AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – WENDY UNSWORTH

cropped-cropped-typewriter.jpgI’m very excited to welcome Wendy Unsworth back to Author Wednesday. I’ve been anxiously awaiting her second book in the Berriwood Series, after having read The Palavar Tree. The wait is almost over. Beneathwood is a novel filled with drama and suspense and will be available in e format on November 24, 2015, and in paperback on December 8, 2015.CoverBeneathwood

Welcome, Wendy. It’s so nice to have you back.

Hello and thank you for inviting me back to your lovely blog; it’s great to be here.

Next month you will be publishing the second book in your Berriwood Series. Can you tell us something about the idea behind the series?

Berriwood is a fictional village in the beautiful and ancient county of Cornwall in England. I was lucky enough to live in that part of the world for a few years and anyone who does couldn’t fail to be inspired by its windswept moors and rugged coastlines. The house we lived in was built in 1745 and, amazingly, that’s not too unusual for that part of the world. History is everywhere. When I had the idea to write a series of novels featuring the characters of one village it had to be set in Cornwall!

I wanted to write a series about characters from within a small community so that the common theme in each book is the connection to the village. I have a fascination (I think this is a writer’s lot in life!) in people. I might be sitting in a crowded train or plane or in the window seat of a coffee shop, and as I watch, I wonder about the lives and motivations around me. So, that was how I imagined Berriwood; on the face of it a pretty place where folks go about their ordinary lives, but what is ordinary? I should say right now, this is no quiet, nothing-ever-happens, kind of a village. I like to test my characters!

photo 2In the first book of the series, The Palaver Tree, I took my ‘ordinary’ character, Ellie Hathaway, a woman who had grown up in Berriwood and was perhaps quite naive about the wider world, and sent her on a journey as a volunteer teacher in Africa. Ellie had come to a crossroads in her life and was looking for new purpose. I knew that, beneath her gentle exterior, was a strong and resourceful woman (as so often in the case!), and I was eager to explore how she would respond when the chips were down and her life and the lives of others were at stake.

In Beneathwood the story is centered entirely around the village where the stakes, are, for one family, similarly high!

I loved The Palaver Tree (click here to read my review). I visited Cornwall and I understand how the setting would be perfect for your literary purposes. Beneathwood is an interesting title, how did the name come about?

Houses are important to me. I have lived in quite a few different ones, but each, in my mind, defines an ‘era’ of my life. Beneathwood is the name of a house and is very central to the whole story. I once saw an old and weathered sign to a house of the same name. It was on a winding country road, but the building wasn’t in sight. It must have been tucked far down a track and obscured by trees. I was intrigued. The name stuck with me, and I knew that one day I would recreate Beneathwood in a style and setting of my own. I also liked the way it fitted in my mind with the village of Berriwood. Beneathwood is a part of the village, but is indeed, on the edge, beneath it, so to speak.

That’s a perfect name and one word titles are easy to remember! Can you tell us a little bit about the story within Beneathwood, without giving too much away?

It’s all about that house, or so it seems to be. After Postmistress Beryl unexpectedly inherits Beneathwood from her Aunt there is plenty of restoration work to be carried out, and her husband, Gordon, recently retired and beginning to suffer from boredom, thinks the project is heaven sent. Olivia, the Carroll’s daughter, would honestly rather see her father do a quick tidy up and get the house on the market. She hated the place even before she found Auntie Edith’s body on the floor of the sitting room. But Gordon approaches his new task with a typical eye for detail and the process becomes a labor of love.

When an accident leaves Beryl unable to continue to work at the post office, the Carrolls decided their best option is to move in.

Beneathwood is a story about secrets and how they can unravel, even though the passage of many years might seem to make them safe. It’s also a story about preconceived ideas and misconceptions and how a situation, even amongst close, family members, can be so differently interpreted. Finally, the story is about love, as most stories, even in the most oblique of circumstances, are.

It sounds lovely, and I look forward to reading it. What’s in the works at the moment. Will we be seeing more in the Berriwood Series?

Yes, for Berriwood, I have two more books planned. Book three has a working title of The Devil You Know and is a story featuring Caroline Duke, the owner of the village newsagent’s shop. Caroline is married to Pete Duke; he is a man who has succumbed to addiction, unlike his twin brother who is Oh! So perfect!

Book 4 is still very much still in the outline stage but is probably going to feature again Tiffany Harris, the gullible young woman from The Palaver Tree who has learned a lesson or two since we last saw her.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00056]I also have a great time, in between longer projects, writing for children. My Come-alive Cottage series is written purely for fun, and I adore creating characters such as Aunt Kitty, the witch, the eccentric Colonel Culpepper and the very silly, Aunt Sillime. Keller Culpepper is the heroine of the stories, and she always manages to save the day!

I also have an idea for a new adult book, possibly stand-alone, but that is nothing more than a little seed at the moment, plenty of water and nourishment required. If only there was two of me!

Thank you again for asking me here today. It is a real pleasure to be ‘out and about’ in the writing community.

First, I’m happy you’re bringing back Tiffany. She was memorable and probably learned the most in The Palaver Tree. I’m delighted to find you reveling in your work. Writing children’s books is a noble endeavor, and it’s wonderful to see you having a good time with it.  Congratulations on publishing Beneathwood. I hope you’ll return when Book three is ready for publication.

photoAbout Wendy: Wendy Unsworth was born and raised in Lincolnshire, England. Her passions are her family, travel, beautiful gardens, and reading and writing stories. Wendy lived in Ndola, Zambia, and Nairobi, Kenya, throughout the 1980s and early ’90s before returning to the UK to acclimatize back to the English weather in a Cornish cottage close to Bodmin Moor. She has also lived in Portugal and hopes to go back there in search of some sun.

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BOOK REVIEW FRIDAY – BLEEDING HEART BY STACI TROILO

bleeding heartOn Author Wednesday this week, Staci Troilo wrote about her choice to write multi-genre novels. After reading Bleeding Heart, her first venture into suspenseful romance, I can attest that she’s made a wise choice to branch out from mainstream fiction and mystery. She titled it Bleeding Heart for a very good reason (you’ll find no spoilers here), but I can tell you it was heart-stopping, heart-throbbing, and heart-pounding as well.

The novel, the first in her Medici Protectorate series, never allows the reader a moment to relax and take a breath for a variety of reasons. It’s a novel that crosses genre lines in a fascinating cross-pollination of lives, eras, and continents. There’s suspense, mystery, intrigue, and history. But overriding the whole thing is a romantic sensuality that tops anything I’ve read of late.

I’m impressed with what Ms. Troilo accomplished in this book. It’s intelligent and explores an area of mystery that has plagued generations from the United States to Italy. But she’s also written some of the steamiest sex scenes I’ve ever read. I’m embarrassed when I read some steamy romances because the plot line can delve into cheesy. Not so with this novel. She matched the personalities of her main characters–Franki and Gianni–perfectly. Both proud, stubborn, and with streaks of anger that are down right frightful. Even Franki’s sisters and Gianni’s adopted brothers fear that anger. What a combustible combination when the two meet and then eventually collide into one another on an explosive sensual ride.

It’s a roller coaster of a book that takes the reader from a city in the U.S., loosely resembling Pittsburgh, to the past of Michelangelo’s Italy.

But there’s more, if that’s not enough. There’s the paranormal aspect of the Medici line that’s been passed down to Gianni and his family tribe. Franki only begins to understand her family’s role in the whole Medici mystique after her father’s murder. That’s right–there’s murder, too. And the threat of murder always overhanging the sisters who are beautiful, talented, and devoted to their mother and dead father.

Be forewarned–not everything is solved at this end of this novel because Book Two is now being readied for release in 2016.

I highly recommend reading this book to add lots of spice and excitement to your life! I know my heart is still bleeding all over the floor after my voyeuristic visits with Franki and Gianni through all their trysts.

Blurb for Bleeding Heart—Franki, secret legacy of the Medici, is prophesied to return Italy to its former glory. Targeted for assassination and ignorant of her enemy’s identity, she is protected by Gianni, the warrior destined to defend her. He must conquer her fears and his demons to save them both.

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AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – DAVID RHEEM JARRETT

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Wecome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome David Rheem Jarret who stops by today to talk about his novel Last Straw, a thriller filled with crime and suspense. David admits the main characters is actually “an anti-hero who some readers will actually see as the protagonist, even though some of the crimes he commits are heinous.”  Add two young police officers–an intelligent, sensitive male and a strong, attractive female–who must not only deal with catching him, but also with their own steadily increasing attraction to one another to throw some romance into the mix.  It all sounds exciting, but I’ll let David talk about himself and the book. Welcome, David!

The Writing Life and the Last Straw by David Rheem Jarrett A1RubOdlbwL._SL1500_

I discovered my voice as a writer while in high school but was not able to call myself an author until June of 2014 when I published Last Straw.  I have no writing rituals, although my favorite time to write is two hours in the morning during what I call my quiet time.  This time is after I’ve brought my wife coffee in bed, had a couple cups myself, and read all the current news and mail on the computer.  Once this quiet time is over and the events of the day begin, there’s no point in trying to write.

I have no illusions about being a great writer, although I believe I use the English language well, and my vocabulary is fairly extensive.   I try to avoid clichés and use language that is perhaps more sophisticated than others in my genre.  I try to create plots that are believable – things that could actually happen in today’s world – and characters that are believable also – no superheroes jumping buildings in a single bound or dispatching entire groups of bad guys singlehandedly.  My stories are usually “morality plays” in which good triumphs over evil.  Even in Last Straw, even though I identify and sympathize with my anti-hero, he has to lose in the end.

The two authors who have most influenced my writing are John Sandford and Michael Connelly.  They both write gritty crime/police procedural thrillers, and they write their stories with great realism and accuracy.  One of my pet peeves as a reader is reading a crime/thriller/suspense novel involving firearms in which the author obviously has no real knowledge of them.

My current work in progress involves a rather complicated scenario.  It is also a thriller of sorts, but not what I would all a classic one.  A man and his wife, fed up with life in the city, retire early and move to a remote rural area of California where they own property.  A Native American Vietnam veteran, feeling he has not lived up to his heritage, moves to the same area and tries to live in the woods alone in order to experience the lifestyle of his ancestors and perhaps vindicate himself, at least in his own eyes.  The actions of these characters are often seen through the eyes of a great bear, a character in its own right, that the Indian saves from a poacher’s trap early in his odyssey.  There is political intrigue as the local power company uses a nefarious scheme to coerce the county commissioners to vote to dam the river on which the ranchers depend in order to create a recreational area and power plant.  In addition, there is constant tension between the city man and the perverted poacher, who hates him and covets his wife.  As of now, the book is too long and needs to be cut somewhat, and I am in the process of editing.  It is a very ambitious project and may need to be longer than planned in order to be able to tell the whole story.  As yet, I have no title for this WIP.

I chose to write Last Straw because of the shenanigans being pulled by members of the financial community during the lead-up to the Great Recession in the United States.  An enormous number of people, myself included, got hurt because of their actions, and I felt compelled to write about one fictional person’s response.

My favorite character is Thomas Pickering.  He is a product of the school of hard knocks.  He is not a young pretty-boy and has character flaws.  However, he is smart; he is tough; and he believes as I do in “an eye for an eye.”

I use third person omniscient past tense in all my writing.  I detest the use of first person or third person limited, as neither has the ability to show the reader the thoughts and feelings of each character.  I use italics to describe these inner thoughts, and though some do not like this technique, I do, and as long as the italicized passages are not too long, I believe them not to be objectionable to the reader.  I never use present tense narration as I think it sounds stupid.

As far as bad reviews are concerned, not everyone is going to like every book.  You are going to get a bad review now and then.  They are usually emotionally driven and not constructive, but learn from the ones that are thoughtfully written and that actually might help you in your future writing.  Always remember, though, that writing is an art, as is music, painting, or sculpture.  It is not a science, and therefore whether you are happy with it determines whether it is worthy or not.  Of course, if you are writing solely to make money, this changes the paradigm and you must write what the public wants to read — hence the plethora of romance novels and series novels so prevalent today.

Last Straw tells the story of a bitter man, robbed of his future by unscrupulous financiers, who finds and punishes them in very creative and ugly ways, and the attempt by two young police officers, themselves embroiled in an escalating affair, to discover enough evidence to arrest and convict him.

My wife actually chose this title, and since she has been so supportive of my writing and a good beta-reader, I deferred to her judgment.

This book took approximately three years from inception to publication.  It was self-published as an e-Book primarily because I could not obtain representation from literary agents (Do not get me started on that subject, as the diatribe will go on forever).  I decided if the e-Book were well-received, I might order print copies also, but I am finding it hard to find enough readers, even though almost all reviews have been positive, to justify the trouble and expense of doing this yet.

Simply put, the message conveyed in the book is “if you mess with the bull, you are going to get the horns!”

The best thing someone could say about this book is that it kept him or her turning the pages from beginning to end without ever becoming bored or tempted to skim.

Conceiving this book took little imagination. I was financially damaged by the same type financiers as my character, Thomas Pickering. The book was my vicarious way of getting even.

Thomas Pickering is the antagonist (although some may feel he is the PROtagonist depending on their point of view), and I don’t think I have ever enjoyed creating a character more.

Any prospective reader must know that there is both graphic sex and graphic violence in the book, but the story does not dwell on either.  These are necessary to provide the elements of a thriller, but the actual book is more about feelings, relationships, and right versus wrong.

As I have said before, John Sandford is the quintessential crime thriller writer, with Michael Connelly a close second.  They both would be welcome to share dinner and a few cocktails with me.

I have no rituals, no music while I write.  I usually write in my bathrobe and slippers in my study/computer room prior to the day’s other activities. My immediate family is highly supportive of my writing. I do use places with which I am familiar as the settings for my books.  I do not like travel unless I can do it in our motor coach; therefore I will probably never write novels set anywhere but in the USA.

If one were to make a movie of me, Bruce Willis would be my pick for my character.

Dave - Publicity photoAbout David: David Rheem Jarrett was born and raised in Berkeley, California. After graduating from Dental School, he and his wife and two daughters moved to Reno, Nevada, where he and two others started the first group practice in the state, and practiced general dentistry for thirty-five years before retiring in 2005.  Since then he has been doing what he promised himself he would do years ago – writing novels. He is active in physical fitness, golf, fly fishing, firearms, and gunsmithing, RVing, computers, and reading.  He and his wife have been married for fifty-two years, and enjoy spending time together and with their three children and seven grandchildren.

Click Links below for more information on David Rheem Jarrett and Last Straw.

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Author Wednesday – David Lawlor

cropped-typewriter.jpgI am pleased to present David Lawlor today for Author Wednesday. David’s visited my blog several times before and I’ve reviewed his Liam Mannion books here, but today he’s stopping by to tell us about his new release, which is a departure from his usual historical fiction set in Ireland in the post World War I era. I’ll let this talented author and editor take if from here to tell you about High Crimes.HIGH CRIMES HIRES(1)

From David: I’ve written four historical fiction novels – three following the adventures of Liam Mannion from World War I, through the Irish War of Independence and on to the Irish Civil War, so stalkers and sex abusers in modern Dublin are not my usual subject matter. Yet that is what I found myself writing about in my new novel, High Crimes.

The seed of an idea came one night while watching a five-minute documentary on television. It was filmed from the perspective of a crane operator, with various operators talking about their work and what they see from their lofty viewing point. One man on the programme told of how, every day, he used to see a woman strip naked and set about cleaning her apartment.

It was such a strange image that I wondered what would compel her to do such a thing – and what the crane operator really thought about it as he watched her. From there, the ball started rolling and soon I had added several more apartment block residents who were living under the watchful gaze of my crane operator, Tommy Reynolds.

Tommy is a seriously disturbed individual. He’s arrogant, conniving, and quite brutal in what he says and how he goes about following his subjects.  He does not self-censor but gives full vent to his feelings. He speaks direct to the reader in a full-on verbal assault. You might wonder what research I did for Tommy – how I tapped into his sociopathic nature. Well, er, aside from reading up on how cranes operate, very little. The fact is that all that venting he does came from inside me (which makes me wonder about myself sometimes, but that’s another story entirely). We all self-censor – that’s the norm in a civilized society – so, to be able to let fly with the most inappropriate and hurtful of comments was liberating. Yes, Tommy is nasty, but he was also great fun to write.

Less fun was my other arch villain – an ex-priest, Cathal Mac Liam, who is a paedophile. Mac Liam is pure evil. In the past, he abused his victims in orphanages, now he uses the internet to find them and to traffic children to be abused by others.

I read several articles, written by both the abused and the abuser, to get a sense of what Mac Liam should be like. That research proved to be truly shocking. A lot of his thoughts are actually taken from real case histories, as was some of the chat-room dialogue I used in the book. My character may seem far-fetched to some but, believe me, real people like him are out there doing terrible things to children.

My stalking victims are varied. There’s Maggie, a policewoman whose childhood was destroyed and whose entire life has been blighted by the memories of her abuse at the hands of Mac Liam. Then there’s Jack, a widowed soldier trying to come to terms with why his wife drowned herself and their infant son. There’s also Paddy, who is struggling to cope with his wife’s dementia and with a disowned drug addict son. Ann, a high-flier in a government department, is building a new life for herself in Dublin following years spent in New York. Finally, there’s Ernie, a talented artist who starts using cranes in his paintings as a motif.

Mac Liam impacts almost all of their lives, while Tommy watches them from his crane, filming and following, and listening, too, until finally he worms his way into their lives with deadly consequences.

Reynolds and Mac Liam are vile. We marvel at their cruelty and feel sympathy for their victims. Unfortunately, sometimes those victims are pushed beyond all endurance and see suicide as the only recourse.  I thought it would be good to see the victims finally stand up and fight back, which is what happens in this book.

The tone of High Crimes is very different to that of my historical fiction trilogy – Tan, The Golden Grave and A Time of Traitors. Finding that new voice was exciting as was writing a story set in the modern world. That doesn’t mean I’m done with the past. I have a soft spot for Liam Mannion, the hero of my trilogy, and he’ll be reappearing in a new book further down the line.

The beauty of fiction is that we can immerse ourselves in any world we choose – that goes for the author as much as the reader. It’s why I’m hooked on writing and why I’ll keep doing it as long as my body and my mind allow.

I’m glad that you are going to keep putting out suspenseful and powerful novels. 

About David:David Lawlor David Lawlor has worked as a journalist for the past twenty-five years and is currently Associate Editor with The Herald newspaper in Dublin. He’s also a book editor. [Note: David was my editor for Native Lands.] To date, he’s published three novels in the Liam Mannion series – Tan, The Golden Grave and A Time of Traitors, which are historical fiction thrillers set during the Irish War of Independence, in 1921. His first a contemporary novel is High Crimes.

Other Author Wednesday posts about David Lawlor:

November 12, 2014

July 7, 2013

Book reviews of David Lawlor’s Liam Mannion novels:

A Time of Traitors and Tan and The Golden Grave

 

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THE GOLDEN GRAVE

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Website: https://historywithatwist.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @LawlorDavid

Goodreads: http://goo.gl/rocWgb

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At Odds with Destiny – PreOrder Time!

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Author Wednesday – Mary Ellen Bramwell

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Today I welcome Mary Ellen Bramwell who’s recently published her first novel The Apple of My Eye. cropped high res coverIt could be classified as “chick lit,” but since I believe that doesn’t fully cover the genre of most books, I asked Mary Ellen to elaborate on the genre. She said, “It’s actually a mix of mystery, romance, suspense and family drama.”

Help  me welcome Mary Ellen today to discuss her new release and her current projects. Mary Ellen, let’s discuss your beginnings as a writer. When were you first able to call yourself a “writer” or “author?”

I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember, and I have old notebooks filled with complete and unfinished stories and articles. But it wasn’t real to me until I sold my first article to a magazine. Even then I suppose I didn’t give myself much credit. However, when I was working with the editor to prepare the piece for publication, she commented, “You’re a good writer.” That really struck me, and in many ways gave me the confidence years later to pick up my writing and treat it as a viable profession.

That’s a great moment when that happens, isn’t it? I’m glad it stuck with you. Do you have particular messages or themes that run throughout all your writing?

I love the image of light versus dark. So often, even in dark times, we can choose to focus on the light, the good. That sense of hope is what I want to convey to my readers; I want them to feel that there is always some way to find light.

What are you working on these days?

I write a newsletter about math and science for parents of third to fifth graders. It’s fun, but it also puts me in the right mindset for my next novel. It is called I Am Seven and is the story of one family as seen through the eyes of their insightful seven-year-old son.

That’s great when other parts of your life come together for your fiction. The new story sounds intriguing. Do you have a favorite character that you created?

I wrote a short story called Grandpa that is on my website. Even though it’s brief, the title character has a lot of depth and became very real to me as I wrote it. When the story was finished, he stayed with me in my head for a long time.

That’s when you know you’ve created something special. Now let’s talk about The Apple of My Eye. What’s the best thing said about your new release by a reviewer?

Prior to publication of The Apple of My Eye, I gave it to an English professor to read and review. He actually sent back a long review with one criticism, which I fixed, and a great deal of positive comments. Two things he said surprised and pleased me. He said, “I like the art of this text,” and later commented, “This book has something important to say.” I felt like I had succeeded right then and there.

I can understand why you’d feel that way, and from an English professor, no less. How did you choose the title? Has it been the title from the very beginning?

The phrase “the apple of my eye” was one of the first ideas I had for the entire story. I wanted a metaphor – in this case, an apple – that could be woven through the entire book.

People always want to know about the production of novels. How long do you estimate it took you to take the book from an idea to a finished, published product?

The book took me a year to write. I immediately started sending it out to publishers, and I had a book contract three months later. The finished book was published four months after that.

What type of research went into writing The Apple of My Eye?

I spent a long time thinking through a key element in the book. (It would be a spoiler alert to identify that element.) Of necessity, that involved a lot of online research and speaking with experts to make sure what I was presenting was realistic and plausible, although for the sake of public safety, not actually possible. How’s that for a teaser?

Great! I’m reading the book now and it’s still a teaser for me to finish. What do you do during your down time?

I read books, but that’s not really down time – it’s more like continual learning. So, if I really need to relax, I do a jigsaw puzzle.

It’s hard to read something these days without a critical eye for our own writing. I’m so glad you stopped by today, Mary Ellen. I wish you great success with The Apple of My Eye and with your next novel.

DSC_9671 smaller, cropAbout Mary Ellen: Mary Ellen Bramwell has been writing stories since she was ten years old. After working in other fields and raising five children as a stay-at-home mom, Mary Ellen has returned to her first love, writing, working for magazines while completing her debut novel, The Apple of My Eye. She resides in Northeast Ohio with her husband, Allen, and her two youngest children. You can visit her website at www.maryellenbramwell.com.

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Author Wednesday – Cate Beauman

???????????????????????????????Today I welcome back the prolific author, Cate Beauman, who has just released her seventh romantic suspense novel in the Bodyguards of LA County series. This is Cate’s third appearance on Author Wednesday. Her body of work is impressive.05 The Bodyguards of LA County Series

Here’s what Cate has to say about Saving Sophie, the newest installment in her bestselling series. 03 Saving Sophie_3D

Stone and Sophie are as opposite as can be—or so it seems—and that’s why telling their story was so much fun! Readers met Stone in Justice For Abby. He’s a gorgeous bad boy, more interested in taking care of himself than worrying about anyone else. Stone’s a hard-ass. There’s no other way to say it, but everyone has an achilles’ heel. That’s what drew me to Ethan Cooke Security’s latest bodyguard. I kept asking myself what type of woman had the power to bring a man like Stone McCabe to his knees. Enter Sophie Burke, a shy jewelry designer dealing with lots of trouble, and you just might have your answer.

I hope you enjoy Sophie and Stone as much as I enjoyed writing them!

Cate

About Saving Sophie

When the only choice is to run…

Jewelry designer Sophie Burke has fled Maine for the anonymity of the big city. She’s starting over with a job she tolerates and a grungy motel room she calls home on the wrong side of town, but anything is better than the nightmare she left behind.

Stone McCabe is Ethan Cooke Security’s brooding bad boy more interested in keeping to himself than anything else—until the gorgeous blond with haunted violet eyes catches his attention late one rainy night.

Stone reluctantly gives Sophie a hand only to quickly realize that the shy beauty with the soft voice and pretty smile has something to hide. Tangled up in her secrets, Stone offers Sophie a solution that has the potential to free her from her problems once and for all—or jeopardize both of their lives.

Read an excerpt from Saving Sophie:

Sophie glanced around one last time at the town she’d called home for more than twelve years as Dylan merged south on the onramp towards Brunswick, knowing she would never come back to the place where she and her mother had made their fresh start.

“Your train leaves at nine. We should make it in plenty of time.”

“I’ve never traveled by train.”

“Me neither.” Dylan moved into the right lane, letting faster traffic pass. “Have you decided where you’ll go?”

She shook her head, even though she’d thought of little else since she woke this morning, knowing today had to be the day. “Somewhere big. Somewhere where he can’t find me.” She swallowed. “He’ll look. He’ll never stop,” she said, staring into the side mirror, waiting for the black Mercedes to rush up behind them and force them to pull over. “You have to be careful.”

Dylan huffed out an amused laugh. “That bastard doesn’t scare me.”

She wished he didn’t scare her either. “Be careful anyway.”

“I will, but he’s a coward.”

“No more than me,” she murmured, glancing down at the hints of bruised skin peeking out from under her sleeves.

Dylan tossed her a look. “Don’t go there.”

She sat back fully in her seat, unable to take her eyes off the mirror until Dylan eventually exited the interstate and drove toward the center of town, stopping in front of the Amtrak station as the train pulled up.

“Looks like you won’t have to wait.” She set the emergency brake and searched through her purse. “Here’s my license.” She handed over the Maine ID and paper ticket she’d bought and printed when Sophie gave her the green light from her kiosk at the mall. “We don’t look all that different with your wig, so this should get you your next ticket in Boston.”

“Thank you.” Sophie leaned over and gave Dylan a big hug. “Thank you so much. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without you.”

“Don’t look back, Sophie.” Dylan eased away, squeezing her hand. “Get out of here and never look back. Here are the phone numbers for the Stowers house shelters in Baltimore and LA I told you about—just in case.” She handed over the March copy of Trendy magazine with papers sticking out from the edges.

“Thanks. Please don’t forget to put flowers on my mother’s grave.”

“I won’t.”

She nodded and hugged Dylan for the last time. “Bye.”

“Bye. Take care of yourself.”

“I will.” Sophie got out, sliding her backpack on her shoulder as she made her way to the bored-eyed man at the ticket kiosk.

“Ticket and ID, Ma’am.”

Sophie handed over both, holding her breath, waiting for her plan to fall apart.

“Safe trip.” He gave them back.

“Thank you,” she murmured, letting loose a shaky exhale as she turned and moved toward the train, wanting to run instead of walk. She boarded the first available car and stared out the window as she sat down, watching Dylan pull out of the lot in the rusty hatchback, already missing the only person she’d had a connection with. She bobbed her leg up and down, struggling to keep her fidgeting at bay. Minutes passed, feeling like hours, until finally the doors closed. The train jerked forward, moving toward Boston—the first stop on her journey to freedom.

 

Cate profile picAbout Cate Beauman: Cate currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, their two boys, and St. Bernards, Bear and Jack. She is the author of the best selling romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Before her career as an author, Cate worked in special education for twelve years.

“I’m a pretty lucky girl; one day I woke up and my entire life changed. I saw the light, so to speak, and decided I was going to be a writer. Now, four years later, I’m currently working on my eighth novel, Reagan’s Redemption, which I plan to release in early spring of 2015. I’m very grateful for the support and success I’ve had.”

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Contact Cate

 Amazon Author Page

http://www.amazon.com/Cate-Beauman/e/B00A05KHVM/

Social links:

Twitter: @CateBeauman

www.catebeauman.com

www.facebook.com/CateBeauman

www.goodreads.com/catebeauman

 

 

Author Wednesday – John Hazen

???????????????????????????????Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I interview John Hazen who is now fulfilling his dream of writing novels. He’s working on his fifth book, but today he’s going to talk about his latest novel, Fava, an action thriller filled with intrigue and plot twists. Fava poster front

Hello, John. I’m glad you stopped by today. Your latest novel sounds very exciting, but before we talk about that why don’t you tell readers a little bit about your writing life. What are your writing rituals?

Other than a need for copious amounts of coffee, I can’t say I have many writing rituals. In fact, I’m quite undisciplined as a writer, which can be both a blessing and a curse. I’m not an outliner; the story creates itself as I progress. I have a general theme, an overall concept, and an ultimate outcome, but the details work themselves out along the way. I like to believe that as a result my writing doesn’t come out formulaic or predictable.

I work a bit like you do. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who writes that way. Rachel Carson (Silent Spring) said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Describe a time when a subject chose you.

In real life, my professional career has been in environmental protection, so Rachel Carson holds a special place in my heart. But more germane to the question, I believe she’s correct: the subjects have chosen me for each of the four novels I’ve written. Two of my books emerged from unanswerable questions that swirled around in my head for years. Fava (Black Rose Writing, 2014): “What would happen if a “Pillar of Islam” were to be removed?” and, Aceldama (as yet unpublished): “What if a person were to stumble upon one of Judas’s thirty pieces of silver?” The subject presented itself in a different way for my novel Journey of an American Son, (to be released by Black Rose Writing in November 2014). I found a diary my grandfather kept on a 1920 business trip he took going from Boston to Calcutta, India. At that time, travel was somewhat arduous; he traveled by train, boat, car, and even rickshaw. Along the way he encountered lepers, geishas, and silent film starlets. It struck me as a great starting point for a novel.

I’m impressed by so much of what you said in that answer! We have a lot in common, since all my novels tend to have an environmental theme, and Rachel Carson is one of my heroes. I love the idea of your grandfather’s diary. What an experience. I can’t wait to read it. Do you have a favorite character that you created?

All my characters are like my children and what type of parent would I be if I favored one over another? Seriously though, one of my favorite things is when I introduce a minor character simply to advance the plot but, as I continue writing, that character grows before my eyes. Soon he or she becomes a major figure, integral to the book itself. In Fava, Special Agent Will Allen was introduced as a roadblock for the protagonist, Francine Vega, to overcome but eventually he teams with her to help save the world. In Journey of an American Son, Walter Jones was Ben Albert’s sergeant during the First World War, but I bring him back to help Ben’s wife in her attempts to free her husband from jail in Calcutta after he is framed for murder. These characters tend to be my richest because I’m developing them for myself as well as for the reader.
I also like to take famous historical figures and peel away the myths that surround them to show them as real human beings. The three characters I’ve dealt with thus far are Ulysses S. Grant, Mahatma Gandhi, and Judas Iscariot!

You pulled in the big guns. What’s your one sentence pitch for Fava?

Can a beautiful, talented New York TV reporter thwart a maniacal plot to exact the ultimate revenge for 9-11 before it plunges the world into war?

That’s a great hook. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

A review of Fava by Midwest Book Reviews contained all the things an author likes to hear: “terrific premise,” “holds the reader’s entertained attention from beginning to end,” “very highly recommended,” but the part the got me the most was when they noted it was “deftly written.” High praise indeed. On a local level, I did a book signing at a bookstore, and they posted the event on Twitter. A man I’d never met retweeted it saying I was one of his favorite writers, and he was glad they were supporting me. Made my day, I must say.

That’s a great thing, for sure. How did you choose the title?

The title Fava didn’t become apparent to me until about half way through the book. In fact, the reader won’t become aware of what the title means until exactly the same time, which I think is kind of neat.

I like that. I can’t wait to figure it out. If you could invite two other authors over to your house for dinner, who would you choose?

My favorite all-time book is To Kill a Mockingbird so I’d love to meet Harper Lee, but I know how much she cherishes her privacy, and I would be reluctant to invade on that privacy. So, the two I would pick are J.K. Rowling and Doris Kearns Goodwin. I am in such awe of the Harry Potter series. It would be such a thrill just being able to converse with the person who could create such a world. I’ve loved a number of Kearns Goodwin’s books. No Ordinary Time is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Also, I’ve seen her on news programs. She’s so interesting and knowledgeable on so many subjects that I’d imagined she be a wonderful dinner companion.

Excellent choices. I’d like to know why Harper Lee never wrote another book! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, John. I hope you’ll come back when your next book is published. And I promise to move Fava up high on my TBR list.

 

JohnHazenAbout John Hazen – John began writing novels relatively late in life, but once he started he hasn’t looked back. Inspired by Lynn, his wife of more than thirty years, he pursued the dream of becoming an author and is now working on his fifth book as well as several screenplays. Degrees from Rutgers, The New School and NYU— and a lifelong passion for learning and a love of history—influence him as a writer.

 

 

Links to books and social media sites

Website: www.johnwhazen.com

Fava: www.blackrosewriting.com/suspensethriller/fava

Dear Dad: http://www.amazon.com/Dear-Dad-Novel-John-Hazen/dp/1466394757/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406855185&sr=8-1&keywords=dear+dad+hazen

Twitter: https://twitter.com/john_hazen

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/john.hazen.92?fref=ts

Book Review Friday – Gone Girl

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn surprised me. I thought it was simply a novel about a disintegrating marriage. There is nothing “simply” about this story. Since my review is the 19,852nd of Gone Girl, others must have some strong feelings about the novel as well.

I really don’t know how I feel about it. Is it well written? Absolutely. Is it suspenseful? Without a doubt. Is it surprising? There’s nothing mundane and ordinary about this plot or its characters. For those reasons, the novel deserves somewhere around ten stars instead of the standard five stars. The score balances out in the creepy department. Gone Girl thoroughly creeped me out and made me thankful that the significant relationships in my life thus far resemble a television series similar to Leave it to Beaver.

The author changes point of view in each chapter. Just when I thought the husband Nick was the bad guy, the wife Amy jumps in with her story, and the pendulum swings. It’s interesting that the person narrating in any particular chapter doesn’t always come off as the good guy. Nick represents himself as shallow, sneaky, and uncaring. Amy can show a side that’s, well, just plain creepy. No other word for it. Then when it’s almost unbearable, Amy becomes the victim once again.

Because every single chapter is its own little mystery verse, I can’t say much else without giving a spoiler. If you can stand folks who are usually unlikable; if you like a unique storytelling technique; if you like to explore the nether regions of the human psyche; and if you “simply” want a read where you are reluctant to put the book down, then read Gone Girl. It’s worth any stain of creepdom left on your brain.

Author Wednesday – Stone Spicer

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Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I interview Stone Spicer, author of Deep Green, a novel of intrigue, romance, and suspense set in Hawaii. I must make a disclosure: While Stone and I have never met in person, we do share a familial relationship. His son is married to my youngest niece, Joanne. He’s also the grandfather to my two great-nephews, one of whom is working on his first novel. deep green cover

I’m so pleased you stopped by today, Stone. I’ve heard many wonderful things about you over the years, but I never knew until recently you were a writer. Please tell us about your vision of yourself as a writer.

Because of the perceived success of this first novel and all the wonderful comments made by friends on how easy and enjoyable it is to read, a passion has evolved to take Deep Green’s characters into several future novels (the next, Hidden, is 20 percent completed). A ‘monster’ has been created within me to write, and I am thrilled each day as my characters continually reveal more of themselves as they walk into their own futures in story.

It certainly is a wonderful feeling. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer.

“Very well written, good story line, fast moving and loaded with suspense.” Don B., Five-star review on Amazon.com

That’s a great review. How did you choose the title? Has it been the title from the very beginning?

Olivine, the semi-precious gem stone, has always fascinated me. Hawaii’s lava has an abundance of olivine, mostly a size needing tweezers to pick-up. I began wondering what a very large piece would look like and imagined it to be crystal clear and deep green in color. Such a piece became the focal point of my story.

How long do you estimate it took you to take the book from idea to published?

My novel is the product of fifteen years of time but only during the last six of those years did I become serious about its possibility. Up until that point, I had simply been connecting real-life experiences in memoir fashion.

That’s not so unusual for a first novel. I think mine languished for ten years in a file cabinet drawer, but once I let it out, I never stopped writing. What is the best thing someone could say about this book?

The best comment I could hear and have heard was, “I really enjoyed reading it.” Second to that, which I’ve also heard said was, “I can’t wait to read Stone’s next novel.”

It’s so good to hear those words. Who or what is the antagonist in your book?

The antagonists, plural, are a pair of seedy, cocktail-oriented, middle-aged wealthy playboys who are ‘gofers’ for a black market operator working out of Seattle. I thoroughly enjoyed a vicarious relationship with these two as I allowed a darker side of me to play.

It gives us writers a chance to be bad without getting in trouble. Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in this book.

To say which scene is my favorite would be to discount all the others: to feel a brand new yacht vibrating beneath your feet; re-living places I brought into each part of the book, actual places etched into memory, places walked a thousand times.

A ‘witness’ entering the story in chapter forty-one, Leilani Davis by name, is the part I had the most fun with. In a story telling session I sat in on several years ago, one introverted older woman found she could not say the word bathroom in public so instead called it the place where you did your necessary. I enjoyed working that into being a part of Ms. Davis. Her dog, Ishi, a very tiny dog doing his ‘necessary’.

That’s cute. I think it’s better than ‘going to powder my nose.’ Where do you write?

I find it difficult to write in seclusion, always wondering what was going on outside beyond the walls. Certain coffee shops have become my writing desk. I can block out exterior noises and feel comfortable being out among people busy doing their thing.

I sometimes find that’s a good way to overcome writer’s block. I’m always amazed how I can shut it all out and write. Stone, I enjoyed having you stop by today. Maybe one of these days we’ll meet in person.

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About Stone Spicer: Stone spent his early years living in various cities across Canada, United States and
eventually Melbourne, Australia. In 1960, a teenager on his own, he moved to Hawaii and adopted it as home. There he gained a university degree, raised his family, and enjoyed a successful thirty-year career
in the printing industry in Honolulu. Life changes eventually brought him to Port Townsend, Washington.

Along with writing, he is an avid hiker and outdoor adventurer. Stone has two sons and six grandchildren.

Links:

Website: www.DeepGreen-Hawaii.com;

Deep Green on Amazon

Deep Green on Barnes & Noble

YouTube video for Deep Green