Today’s Featured Author – Tanya R. Taylor

Today I welcome Tanya R. Taylor to my blog. Her latest book, The Contract: Murder in the Bahamas, is the fifth in her The Cornelius Saga and was released earlier this month.

Excerpt

Daniel J. Smith, a forty-eight-year-old colored man, sat alone in the diner across the street from Tinnedale Hospital. He was of medium height and build, which edged closer to the broader side of the scale, but handsome, nonetheless, by many accounts. The clear eye-glasses sat comfortably on the bridge of his nose as he perused the morning newspaper.

Glancing above the daily, he observed a man in a long, white coat a few tables away and a woman wearing a dark blue outfit with high-heeled shoes to match. A younger man sat a couple of tables down. He appeared to be just staring into space as he sipped his hot chocolate, the steam of which steadily curled into the air. Daniel was among the few who quietly sat that morning in Al’s Diner.

His mind drifted to the meeting he had the day before with Lucille Green. That’s the day he flew in from Florida for what was probably his fortieth visit to the city of Nassau. He could see her sitting on the porch of that old, clapboard house. The entire residence had a square footage which nearly matched the size of his master bathroom back home in Boynton Beach to a “t”. Lucille was easily tipping the scales at around three hundred pounds, and every crevice and wrinkle on her sagging skin that sunny day as he sat with her told of countless struggles across her eighty-two years of existence. Daniel couldn’t deny her strong personality neither as she spoke aggressively through her raspy voice.

“It’s a damn shame how they treated Jackie all those years ago,” she roared. “The woman had five small children to take care of before they cuffed her like a common criminal and hauled her off to court. And to think they’d really believe she murdered that woman.”

That woman? Daniel was clearly offended and had to set her straight.

“That woman…” he pronounced “…was my mother.”

The nerve of you was embedded in Lucille’s expression, laced with a tinge of sympathy over the fact that the poor dead woman did indeed give birth to him.

“Right. No offense to you, young man,” she went on. “But I tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that Jackie Pearl Agatha Smith did not kill your dear mother. My sister didn’t have it in her. Believe me when I say that.”

Daniel recalled her glassy eyes being wide with conviction while she uttered those words.

“They let my sister languish in prison for a whole six years before she succumbed to cancer. She suffered and died in that God-forsaken place for a crime she didn’t commit!” Tears were welling in her eyes. “She was humiliated and her children had to grow up without their mother. That just ain’t right.”

“So did I, Miss Green. I was just three years old when my mother was murdered. I don’t know how well her kids managed as they were coming up, but I was sent to live in foster homes ‘til I turned sixteen. After that, I was on my natural own. They were hard years.”

Lucille didn’t respond.

“I can’t begin to tell you what my life was like, but you sit here practically swearing for your sister when she was tried and convicted in a court of law. Every appeal was denied, yet you say she’s innocent.”

“Young man, I don’t know what you expected before you came here, but if it was for me to look you square in the face and lie to you, I’m sorry I disappointed you. You don’t have to believe a word I said. You can go on believin’ the lies they all told you. But I’m sure you’ve seen from the court papers, each and every witness for the defense said my sister was a good wife and mother even after her husband of twenty years, your father, strayed from his marriage and tangled himself up with your mother. Not only tangled himself up with her, but had a bastard child on top of that!”

Stunned by her choice of words, Daniel, nevertheless, held his tongue. He was taught to respect his elders.

“How you think my sister felt?” Her gaze was intense. “All right, let me answer that for you: Like Hell! She felt like Hell! Yet, she stuck in there and continued doing what she always done. She cried for the longest time and was terribly depressed – all this while still havin’ to go to work, cook and clean every day, take care of the children and satisfy her husband every time he came back home from the fields for a visit. Knowin’ when he was away on that God-forsaken job, he was shackin’ up with your mother every chance he got. I hate to put it to you that way, son, but you wanted the facts. There they are! Although your father’s betrayal almost killed my sister, she never lifted a finger to harm your mother. I dare say the real killer has never been caught to this day.”

Daniel’s thoughts were slain by the soft tinkling of wind chimes hanging above the doorway as a tall, solidly built man with dark hair walked in, accompanied by a lady whose facial features closely resembled his. She was wearing black slacks and a light, pink blouse; her hair roped in a ponytail. Daniel immediately pushed the newspaper he had barely read aside and stood up as the couple made their way over.

Book Blurb

~ A golden opportunity that ends in disaster. ~

Many “well-to-do” and “have-it-all-together” people have had depressing thoughts and suicidal tendencies — not knowing who to turn to or confide in. They believe an outward show of success will solve their problems and subdue their inner demons, but “achieving it all” and “having it all” fail to erase that nagging emotional pain. Daniel J. Smith tried a few times to end his life, but failed, and finally he thought: “Maybe there’s a reason I’m still here”. Read his troubling story in ‘THE CONTRACT: Murder in The Bahamas’, book 5 of the Cornelius Saga Series.
Mira Cullen is prompted to fly out to The Bahamas to meet a man her brother Wade must introduce her to. Daniel Smith believes it’s providence that a chance encounter with Wade has resulted in him meeting the one person who could possibly bring to light and put to rest an age-old mystery involving his beloved mother. Smith, a product of “the contract”, which took place decades earlier — deems it an opportunity that literally sustained the lives of many, but in whose clutches also stole the life of the one person he loved more than anything else in the world.

Will Mira’s attempt to uncover the truth ultimately grieve the one who yearns for it? Or will the final discovery prove to be bitter-sweet?

About the Author 

Tanya R. Taylor is the author of several #1 bestsellers on Amazon.com as well as the Amazon UK and Canada stores. She has been writing ever since she could remember holding a pencil and published her first book titled: A Killing Rage as a young adult.

Tanya has worked in the Financial arena and is also a seasoned ghostwriter. She is the author of both fiction and non-fiction literature, and all of her books have made Amazon Kindle’s Top 100 Paid Bestsellers’ List in several categories. Cornelius climbed to #1 in the Teen & Young-adult Multi-generational Family Fiction category in November 2015. And her supernatural, suspense/thriller – INFESTATION: A Small Town Nightmare is a #1 multiple times international bestseller.

America’s Most Haunted tweeted about her ocean thriller: “With HAUNTED CRUISE: THE SHAKEDOWN, Tanya R. Taylor Joins Ranks of Horror Greats.”

Tanya writes in various genres including: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, Thrillers, Science-fiction, Mystery and Suspense.

She has a passion for the welfare of children and her hobbies include: Reading, writing, and researching. She’s also keen on documentaries.

You can find out more about Tanya on Facebook or on her website.

You can purchase The Contract: Murder in the Bahamas on Amazon.

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Today’s Featured Author – Michelle Stimpson

Please welcome author Michelle Stimpson to my blog. Michelle currently is on a virtual book tour for her short story, Who Killed My Husband?, which was released in June.

Guest Post – Advice for first time authors

The publishing industry has changed tremendously since I first became an author in 2004. In fact, I would say that anything written about publishing/marketing books before 2012 is pretty close to obsolete.  Here’s what I would tell first-time authors who are entering the market in this digital age.

  • If you’re writing non-fiction, know the purpose of the book before you publish. Did you write this book to get clients? To establish yourself as a fresh, innovative voice in your field? If your goal is to use this book to validate your expertise, use it that way—not necessarily as a money-making tool. You might end up giving away more copies to secure radio/TV appearances than actually selling them online to the general public.
  • If your goal is to become a full-time writer, realize that also means become a full-time marketer. This doesn’t mean you have to become a sales person, per se, it just means you have to be serious and deliberate about reaching your market with your message. Be prepared to pay money in order to get in people’s faces on social media and Amazon. Free advertising is just about over these days. Can you post stuff on your page? Yes. Can you make and share memes? Yes. But the question is: How many people will get to see them? These days, not many unless you pay for the exposure. Don’t be afraid of this. You can start small ($2-5 a day for 7 days), then gauge your success. If it’s not working, quit and try something else. When it does work, scale up to $10 and more a day for as long as it works. You’ve got to think of this like: Somebody’s selling 20-dollar-bills for $10. The only catch is you have to wait 60 days to get the $20. If you’re in it for the long haul, this is not a problem.
  • If you really don’t have a goal for your book, that’s okay, too. Whatever happens happens. It’s all good. Write because you want to have fun with it. If your book helps just one person, you’ve succeeded in your own way. This is what matters most. You won’t have to live with regrets your whole life about not ever writing the book that’s been sitting on your heart.

Book Blurb

Ashley Crandall finally convinced her husband, Allan, to attend the Christian men’s retreat…but he ends up dead there. What happened to him on the campgrounds? Who would want to kill Allan? And why are the detectives pointing fingers at Ashley? In her quest to solve the mystery and clear her name, Ashley will learn something about her husband that she didn’t want to know and something about her Christian faith that shifts her life.

About the Author

Michelle Stimpson is an author, a speaker, and an educator who received her Bachelor of Science degree from Jarvis Christian College in 1994. She earned a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2002. She has had the pleasure of teaching elementary, middle, and high school as well as training adults. In addition to her work in the field of education, Michelle ministers through writing and public speaking. Her works include the highly acclaimed Boaz Brown, Divas of Damascus Road (National Bestseller), and Falling Into Grace. She has published several short stories for high school students through her educational publishing company, Right Track Academic Support Services, at http://www.wegottaread.com. Michelle serves in women’s ministry at her home church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, in Dallas, TX. She regularly speaks at special events and writing workshops sponsored by churches, schools, book clubs and other positive organizations, and she has taught writing classes at the University of Texas at Arlington. Michelle lives near Dallas with her husband, their two teenage children, and one crazy dog.

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

You can purchase Who Killed My Husband? on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks or Google.

Today’s Featured Author – Tracee Lydia Garner

Today I welcome author Tracee Lydia Garner to my blog. Her latest book, Deadly Affections, came out in March. You can purchase Deadly Affections on Amazon.

Interview

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Virginia just outside of our Nations Capital. I love Virginia even though I love warmer temps than we get in the winter but I  love living in a place where we get a glimpse of all four seasons. Right now, I live just 40 minutes from where I was born in a growing suburb, Sterling, VA. Sterling is a mix of people and transient groups from all over and I’m just ten minutes from Dulles Airport.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I started writing out of depression and the rejection from the opposite sex that EVERYONE who is anyone goes through. I used my writing to deal with my many emotions having a disability and being in college – at that time. It was poetry at first and later longer stories where I would paint the picture of the perfect hero.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That’s a great question. I really only considered myself a “writer” in the last few years. I wonder if all authors experience this but when you release those first few books, I want to that for many, not all, but many budding artists, and for me, for sure, just more so dabbling in the art, finding your way, finding what you like, don’t like. Only in the last few years have I taken time to really map, write down and plan where I’m going with my career and to do that at some point you have to declare you are Writer – Hear Me Roar, like Katy Perry. LOL 🙂 I just think that unless when you were young you said I’m going to be a writer, which I didn’t, you kind of work your way to that.  I will also say that creative types really struggle with sticking with things for the long term. We have tendencies to dabble here and there so staying long haul is hard.

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

I think the emotion of my books is all me. I feel things deeply – so I’m told- I think if nothing else, I know I’m good at description which I get complimented on but I think there is a certain emotion to my writing of the relationships. I think because I’ve had a disability, the longing seems to come through. Not to get deeply personal or emotional but for me, as a child and later as an adult and still to this day, not being able to participate in some things can cause me such emotional grief. Most people don’t know this and at the end of the day everyone has something that they must bear,  but it’s that left out or left behind feeling – that happens to me weekly and I think that I channel this longing to participate in love or family, imprinting if you will onto my characters. Too many vampire movies. LOL

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

I have several projects started at any given time. I do work on just one thing at a time but that doesn’t mean years ago, I wasn’t all over the place, starting parts here and there, I have about 5 projects in various stages but my next project is wrapping up the Parker family series. Book two is currently out now with Deadly Affections and the third installment will be finished in just another month (I’m almost done) or so as I hope to release it in October. Next year, I hope to re-release two stories for rights that have reverted back to me after updating covers and editing of course, and I had never finished the conclusion so I’ll release that third installment with the set this time around.

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 do not write full time I have a full-time job in health and human services. My days are mostly working, I may take some time away, about 30 minutes to an hour a day to just write out some notes I’m thinking about or dictate using my phone. If I can dictate about 800 words in an hour, I’m happy. I then write mostly on nights and weekends. When I get home from work, I’m ready to go and I’m a night person so I try to write 2-4 hours a night. While most of my stories are pieces ripped from the headline, I joke that if nothing else, the stories from the people I see daily that don’t listen to  my instructions for their lives and then end up in crisis are enough fodder for my books. I think that my last two books – Anchored Hearts and it’s sequel Deadly Affections should be marketed to social workers as a way from the to release, there is definitely a social worker feel to the professions my heroines experience in these last few books.

Those new ideas fuel writers to write. There is something magical that happens when you get those infant ideas. They are so awesome and the discovery of the characters, writing them, digging into them, writing them, it’s just something you want to do over and over again.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

Most of my ideas are ripped from the headlines. There are some news stories that I have been so obsessed with like missing person cases – Natalie Holloway, Elizabeth Smart and locally here in the DC area and more recent – Relisha Rudd. When I obsess about these things, I try to create the story around whatever snippet I’m given in the news – building the beginning and the ending of the news pieces that come on. They are in the news for a short time and then we as the viewer are left to wonder whatever happened to them (usually never receiving an update which annoys me to no end). The plot usually comes to fit that news piece and being a pantser I’m just along for the ride and while it’s a mess in the beginning, I keep working at it until it makes perfect sense.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I’m a pantser, so nope.

Please tell us about your current release.

Deadly Affections explores what happens to two foster children who part ways, grow up and the turns and twists their lives take after a devastating tragedy – the twenty-year-old mystery of her sister’s death in the foster family, brings Leedra Henderson back to Virginia to find out what happened to her sister. Dexter is all grown up, a doctor now, desiring to help Leedra find the answers she seeks but when someone doesn’t want past deeds brought to light, it gets harder and harder, not to mention more dangerous to uncover the truth.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I looked up a lot of unsolved cases and murders of children -which was quite sad- that had not been solved, even some blogs of foster kids, which is all a theme in Deadly Affections and then I also researched the process you go through when you report that your child is missing – as my character, Dexter Parker has to do when his daughter is snatched on her way to school. The heroine in Deadly Affections used to work on a Mercy Ship and I found a blog of a nurse on a Mercy Ship where she documents her experience abroad and that was so interesting. More often than not, I think I’m a lazy writer – Not really- but I try to write as far as setting goes, what I know. Building a world seems daunting to me thus I’d likely never do it. So I use real locations, real street names all of which are usually in and around my Virginia/DC/Maryland area here. I do use real estate/house hunting websites and I use mapquest to find the distance and if I need I’ll look online to see if I can read the local paper for a state I want to use but haven’t actually been there or know anything about.

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

I only have had twice when I disliked my character and it wasn’t really that I disliked them, I disliked their name. I had a character I didn’t intend to revisit, he was a secondary character in another book and I named him Vondell. That annoyed me to revisit with him. I hated that name. LOL Then there is a character I’m exploring now with the same name as one of my horrible bosses. I gave him a nickname real quick. My favorite characters, of course, are the heroines but also surprisingly, the children. The children are an integral part of my stories and it wasn’t even something I had intentionally thought about or knew that I was doing but thinking back, there is a child in all 7 of my stories. They just came and I get to do little funny, quirky things with them that I can’t do with the adults. One of  my first jobs was at a daycare and I loved that time there with the children.

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

I think I’d want to be one of the children in my book – probably Anchored Hearts, I’d love to have a chef for a big brother which is what little Hannah has. Her brother owns a restaurant and sadly thinking about her 1. I want to eat and 2. I don’t want to have to do anything except let the adults do all the stuff and I just get to come in every now and then with comedic lines or need of comforting. Hannah has some very big themes in her young little world, she is left at a shelter for abused women by drug-addict mother and she is the product of an illicit affair with a married well-to-do Senator, so her plight isn’t easy throughout the book but of course it’s romance so all will turn out happily. Hannah will get to enjoy the cooking of her brother by the end from then on to years to come.

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

I write and do just about everything on my Mac desktop. I love that computer, it’s like my boyfriend. LOL I got it only about 3 years ago, and it was my VERY first Mac. I think Macs are for creative types. I don’t know why I didn’t have one before then. I will say the learning curve was not easy, however, and I learned it in the middle of writing a book and I was SO frustrated (and do not recommend that ever) but I got through and now I feel I am more design conscious because of using a mac as oppose to a PC. I’m sure the Apple people are happy about that even if its’ all in our Mac-user head.

What book are you reading right now?

Right now, I’m reading some of the Love Inspired: Suspense by Harlequin and also some of the Desire imprints which are really quite short which I get done in about two days. When I’m writing, I don’t want to read something too lengthy but I’ve learned I MUST still read, it’s so important. I also just finished Warning Signs by Katy Lee, it’s about a Deaf principal that’s being targeted by some kids into drugs. It was good and very interesting. I will be on a panel this year that discussed disability in the romance genre so I’ve been reading more novels that feature a character with a disability in preparation for my panel this July in Orlando.

Book Blurb

Displaying TraceeLydiaGarner_DeadlyAffections_HR copy .jpegHow far would you go to uncover the truth?

Psychologist Leedra Henderson has a hidden motive in abandoning everything to accept a new job at the Anchored Empowerment Center. She secretly hopes that the new position will help her to investigate her own past – and to finally uncover the real story behind a string of mysterious deaths at her childhood foster home.

Now a strong, independent woman, Leedra doesn’t need help: she wants to seek justice, and she will. Alone.

Can you really limit your involvement when love is on the ticket?

Dexter Parker needs his own answers about that time in the foster home so long ago. A grown man reeling from the fallout of a broken marriage, Dexter’s rational mind tells him never to try the risks of love again – but he knows he could fill in the blanks for Leedra, if only it doesn’t end up costing him his heart.

More urgently, Dexter needs to save the determined Leedra from the results of her detective work, before it all blows up in her face and costs both of them their lives.

Can the pair set aside their painful histories, avenge the lives that have been lost and – who knows – discover new love?

About the Author

Tracee Lydia Garner is a bestselling, award-winning author who writes stories full of complex heroes and heroines, relationships and families that experience tough but realistic life challenges in their quest for love. She also has penned her sixth book but first nonfiction project about life’s universal challenges and the take-aways we should learn from each one. A Virginia native, Tracee works in health and human service at a Virginia-based nonprofit organization by day.

You can find out more about Tracee by visiting her website, or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

You can purchase Deadly Affections on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – John Ukah

Please welcome author John Ukah to my blog. His book, Murder at Midnight, was released in November.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is John Ukah. I am a graduate of Business Administration from the University of Benin, Benin City. I am a banker and an Associate of the Institute of Capital Market Registrars (ACMR).

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Delta State of Nigeria. But I have always considered Benin City in Edo State home because that’s where I grew up. That’s where my parents live.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I have always kept a personal journal. Writing is exhilarating and therapeutic. The books I grew up reading, influenced my writing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When people asked me to write stories or essays for them and were willing to pay for it.

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

My writing is usually inspired by conversations with others and personal experiences. I am also blessed with a fertile imagination, which gives wings to such experiences or conversations.

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

It is a detective thriller that affirms the point of duty on young men and women to make the right choices with their eyes open. It contains love, pitiful criminalities, investigations, assumptions and deceits.

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 in a bank. It is challenging finding time to write with a banking job. However, we do find a way though to do the things we love.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

Best advice is that writing is an evolving process. We get better at what we do constantly. Worst advice is that a writer has to sit and wait for inspiration. Writing is work and a commitment to get the task done.

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

The best thing is the fun in doing what you love. Living the life you dream about. The worst or hardest thing is that you don’t get to spend as much time with friends and family as desired. You have to make time for your writing.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

Writing is cathartic and some stories demand to be told.

 

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

An outline helps in developing the plot. I prepare broad outlines and chapter plans. I write a few chapters at a time and not necessarily in a sequential order.

Book Blurb

murder-at-midnightAlex Simpson, an ex-police officer, decides after a bout of typhoid fever to take a break in a serene and therapeutic environment. The last thing he expects is to be called upon to solve a murder at the Kinging Guest Lodge. But that is what happens, when the delectable and vivacious Maria Marshall is found dead in her bedroom at midnight.

The gallery of characters living at the guest-house and thrown into the mix, does not make his task of solving this chilling and brutal murder any easier …

 

About the Author

john-ukalaJohn Ukah is a seasoned banker and Associate of the Institute of Capital Market Registrars (ACMR). He is a graduate of Business Administration from the University of Benin, where he was listed as University Scholar. He also holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA).

You can purchase Murder at Midnight from Amazon, Amazon UK (and the other Amazon affiliates by searching his name), Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, the Kobo Store, Apple, and Okadabooks.

 

Today’s Featured Author – Carmel McMurdo Audsley

Please welcome author Carmel McMurdo Audsley to my blog. Her latest historical novel, The Undertaker, came out in October 2015.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I have worked as a Journalist, Author, Editor and Theatre Reviewer in Brisbane, Australia for over 30 years and retired from full-time work at a newspaper a few years ago.  I say ‘retired’ but I have never stopped working.  I created a magazine and then started researching my first novel which was published in 2012.  My fourth novel The Undertaker has just been released.

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

All of my books have a strong female lead character – I couldn’t write them any other way.  They are quite like me in that they don’t take no for an answer and are always trying to find solutions to problems.  In The Undertaker the main character Kate would love to study medicine but in Edinburgh Scotland in 1858 women are not admitted to the prestigious School of Medicine.  She is just 23 years old, and inherits her father’s undertaking business, and while most girls her age are only interested in finding a suitable husband, Kate is more interested in studying anatomy with a young male doctor she has befriended.

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

My next novel will be set in Scotland and Australia.  A rather well-to-do young woman (another strong female) inadvertently gets transported to Australia in the 1800s.  She tries to help the many women from poor backgrounds who have turned to prostitution to survive.  She falls in love with an Aboriginal man and has a child.  I can’t say too much more, but she eventually returns to Scotland.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like?

I write every day.  Each book takes months of research, writing and editing and so after nine months gestation a new book is born.  After the book has been published I get very involved in the marketing as well, so really each books takes about a year to get into the marketplace.  I begin each day by checking and answering my emails.  I always reply to emails received from readers.  It’s a great joy to be in touch with someone who has taken the time to buy and read my book and then write to me.  After breakfast and a bit of tidying up, I drink a lot of tea and get on with researching or writing my book.  Because I write historical fiction, it is important that the details are correct, so I spend a lot of time checking and cross-checking facts.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

Most of the writing advice I received was when I was at university studying to be a Journalist, and also from Editors at newspapers and magazines.  The advice was always ‘keep it tight’ and those three little words really say it all.  You can apply that advice to any type of writing.  In the interests of keeping your reader engaged, don’t waffle, don’t give too much description and don’t go off on too many tangents – keep it tight.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I always write an outline for each book so that I have a roadmap for where I’m going.  That doesn’t mean that I won’t take a few twists and turns to get to the destination.  You have to be prepared to allow the characters and story guide you.  I view writing a book a bit like an extended holiday.  You have an approximate idea of when you will reach your journey and how you will get there, but if you find something interesting along the way, give yourself time to explore it.  Sometimes a character will do or say something that leads to a new idea and so long as it flows with the rest of the story, I go with the flow.

Please tell us about your current release.

My latest book is The Undertaker.  It is set in Edinburgh in 1858 and tells the story of a young woman, Kate Grainger, who inherits her father’s undertaking business.  Not only is it not expected that she will continue with the business, but Kate suspects that the first client on her watch has been murdered and she sets out to find the killer.  Even though a lot of the story is set in an undertaker’s office, there is also some humour and she takes off on lots of adventures as she digs into the background of her suspected killer.

What inspired you to write this book and how did you come up with the title?

All of my books are set in Scotland and I love researching period stories.  There were some very intelligent, educated and creative women living in that period of course, but history is dominated by the achievements of men.  I wanted to create a strong character who was rather unpredictable in her approach to life.  I also wanted to introduce the theme of someone who could communicate with those in the after-life and Kate has that ability.  The name – The Undertaker – has several meanings.  Obviously, she is an undertaker by profession, she undertakes to solve murder mysteries and she is able to take people under by using hypnosis.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I researched how people lived in 1858 in Edinburgh and incorporated actual events such as an encounter Kate has with a little dog, known locally (and now across the world) as Greyfriar’s Bobby.  When the little dog’s master died, he stayed by his graveside for many years.  The canon would fire at Edinburgh Castle at one o’clock each day and the little dog would trot off for his only meal at a local coffee house that he used to frequent with his master.  I also discovered that there is an area in Edinburgh known at The Vaults – underground caverns that were originally built for merchants to store their goods, but which became home to an assortment of unsavoury characters so of course Kate goes down into The Vaults.  I also had to research poisons and how they killed people.

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

I would be Kate from The Undertaker, for sure.  She is so self-confident and fearless.  I would also be Mary from Ours, Yours and Mines.  Mary is actually my great-great-grandmother.  She gave birth to eight children and buried seven of them, mostly from tuberculosis.  She was a very strong woman and I don’t know how she found the strength to carry on.  I would also be Marion from Faeries, Farms and Folk.  She lived in the 1700s in Scotland and was publicly mocked by the church because she became pregnant before marriage.  She also befriended an old woman who was treated as a witch, so she wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she believed in.

Book Blurb

The UndertakerIn 1858 in Edinburgh Scotland, a 23-year-old woman named Kate Grainger inherits her father’s undertaking business.  It is a time when not much is expected of women, other than to be wives and mothers, and Kate wants to be neither.  She wants to be a doctor but women are not allowed to enter the prestigious Edinburgh School of Medicine.  She has a male friend, James, who is a doctor – he is smitten with her and wants to marry her, but she has made it clear that she has no such intentions.  She spends a lot of time with him looking through his medical books to learn all that she can.  She has drive and ambition – and a special gift.  Kate can communicate with people who have passed over.  She had, what her father thought, was an imaginary friend when she was a child, but her companion was the spirit of a little girl who had died in the Great Fire of Edinburgh.  When Kate discovers that her first client at Grainger Undertakers has been murdered, she sets out on a journey that takes her deep into Edinburgh’s underground and into the spirit world to catch a serial killer.

About the Author

Carmel AudsleyThis is author Carmel McMurdo Audsley’s first foray into the world of crime fiction writing.  Her three previous novels, all set in Scotland and based upon her family history, received glowing reviews from readers around the world.  The Undertaker continues the theme of strong women who forge on against the odds to do what they feel is right.  The author has researched life in Edinburgh Scotland in 1858 to take readers on a journey with the protagonist Kate as she walks the cobbled streets of the city, prepares the dead for their final journey and meets with people from all walks of life.  As with her three previous novels – Ours, Yours and Mines; Far Across the Sea and Faeries, Farms and Folk – the writer takes readers through a door into the past.

You can find out more about Carmel on her website.

You can purchase The Undertaker on Amazon or check out additional reviews here.

Today’s Featured Author – Belinda G. Buchanan

Today, I welcome author Belinda G. Buchanan to my blog. In September 2015, she released a stand-alone sequel to her mystery/thriller, The Monster of Silver Creek. Here is an excerpt from her latest – Tragedy at Silver Creek.

Excerpt -Chapter One

Cheryl Collins breathed sporadically through her mouth and nose, trying, without success, to ease the contraction that was currently slicing through her body.

“You’re doing great, Cheryl.”

Grimacing, she looked between her parted knees at Dr. Jensen, whose gloved hands were resting against the innermost part of her thighs, as he studied the fetal monitor beside his shoulder.  Two nurses—one, a thin redhead with a diamond stud protruding from the fold in her chin, and the other, an older, frumpy brunette with a dour expression—stood on either side of him, staring at her nether region.

Cheryl closed her eyes, wishing that the intimate act of giving birth did not have to involve being seen naked by half the staff of Memorial Hospital.

“You’re doing great, sweetheart.”

The familiar touch of Jack’s hand swept across her skin, yet she chose to keep her eyes shut, fearing that any movement, no matter how small, would bring about another contraction.

“All right, Cheryl, on the next one, I want you to push.”

Jack slipped his arm behind her shoulders.  “On the next one, you push.”

Cheryl felt her lips fold in on themselves as she glanced over at her husband.  For the past two hours, he had been repeating everything the doctor had said.  “Jack?”

“I’m right here,” he answered, patting her on the forearm.

She clutched the front of his shirt, uncaring that she’d also grabbed a handful of his chest hairs, and pulled him towards her.  Pausing to draw a shallow breath, she then proceeded to tell him to shut up in the nicest way possible—only to have her words replaced by a cry as another contraction took hold.

“Give me a big push, Cheryl.”

Jack helped her sit up, and she bared down the best she knew how.

“Okay,” said Jensen, watching the monitor, “relax for a moment.”

Exhausted and drenched in sweat, Cheryl let go of Jack’s shirt and fell back against the bed, hoping that the next one wouldn’t come for a while; however, in reality, she knew that she probably had a minute, at best.

As those precious seconds ticked by, the sun began to filter through the open slats of the dark metal blinds, enveloping the tiny room in a suffocating heat.  Cheryl pressed the side of her cheek into the edge of the pillow, seeking comfort in the coolness of its cotton fabric as she waited for the inevitable to return.

“It’s almost over,” Jack whispered, brushing a strand of hair from her face.

Incapable of answering him at the moment, Cheryl moved her head up and down in the hopes that it resembled a nod.  Earlier this morning, she had been awakened, from what could only be described as a restless sleep, to find her side of the sheets, as well as the mattress, soaking wet; it was a discovery that had brought her, along with a frantic Jack, to the emergency room.  Now, five hours and ten centimeters later, she lay in a hospital bed—with her legs spread perversely apart—about to deliver her first child.  It was a moment that was as surreal as it was sobering, as the last two weeks had been the hardest she had ever known.

The sound of the baby’s heartbeat echoed off the sterile white walls, causing a surge of desire to suddenly rise and fall inside Cheryl.  She was a firm believer that joy, as well as hope, could come in many different forms, and it was for this reason that she found herself eagerly anticipating the arrival of her daughter.  Her excitement was momentarily shelved, however, as the pain that she had become all too familiar with wrapped itself around her stomach and began to twist it.

“I need one more push,” Dr. Jensen urged.  “Come on, Cheryl…big, big push!”

Grasping the edge of the bedrails, Cheryl waited for Jack to sit her up, and then, with her teeth clenched, she pushed.  She pushed until her legs trembled.

“Okay, stop.”

Cheryl dug her fingernails into the palm of Jack’s hand as the activity at the foot of the bed increased.  Her breath fell in and out of her in jagged fragments as she kept her eyes locked on Dr. Jensen, searching the crevices in his face for the slightest hint of distress, as time—which had been passing all too quickly just moments before—stood utterly still.

A feeble cry sounded, shattering the thick silence surrounding them.  Relief, in the form of a single sob, came tumbling out of Cheryl’s mouth as ten quivering fingers attached to two tiny arms appeared in her line of sight.

Dr. Jensen thrust a small pair of scissors into Jack’s hand.  “Cut here,” he said, pointing.

The blood drained from Jack’s face as he looked down at the bluish braided rope that bound his wife to his daughter.  The color of his skin went from white, to ashen, to gray as the scissors sank into the cord.  Three ragged snips later, it finally relented.

“Great job, Dad.”  Jensen seemed to be smiling behind his mask as he took the scissors out of his trembling fingers.

Dropping his hand, Jack hurriedly retreated to the safety zone behind Cheryl’s right shoulder.

The nurse finished wrapping the infant in a blanket and came around the bed, offering Cheryl a stoic smile as she placed the baby in her outstretched arms.  Pressing her lips to her daughter’s forehead, Cheryl closed her eyes, pausing to give thanks to God for her…and for allowing Jack to be by her side.

“She’s beautiful.”

Opening her eyes, Cheryl forcibly blinked back her tears as she watched Jack caressing the tips of the baby’s fingers with his own.  For one, fleeting moment, he seemed happy—yet before the smile had fully formed upon his face, it began to fade, and she saw the sadness returning to it as the memory of what he had lost settled back into his heart.

Wanting so badly to take his pain away, Cheryl reached up and touched the side of his cheek, but upon feeling his jaw tighten, realized that it was an effort in futility and stopped.  Withdrawing her hand, she shifted her gaze back to her daughter, refusing to let the darkness overshadow this blessed day.

The nurse with the piercing in her chin leaned across the bed.  “Mrs. Collins?  I’m going to take your daughter to the nursery where they’ll get her cleaned up and weighed.”

“Wait,” said Jack, reaching into his pocket.  “Can I get some pictures, first?”

“Of course,” she answered, taking a step back.

Holding the baby close to her cheek, Cheryl sank farther into the pillow and offered Jack a weary smile.  When he had finished with the pictures, the nurse scooped up the tiny bundle and walked away, leaving her arms empty and cold.

Jack stared at the screen a long time before speaking.  “You gave me a beautiful little girl,” he said in a voice that was as uneven as it was broken.

Feeling her own emotions beginning to churn, Cheryl quickly swung her attention over to Dr. Jensen, who was still sitting between her legs, in the hopes of finding a distraction.  She watched with pretend fascination as he placed an instrument, coated in her own blood, on the tray beside him and stood up.

“All done,” he chirped, removing his mask.

Jack cleared his throat but made no motion to move out from behind Cheryl’s shoulder.  “Thanks, Doc,” he said, offering him an appreciative nod instead.

“It was my pleasure, Collins.”  Jensen stripped off his gloves and ran his fingers through a disheveled mop of silver hair before coming around the side of the bed.  “I’ll check on you later, young lady,” he said, peering down at Cheryl with a pair of bloodshot eyes.

“Thank you.”

He wrapped both of his hands around hers and squeezed.  “Be good now.”

“I will.”

After giving Cheryl his trademark wink—which in the beginning she’d found creepy but now had come to anticipate—Jensen turned and disappeared from the room; yet, as the door swung closed behind him, she was unable to shake the feeling that this time he had done it out of sympathy rather than habit.

The older nurse, whose only interest seemed to be that of doing her job as efficiently and rudely as possible, removed the sheet that had been covering Cheryl’s stomach and upper body, causing a shudder to roll across her shoulders as the cool air blowing down from the vent surrounded her.  Out of the furthest corner of her eye, she noticed Jack shifting his feet as the woman began wiping away the blood from her thighs and perineum.  She touched the sleeve of his shirt to get his attention.  “Would you mind calling my parents?  I know they’re dying to hear back from you.”

A look of gratitude, mixed with embarrassment, flooded Jack’s face as he gave Cheryl a small nod.  His blond locks fell against her forehead as he bent down and placed a well-meaning but fragile kiss upon her lips.  “It’s all over,” he whispered.

Cheryl’s sight grew blurry as she watched him turn and walk towards the door with his right arm pressed tight against his side.  The tears that had pooled in the rims of her eyelids silently began to spill down her cheeks.  It was far from over.

Book Blurb

TASC ebook coverGuilt is a powerful thing, and former deputy Jack Collins is mired in it.  Unable to forget the events that have taken place in the town he was sworn to protect, he feels as if he is slowly drowning as he tries to cope with the aftermath of a serial killer’s reign of terror, as well as his new—and unwanted—job as chief of police.

When the body of a young woman, having the same puncture wounds as the serial killer’s previous victims, is discovered, Jack must determine if this is a copycat crime or the work of a possible accomplice—either of which—could put the killer’s only surviving victim in grave danger.

As Jack delves deeper into the murder, his vow to keep the victim safe, combined with the secret he’s been harboring, begins to take its toll.  His sudden inability to confide in his wife, Cheryl, causes their home, which was once a haven for him, to become just another source of tension.

An overzealous news team, a threat from his not so distant past, and a mayor who wants the murder swept under the rug, only add to the pressure surrounding Jack as he struggles to do what’s right on all levels in this riveting, stand-alone sequel to The Monster of Silver Creek.

About the Author

Belinda BWBelinda G. Buchanan is an author of edgy, women’s fiction & mystery.  Her works include, After All Is Said And Done: A Novel of Infidelity, Healing, & Forgiveness, The Monster of Silver Creek, Seasons of Darkness, and Tragedy at Silver Creek.  When not writing, Belinda enjoys spending time with her family that includes her husband and soulmate of twenty-five years, two sons (one who loves her unconditionally and one who loves her only when not in public), and a menagerie of animals.

You can learn more about Belinda by visiting her website.  She loves to talk almost as much as she loves to write, so come chat with her on facebook or twitter.  And if you’re a pinner, join her on pinterest.

You can purchase her books on amazon, barnes & noble, ibooks, and kobo.

Today’s Featured Author: Kathryn Leigh Scott

Today, I want to welcome back author Kathryn Leigh Scott to my blog. Kathryn appeared on my blog during her Down and Out in Beverly Heels blog tour back in April 2013. Now she is back with her latest release, Jinxed, which came out in February.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an author/actor — twin pursuits my entire life. I draw on both, one informing the other in my work and both careers are important to me. I grew up on a farm in Robbinsdale, Minnesota. My earliest memories are writing and performing plays with neighborhood kids, often costume dramas since my dear aunt worked in a bridal shop and gave me the castoffs. How lucky can a little girl get! Velvet, tulle, chiffon and silk, with hats, gloves and shoes to match… it’s a wonder I don’t write historical romance! I’m blessed I had family and schoolteachers who encouraged me to write and act. Of course, I was on the school paper and performed in every school play. As a teen, I won a state award for an article I wrote after interviewing the poet Carl Sandburg, and also took first place in a state drama competition for a Strindberg monologue. I can’t imagine my life without writing and acting.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born on a frigid morning in Minneapolis and have thrived in cold climes ever since. While I grew up in the country, I’m a city girl these days, living and working in both New York and Los Angeles. I also lived in Norway as a child, and for many years called London home… and lived a year each in Zurich and Paris. I refuse to make comparisons among these wonderful places; wherever I am is “home.”

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I’ve written since I could hold a pencil, but discovering my mother’s old Olympic typewriter when I was seven years old was a huge inspiration. She showed me how to use it and I slowly poked out one letter after another to write a play about George Washington for my second grade class… and gave all the good lines to Martha Washington, the role I set aside for myself.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

The moment I first saw something I wrote in print, which happened to be a short story that appeared in a little mimeographed booklet when I was in grade school. But everyone in my family writes. My dad, who was a farmer, wrote a monthly humor column for several Norwegian newspapers, called “Brev Fra Amerika.” My mother and brothers are also excellent writers.

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

We write about what we know, of course, drawing on our acquaintance with all the arenas of life we experience. But I do love the jolt I get when I write something and wonder how I knew it or where it came from! We learn such a lot about ourselves by writing, which is particularly true in fiction where what we’ve experienced is simply the inspiration, the jumping off point for imagination.

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

Yes, I am about two-thirds along with a stand-alone novel I’m calling September Girl. It’s mainstream fiction, a considerable departure in style from my other books, which have been mystery, romance and paranormal novels. I’ve also completed a nonfiction book, Last Dance at the Savoy. The next title in the “Jinx Fogarty Mystery” series will be set in London.

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

Frankly, the best thing about being a writer is seeing your work in print finding a readership. The worst thing is facing the blank page (screen), which is daunting and certainly inspires humility.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

There’s always another story to tell.

Please tell us about your current release.

Jinxed is the second installment in a story about actress Meg Barnes, who had it all and lost everything and ended up living on the streets of Beverly Hills in her “Ritz-Volvo.” She’s now finding redemption, rebuilding her life with work in a new television series… but also solving a crime involving the mysterious disappearance of her young co-star.

What inspired you to write this book?

Leslie Stahl did a “60 Minutes” segment years ago about once-wealthy, now destitute women living in their cars on the streets of upscale Bel-Air. I came to meet such women while working in a homeless program in Beverly Hills and imagined “what if” I were in such a situation… how would I handle it? Everything I write begins with “what if?”

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Yes, but no character is based on any one single person. All my characters are a mixture of traits and personalities of people I know and observe, just as it is with roles that I play. The downside of knowing a writer is that you’ll eventually get written about, but I’ve never had anyone say, “You wrote about me!”

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

Too many favorites! They all become very real to me. I write about an elderly down-on-her-heels actress, who is so elegant and well-groomed you would never know she lives in her rusting El Dorado parked on a shady side street just close enough to Neiman-Marcus that she can use their public facilities… I love this woman!

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

The blackest moment is when Meg realizes her own life is in jeopardy and that it’s because of her that other people have been harmed in her stead.

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

Love scenes. One risks such terrible public exposure in writing scenes of intimacy!

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

The villain! A motive became so clear to me and then I knew who the villain was. I really became the detective as a writer.

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

Meg Barnes. She’s funny, resourceful… and she blurts out exactly the right retort that in real life I would only come up with in the middle of the night when it’s way too late.

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

I worked as a Playboy Bunny while going to school in New York, and took Bunny Training with Gloria Steinem. (Then wrote about the 25-year history of Playboy Bunnies in The Bunny Years.)

Book Blurb

Jinxed_finalcover_hirezIn Jinxed, Meg Barnes is back on the comeback trail. Beloved for her role as amateur sleuth Jinx Fogarty in a renowned detective show, Meg assumes she’ll star as Jinx in the revamped TV series, only to discover that a young ingénue has been cast instead. Meg swallows her pride for a paycheck to coach Chelsea Horne—until temperamental Chelsea goes missing before filming begins. Meg ignores the warnings from Jack, her FBI-agent boyfriend, not to do her “Jinx thing.” But when Jinx’s iconic top hat goes missing and someone from her past is murdered, it’s clear her life— and more— is in jeopardy. As in Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Scott once again pulls back the curtain on the grit behind the Hollywood glamour, taking the reader on a wild ride in this mystery-suspense/romance novel.

About the Author

KathrynLeighScott_brownsuedeKathryn Leigh Scott, author, publisher and actress is probably best known for her star turn as Josette Du Pres, ingénue bride of reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins in the TV cult classic “Dark Shadows.” Her third novel, Jinxed: a Jinx Fogarty Mystery (Februrary 2015), is a standalone sequel to the successful Down and Out in Beverly Heels (Montlake Romance, 2013). While continuing her acting career, Kathryn launched Pomegranate Press to publish books about the entertainment industry, “Dark Shadows” fan books, and other nonfiction and fiction titles. She continues her acting career playing George Segal’s girlfriend Miriam in “The Goldbergs” and recently appeared in the 2015 mid-season launch of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

A native of Minnesota. Kathryn landed the ingénue lead in the classic Gothic daytime drama “Dark Shadows” (ABC, 1966-1971) upon graduation from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She also starred in the 1971 MGM feature, House of Dark Shadows. Kathryn played four roles in the series: Maggie Evans, Josette du Pres, Lady Kitty Hampshire, and Rachel Drummond. Kathryn wrote Dark Shadows Memories to coincide with its 20th anniversary and Dark Shadows Companion as a 25th 
anniversary tribute. Both were book club favorites.  Including her history of the Playboy Clubs and the various audio and digital editions of her work, Kathryn’s literary sales exceed 165,000 copies. Kathryn appeared in a cameo role in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, starring Johnny Depp. Her latest nonfiction title is Dark Shadows: Return to Collinwood.in the U.K. by Bloomsbury.

Kathryn’s theatrical credits include a lengthy run with James Stewart in Harvey in London’s West End. She has appeared in many television series and mini-series, including Barbara Taylor Bradford’s Voice of the Heart, Dan Travanti’s wife in Murrow, George C. Scott’s mistress in The Last Days of Patton, Philip Marlowe’s girlfriend in Chandlertown, and series regular with Brian Dennehy in Big Shamus, Little Shamus. Feature films include Providence, The Great Gatsby, Brannigan, The Greek Tycoon, Assassination, 187 and Parasomnia, Dr. Mabuse, and Dark Shadows.

You may find out more about Kathryn on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Jinxed on Amazon.