from a broken marriage and disappointed dreams, Paulette Harper gropes for meaning and understanding. And through her searching, God reveals Himself to her in ways she never before imagined possible. By sharing her struggles with transparency, she illustrates how a heart attitude of surrender allows God to use a broken vessel for His ultimate plans of glory.

That Was Then, This is Now, minsters to hurting hearts in every season in life, reminding them that God restores shattered lives, intent on using them for His sovereign purposes.

About the Author

In addition to being an award winning author of Completely Whole and Secret Places Revealed, Paulette is an inspirational speaker, as well as a writing workshop instructor. Her literary works have been spotlighted in a growing number of publications, including CBN, Real Life Real Faith Magazine, The Sacramento Observer and Black Pearls Magazine. She has also appeared on numerous local and online radio shows.

Paulette resides in Northern California.

You can find out more about Paulette on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase That Was Then, This is NOW on Amazon.

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Virtual Book Tour – Nicole Benoit-Roy

Today, author Nicole Benoit-Roy stops by my blog as part of her What I Gain Through His Pain Virtual Book Tour. This Christian non-fiction came out in July.

Excerpt

Something Fishy

Daddy practiced Voodoo, but even as a child I considered it foolish. During summer vacations in Haiti, the family expected my sister, my next younger brother and me to go to Lèogane. As the summer months drew to a close, my father lined up every child in the house to bathe us with a special Voodoo water made with crushed leaves.

As I got older (though not much older), I grew to detest the act and so I decided not to go on vacation anymore. I thought it ridiculous to allow myself to be bathed with stinky water. I never believed in the Voodoo stuff either. I had a good sense of who I was since early childhood. I knew God made me, and no evil could harm me (Now I know evil can’t touch me without His permission). That knowledge made me very bold and never afraid of any Voodoo stuff. My father had a special table with a white small washbasin and other Voodoo items on it. No one was supposed to touch them. However, on many occasions, I pretended to be cleaning just to touch and rearrange everything on that table. I held no fear. I just knew they lacked any authority over me. It’s weird though, no one told me that Voodoo held no potency. It was always a gut feeling. I was always very bold about expressing my belief every chance I got.

My father use to hold Voodoo ceremonies where kids in the house were expected to eat out of special wooden bowls. All that I shunned eventually. Because my brother Kesnel and sister Carol were twins, the ceremony held every year honored the twins (a Voodoo ritual) even though Carol died as a baby. Those were the kinds of things that made no sense to me, leading me to refuse to take part in them as soon as I grew old enough to say no. With me so hardheaded and strong-willed, no one in my family could force me to take part once I said no. Not even my father.

On one occasion, something terrible happened in my family, causing my father to be the focus of suspicion. I felt his pain afterward. He needed so much to have someone on his side. Unfortunately, not even his favorite little girl was willing to be that someone.

In desperation, one evening in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, he pulled me aside. In a private conversation, he explained his own version of the incident after he visited my mother in the U.S. in 1982 for the first time.

He said, “Nicole, I know you’re getting older. You can understand what I’m about to tell you.”

I was 14 years old then.

“When I went to New York,” he continued, “I swear I did not take your mother’s soiled panties. It’s only after I came back to Haiti I saw them in my suitcase. I swear I did not take them.”

I listened attentively, but my eyes stared at the cement floor as we sat on the edge of my bed.

“You believe me, don’t you, my girl.” He held onto my left arm as if begging me to say yes.

I’d heard the rumor that he wanted to use her underpants to hurt my mother through witchcraft so often that I’d already made up my mind of his guilt.

My father returned to Haiti finding himself in an awkward predicament. At that age, I was naïve and awfully honest.

“Well, I can’t say whether you did it or not. I wasn’t there. You’re the only one who knows if you did it or not,” I said.

Suddenly, the look he gave me told me he wanted another answer. His eyes turned red. His pain turned into hatred.

I knew then I was not his favorite little girl anymore and I would pay.

In retrospect, I realized I could have answered differently had I known better. I still feel his pain even now as I write about it.

As soon as my mother found out her panties were missing, she demanded that my father purchase a plane ticket and return them to her.

When he did, she burned them in his presence.

My father continued to make his regular weekly visits from Lèogâne bringing us fresh produce every time. Our relationship was never the same, however. At times, I’d purposely stayed away to avoid seeing him altogether, not showing up until after he left. He was the enemy of the family. He knew it. That made him very uncomfortable and angry.

During one of his visits, he threatened to beat me because I did not greet him. Of course I put up a fight. He tried to pin me to the ground. I escaped from his grip and ran to a nearby stony hill. I picked up a stone and made the motion to throw it at him, but an invisible power stopped me. I knew Who kept me from flinging the stone, and I’m glad He did. Deep down inside I really loved my father. I believed that he gave me so much love and attention that he made it possible to never feel insecure about myself.

During my college years at Stony Brook University in New York, our father-daughter relationship remained broken. I recall lying on the bed in my dorm room reminiscing about my childhood. My entire family lived in the U.S. by then. My mom and dad separated shortly after the panties incident, although they waited to divorce until eleven years later. I finally realized the pain my father must have gone through to have his whole family against him, and the pain he continued to feel every time he and I met.

“Look at Nicole, the daughter I loved so much. Now, she can’t even talk to me,” he sometimes said.

At that time, we were on greeting terms. As I empathized with my father, I decided to put an end to our broken relationship. I picked up the phone.

“Hello,” he said.

“Hi, daddy, how are you?” It felt uncomfortable saying “daddy” but I also realized that doing the right thing was never easy.

“Who’s this?” he asked.

“This is Nicole,” I said. “I just call to tell you that I love you. Bye.”

“Ok,” he said.

I hung up the phone, feeling a burden lift from my chest.

For the first time I began to understand the power of forgiveness. I still had a long way to go.

Our relationship continued to improve after that phone call. My father is now ninety-two years old, and I love him as if nothing ever happened between us.

The Bible says in Deuteronomy 5:16, “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you.” (NLT). I desire to obey God’s Word. Through this experience, I learned that making mistakes is what we (humans) specialize in the most. What’s essential is that we learn from them.

Book Blurb

In a society filled with easy Christianity and cheap grace, Nicole Benoit-Roy takes her relationship with Christ to a much deeper level. Since becoming a Christian, she has been learning about her newfound Savior, Jesus Christ. She is an educator who vows to be a student for as long as she lives. The more she learns about the cross of Christ, the more she realizes the importance of it in her life. As she meditates on His suffering, she concludes that His pain is the reason for every blessing in her life. In this book, “What I Gain Through His Pain,” she shares her story about the benefit of the cross as she expresses gratefulness for His pain.

About the Author

Nicole is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in educational leadership at Andrews University. She directs the Children Ministries Department at her church. She works as a special education teacher by day, a literature evangelist by night, and writes during the wee hours of the night. She enjoys reading and playing the piano (beginner). Nicole struggled with college writing, which lead her to eventually drop out. For this reason, one of her many goals in life is to become a best-selling author to the glory of God. Nicole and her husband, Roosevelt Roy, have been married since 1994, and are the proud parents of a handsome brown-eyed son, Nolan. They currently live in Brooklyn, New York.

You can find out more about Nicole on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase What I Gain Through His Pain on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Today’s Featured Author – Jenn Bregman

Today I welcome author Jenn Bregman to my blog. Her legal thriller, The TimeKeepers, will be released on May 4th. You can pre-order your copy on Amazon.

Interview

Where were you born and where do you call home?

Williston, North Dakota.  I bet you’ve never had that response before!  We moved around a lot when I was a kid — places like North Dakota, Minnesota, Oregon and Illinois, and then finally landed in Denver when I was in junior high school.  I loved the variety of moving and I loved trying to understand how each place was different, or the same.  At this point, though, I consider myself to be “tri-coastal,” and equally at home in Los Angeles, New York City, and Denver.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

My Dad.  He was an avid reader and great writer. He was an economist who could tell a financial “story” like no one else. He never really edited my work in the traditional sense, rather he would ask questions to force me to come up with my own answers.  Questions such as: “Are you satisfied with that adverb?  Does it say exactly what you want to say or can you find a better choice?”  You know, exhausting questions. 🙂

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

I’m about 1/3 into the sequel and can’t wait to work on it every day.  It’s the continuation of Sarah and Sam’s relationship, set in New York City, with a blood-tingling plot.  It is years afterwards.  They have changed and so has their relationship.  Spicy.

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?

I write 4-5 hours per day.  Any more, and I’m just not efficient.  I have my tush in the chair at 5:00 a.m. and then can work until, at least, 7:00 before the rest of the house gets up.  After that, I fit in another 2-3 hour chunk depending on the demands of the day.  Having that almost sacrosanct two hour period first thing in the morning, though, is critical.

Please tell us about your current release?

The TimeKeepers is a fast-paced legal thriller that plunges headlong into the depraved underbelly of big money, big law, conspiracy, and murder.  Attorney Sarah Brockman is young, idealistic, and naïve.  Having left Big Law in search of work that would make a difference, she finds herself barely scraping by running her own personal injury firm working for clients who can’t pay and pursuing causes she can’t win.  Then a random horrific car crash shatters everything and she’s staring into the darkest shadows of Big Law greed and murder.  Facing off against a cunning and deranged adversary, Sarah must navigate a kaleidoscopic landscape of characters including a sharp-witted socialite, a felon and occasional crackhead, and a shameless Mexican raconteur — all while kindling a tender romance with her boyishly handsome new love, Sam, who’s been following the same trail . . . but from the other end, and the wrong side of the law.  As invisible strings pull her ever closer to the core of the conspiracy, she wonders if the strings are being pulled for good or for bad?  And will she be on the side that wins?

How did you come up with the title?

Most lawyers bill their clients by the hour, usually in six minute increments.  As a lawyer, you must carefully keep track of your time every day, noting what matter you are working on, for how long, and for which client.  It is laborious; everyone hates it, but it is a necessary part of the practice of law.  On some days, all you feel like is a “timekeeper.”

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

I love almost all of my characters, or at least parts of them, for different reasons.  There is only one character in the book who I wholly detest.

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

You will know it when you read it.  It was critical to understanding the story and a certain character in it, but it was almost impossible to write.

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

I LOVE cheese. 🙂

Book Blurb

Attorney Sarah Brockman is young, idealistic, and naïve. Having left Big Law in search of work that would make a difference, she finds herself barely scraping by running her own personal injury law firm working for clients who can’t pay and pursuing causes she can’t win. Then a random horrific car crash shatters everything. Now she’s staring into the darkest shadows of the very system she’s dedicated her life to upholding, filled with corrupt judges, dirty cops and attorneys, offshore banking, massive fraud, and twists and turns through the highways and byways of Southern California, Mexico and the Cook Islands.

Facing off against a cunning and deranged adversary, Sarah is aided by a sharp-witted socialite, a felon and occasional crackhead, and a shameless Mexican raconteur. All while kindling a tender romance with Sam, her boyishly handsome new love, who has been following the same trail but from the other end – and the wrong side of the law.

Sarah feels invisible strings pulling her ever closer to the core of the conspiracy. But if she’s just a pawn in someone else’s game, are the strings being pulled for good or for bad? Or, even, both? And will she be on the side that wins?

About the Author

Jenn Bregman is a white-collar criminal defense lawyer who has practiced in both Los Angeles and New York City, where she worked on some of the most notorious cases of our time.  A veteran of Big Law and member of Mensa, she is a graduate of the University of Denver and UCLA Law School and has been published in the UCLA Law Review and Los Angeles Lawyer magazine.  A marathoner who loves pugs and hiking giant mountains, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband, and their, oh so busy, five year old twin boys.

You can find out more about Jenn on her website or follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

The TimeKeepers will be released on May 4, 2017 as a softcover book and will be available wherever books are sold (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.). E-book versions will be available via Kindle and Nook.

#NewRelease – BEYOND THE VEIL by Siddhi Palande

Today, I have author Siddhi Palande on my blog to announce the release of her novella, Beyond the Veil: A Journey of an Indian Girl.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a former media professional. I have worked with media houses like Times of India, ANI, BookMyShow and Zee. As a PR executive I have handled celebs and movies like Total Recall, The Amazing Spider-Man, Men In Black 3, Resident Evil Retribution etc. I gave up my corporate life to start a family but couldn’t give up my love for writing.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

The inspiration comes from the environment we live in. I sat down to write this novel few months after my father’s demise. He was one individual who has brought out massive change in his surroundings. Turning a dacoit into a householder is only one example. His deeds were good, noble and thought provoking. His speeches gave direction to the unruly youth. And when the thought of writing a novel passed through my mind, I wanted to write something that would change the mindset of many. Being a woman, I had to write a story about women. And when I first heard this story, the initial shock turned into rage and hence began the rant which fills my chapter one.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I never had this moment when I considered myself a writer. As far as I recall I was always writing. I would write poems, stories and plays as a kid. Over a period of time I lost these writings. Post that I started collating my writings in one place. The decisive moment came when I had to choose my career. I have no other skill but writing and hence I picked journalism over other options.

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

A writer always leaves behind a part of himself in his works. This being my first novel, I have tried including a tad bit of myself and my experiences.

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

I haven’t started on my next project. The offers and stories keep coming ever since people have got the whiff of my debut novel. Some have even asked me to write biographies but I haven’t started work on any as of now. However, I plan to collaborate with my mother for my next novel which will again be a story by the women for the women.

Please tell us about your current release.

This book is a catharsis. I recently lost my father to fate and to quell my emotions I started writing. From a rant it turned into a chapter and from a chapter it became a novella. Based on a true story and facts, this story is about the patriarchal pressure we face in constricted setup of India. Not only women but men too suffer at the hands of society.

What inspired you to write this book?

The story. Actually, in India we have a thing for arrange marriages. It is a system where our parents find a match for us. Add to that we aren’t allowed the courting time. There are many incidences where this matchmaking works out but in some cases marriages end up either with the death of a spouse or divorce. This is something that has happened with an acquaintance. The condition of the girl as well as her parents was pitiable. She fell prey to the age-old tradition of arrange marriage.

How did you come up with the title?

The title “Beyond The Veil – The Journey Of An Indian Girl” has immense meaning hidden. It seems plain but has cultural and spiritual vibes. Veil is something that we use to hide ourselves and in India veil has always had a great significance. We may have done away with the “purdah” system but the mindset hasn’t changed. Moreover, this veil also represents the mask, the poker face. Our personalities are in accordance with the social setup with thrive in. Our true  aspirations, our real persona is hidden behind the veil. Only when we go “Beyond The Veil” do we find the real self. And since this is Janhvi Desai’s journey “Beyond The Veil” hence “The Journey Of An Indian Girl.”

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

This story is a true story and so are my lead characters Janhvi and Ram.

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

Ram is a character I dislike, although he does turn to philosophy and embraces life as is. But he is delusional. He has misunderstood many things in life. Showing off is his way of life. Janhvi on the other hand is a sorted child. She knows what is good for her and what she ought to ignore. She has this never say die attitude and she draws strength from her opposers and destructive situations.

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

The book turned out better than what I had expected. I wanted it to be a life lesson as well as not overly emotional.

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

I would love to jump in Harry Potter world or perhaps the Shopaholic series.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

Yes. One book that I have read umpteen times is Danielle Steel’s The Ghost. Every time I read it, it gives me different perspective towards life. It heals me.

What book are you reading right now?

I am re-reading  Eat Pray Love. I love the Eat and Pray part more.

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

This one is a difficult question but since it is only two then, I would like to meet Danielle Steel because her writing is seamless. It is like a river, it just flows. And Sophie Kinsella because her stories are breathtaking. They have always brought me back from sullen moods. Her stories are colorful as much as poignant.

Book Blurb

A Lawyer by profession, Janhvi Desai has lived her life on the dictates of her family. Assuming that marriage will bring in freshness and freedom she gets married to a Mumbai based engineer, Ram. But once again faces the wrath of the society. Every passing day, Janhvi Desai – Raghuvanshi finds her self-esteem diminishing as her dreams get trampled upon. But while finding the meaning of her being, her relationship with her estranged husband takes a beautiful turn. Between Ram and Janhvi rests a delicate secret and an irrevocable difference. But some relationships thrive despite the difference.

Delve into the dysfunctional world of an Indian girl where patriarchy is villain, free will far removed, where two bruised souls meet and it is only to change the definition of soul mate.

About the Author

A media professional who left the corporate life to be a homemaker but couldn’t give up her love for writing. Post her stint with media, she turned to blogging. From a PR executive to celebrities to a Movie Reviewer and Website Manager, she came a long way in her field. She has worked with celebrities like Kailash Kher, Hard Kaur, Hemant Pandey, and on many international projects like The Amazing Spider-Man, Men In Black 3, Total Recall, Resident Evil Retribution etc as a PR. She worked as a full time Movie Reviewer and Social Media Executive for Bookmyshow.com and yet another well known movie website. She has also worked with Zee Digital as content producer. Independently she has published her articles in international web magazines.

You can find out more about Siddhi Palande on Facebook and Twitter.

You can purchase Beyond the Veil: The Journey of Indian Girl on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon India and many other online retailers.

#NewRelease – THAT SUMMER by H.M. Shander

Today is release day for That Summer by H.M. Shander. This is the second book in the Auorora MacIntyre series. Be sure to check out the excerpt after the interview.

Interview

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

This all depends on who you ask. 😉 Some of my friends have a hard time reading my books only because they hear me in the main character, and try to figure out who the other characters are based off. Where there is a little piece of me in the main character, there is also a little piece of me in the secondary characters too! As for experiences, bits and pieces are real (and some are amazing therapy to write), but I’ll never tell you which bits.

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

I am currently half-way through writing the third book of the Aurora MacIntyre series. I was pretty sure I could leave Duly Noted as a standalone, but half-way through writing That Summer, I unequivocally knew I needed a third to wrap it all up. And depending on how that ends, there could be a fourth. 😉

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?

I work three days a week at my kid’s school in the library (yeah – super cool job!) so my two days off I spent as much time writing as I can. I also write after tucking my kids into bed. Weekends are a total bust, as we’re busy with activities and get togethers. Over all, I’d say I’d max out at about 25 hours a week.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I have a very general idea of what I want to write, at least in how I visualize the outcome. But as I’m writing, I just write and let myself get immersed in the characters and their problems. I still get to the end, but it’s a very different path than originally envisioned. And that’s okay. To me, it makes the story more real.

Please tell us about your current release.

That Summer is a spin-off (one beta reader likened it to Rogue One vs Star Wars. You know how it’s going to end but you’re still in it for the ride). It takes place during a nine-week time jump in Duly Noted. I had several people email me wondering what happened during those weeks. Well… this is it. You could read it as a standalone, but having read Duly Noted will give you more insight into the characters. Plus, there are some plot twists in Duly Noted, that will be spoiled in That Summer, through the quick recaps.

What inspired you to write this book?

Without saying too much, as it’s a bit of a spoiler, those who follow my twitter feed will understand where my inspiration came from. We were out as a family at a local Saturday night activity, and I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be interesting if a girl with vehicular PTSD fell in love with one of them. Telling you who the ‘them’ is, would be a major spoiler, as the main character doesn’t even find out until half way through the book. 😉 By the end of the night, I knew the two major characters and a couple obstacles they needed to face.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I did a lot of research in the field of PTSD and prescription drug abuse. I read lots of medical papers on the subjects, and chatted with people who had lived through prescription drug abuse (finding people who dealt with the severity of vehicular PTSD that the main character did was hard). I needed to get both sides—the personal battles and how the medical field would try to heal. It was highly interesting.

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

The first features Aurora and Nate as they fall in love. The second features Aurora and her budding friendship with Nate’s younger brother, Lucas. The third (being written) features Aurora, Nate and It tests the boundaries of all the relationships. Which will survive? Which will fall?

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

I will only write successfully in two places – at my kitchen table when I’m home alone, or in my bedroom when I’ve tucked the kids into bed. I’ve tried the coffee shops and the library, but I’m easily distracted.

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

An absolute must is a hot drink (coffee for daytime writes, caffeine-free tea for evening writing sessions.)

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

I was almost eight years old before I could read, but once it clicked, I became a voracious reader.

Excerpt

“Again.”

“No!”

“Yes. Dammit, we’re going to try this again.” She smacked her hand against the roof of the car for effect.

“Aurora…” Lucas said, as he walked around and stood in front of her, “it’s finished for tonight.” Gentle, soothing hands gripped her shoulders as his blond head tilted down, his hair teasing the edges of his dark eyebrows. “And that’s okay. We can try again tomorrow.”

The parking lot was half-full of tenant vehicles, but the spots around Lucas’ car were empty. It was the perfect location to play ‘touch-the-car’, and endeavor to sit in it. Tonight, she had tried. Multiple times. And failed miserably. At first she could sit and touch the seatbelt, but with each successive attempt, she worsened. Her last crack at it, she launched back out as soon as her butt hit the seat. It didn’t matter how many times she tried, staying any longer than a few seconds caused instant panic. At least she’d stopped puking. PTSD was a complete bitch.

Her gaze cast towards the other vehicles around them. Anywhere but him. Shame and hatred blanketed her; shame that she couldn’t physically handle anymore, and hatred because of what she was trying to overcome. Normal people didn’t need to fight post-traumatic stress disorder. Normal people didn’t worry about their next car ride leading them straight to death. There was more hate than shame lately, which in itself was a good thing. It gave her something to fight against.

“Again, please Lucas.” Her voice almost a whine. “Just one more time.”

The gentleman stood strong before her, his stance unchanging. “As much as I’d like to see you conquer this tonight, it’s not gonna happen. You’ve pushed yourself all day. You’re on the edge of falling apart.” He flicked his hair away from his eyes as they settled over her.

“But I can do it. I just need another…” I can do this. I know I can. I just need another shot.

He shifted and closed the gap between them. “Your body and your mind need a break, okay?” When she didn’t respond, he squeezed again. “Okay? Look at me.” His hands smoothed out the wrinkles of her sleeves.

His soothing touch. It grounded her. When she flew off the handle, swore like a sailor, and lost all control, his gentle stroke from her shoulders to her fingertips brought her back to her senses. She couldn’t explain the way it instantly calmed her racing heart, steadied her breathing and focused her. Only that it worked. Every. Damn. Time.

She was so lonely and her body craved human contact. With all chemical relaxers completely out of the question since she’d quit her drug addiction cold turkey, the need for touch became her drug of choice. She was allowed two Xanax weekly, and she saved them for those times where she was so overwhelmed she couldn’t think straight. This wasn’t one of them. She needed his comfort more.

She and Lucas had been working on Operation Save Nate for the past few weeks. Every day two steps forward, one and a half steps back. It was maddening. She was never going to conquer her fears in time.

“Take a deep breath.”

Cool night air rushed into her lungs.

“Hold it for one… two… three… exhale.” Long fingers tapped out the count on her shoulder, ending with a tender squeeze.

His gaze held hers as she released the air. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Her shoulders sagged as she leaned against the car defeated. “Now what?”

Book Blurb

that-summer-ebookAurora may be named after a fairy tale princess, but she has never believed in happily ever afters—especially since her PTSD won’t let go, and her addiction to prescription pills still taunts her.

Now with only nine weeks to get her shit together and prove herself to Nate, Aurora must find the will to believe in herself so she can stop her true love from making a career ending decision. In order to defeat her darkest fears, she needs help from the only person she trusts with her life—Nate’s younger brother, Lucas.

Through therapy and relapses, Aurora and Lucas become best friends. However, deep and dark emotions bubble to the surface threatening both the friendship and everything she’s worked hard to overcome.

When darkness descends, threatening to take you away forever, do you succumb or fight back with all you’ve got?

That Summer is the expanded portion of Duly Noted readers craved. A story of love and courage. A story of a beautiful friendship between two lost souls. It is the second book in the three-part series.

About the Author 

I’ve been writing since I was fourteen. My original stories were handwritten on loose-leaf paper tied together with yarn, complete with its own custom cover courtesy of cut-outs from whatever magazines I had around.

My early love developed into a passion for writing contemporary romance novels. Now, as an adult who has experienced reality (not like my wildly naïve fourteen-year-old self) my characters overcome tough odds, with real (and dark) obstacles. However, the rewards are sweeter.

My heroes who are swoon-worthy and handsome and gentle, who have their own issues. No domineering alpha-males from me – I’ll leave those to many other wonderful authors I know and adore. My heroines are less than perfect with a very select few she’ll call friends. She’s neither popular nor outgoing but deeply loved by those lucky enough to know her.

Right now I am hard at work on the wrap up to Duly Noted & That Summer. I’m also tinkering on a novella which follows after Ask Me Again as I’ve received many emails from readers asking for more from Charlotte and Company.

It’s because of wonderful readers that I continue to write and develop my stories. I absolutely adore it when readers connect with me on twitter (@HM_Shander) because I’m very chatty on there, more so than my Facebook page (hmshander). However, regardless of the way you contact me, I’m sure to respond.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me, for posting your rating and/or review (because it truly helps an indie author like me) and for reading. Thank you to all the readers and bloggers who love my stories and share that with their friends, family and followers.

You can purchase, That Summer, on The Kobo Store, iTunes, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – Jennifer Senhaji

Please welcome author Jennifer Senjaji to my blog. She is busy writing two different books but took a break to give us some insight into her writing. Her latest release was Angels in Disguise, a novella released in December. You can purchase it on Amazon.

Interview

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

There is a little bit of me in every character I write; of who I am or want to be.

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

Yes, I’m currently in the thick of writing two different novels. One, will be the third book and the finale to my Sunset Dreams Series. The other is the first book in a new series that starts where my last novella, Angels in Disguise (a prelude of sorts), leaves off. Both are contemporary romance.

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?

I don’t write full time. I have a full time day-job and write in my spare time. My day-job is fairly high stress, so writing is definitely an escape. I occasionally write on my phone in my Evernote app, but usually wait to get home after work or on the weekend to work on my laptop. There is never enough time in the day for work, family, food, and sleep. You have to make the time. Instead of watching T.V. tonight, I’m going to write. Instead of sleeping in on Saturday, I’m going to write. If you want to do something bad enough, you will find a way.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received?

The best advice was to hire an editor. No writer should ever publish anything without hiring a professional editor. The worst advice was to publish a book every three months. I’m in no rush. I’m much more interested in providing my readers the best possible story I can.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I’m a firm believer in outlining and always use them. But outlines are fluid things that can change as you’re writing changes. Sometimes, I will write out scenes that my characters are hitting me over the head with before I forget them. Some of them make it into the outline, some don’t. But I love having a map, even if I end up adjusting course. Makes it easier to see where the story is working and where it isn’t.

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

I would probably be Jenna Morris. Out of all of my characters, she is the closest to me in personality. I wouldn’t mind falling in love with Jake. Just don’t tell my husband. LOL.

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

Probably my novella, Sea Breeze. I love to travel and the idea of traveling the world and making a living doing it sounds divine.

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

I write at the dining room table. I don’t have a home office, so I spread out on the table until my family pushes me out.

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

Coffee is almost always next to me.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

Yes. Pride and Prejudice is my all-time favorite. I’ve read that book more times than any other. It never gets old.

What book are you reading right now? I just finished Trampling in the Land of Woe by William Galani, a fabulous piece of fiction and I’m currently enjoying Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak.

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

I love cheese, but who doesn’t? Um, my strengths are learning, not necessarily in the classroom, but… you show me how to do it, I do it; or I figure it out. That’s how I learned to speak other languages, taught myself to play a bit of guitar, and soak up everything I can on the craft of writing. I love learning. I’m also pretty good at languages. Other than English, I speak Spanish almost fluently, Moroccan, French, and if I practice, a bit of Italian. Now if only I could travel the world and write for a living. Sigh…

Book Blurb

51hogecvcalGabe, a software engineer with a long history of one-night stands and Alex, a practical romance writer with a distinct lack of romance in her life want to ring in the New Year with a little fun—and a lot of music—at a waterfront New Year’s Eve bash where costumes disguise one’s true nature.
Abandoned by their friends and forced together, first impressions leave them disenchanted. But attraction soon smolders between them causing Gabe to contemplate deeper connections and tempting Alex to cast aside all her inhibitions.
Can sexual chemistry, particularly between a devil-girl and a black-winged angel, lead Alex and Gabe to a midnight kiss? Or will their fears and first impressions leave them counting down the seconds alone?

About the Author

jennifer-senhajiI was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and have a husband and two children. Music is an addiction. I can often be found in the car, singing along at the top of my lungs to whatever is playing. I work full time, and I split my spare time between family, reading, blogging, and writing. I’m a habitual quoter. Lines from films and TV shows constantly pop into my head—my kids are the only ones that really get it. I’m an only child, and so of course I married a man who is one of ten children. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. I love to travel, but don’t do enough of it. Reading has been a passion for most of my life, and I now love writing. I’m klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.

You can find out more about Jennifer on her blog or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

You can check out her books on Amazon and Smashwords.

Today’s Featured Author – Michael Bayer

Today I welcome another Texas author, Michael Bayer, to my blog. Michael released his debut novel, The Absconded, in November.  You can purchase it on Amazon.

Interview

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I always had an artistic side.  I tried to draw, but I never could get on paper to match what was in my head.  I played the violin for a few years in grade and middle school, but my high school didn’t have an orchestra, so I needed something new to do.  Then I had an assignment to write a scene using the ten or twenty vocabulary we were learning that week.  I still remember my English teacher’s exact words after I read it aloud, “Herm, that was beautiful.”  I’m pretty sure that was the seed that started it all.

Over the years I would get complements for my writing, usually term papers in college and grad school.  Whenever any writing was needed for work, I would jump at it.  It would take over twenty-five years before I could do anything beyond that, but that’s where my wife comes in.  When we moved to Texas for her career, she insisted I start writing full time.  Just when I thought I couldn’t love her any more, she shoulders the financial burden so I can pursue a dream.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I know some people say it’s the moment you start writing, but for me it was when I pressed the publish button and it became available for anyone to purchase.  It had taken a little over three years to get to that point, but felt so good when I finally clicked that button, though with some trepidation.

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

I started a short story, but that was mainly to keep my writing skills up while I was working on the nuts and bolts side of self-publishing.  The downside to doing it all yourself is the need to step away from your writing to work on the business side of it.  Sometimes I can jump right back in to writing, but most of the time it takes a couple of days to get back into the flow of the story.  But I’m happy to say I’ve started the sequel to The Absconded.  It starts off a few months after book one ended and is a continuation of the story.

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?

I write full-time, but not the full eight hours a day I’d like to.  By the time I get my wife off to work and daughter off to school, it’s almost 9:00 AM and I haven’t even had my breakfast yet.  Which is fine, because I’m not hungry until around 9:30 AM anyway.  Once that’s done, it’s off to the word mines!

I tend to write in bursts.  Thirty minutes of staring or pacing followed by ten minutes of furious writing, followed by on the fly editing, re-wording, deleting, doubting and occasional cursing.  When I’m really stuck, I go and spend time with my bearded dragon.  He’s a good listener but doesn’t hold back his opinions.  This all goes on until about 3:30 PM when it’s time for me to pick my daughter up from school.  That’s when I worry about making dinner.  I rarely do any work in the evening, unless I have an inspired idea.  I’ve learned that if I don’t write it down almost immediately, I’ll forget it.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

There are two things I love about being a writer. The first is when someone reads a scene or a chapter, and completely gets what I wrote.  They have a clear image in their head of the characters and settings.  It’s not easy putting what’s in your head onto the page, but when that happens it’s magical.  The second is when someone tells me how much they love a character.  To have spent so much time crafting and giving them a personality, mannerisms, quirks and a history is not easy, but so satisfying to hear someone, other than me, say how much they love that person.

The worst part is deleting scenes.  The Absconded is about 107,000 words and that was after I trimmed about 35,000 words.  There were scenes I spent weeks writing, and absolutely loved.  But in the end, they didn’t serve the story and slowed down the pace, so they needed to go.  It was rough, but in the end I was glad.  The story was much better, much tighter.  Whomever said you must be prepared to kill your darlings was right.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

The Absconded was written flat out.  I had been trying to write it for about ten years, so when I was finally able to dedicate myself to writing, it just came pouring out.  That’s why I needed to trim 35,000 words from it as well.

Unfortunately, I am not having the same experience with the next book.  While I came up with the basic idea for book 2 (and book 3) while editing The Absconded, I needed to outline the story and character arcs.  That took about three months, but once done it felt great to start writing those people again.

How did you come up with the title?

I’ve always liked the sound of the word, absconded.  It’s a fancy word for stealing and would always conjure up images of Ocean’s Eleven and Mission: Impossible type heists.  It’s also similar to abducted, but with a big difference.  You abduct a person, but abscond an object.  Having someone think of a person as an object, a thing, is quite unnerving to me.  You haven’t just taken away their humanity, you don’t even acknowledge it.  Right off the bat, it sets the tone of a person, or in this case an entire alien race.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

More than you think based on what’s described in the book.  I read all I could on theoretical physics and scoured NASA and other websites for space travel, living in space, and long distance expeditions.  Now I had to apply that to an alien race and decide how they would resolve those issues.  And this became an interesting rabbit hole for a couple of months.  How would an alien species design their ship?  What would be a priority to them?  Now I had to create the alien’s history and how they evolved because culture determines priorities, so that required researching different cultures on our planet.  Once all that was decided, building their ship was easy.  Well, on paper it was easy.

Another rabbit hole was designing the alien’s biological research area and procedures.  You’re abducting aliens, but how do you know they aren’t contagious to you?  I needed to create a combination quarantine/medical research facility and all that encompassed, but make it alien and believable.  And place it on a ship where real estate is at a premium.

Very little of the technical aspects are explained in the book, but I’m hoping to describe at least some of it in to the sequels.  It was a lot of fun and I’d like to explain some of the science and logic behind the tech, but only if it pertains to the story.

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

The Absconded is the first in a series.  How many books in total remains to be seen, but I was thinking of at least three.  It took me a couple of months to plot it out and have everyone’s character arcs.  I don’t have a firm title for the second book, but it picks up about three or four months after the end of The Absconded.  The survivors of the first book (yes, I am being coy for those who haven’t read it) are now in limbo.  They’re all far from home and some are wondering whether they have a home to return to while others are searching for their purpose, their function in life.  Everyone’s definition of home and purpose is different and the story is their journey to find it, all while being hunted by the aliens who originally captured them.

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

The hardest scenes were describing the settings on the ship, specifically where all of the aliens that have been collected are kept.  Making it foreign, yet similar, was a challenge and required quite a few re-writes.  My first attempt was pages of settings and descriptions and was boring, almost to tears.  Thankfully I was able to find right balance of action, character and setting.  I think the first year of writing was finding my voice, my style.

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

I need a dedicated place to work.  Someplace I can go and my mind says, “Okay, playtime is over.”  My wife’s work requires a lot of conference calls, so it made sense for her to use the home office.  Once she closes the doors, she can tune out the rest of the house.  Since we never use our formal living room, I converted it into a second office.  It has a desk and an old sofa, but that’s just so the cats can hang out in there while I write.

But I could easily pick any spot and label it my work area.  What really matters to me is getting into the right frame of mind for what I’m writing, and that requires music.  Lots of music.  I have about 60 GB of music on my computer (about half of my CD collection) and there’s always something playing when I’m writing.  If it’s an action scene, I need a song to give it a cadence and rhythm.  If it’s a character scene, then it needs to be appropriate for the scene.  Even when creating a character one of my first decisions is what type of music would be appropriate for them, what type would they like, and I listen to that incessantly while creating their history and description.  For me, music is more important than where I write.

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

In addition to music, my writing is fueled by green tea.  Dragonwell, to be specific.  On average, I have five cups a day.  Anything else I snack on is whatever I find in the kitchen.  It ranges from an apple to carrots to chocolate cake.  But the tea is required and sometimes supersedes lunch.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m reading two books at the moment.  Seven Brief Lessons in Physics by Carlo Rovelli.  I like keeping abreast of science and this is a great refresher on the basics of Einstein’s theory of relativity and other advances in physics.  It also goes into the history that led to the discoveries and theories.  I find it fascinating how one little observation, a moment of curiosity can lead to a discovery that reshapes how we view the world and universe around us.

The other book is Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.  Mexico City has banned vampires.  Just think about that for a moment.  That means vampires are so ubiquitous and intelligent that you can ban them from a city.  That says a lot about the world of the novel and immediately caught my attention.  I’m only a couple of chapters in, but the world building and characters have me completely hooked.

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

First up is Tom Clancy.  He made technical jargon and events utterly fascinating.  He described the explosion of a nuclear bomb in vivid detail, both the physics of it and how it affects the environment, and made it riveting.  He also managed to juggle so many characters in his novels and I never was confused.  I would love to know how he managed that.

Second would be Aaron Sorkin.  He’s a master of writing conversation.  The first few seasons of the West Wing are fantastic.  He made smart people with opposing view points arguing so engrossing.

Book Blurb

abscondedUnfortunately for Scott, aliens exist.  Snatched from Earth, he finds himself added to their collection of creatures gathered from throughout the universe.  His cage is a window to the wondrous varieties of life, and the atrocities that can be inflicted upon it.  Atrocities that are clues of what awaits him.

Nearby is Kaliria, a furred being that’s equal parts wild and wily.  A long, torturous captivity has filled her with a righteous rage.  She spends her days alone, simmering in her cramped confinement, pining for the fields and forests of her world.  Pining for companionship.

While happenstance makes Kaliria and Scott neighbors, it’s desperation that makes them allies.  In order to survive, they must overcome each other’s language, culture and mistrust, all while keeping their interactions hidden from their captors.  And if they succeed, there’s still one more obstacle to surmount — escaping an alien ship traveling through space.

About the Author

michael-bayerbwMichael C. Bayer lives in North Texas with his family consisting of two humans, two reptiles and four felines. At the urging of the humans, he quit his job to follow a life long dream. He combined his love of science, knack for telling tall tales and decades of daydreaming, and began to write. The Absconded is his first novel.

You can check out Michael’s Facebook page (a work in progress) or check out his Amazon Author Page.

You can purchase The Absconded on Amazon.