AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – EM KAPLAN

cropped-cropped-typewriter.jpgAuthor Wednesday time once again. Today I welcome one of my eNovel Authors at Work members. She’s EM Kaplan, the author of the humorous Josie Tucker mystery series. But today she’s here to talk about her epic fantasy series, Rise of the Masks. The  first book in the series, Unmaskedwill be free on Amazon February 25-29. Check her out!Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 2.58.55 PM

Hello, Emily, and welcome to Author Wednesday. Since this is your first tour of duty on my blog, let’s start with some general tidbits about your writing life. Do you have any writing rituals?

I’d love to have a quiet space—one of those trendy “she-sheds” (which is a terrible name, but marginally better than girl-cave). They are detached spaces, perfectly decorated, separate from your house and usually in a lush garden. Yeah, that’s a nice dream. Usually, I am sitting at the dining table surrounded by kids’ homework, junk mail, and leftover randomalia (I just made up that word). The dog (a.k.a. my officemate) sprawls at my feet, groaning with boredom. The TV blares Japanese cartoons from the other room while I wrestle with twisty plots and unruly characters. I should get some noise-blocking headphones, but sometimes I do need to referee arguments or snack-block my hungry teenagers when it’s too close to dinner.

I sent my husband the link for the she-sheds, but so far he hasn’t kept up his end. They are amazing, but you’re the amazing one if you can write amid the chaos. Hats off to you. Now that you’ve told us about your reality, what’s the vision you hold in your head as you the writer? 

Picture this:  I’m at the premiere of my third book to be made into a movie. I haven’t written the screenplay for it, but that’s all right—I trust Diablo Cody completely. She did a fabulous job with Juno. I step onto the red carpet, and Entertainment Weekly asks me what designer I’m wearing. I say, “My sweatpants are by Target. And my slippers are bunny.”

All right then. You’ll make a splash. Can’t wait to read the reviews of what you wore to that one! Now back to your actual writing. Do you have a favorite character that you created? 

Aside from Josie Tucker, who is probably my favorite fiction-child, I love both Mel and Ott, from Unmasked and Unbroken, equally. Mel is logical, over-sensitive, and almost magical in her ability to sense things around her. Ott, on the other hand, is one hundred percent rogue. He puts the swash in swashbuckling.

You’ve written books in two distinctly different genres. What are you going to do next? Are you planning to continue writing in the same genres?

That is a very good question. Rise of the Masks is set to be a trilogy, but whether there are more books about Mel and Ott after that, is up to readers. My mystery fans are more vocal about their affection for Josie Tucker. My fantasy fans are devoted but more introverted in their support. In other words, any readers out there who want more Mel and Ott, please let me know—in the form of a review, for example. (That probably sounded snarky, but I’m being honest.)

Speaking of reviews, let’s talk about the inevitable for a minute. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

One of my best fans of Unmasked said that in some ways, the writing reminded her of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which is an amazing YA fantasy book by Laini Taylor. That compliment was thrilling to hear.

Give us the one sentence pitch for Unmasked.

When monsters invade a castle of young women, young Mel, a mystic girl disguised among them, discovers she may hold the secret to their survival.

How long do you estimate it took you to take Unmasked from an idea to a finished, published?

You’re going to laugh. Unmasked took me thirty-two years. How is that possible? I wrote down the seeds of the story when I was ten. I have a notebook full of hand-drawn maps and an outline of the basic plot in my ten-year-old handwriting. Then one year, I was looking for an idea for NaNoWriMo, and I found my notebook in a storage box. I didn’t finish writing Unmasked that month, but I did finish it. Is it the same story I first thought up when I was ten? No. Like me, it grew up.

That’s amazing. I can’t imagine anything I wrote at that age could be made into a novel. I recently read my diary from sixth grade. Embarrassing — I had so little to say about life and the world. Do you listen to music while you write?

For Unmasked, I listened to a lot of the band, Muse. If music had genre categories like books, Muse would fall into Fantasy/Scifi, without a doubt. For the sequel, Unbroken, I listened to the soundtrack from Game of Thrones.

How does your immediate family feel about your writing life?

My husband is author JD Kaplan, who writes contemporary or urban fantasy. His mother, Esther Kaplan, is our professional editor. You might say, book production is a family business here. Although writing is completely separate and individual, we share marketing tips and experiences.

I love it. It will be interesting to see what your kids do. I can’t imagine that you have any with your busy life, but what do you do during your down time?

I recently became a certified dance fitness instructor, which is really weird for an introvert like me. Click here to read my  blog post about it. I’m certified to teach CIZE Live, which is the new program from Shaun T and also MixxedFit, which is explosive dancing mixed with bootcamp-inspired toning. Imagine hip-hop moves and music with a nice, heavy beat.

I want to take your class. It’s been a pleasure to get to know you a bit better. You’re one cool woman and author!

Aem_neck_sigbout EM:  I’m EM Kaplan—but you can call me Emily. I’m a technical-writing, hip-hop-dancing, dog-belly-rubbing mom of teenagers. I write a series of humorous mysteries that features an amateur detective and food critic named Josie Tucker. I also write a lesser known epic fantasy series called Rise of the Masks, the first of which is Unmasked, which happens to be free on Kindle February 25-29.

Links to books and social media sites

Grab your free copy of Unmasked Feb. 25-29

Website and blog – Just The Em Words

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon

Goodreads

Email

 

SPRING INTO ROMANCE WITH A GREAT READ

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Cover design by Mallory Rock

Read some great romances this spring! Wishing you warm weather and sunny days. There’s much excitement in my writing world these days, so I thought I’d give you a little preview and a chance to read some of these in advance of the release.

Sweet Romances for Spring

It’s been a tough winter for many of us, but soon it enough it will be but a mere memory.

I kept busy writing. In November, I participated in my first National Novel Writing Month and wrote the sweet romance, Misty Mountain, set in the Smoky Mountains. I’m excited to announce that this romance will be a part of the box set, Spring into Romance, set for release March 15. But it can be preordered now for only $0.99.

Amazon 

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Apple

An integral part of the success for any book involves reviews. Several of the books in this set are new releases, so we’re looking for honest reviews from readers. If you’re interested in reading any of the books on the left, please fill out the form below, and I’ll send you a free copy of one of the books below. All we ask in return is an honest review posted on Amazon for the book and for the set.

MISTY_MOUNTAIN_smallFill out the form below for a free review copy in exchange for an honest review for Misty Mountain. You’ll love this sweet romance between Lacy and George, both keeping shields around their hearts.If they can put down their shields long enough to discover the love growing between them, then nothing will stand in their way to finding happiness.

 

vsw resizedRequest a copy of The Vet’s Secret Wish by J.L. Campbell.This sweet romance is so new, it hasn’t even been released yet! Matthias Laing strikes an uneasy compromise with Toni Nevers, who agrees to marry him on Valentine’s Day—eleven months away. A man of action, Matthias can’t rest easy after Toni’s ex admits he wants her back. With Toni’s daughter and her small army of pets on his side, Matthias rolls out a plan to get Toni to reconsider the length of their engagement and opt for a summer wedding.

 

MailOrderGroomCover_resizedRequest a copy of Cindy Flores Martinez’s Mail-Order Groom. Lisa’s wedding is canceled when she catches her fiancé, Jeff, with another woman. In a twist of fate, she meets Krzysztof from Poland who is seeking an American woman to marry him and help him stay in America. After hearing his heart-tugging story, Lisa says “I do” to him. It’s strictly a business deal. He’s not planning to stay in America forever, but she starts falling for him.

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I said earlier that I’d spent the winter writing, which includes completion of another romance–this time one that’s a little steamier. Love on the Wind is a part of Melissa Foster’s Remington World and will be released March 2 on Amazon. Advanced Review Copies (ARCs) are now available in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Book Review Friday – The Dolan Girls

DOLAN_GIRLS_largeOne of the first full-length books I ever read was a biography of Annie Oakley. I loved that sharpshooting sassy woman, and it started me on a lifelong love affair with reading. So it gave me pleasure to read S.R. Mallery’s latest work, The Dolan Girls and discover that my Annie Oakley played a role in this rollicking Wild West romance set in the years before, during, and after the Civil War.

I admire Ms. Mallery’s ability to delve into the past as she’s done in her short stories and her previous novel, Unexpected Gifts. But with the latest novel, she immerses the reader in the feel of what it must have been like during those days of high expectations for what the West held for those fleeing the East and the disappointments that lay waiting like a rattlesnake in the grass. It was called the “wild” west for a reason. It was a place where the law was written as needed, and often, the outlaws were writing those laws. From this world of lawlessness, came the inevitable services, such as houses where men could drink, relax, and enjoy the beauties of the night. Ms. Mallery sets her novel up in such a place, but Madam Ana’s is not a place of ill-repute as you might imagine. The Madam sets a tone of civility and gentility with all her girls and the patrons who frequent the place. She’s the Madam with a heart of gold, shown when she takes in two abandoned girls, Cora and Minnie, who eventually take over the running of the place.

There’s plenty of violence and heartbreak in this novel, but there’s also love between men and women and the love in families, such as the one that exists at Madam Ana’s. The Pinkerton detective who rides into town wearing a white hat disrupts the peace and fights to win the heart of Cora. Cora’s daughter Ellie, is caught up in a love affair with one of the horse trainers from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. It is this show that brings dear Annie to town. And when the entire household at Madam Ana’s is treated to front row seats to watch the shenanigans, Ms. Mallery shines in her descriptions, transporting the reader back to the late 1800s Nebraska.

Ms. Mallery uses her fine paint brush to bring us a portrait of a time often romanticized, but not often personalized with such exquisitely drawn characters. Annie Oakley was exactly as I imagined her. And Buffalo Bill is a hoot. So is the sister Minne and her romp with a famous photographer.

But there are serious moments as well as Cora deals with her past and her present. I’m thrilled knowing that we’re not done with The Dolan Girls. Word out on the street and in the wild west says Ms. Mallery is hard at work on a sequel.

Lasso that bull, S.R.!

Click here to read Author Wednesday on The Dolan Girls.

Purchase The Dolan Girls.

Read an excerpt of The Dolan Girls.

1861: Young Kisses

Cora Dolan refused to talk about what had happened six years earlier, ten miles above town. Sealed up as tight as a snail in the cold she was, even to her sister Minnie, who was there with her the whole time; even with Thomas, who held her heart.

Cora Dolan refused to talk about what had happened six years earlier, ten miles above town. Sealed up as tight as a snail in the cold she was, even to her sister Minnie, who was there with her the whole time; even with Thomas, who held her heart.

Yet one star-flushed night, as the wind’s edges were chilling and the shortening days were trumpeting the around-the-corner autumn, the two sweethearts pressed against a neighbor’s barn door, and Cora opened her mouth to share her past, then paused.

“What is it, Cora?” Thomas whispered, his steady arm around her sixteen-year-old waist, his mouth brushed against her ear. “Tell me what gets you sad sometimes. Let me help you.”

She forced a smile. “I’m all right, truly I am,” she said, placing her right hand gently over her heart for a couple of seconds. With her arms then draped over his broad shoulders, she uplifted her face for a kiss.

“Oh, Cora,” he said softly, his lips heading toward hers, “I love it when you put your hand over your heart. It’s so sweet. So trusting.”

Suddenly, a horse’s sudden clop-clop broke their embrace, sending them scurrying off to Cora’s residence. Several blocks away, still running, laughing, holding hands, they slowed their pace down to a stroll as they passed the livery stable, the local blacksmith, the church shut tight for the night, the brand new post office, and the local saloon with its strong bouquet of whiskey and beer wafting into the air. Finally, they stopped in front of the red-curtained Madam Ana’s, South Benton’s second watering hole, the place for pleasuring most any man.

And home to the Dolan girls.

“I guess it’s good-night, then,” her young suitor murmured, angling for another kiss.

A male snicker rang out. “Well, well, well. What do we have here?”

Out from behind the southeast porch post stepped a slightly older young man, his black hat cocked forty-five degrees, his leather jacket opened, his six-shooter holstered just below his waist. He moved in close.

“Cora, sweet thing, why in the world do you waste your time with such a greenhorn, huh?” he sneered. “Be like the gals you live with and try a real man for once!”

Thomas stepped in front of Cora. “Wes, that’s no way to treat a lady. Let her be!”

The stepbrothers faced each other. “Don’t you threaten me!” Wes spat back, splaying his tall, wiry legs and fingering his new grown mustache as if to further prove his manhood.

“That’s rich––me threatening you. Now, leave us alone!”

As Wes half walked, half hitched away, chortling, Cora clutched her protector. “He’s always so scary,” she whispered…

“… I think you’re beautiful, Cora. In fact, you’re perfect.”

Concentrating on his piercing blue eyes, she leaned in for a kiss. All of a sudden, they heard Madam Ana inside, laughing with one of her customers while an out-of-tune piano clunked loudly in the parlor. Although the kiss ended up much shorter than he would have liked, he said nothing when Cora turned and swung the front door open to head toward the back of the house where she shared a bedroom with her sister Minnie.

Just inside, Cora walked into the parlor, with its red velvet wallpaper and red carpeting, stretching out onto the large, winding staircase that led upstairs. She continued on, past the central eye-catchers of the room:  a large maroon settee, piled high with plump, satin pillows, and a glittering chandelier hovering overhead that word had it, cost a small fortune. Nothing was too good for the ambitious Madam Ana Prozinski from Russia, she was always being told.

“Cora!” called out Becky, a voluptuous blonde squeezed into a purple, gusset-enhanced corset, high-heeled boots, and her famous black velvet choker. “While we’ve been workin’ here a month of Sundays, you get to make a night of it! For two cents, I’d love to know what you’ve been doin’!”

“Yup, I reckon she just got a lick and a promise!” added a red-petticoated Julie to a chorus of shrieks and laughter.

Amy, in a rose-colored shimmy and fishnet stockings, chimed in. “Look at her red face! Did you ever see anything so perty? It’s just like…”

“She’s always pretty!” Julie interrupted. “Talks fine, too. Must be all those speakin’ lessons from Pete she’s always taking.”

“Yeah,” Becky said, chuckling. “She talks like one of them refined ladies, but she’s also so pretty she could be one of us. I’ll bet she could bring in those cowboys by the wagonloads! She’s…”

Madam Ana strode into the room “Girls, enough!” You know I take no stock in dis kinda talk. Leave Cora be. Now go back to verk!” She looked around at her employees and clapped twice. “Now!” she barked.

 

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – S.R. MALLERY

cropped-typewriter.jpgIt’s already hump day, and that means another installment of Author Wednesday. I’m very excited today to welcome S.R. Mallery. I know her as Sarah, and I’m proud to say that not only have I had the privilege of working with her as an editor, but she has also become a dear friend in this sometimes isolated profession as an author and editor. She’s a gem, and she’s just published her first “Wild West” historical romance, The Dolan Girls.DOLAN_GIRLS_large

 

From S.R. Mallery on writing The Dolan Girls

When an author keeps on writing one particular genre, people naturally assume his or her choice of reading material is undoubtedly in that same genre. I pen mostly historical fiction; ergo, my TBR pile must be filled with books of that same ilk.

No, not necessarily. Although I do read practically every fictional genre, I tend to gravitate toward mysteries, thrillers, and in some cases, romances. So why, you might ask, do I write historical fiction? Research. I love reading nonfiction books/articles about history and watching a myriad of documentaries and TV series about different time periods. And so, by writing historical fiction, I get to really learn about whatever era I’ve decided in which to place my story and characters.

I am also fascinated by older customs, cultures, and language. Just looking at photographs or pictures, watching films, or listening to the music of different epochs, instantly stimulates plots and motives in my brain, steering me on toward creating a complete story. Additionally, what I have ultimately discovered through this process is no matter the generation, no matter the geography, people and their emotions have never really changed.

Then, Forrest Gump-like, I like to insert my fictional characters into settings of real historical events, or alongside real historical figures, helping the reader envision what it must have been like to live way back when.

After publishing my first three books (Unexpected Gifts, Sewing Can Be Dangerous, and Tales To Count On), someone suggested I try my hand at writing a historical fiction Wild West romance. I had already tackled a couple of love scenes in my other books, and suddenly, I remembered how many westerns I had watched growing up. And how many crushes I had on the male actors who aided and abetted the blossoming of my prepubescent hormones!

So I started my ‘field-work.’ I quickly learned how the existence of madams and their whorehouses was as important as schoolmarms and their teachings; how the Wild West outlaw was often a direct result of the southern anger at losing the Civil War; how “the way out West” justified the poor man’s escape from a congested, restricted life to an open-aired one, and how Buffalo Bill was a true showman, treasuring the famous Annie Oakley. And rightfully so. Reading about her shooting accuracy, coupled with her pretty face and petite frame, captivated me.

I also discovered the sparseness of the new western towns cropping up was in direct contrast to the rich, colorful language used.

Here’s a TINY fraction of terms and phrases from the book, Cowboy Lingo, by Ramon F. Adams:

WORDS

“pill-rollers” or “saw-bones” = doctors      “wisdom bringers” = teachers      “Prairie wool” = grass

PHRASES

“they came skally-hootin’ into town”

“have about as much chance winnin’ as a grasshopper that hops on an anthill”

“had him settin’ on a damp cloud learnin’ to play a harp”

“handsome as an ace-full on Kings”

“put windows in his skull”

“big enough to hunt bears with a switch”

“he don’t know dung from wild honey”

“as prominent as a new saloon in a church district”

“showed up like a tin roof in a fog”

“as wise as a tree-full of owls”

“as useless as a twenty-two cartridge in an eight-gauge shotgun”

Now, after all this, how could I resist writing a Wild West romance? In the end, I had a total blast doing researching for The Dolan Girls and its sequel, which will take place during the late 1800s, set right smack in the middle of the infamous Johnson County Cattle War in Wyoming.

Yippee Ki-yay!!

Thanks, Sarah. And everyone else, watch for my thoughts on The Dolan Girls on Book Review Friday.

S.R.Malleryheadshot_04forblogs (1)About S.R. Mallery:  Let’s face it. S. R. Mallery is as eclectic as her characters. Starting out as a classical/pop singer/composer, she next explored the fast-paced world of advertising as a production artist while she simultaneously dipped her toe into the Zen biosphere as a calligrapher. Having started a family and wanting to work from the home, she moved on to having a long career as an award-winning quilt artist and an ESL/Reading instructor before settling on her true love––writing. Her short stories have been published in descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down In the Dirt. Her quilt articles have appeared in Quilt World and Traditional Quilt Works.

Links to S.R. Mallery’s Books

The Dolan Girls

Unexpected Gifts  

Sewing Can Be Dangerous  

Tales To Count On 

More on S.R. Mallery

Website  

Blog

Twitter  

Facebook Fan Page

Google+

Goodreads

Pinterest  (I have some good history boards that are getting a lot of attention—history, vintage clothing, older films)

Amazon Author Central

 

 

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – CATE BEAUMAN

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It’s Author Wednesday again. Today I welcome back Cate Beauman, who is introducing her latest addition to the Bodyguards of L.A. County. Finding Lyla – book ten – brings back Ethan Cooke Security’s bodyguard team to solve yet another thrilling crime. Cate tells me that each book in the series stands on its own, so no worries that you have to read the first nine to understand Finding Lyla03 Finding Lyla - Ebook Small

“Although reading the books in order is preferred, it is not necessary,” Cate said.  “Each title features brand new primary characters and limited overlapping secondary characters.  Don’t hesitate to jump right in!”

The Inspiration Behind Finding Lyla from Cate Beauman:

Typically, I get my story ideas from crime documentaries or some sort of crime television program, but I can’t say that is the case for Finding Lyla. When I was coming up with ideas for this novel, I knew I wanted to tell a story about a hero that had struggled through some rough times and a heroine that had some unresolved issues of her own, but was soft, strong, and gentle all at the same time. During the summer months, I started paying close attention to the ongoing Russia/U.S. conflict, and Lyla and Collin assured me they wanted their story to revolve around an adventure that combined all of these elements together.

Blurb from Finding Lyla  

Principal Dancer Lyla Markovik-Avery is always on the go. Grueling practices and endless performances rule her busy days—and things are about to get more hectic. Russia is rolling out the red carpet for their beloved star, despite the string of violent terrorist attacks that have rocked the nation.

Bodyguard Collin Michaels’ life is falling apart. His long-time relationship recently ended. He’s trying to start over, but that’s easier said than done. Luckily, Collin has a new assignment on the horizon: keeping a beautiful ballerina safe for the next three weeks.

Collin finds comfort in Lyla’s easy friendship, but that all changes after a night out on the town. Simple feelings become complicated—something Collin can’t afford, especially when tragedy strikes and Collin realizes Lyla’s caught in the middle of a dangerous plot for revenge.

Collin and Lyla are forced to flee. They need to reach the border before it’s too late, but the odds are stacked against them in a country that wants them dead. With time running out, Collin formulates a risky plan that might be their only chance of making it out alive.

Excerpt from Finding Lyla

She crossed her legs, the picture of calm, even as her temples began to pound with the sudden headache. “I’ve turned my back on nothing. Dance is personal. My reasons are personal, but I can assure you nothing would make me happier than to see peace restored between the two countries I call home.”

“And you will help with this?”

She frowned. “Help restore peace? Roman, you overestimate my influence.”

“Perhaps you underestimate your power. Are you not Mina Markovik’s daughter? Have you not followed in her footsteps?”

God knows she’d tried. “I will never be my mother.”

“But you are ‘Russia’s Princess.’”

But she wasn’t. The weight on her shoulders grew exponentially—as it did every year when the title she’d never asked for was thrown in her face.

“This comes with great responsibility,” Roman continued, staring at her, clearly waiting for her response.

She consciously relaxed her hands when she realized her knuckles were white. As their gazes held, she swallowed. How was she supposed to tell him she had canceled her plans to travel east? By honoring her father’s requests to stay in New York, she disgraced the woman who’d died giving her life. With an inner sigh, she sat up straighter, remembering that she owed the beautiful woman who perished nearly twenty-five years ago. “I understand my responsibilities. I accept my duties.”

“Russia has heard nothing from you since the tragic bombing in Saint Petersburg almost two weeks ago.”

Another request from her father: to distance herself from the politics of extremists and deadly acts against the Russian Federation. “Of course I’m deeply saddened and disturbed by such a horrible tragedy.”

“Your father wasn’t shy about his condemnation of the attack. He’s quoted as calling them guerrilla tactics that cannot be tolerated by the United States any more than they are the Russian Federation.”

“Yes. My father is very troubled by the violence.”

“Rumor has it your father is discouraging your travels to the Mother Land for fear of your safety.”

Her spine snapped straight at such a clear invasion of her privacy. How could anyone know that? She discussed her personal issues with very few people. “The rumors you hear are wrong.”

“Ambassador Avery hasn’t pressured you into staying home safe and sound in New York?”

“No, he has not.”

“So you won’t be postponing your trip to Russia?”

“No, I will not. I’ll be coming for my three-week holiday as I always do, and I’ll be performing The Markovik Number at the Bolshoi Theater.”

Roman gaped. “You’ll dance The Markovik Number?”

“Yes.”

He edged closer in his seat. “It’s never been seen before. The choreography is unknown to all but a few.”

“Yes,” she repeated.

“This dance is a pas de deux?”

She nodded while her mind raced as she dug herself deeper into her current mess. Not only was she now going to Russia, she was also committing herself to imitating the steps of a true legend. Many had compared her to Mina through the years, but that was nostalgia. No one would ever hold a candle to Mina Markovik on stage.

“Who will you partner with?”

“Sergei Ploeski,” she decided. As soon as word spread, there was no doubt Russia’s best male ballet dancer would be committed to learning the choreography.

Roman’s eyes grew wider. “You will dance with Sergei Ploeski?”

“Mmm. A token of goodwill between two beautiful countries.”

Roman all but rubbed his hands together. “The headlines will be wild. “Ploeski and Markovik-Avery: History.”

“It will be an honor.”

“Your father knows of this?”

“He encouraged me to reach out to Sergei, to bring my mother’s last dance to life during such uncertain times,” she lied without qualm, knowing such a statement would put her father in a positive light.

“This is fantastic, Lyla.”

“I’m excited,” she fibbed again as she struggled not to fidget.

“And your visit at Orphan House Ten, will you still meet with the children?”

“I plan to carry on with my usual schedule.” Which would drive Dad crazy.

“With added security and precautions no doubt.”

She shook her head. “No. You know I don’t use security.”

“Surely your father will insist.”

“My father and I both believe that we must be cautious with the new threats, but we must also live our lives. I plan to carry on in Russia as I always have—drive my own car, walk the streets without being flanked by any sort of protective personnel, eat out with friends and family.”

“You can’t exactly call yourself a normal citizen.”

“Why not?”

“Normal citizens aren’t from the womb of great dancers. Few can call themselves the daughter of an American ambassador.”

“I am both of these things, and I’ve never wanted to be treated any differently than anyone else.”

“There is certainly truth in that, Princess.” Roman shut off his recorder and stood abruptly. “Thank you for sitting down with me.” He bent forward, absently pressing a kiss to Lyla’s cheek. “We’ll catch up when you land in Russia next week. I want an exclusive.”

“Of course,” she muttered, waiting for him to disappear around the corner before she let her head settle against the back of the seat. Closing her eyes, she groaned as she rubbed at the throbbing in her temples. What had she done? Dad was going to lose it when she explained what had just happened. She stood and started back toward her dressing room, not looking forward to the call she was about to make. But there was no turning back now. Every word she’d spoken was on Roman’s handy little tape recorder.

The Unofficial Finding Lyla Soundtrack

Music plays a HUGE part in my writing process. I typically listen to Pandora or YouTube while I create my stories and compile a collection of songs that I feel represent my characters or the situations they face as each novel unfolds. It’s a rare occasion that my creativity demands silence (And that’s a good thing. I’m a mother of two boys. Quiet doesn’t exist in my house.). I thought it would be fun to create a list of songs that ‘spoke’ to me while I wrote the Bodyguards of L.A. County series. You can listen to the “soundtrack” for each book on my website www.catebeauman.com.

The soundtrack, of sorts, for Finding Lyla:

  • “Today” by Steve Moakler
  • “Beautiful Things” by Gungor
  • “Teneferie Sea” by Ed Sheeran
  • “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk The Moon
  • “Anywhere but Here” by Safety Suit
  • “Never Gonna Be Alone” by Nickelback
  • “Nirvana” by Sam Smith
  • “Don’t Deserve You” by Plumb
  • “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry
  • “You’re in Love” by Taylor Swift
  • “Fight Song” by Rachel Platton

05 Cate Profile PicAbout Cate:  International bestselling author Cate Beauman is known for her full-length, action-packed romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Her novels have been nominated for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, National Indie Excellence Award, Golden Quill Award, Writers Touch Award, and have been named Readers Favorite Five Star books. In 2015, Justice for Abby was selected as the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Gold Medalist, while Saving Sophie took the Silver Medal. SAVING SOPHIE was also selected as the 2015 Readers Crown Award winner for Romantic Suspense and FALLING FOR SARAH received the silver medal for the 2014 Readers’ Favorite Awards.

Cate makes her home in North Carolina with her husband, two boys, and their St. Bernards, Bear and Jack. Currently Cate is working on Deceiving Bella, the eleventh novel in her popular Bodyguards series. For information on Cate’s new releases, monthly giveaways, and upcoming events, click here to sign up for her newsletter.

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BOOK REVIEW FRIDAY – ON LUCKY SHORES

On-Lucky-Shores-Front-Only-Large (2)Kerry Donovan stopped by Author Wednesday this week to talk about his new thriller On Lucky Shores

I edited the novel, but my review has nothing to do with my professional work as a book editor. My review considers what makes a novel interesting and intriguing, and well, thrilling, if that’s the genre, which On Lucky Shores is. Kerry knows how to deliver on all levels. The book opens with the rugged and handsome drifter colliding into a mountain town and rolling into the lives of its inhabitants. But first there’s an accident, a secret, and an untimely death.

That’s just the first chapter. Chet Walker eventually makes it into the town of Lucky Shores intent on finding a place to play his music, delivering a message loaded with mystery from a dying man, and staying out of trouble. But trouble rides on the case of his guitar from the site of the accident he witnessed to the hospital where he fends quite nicely for himself against the local ruffians. But he has yet to encounter the sheriff, the doctor, the mayor, or the lovely woman running the local cafe.

It’s that woman at the cafe to whom he must deliver his message–a message that will spin the town all around, causing its residents to race up the mountains surrounding it. Josephine is adorable, and Chet finds himself drawn to her.

But for me, the best thing about the novel was my reactions and thoughts as I read it through the first time. I couldn’t figure out who done did it. I’d think I knew who the villain was, and then I didn’t. Not until the very end, near the climax, did I know for sure. And that’s the mark of a true author of a thrilling mystery. I’m not a fan of always knowing exactly who did what to whom. I like the tension created from not knowing, when every scene could be loaded with real clues or clues meant to confuse the reader who is suddenly headed down the wrong road out of town.

The book also contains a romantic thread in the growing attraction between Josephine and Chet. So even though there’s mystery, intrigue, and thrilling parts, I also enjoyed the the sweet and tender love that grows. Perhaps the genre is best described as romantic suspense.

Perfect combination. I recommend you give it a try yourself. You won’t be disappointed. And I must say for an English bloke living in France, Kerry Donovan did an excellent job of adapting to the Rocky Mountain setting and making it believable. [Go Broncos!]

Kerry_J_Donovan - Web pagesAbout Kerry: Kerry J Donovan was born in Dublin. He spent most of his life in the UK, and now lives in Brittany with his wife of thirty-eight years. He has three children and three/four grandchildren, all of whom live in England. Family apart, Kerry has three loves: making furniture, sport, and writing (but not necessarily in that order).

 

Purchase Links:

On Lucky Shores Amazon US

On Lucky Shores Amazon UK

 

 

 

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – KERRY DONOVAN

cropped-cropped-typewriter.jpgWelcome to Author Wednesday. Today I’m featuring Kerry Donovan, an author who appeared here last fall, but since then he’s published a new book, On Lucky Shores. Full disclosure: I edited this thriller set in the Rocky Mountains and invited Kerry back to talk about it because I so enjoyed reading this novel – even with my red pen poised above the page. Kerry is also a very funny guy, so sit back with a cup of coffee and prepare to be entertained.On-Lucky-Shores-Front-Only-Large (2)

 

So let’s start right off with it, Kerry. Tell us a bit about your new work, On Lucky Shores.

On Lucky Shores is an adventure novel set in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The hero, Chester ‘Chet’ Walker is hitchhiking around America in search of inspiration to write his next song when he witnesses an accident. He tries to help the injured driver who gives him a cryptic message and begs Chet to take it to his estranged daughter, Josephine Dolan. Reluctantly, Chet agrees and heads for the isolated resort town of Lucky Shores. He doesn’t know it, but the message he carries just might get him and Josephine killed.

For the book, I’ve developed a cast of characters to populate the pages: a hard-nosed sheriff, a plethora of suspicious and angry townsfolk, a female mayor (Josephine’s aunt), and a helpful doctor. One or more of them is a thief, and maybe even a killer.

The novel is a modern-day western with action, adventure, a mystery, and a romance at its core. There’s plenty of room for a sequel (which I’ve already started writing). If the readers like the story, I’ll carry on writing it. If they don’t, I’ll still carry on writing it. Tee hee.

This isn’t your first novel, but the first in this series starring Chet Walker. Do you see a common thread emerge in all your works?

I guess you’d call my body of work character-based thrillers. At least, I hope they contain good, well-rounded characters and plenty of thrills.  If they don’t, I’m a charlatan.

You could be a bit of both. Just teasing, of course (maybe). I think perhaps all of us authors might have a touch of the snake-oil salesman running through our veins. Let’s get serious for a minute. I love what Rachel Carson (Silent Spring author) said in an interview near the end of her life. She said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Describe a time when a subject chose you.

When it comes to a new book, I never really plan anything. I usually have a basic idea for a story and then dive in. For On Lucky Shores, I was video chatting with my son, a musician who was thinking about backpacking around Australia. He wondered whether it would be possible to pay his way by playing gigs in small towns as a sort of modern day minstrel, singing for his supper. It got me to wondering whether I could write a book where my hero was doing the same thing. My creative juices started flowing and I sat at my desk and started writing. Six months later, On Lucky Shores was ready for publication.

That’s a bit of how I work, too. Sometimes just a line will come to me complete with a character name. It usually turns out nicely when we follow our muse. Is there a form of written expression you’d like to try?

I’d love to write in poetry but don’t understand it. Chet wrote some lyrics for On Lucky Shores, but I’m not sure that counts.

Sure it counts! I used to think I might be a poet. I wrote a few for a character in one of my novels, but I never feel comfortable with the form. I know the setting in your current work uses setting as a plot device. What role does setting play in your novels?

In On Lucky Shores, the Rocky Mountains are so integral to the story they almost form a character in their own right. They cut off the town from the rest of the state, they look down imperiously on the action, and both hinder and help Chet and Josephine in their pursuit of the truth. Without the Rockies, there would be no story.

That’s true. They serve as both sides of the protagonist/antagonist coin. I know you said you’re currently a work on the next in this series, but are you planning to continue writing in the same genre?

Who knows? I write whatever takes my fancy. I even have an idea for a children’s fantasy novel set on a planet where a natural disaster forced the population to live underground eons ago. It started as a bedtime story I told my sons way back in 1983. One day, I’ll write it for my grandchildren. Maybe.

That sounds like a wonderful idea. I hope you do it. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

“Kerry J Donovan is the greatest writer living today.” Yep, no doubt about it, my wife is a saint, although some might say she was being a little sarcastic.

I’m sure she believes it, but I’m wondering what was happening at the moment she said it. So we all get them, and some writers are bothered by them. What advice can you give to other writers about receiving a bad review?

A bad review? Ignore it. You can’t please all the readers all the time.

I agree. Also, most bad reviews–mine and those of other authors–don’t give a legitimate reason for disliking a book, so discerning readers will figure that out. One of the sets I’m in with other authors received a one-star review with the comment. “I haven’t read the set yet.” What’s your one sentence pitch for On Lucky Shores?

Traveling musician, Chet Walker, learns the truth behind the saying, “no good deed goes unpunished.”

How did you choose the title?

The title is ironic. Lucky Shores is probably the unluckiest town in Colorado, and Chet Walker is only visiting. Originally, it was going to be called simply, Lucky Shores, but I added the “On” to show the temporary nature of Chet’s visit and to add more of a question.

How long do you estimate it took you  from that conversation with your son to the finished product now available for purchase?

Six months, but that excludes the years I spent at primary school learning to write in the first place.

Is the book traditionally or self-published?

On Lucky Shores is self-published. I prefer the immediacy and control of the indie publishing scene, and what’s more, I retain a great share of the retail price.

What is the message conveyed in the book?

Hitchhiking musician should wear gloves. When trying to help the victim, Chet cuts his fingers. How can you play the guitar with cut fingertips?

 

Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in On Lucky Shores.

The cover shows Chet standing on Vantage Rock overlooking Little Lake. The photo encapsulates one of the main themes of the book—the mountains can offer solace and protection.

 

If you could invite two other authors over to your house for dinner, who would you choose?

Michaela Miles—she’s my best internet friend but lives in Brisbane, Australia, and we’ll probably never meet in person, but I’d love to.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—as a teenager, I read a compendium of Sherlock Holmes stories and fell in love with the crime thriller genre. I still have that book.

Do you have any particular rituals or good luck charms in your writing process?

Silence. I need total silence to write. My poor wife has to wear headphones when watching TV in the evenings.

Speaking of your wife, how does your immediate family feel about your writing life?

They all think it’s a fad. They ignore the fact that it’s been a fad of mine since 1985.

What do you do during your down time?

Down time? That does not compute, Will Robinson.

What book are you reading right now?

Michael Connelly’s, The Burning Room. I’ve read all of the Harry Bosch books.

If a movie was made about your success as a writer, who would play you?

That’s easy, George Clooney. Or should I say, George Clooney’s driver. You know, he’s the one who looks like Uncle Fester from the Addams Family.

Yes, you told me that before in your last interview, but I see you’ve changed the answer a bit. George wasn’t available, I take it. Thanks, Kerry. As always, it’s a delightful to have you stop by Author Wednesday. Please come back when that sequel is ready!

Kerry_J_Donovan - Web pagesAbout Kerry: Kerry J Donovan was born in Dublin. He spent most of his life in the UK, and now lives in Brittany with his wife of thirty-eight years. He has three children and three/four grandchildren, all of whom live in England. Family apart, Kerry has three loves: making furniture, sport, and writing (but not necessarily in that order).

 

Links:

Author Wednesday Interview, September 9, 2015

Facebook

On Lucky Shores Amazon US

On Lucky Shores Amazon UK

Twitter

Website

DCI Jones Casebook Sean Freeman Amazon US

DCI Jones Casebook Sean Freeman Amazon UK

BOOK REVIEW FRIDAY – TWO NOVELS AND MANY NARCISSISTS

During January, I read two novels by two authors whose work I admire. One is a bestselling traditionally published author, and the other is an Indie Author who I’ve followed since the publication of her first novel.

Both have written novels set in the west – one in San Francisco and one in an anonymous location either in western Canada or western United States. And both populated their new releases with characters overflowing in narcissism. Not only are the antagonists under the illusion that the world revolves around them, but the protagonists also suffer from this affliction. And most importantly, both novels are captivating reads filled with tension created by a certain depravity within the human condition.

ChinaDollsChina Dolls by Lisa See – I was first introduced to Lisa See in 2009 when my sister-in-law lent me a copy of Peony in LoveSince reading that haunting love story, I’ve been a fan and read most all of her books. Her latest release China Dolls is no less captivating, but not quite as poetic as some of her other books.

Set in San Francisco following the depression in the years leading up to World War II, this novel follows the lives of three very different young women as they follow their dreams and hearts. One of them, Ruby, is Japanese trying to pass as Chinese to avoid the bigotry and fear of her ancestral homeland. The other two, Grace and Helen, are Chinese but from very different circumstances and families. The three of them meet in 1938 and end up in a very fragile and volatile trio of “China Doll” performers.

All of the three protagonists think only of themselves when crises occur, and they hit with vicious frequency. It’s hard to imagine how they could be friends again after some of the things that happen. But they are sewn together with a thin thread that sometimes breaks, but is always mended by some invisible force sewing them together in a patchwork quilt of familiarity.

China Dolls is a compelling read, and even though I didn’t really like the three main characters, I couldn’t wait to find out how they might squirm out of their most recent predicaments.

The novel explores the internment policies of the United States during World War II, and the reader is taken into the camps where the Japanese were herded during those dark and scary days. Given what’s happening today with all Muslims marked by those claiming to follow Islam, the story is a haunting reminder of what we did previously, and why it didn’t work then and should never be considered now. It’s worthwhile to read for this part of the story alone.

I did find one aspect disturbing and thought the author had a chance to speak out against domestic violence in the life on one of the characters (trying not to give out a spoiler here!), but instead she chose to push it aside. Instead, the abuser is excused because of the hardships in his early life. In my mind, there is no excuse for abuse of anyone, particularly a young defenseless child.

Lisa See is a master storyteller, and she shines in this novel. How else to explain why I continued reading with anticipation a novel dotted with characters I didn’t admire or want to be? These three women are anti-heroes in some ways, yet their stories are compelling and presented in a fascinating package.

MaelstromMaelstrom by Francis Guenette – The title of this thriller is appropriate on several levels. The plot is a maelstrom of conflicts. The characters are embroiled in a maelstrom of emotions. The events could be described as nothing else besides a maelstrom.

Also, the creation of this work of fiction created a maelstrom of emotions in its producer and writer, who took the draft of a manuscript began by her mother, June Guenette, many years ago. After June’s death in 1997, the manuscript went to Francis’ son and was seemingly lost until a few years ago. Francis took the original seed of an idea and turned it into the page-turning, twisted story of a fictional town in the rugged western regions of the North American continent. But as she took typewritten white placemat pages and turned them into a manuscript, the author suggests she went through her own maelstrom to bring the novel to publication.

If you’ve read any of the books in the Crater Lake Series by Francis Guenette, be prepared to be as shocked as I was. There are very few likable characters, until perhaps the end. And any compassion felt for some of the younger ones is born of pity and not true empathy. Never will you meet such evil, narcissist folks as the ones who roam and rule the streets of Haddon. I don’t usually read books filled with such horribly violent scenes, such as populated the pages of this novel, but because the author created a compelling story, I found myself guiltily escaping back to my Kindle to find out if and when the worst of the worst would get their due.

Ms. Guenette once again proves her prowess as a gifted storyteller with her descriptive setting of the isolated town and its towering castle on the hill, Casa Destino. Long-held resentments and prejudices dominate the action of the novel. The two main antagonists, Sheriff Calder and Mayor Thatcher, dominate the scenes. The man set to inherit Casa Destino after the death of his adopted father, Myhetta, appears to be unfeeling and unemotional through much of the story. But eventually, some redeeming qualities do appear toward the end. But he has been so damaged, as has everyone around him, that it’s unclear what fate holds for him. Never have I read a novel filled with so much human depravity. I feel as if I need a very hot shower to wash it all away.

As with the previous review, this novel explores the dangers of bigotry and genetics. It’s a lesson in how not to live life. One relationship stands out as one with some virtue, and that’s the one between Myhetta and his best friend, Laird. Loyalty above all else withstands all the tests. And the love of a mother for her child shines through in both Myhetta’s mother, Ayha, and Laura Thatcher for the son she adopted when she married the mayor.

Myetta and Laura emerge as the main characters, eventually. They change the most during the course of the novel, and for once, it’s in positive ways.

Fast-paced and riveting, this novel requires a score card. The characters are many and their intertwined lives require the reader to always pay attention or be lost in the maelstrom.