Sunday, July 31, 2011

Spotlight Interview with Christine Nolfi

Author Bio

Christine Nolfi owned a small public relations firm in Cleveland, Ohio. Her articles and press releases have appeared regionally in northeast Ohio. Her short story, Night Hour, appeared in Working Mother magazine.

She closed the firm fifteen years ago after traveling to the Philippines and adopting a sibling group of four children. She has been writing novels fulltime since 2004. Treasure Me is the first book of the Liberty, Ohio series, available at Amazon.

The second book in the Liberty series, Second Chance Grill, will be released summer, 2011.




Petty thief Birdie Kaminsky has arrived in Liberty, Ohio to steal a treasure hidden since the Civil War. She’s in possession of a charming clue passed down in her family for generations: Liberty safeguards the cherished heart.

The beautiful thief wants to go straight. She secretly admires the clue’s author, freedwoman Justice Postell, who rose above the horrors of slavery to build a new life in Ohio. According to family lore, Justice left South Carolina at the dawn of the Civil War. Heavy with child, she carried untold riches on her journey north. As Birdie searches for the treasure, she begins to believe a questionable part of the story: a tale of love between Justice and Lucas Postell, the French plantation owner who was Birdie’s ancestor.

If the stories are true, Justice bore a child with Lucas. Some of those black relatives might still live in town. Birdie can’t help but wonder if she’s found one—Liberty’s feisty matriarch, Theodora Hendricks, who packs a pistol and heartwarming stories about Justice. Birdie doesn’t know that an investigative reporter who has arrived in town will trip her up—as will her conscience when she begins to wonder if it’s possible to start a new life with stolen riches. Yet with each new clue she unearths, Birdie begins to discover a family history more precious than gems, a tradition of love richer than she could imagine.

AN EXCERPT OF TREASURE ME

Birdie lowered her nose to the bowl and sniffed. “What is this? It smells funny.”
“Squirrel stew.”
“Made with real squirrels? The kind that hide acorns?”
Theodora feathered a hand across her brow. “What other kind of squirrel is there?”
“Can I order a pizza?”                                                            
“When Justice came north, you can’t imagine what she ate to survive. Foraging through the woods, with ne’er a pot to cook a decent meal or a weapon to bring in game. Now, eat your stew.” Theodora waited with her dark gaze snapping until Birdie brought a spoonful to her lips. After she’d gulped it down, the old woman said, “Now, where was I? Justice came to Liberty with nothing but the clothes on her back. A kind woman on the Underground Railroad outside Columbus wrapped the slave’s bleeding feet with strips of cotton. Those were her shoes.”
Birdie spooned around the chunks of squirrel meat and captured a wedge of potato. “I couldn’t survive without my shoes.” A good thief didn’t trust much but her instincts and a fast pair of Nikes. With her feet bleeding, Justice would’ve been in a lot of pain. “She walked all the way from Columbus?”
“A man picked her up in Marion and hid her in the back of his wagon. Like the woman on the Railroad, he was the right type of white folk. He took her all the way to Liberty.” Pausing, Theodora looked off into the past. “Imagine, child. You’re a young woman and you arrive in a town without a soul to welcome you. Lonesome, tired—imagine how you’d feel.”
Birdie’s heart shifted. Had it been any different on her first day in town? There’d been the overwhelming déjà vu, the feeling she’d stood in

Liberty Square
at some time in the past. The sensation had made her irrepressibly sad. She’d been lonely and tired, a stranger in a small town. Like Justice.
“The man Justice loved was still down south," Theodora said.  "She was heartbroken, wondering if she’d ever see him again.”
What if I never see Hugh again? Birdie lowered her spoon. “How did she go on?"
“The way our kind always does. She found other women to cling to, women who befriended her. They put food in her belly and hope in her heart. They made her laugh when she was down and they found her work—honest work that didn’t pay much, but it was enough to help Justice take root in a new life. A better life than the one she’d known.”
Birdie lifted her spoon, I’m eating rat. The kind of rat that lives in a tree.
It wasn’t bad. The meat was spicy and wild, with a tart aftertaste. She swallowed it down.
“And if you think Justice was some kind of saint, think again,” Theodora said. “Before she met the preacher’s son and settled into a respectable life—even before she learned to trust the women who became her friends she was . . . Lordy.”
The old woman hung her head, revealing thinning wisps of hair on her scalp. She lowered her palms to the linen tablecloth and heaved a sigh replete with shame. Birdie grabbed Theodora’s wrist as her fingers curled with agony. The tablecloth bunched in rippling waves.
“What? What did she do?  "Was she a prostitute? No. Not Justice.”
“Worse,” Theodora croaked, the top of her head bobbing with the word.
What would be . . ? “No way.” Birdie yanked her hand back. “If you think I’ll believe she murdered someone, I won’t!”
The sound was terrible, from the bowels of hell. “Worse.”
“Oh, man.” Birdie wracked her brain for possibilities.
Floundering, she glanced at Theodora. If the old woman bent her neck any lower, she’d put her nose right into her stew. Was she crying?
“I give. What did Justice do?”
The gnarled hands flew off the table, scuttling Birdie's pulse.
Theodora lifted her head with a snap. “She betrayed the people who loved her the most. She was a thief.”

----------------------end of excerpt--------------------                                      

         
MY REVIEW
I just recently had the pleasure of reading Treasure Me for review with CoffeeTime Romance & Moreor you can read the review here on my blog.

Buy it on:



INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTINE NOLFI 


How did you start your writing career?

All writers begin as avid readers. Throughout childhood I gobbled up every book within reach. In high school I was the “go to” kid if you wanted a love letter written for your latest crush, and my short stories received top billing in the school’s literary journal. By the time I’d finished freshman year of college, I’d written my first novel. It sits dusty and unloved in my basement.

I owned a small public relations firm in Northeast Ohio and dreamt of the day I’d trade press kits for leisurely stints at my computer writing fiction. Life rarely plays out as planned and mine surely didn’t: when my marriage fell apart, in 2004, I decided it was “now or never” as far as my dreams of becoming a novelist were concerned. So I took the plunge despite every logical thought that warned the risk was too great. In retrospect, it was a smart decision.

Tell us about your current release.

Treasure Me, the first book in the Liberty series, is a blend of comedy, romance and mystery. Petty thief Birdie Kaminsky arrives in Liberty, Ohio to steal a treasure hidden since the Civil War. She’s in possession of a charming clue passed down in her family for generations: Liberty safeguards the cherished heart.

The beautiful thief wants to go straight. She secretly admires the clue’s author, freedwoman Justice Postell, who rose above the horrors of slavery to build a new life in Ohio. As Birdie searches for the treasure, she begins to believe a questionable part of the story: a tale of love between Justice and Lucas Postell, the French plantation owner who was Birdie’s ancestor.

If the stories are true, Justice bore a child with Lucas. Some of those black relatives might still live in town. Birdie can’t help but wonder if she’s found one—Liberty’s feisty matriarch, Theodora Hendricks, who packs a pistol and heartwarming stories about Justice. Birdie doesn’t know that an investigative reporter who has arrived in town will trip her up—as will her conscience when she begins to wonder if it’s possible to start a new life with stolen riches. Yet with each new clue she unearths, she discovers a family history more precious than gems, a tradition of love richer than she imagined.


Tell us about your next release.

With luck, the women of Liberty, Ohio will catch fire with readers, allowing me to extend the series indefinitely. The next novel in the series, Second Chance Grill, will appear on Amazon in August or September. The third novel, The Impossible Wish, will be released in early 2012. I could easily write ten novels about the town—Meade and Finney have their own stories and romances, and I have a very poignant plot worked out for Theodora and her nemesis, the fluttery Ethel Lynn. Of course, the history of freed slave Justice Postell is woven through many of the books—two bags of rubies and a diary aren’t the only items she left behind.

I’ll also release a stand-alone novel in July, The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge.


Who is your favorite character in Treasure Me?

Must I choose only one? Theodora is my inspiration of how all women should age—with fire and sass. Birdie? She simply arose from my subconscious one morning, dangling from a window ledge. I can’t help but admire her desire to rise above her past.

Hugh’s hard edge came from my years in journalism when there was always another deadline. Ditzy Ethel Lynn and the skillet-wielding Finney … they’re probably the bits and pieces of women I’ve known and loved in my life. Landon and his all-consuming depression arose from my experiences helping friends who’d struggled with mental health issues. And who wouldn’t be partial to Meade? She’s every woman who has experienced great loss but hides her pain behind perfectly coiffed hair and immaculate clothes.


What is the hardest part of writing your books?

Any mother reading this post will understand: time is always at a premium.

The writing, per se, isn’t difficult—all those years in public relations taught me how to work on deadline. What I find difficult is the guilt. If a story is going well, nagging thoughts intrude. “Am I taking away too many hours from the kids?” “Should I stop now, even though the scene is flowing well?” And my all-time favorite: “If I don’t take a snow shovel to the laundry pile, will we all run out of underwear?”


Tell us about your family.

I’d always felt strongly about adopting a sibling group—preferably a boy and a girl—because sibs are hard to place. Going from “two sounds perfect” to “Oh, gosh, four!” came about quite by accident.

One day in my late 30s, I did something awful: missed the deadline for a company’s press release. Embarrassed, I rushed the copy over to the president’s house. His wife answered with the couples’ seven—count ‘em—seven Filipino children crowding around her. She gave me the name of a social worker in the Philippines.

One week later, I received the case studies for about twenty sibling groups. Midway down the stack, I stopped at the photograph of a little girl. She was trying to get her younger brother and two younger sisters to stand properly for the camera. What got me was the look in her eyes—anger, hurt, defiance.

I fell in love with my oldest daughter, Christian, on sight. After that, I closed my PR firm, hung up my high heels, and flew to the Philippines. Today Christian and my son, Jameson, are in college. Marlie heads for college this fall and Marguerite will be a senior in high school.


Christine loves to hear from readers:



Twitter: @christinenolfi

Thanks for Looking!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spotlight Character Interview (Nicholas Zahn) & Giveaway with Gale Minchew

BIO

Gale Minchew is a licensed psychologist who resides in East Texas with her husband and two children.  In her professional practice, Dr. Minchew specializes in issues related to children and families.  However, over the past couple of years, she has consulted with adults and children who have experienced a broad range of paranormal phenomena, as well. 

Over the past 14 years, Dr. Minchew has written several other works of fiction, in addition to completing a dissertation.  While she has become adept at technical writing through her professional practice, Dr. Minchew’s heart is with young adult fiction.  She strives to provide a cross-over novel that engenders the creativity and interest the adult population craves while upholding some of the core values that are so lacking in many of the current works of young adult fiction on the market.  Shadows of Destiny is Dr. Minchew’s first published novel.



EXCERPT FROM SHADOWS OF DESTINY


I awoke to a scream stuck in the back of my throat and my pulse strumming in my ears.  I looked at the clock on my bedside table and realized it was almost morning.  Good, I thought.  I need to get up and clear my head.  Was that real?

I pilfered some clothes from the dresser then shuffled into the bathroom for a warm, relaxing shower.  I felt stiff from the stress of last night.  It had to be real.  I let the hot water splash down upon my head and run off onto my shoulders then down my back like a waterfall.  Between the pulsating water and my lavender shampoo, the tension in my shoulders quickly subsided.

I dried off in the shower then opened the curtain to step out when I saw him leaning against the bathroom door.  My face turned crimson and my eyes must have registered shock because he turned his head away from me and chuckled as I struggled to keep my body covered with the towel while my hair dripped puddles around my feet.

“What are you doing in my bathroom?” I stammered breathlessly.

He chuckled once again, then without looking in my direction, he tossed me the robe hanging on the back of the door.  With his back to me, I hastily donned the robe and wrapped my hair in the towel.  I was mortified by his presence but determined to know what happened the night before.

When he thought I had enough time to change, he opened the door and went to sit in the chair in the corner of my room.

“Nicholas, what are you doing here, and what happened last night?” I said in a rushed jumble of words.

He grinned at my excitement but promptly sobered before speaking.

“Analise, you need to understand how dangerous this is becoming…you following me, me following you.  I am trying to protect you, but you’re making it almost impossible.  Your impromptu visits to me at very undesirable times could jeopardize my work and put you in more danger.  And, of course I have Constantine jumping down my throat whenever you are close to danger, which is often.  We need to come to some kind of understanding here.”

I continued to stare at him in astonishment.  What was he talking about following each other and me being in danger?  And what kind of work is he in anyway?  I finally found my voice, although it was raspy from the ragged breaths I was taking.

“You’re right.  I do not understand how dangerous this is because I do not understand what this is.  I don’t even know who you are.  And, from what exactly are you protecting me, anyway?  I think we need to start with that first.”

“Analise,” he said with a sigh.

“Look, you’re the one carrying around a big black briefcase, traipsing off to the French Riviera to dine in fancy restaurants and dress in tuxedos while staying at posh hotels.  You’re the one who talks to me in the middle of the day while I’m at school.  Do you have any idea how stupid I must look to people when you come to see me?  They can’t see you or hear you.”  I paused for effect, just to savor the power I felt drilling him with my accusations and questions.

“Then last night, you show up in my dream, the same dream I’ve had for the past several weeks by the way, and you attack something while I stand helpless on the sidelines.  How is all this happening?  Who are you?  And, why are you here now?”

My rant seemed to catch him at a loss for words.  Several moments passed as we sat in silence, waiting for the other to reign in the emotions that filled the room.  Finally, he spoke.

“Analise, there are some things I just can’t tell you.  I
need you to understand this.  According to Constantine, our lives are inexplicably intertwined.  What I know is that you are in danger.  This dream, or whatever it is, you are having is complicated.  Last night, I found myself drawn into a battle with something evil and otherworldly.  I want to know why it is so attracted to you.  Or maybe it is Constantine who wants to know.  Either way, I suppose it’s amazing that I even made it out of there alive.  Fortunately, when you faded out, the dream faded, as well.  I found myself wandering for awhile, and then simply ended up here.  If you want my help, I need to know what happened leading up to the time I arrived.”

“Wait a minute.  So I get that our lives are intertwined and you’re here to help me.  But, I still don’t know what or how this is happening or anything about you.”

“I’ll make a deal with you.  You tell me what happened before you saw me in your dream then I will answer some of your questions,” he offered.

“Oh, fine,” I sighed. 

I knew I wouldn’t win this argument so it was better to lose and get some information for it than to fight with him, finally give in, and then not get any information at all.  As I told him about the dream, his sparkling eyes never wavered from my face.  At the end of my recitation he was quiet for several minutes.  Judging by the dark shadow that crossed his brow, I knew better than to say anything until he indicated he was ready to talk.  I watched him process what I had just told him, acutely aware of the silence in the room.

GIVEAWAY 

Gale will give away a free digital copy of Shadows of Destiny as well as her new short story Shadows of the Past to one lucky commenter. Be sure to include your email addy with your comment if it is not shown on your Google Profile page so I can contact you if you are the winner. This giveaway is open to everyone (INTL). You do not have to be a follower to enter but if you do follow me you will get an extra entry (+1). Ends Saturday July 30 at 11:59PM CST. Have you ever seen or felt the presence of something you couldn’t explain? What happened?



CHARACTER INTERVIEW WITH NICHOLAS ZAHN


Tell us about your family.

My family is complicated.  When I was a kid, I grew up in a typical Midwestern town and a typical Midwestern family until I was about six years old.  One day, I went swimming and had an accident.  A neighbor revived me.  I guess you would call it a near-death experience.  After the accident, everything was different for me.  I was able to do things I couldn’t do before.  I knew things before they happened.  The newspapers and television stations were fascinated with my story, and no matter how hard my parents tried to shield me, the media wouldn’t let up.  All that media coverage drew the attention of another group of people, people interested in my new abilities.  One night while I was sleeping, they took me.  I spent the next several years in different homes all over the world.  I was trained in academics, technology, weaponry, linguistics, intelligence, and the arts, among a few other things I can’t discuss.  They helped me enhance my special abilities.  I was well cared for, I suppose.  Over time, I came to consider these people, and the other kids, my family.  I had no one else.

If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?

I suppose if I could apologize to anyone, it would be my mom and dad…even though it wasn’t really my fault.  They didn’t deserve what happened and in some way, I blame myself.  Would you mind if we talk about something else.  I don’t really care to talk about my past.

Where do you dream of traveling to and why?

That’s funny.  I’ve never been asked that before.  You know, I can travel anywhere I want, simply by using my mind.  It’s one of my gifts…remote viewing.  But if I could physically travel anywhere, there is really only one place I want to be right now.  I just don’t know when I’ll be able to make it back there.  Unfortunately for me, it’s in Dr. Gale’s hands right now, so you may be able to get more information from her.

You mentioned something about ‘new abilities’ and ‘gifts’.  What do you mean?

If I told you I’d have to kill you. (Laughs) No really, some of it I can’t talk about, but I already mentioned remote viewing and precognition, or knowing what will happen before it happens.  I can also talk with others in my mind…people, angels, spirits, it doesn’t matter.  Really, the best way to describe my abilities or gifts is a heightened awareness to everything and everyone around me.  Just don’t ask me to read your mind.  I don’t do that.

Morning Person? Or Night Person? How do you know?

I’m adaptable…my training made me that way.  But if I had to choose, I’d say a night person.  No matter where I am in the world, night time is always the same…dark.  Well, everywhere except Alaska, but let’s not get too technical.

What songs are most played on your ipod?

Like I said, I’m adaptable.  It’s a requirement of my work.  So, I listen to almost anything.  I prefer rock, country, and classically influenced songs.  See what I mean by adaptable?  So, let’s see, right now my ipod has some Daughtry, Nickleback, 3 Doors Down, Yanni, U2, Beethoven, Toby Keith, songs from the opera Les Miserables, and some 80s rock courtesy of Dr. Gale.

What book are you reading now?

I borrowed a book from one of Dr. Gale’s friends before I left.  It’s called Filter, by Gwenn Wright.  Now, the bigger question is when will I have time to finish it?
 
What is the next big thing?
I’m on assignment right now, although as I mentioned before, I would rather be somewhere else.  I know Dr. Gale just wrapped up a short story about Analise called Shadows of the Past.  We’re just waiting on publication.  Now, for some reason she’s left me out of the loop on the book she is currently writing and tells me she’s not ready for me yet.  I guess she forgot about my abilities. (Laughs) It’s simple to just wander into her mind and see what she’s up to, but don’t tell her I said that.  Look for the next book in the Shadows of Destiny Saga, Shadows of Truth.  I am definitely going to make myself heard.

Find out more about the Shadows of Destiny Saga on:

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Blog



Another reader says this on GoodReads:

"Shadow of Destiny was a great read. The author introduced you to a new and exciting story line. She kept you guessing about the evil presence haunting Analise. I am looking forward to the sequel." - Evelyn Byrne 


Thanks so much for taking time out to chat with me today Nicholas. It was great finding out more about you and I am looking forward to reading more about you in a future book.  I'm pretty sure you'll nag Gale until she gives in.  LOL!!

And a HUGE Thank you to everyone else who dropped in to join in the fun.  Hope to see you all again soon....and don't forget to enter the giveaway!  
 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Spotlight Interview & Giveaway with Scott Nagele

I am so happy to have Scott Nagele as my guest author this week for the Spotlight Interview.
Brief Bio
Scott Nagele grew up in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. He now lives in Michigan with his wife and son. He enjoys reading American history, cross country skiing, listening blues music, and watching MSU basketball. He is smarter than he looks.







 
Scott will gift an Amazon Kindle copy of A Smile Through a Tear to one commenter.  This giveaway will end Saturday, July 23rd at
11:59 PM CST.
Just include your email address with your comment if your email is not easily found on your Google Friend Connect Profile page.



EXCERPT
From the Story, “The Night We Finally Had to Tell Him” in the book, A Smile Through a Tear: Stories
Katie doesn’t even kiss me hello when I come in the door from a hard day at work. She just stands there and gives me that look she gets when she’s discovered a puppy accident on the living room carpet.
I stare back at her, silent like, for a good long while. Hell, I’m in no hurry to catch it from her, for God knows what, so I don’t ask her what I did wrong, or in any way prod her to start in on me. I just stare at her like I’m innocent until told what I’m guilty of. I know she’ll get around to pressing the charges against me soon enough. She always does. She just likes to stare down my defense plea before I can even build it up. It saves time that way.
Finally, she lets loose with it. “Do you know what your brother went and did?” she asks. Great, now I’m swimming in Floyd’s hot water too. It’s not as if I don’t usually have enough hot water of my own to satisfy my need for regular matrimonial scaldings.
Of course, I have no idea what it is that Floyd went and did. Am I my brother’s keeper? Don’t answer that. I don’t want hear it from you too; my wife and my mother are quite enough, thank you.
In fact, what Floyd actually did is not nearly so important to me as how long I have to prepare for the inevitable phone call from my mother, who will also begin the conversation with, “Do you know what your brother went and did?” Katie’s bad enough, but she’s only disgusted at whatever Floyd went and did in an in-law sort of way. Mom will be disgusted in a blood-kin sort of way, which generally requires a good deal more time until I can stop hearing about it constantly.
“Does my mother know about it yet?” I, quite reasonably, ask.
“Know about what?”
I sure wish Katie would pay more attention when she’s yelling at me. “What are we talking about? What Floyd went and did.”
“What’d he do?”
Maybe if she made some notes ahead of time, she wouldn’t lose her place so much when she’s trying to give me hell. “I don’t know. You’re the one who’s all up in arms about it.”
“Exactly my point. You don’t even know what he did yet, and all you worry about is whether or not your mother knows about it. What difference does it make if your mother knows?”
You’d think after 25 years of marriage, she’d know her mother-in-law a little better than that. But she’s the one riding the high horse tonight, so I let that little observation slide. “Okay, why don’t you just go ahead and tell me what it is that Floyd went and did so I don’t have to go through this whole thing all over again when my mother calls? Tell me, what did my brother go and do this time?”
She can’t seem to decide just who she’d rather skewer, me or my brother, so I give her my “it’s time to get to the point” look to push her over toward Floyd. It works. “You know that big promotion he was up for?” she asks. That would be the big promotion he really doesn’t want but is being pressured to pursue by his family. Katie and my mother are too busy pressuring him to realize that he wants that promotion like he wants a hole in the head. I try to pressure him only in a subtle, brotherly kind of way, so I’ve had a chance to notice what they’ve missed. Consequently, I kind of half know what’s coming next.
“He withdrew himself from consideration!” she tells me, and by her scandalized tone, I half hear, “He kidnapped the Lindbergh baby!”
Nonetheless, I am actually a little surprised by this. I never expected Floyd to go out of his way to get the job. Floyd’s not exactly what you would call aggressive, career-wise. Floyd’s not really aggressive, anywise, when it comes right down to it. But he’s always taken whatever just happened to came his way. He might not ask for promotion, but if someone wanted to promote him, well, he’d take it just to keep from rocking the boat. He’s never, flat out, said no before.
“How’d you find out?” I ask Katie, because now I’m a little bit interested.
“My friend from his company, Andrea, called me.”
“That’s too bad,” I say, meaning that Floyd withdrew his name, not that my wife’s friend called her, or even that her friend can’t mind her own business. “It would have meant a nice raise, I bet.”
“A nice raise, more responsibility, professional respect, all the things he could use.”
“Apparently, that’s not the way he sees it.”
My wife gives out with one of her patented huffs. “What does he know about it?” Sometimes I think Katie’s gotten too used to being a mother. I don’t care who you are, don’t even try to tell her that you know better what’s good for you.
“Well, it’s his job,” I say, like a man who never learned his lesson. “I’d guess he knows a little bit more about it than you and me.”
“Who’s talking about his job?” she asks with that look, like the world is made up of idiots and I’m their duly elected representative. “I’m talking about life.”
“Oh,” I say, because I’m never sure exactly what Katie is talking about until she spells it out for me, and even then. . .
“Floyd’s not a kid anymore. God only knows how many more opportunities like this he’s going to get.” Now this much is true. Floyd is 45 and has a whole lot of catching up to do with respect to most other middle-aged accountants. The thing is, I don’t know what my wife and I can do about it, if Floyd’s not interested.
My wife now explains to me exactly what the two of us can do about it. “Andrea told me that the guy in charge of choosing who gets promoted is out of town for a couple days. If Floyd changes his mind by tomorrow, the whole thing can be fixed so it looks like he never withdrew his name at all. I’ve got a big roast in the oven. Dan, I want you to invite your brother over for dinner.”

Interview With Scott Nagele
Tell us about your current release.

I’ve actually published two books in the last nine months or so. The first, Temp: Life in the Stagnant Lane is a humorous novel about a young man who leaves his career in retail management and starts working as a temporary office worker, thinking there will be less stress. Unfortunately, he didn’t really think through what this sudden career switch will mean for the future of his relationship with his girlfriend. Her parents never really thought he was a good prospect for their daughter anyway, and that was before he accidentally mooned her mom. Worse, he is assigned to dysfunctional offices where he can’t help becoming a threat to the permanent workers with his basic competence. Being a temp is not so stress-free when everyone’s plotting to get rid of you.

My latest is A Smile Through a Tear: Stories. It is a collection of 17 short stories, divided into humorous (A Smile) and dramatic (Through a Tear) sections. The humorous stories include the tales of a high school boy who finds love, and lets it slip through his fingers, in the back seat of a Drivers Ed car; a man who is convinced that he is a railroad; and a four-year-old who can’t understand why his grandma says so many naughty words. The dramatic episodes include the stories of a father trying to protect his kids from a lifestyle that sent him to prison; a down-on-his-luck traveler who must make a terrible choice; and a man whose best Christmas comes at a high price.  All of the stories are very different from each other. Some are historical, some contemporary, and there is even one that is futuristic. There’s a lot of variety, which I hope provides something for everyone.


I think both books sound like fun, entertaining reads.  What can you tell us about your next release?
I’m working on a couple of new things. One is a Young Adult novel about a student who unwittingly sacrifices a promising career in saving the life of another person. It’s a story about how one event can turn a life upside down and the good that can come of it in the end. The other project is a historical fiction novel set on a cotton plantation before the Civil War. It’s a complex story that I have been working on for some time. I can’t say exactly when I will publish either of these, because it is important to me to take the time to get them right. I would hope to publish at least one of them by mid-2012.
Sounds good! I hope you will let me be one of the first to know when they get close to release.  Who is your favorite author?
My favorite author is probably James Thurber, closely followed by Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Hans Christian Andersen. What I love about all of these authors is the skill with which they used language.  They always chose the right word, and made the words flow so smoothly and say exactly what they meant to say.
How do you describe your writing style?
My style depends upon what I’m writing. If I’m doing something contemporary or humorous, my style is more conversational and informal. If I’m writing something historical or very dramatic, my style is more formal. And then there’s another style altogether for the Young Adult piece. That’s why I really loved putting together a collection of short stories. It allowed me to switch styles and tones quite often.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
When I’m writing a novel, the characters are more in the forefront. Once I have the characters, I come up with conflicts and trials for them to overcome. Then I try to think like the character: “What would this character do in this situation?” instead of “What would I do?” I may have a general outline of the plot in my head, but I let the characters find their own way past the barriers set before them. They take me to the resolution, within the framework of what the story is about.
Short stories are a completely different animal. Ideas for short stories usually come to me as the ending of the story. There has to be a point. Then, I work the concept backward to the natural starting point. Everything and everyone in the story is there because they are useful to helping make the point at the end more distinct.
It’s particularly interesting to me to hear about how you construct your short stories.  I’ve never thought of it like that before but it makes sense.  If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?
I don’t know if I will ever actually do this, but I’ve always thought it would be neat to write a long saga that mirrors the history of the U.S., but to set it in the future. As a reader, I love U.S. history. So many times, I’ll be reading a history book about a particular event and think to myself, “That would make a wonderful novel.” The problem is, as I have found out, researching the details of historical fiction takes me a lot of time. I don’t know how far I’d get in a historical series if I had to research all the details to my satisfaction. Setting the story in the future would alleviate a lot of the need for exacting research. You could just take all the fascinating conflicts from history and set them in some future world, make it allegorical, and spend a lot more time storytelling. 
Do you have a Website or Blog?
My website is www.scottnagele.com . It has some information about my books (of course), samples, and background info. There is also a section called “On reading and writing” where I post short essays about my experiences as both a reader and a writer. I also have a Facebook author page: Scott Nagele author page, which I would love for more people to follow by clicking the “like” button on the page.
Do you have anything specific that you would say to your readers?
The first thing I would say is thank you. Most Indie authors will never be able to make a living off of their writing. But just knowing that there are some people, no matter how many or how few, who are enjoying the work, makes it all worthwhile. The second thing I would say is this: if you’ve found an Indie or small press book that you really enjoyed, please tell your friends about it. The little guys don’t get much press, so please help spread the word about the authors and the books you enjoy. You’ll be doing a service for readers and writers both.
Thank you so much, Scott, for taking time out to talk with me.  It was great finding out a little more about you and your books.



Scott will gift an Amazon Kindle copy of A Smile Through a Tear to one commenter.  This giveaway will end Saturday, July 23rd at 11:59 PM CST.
Just include your email address with your comment if your email is not easily found on your Google Friend Connect Profile page.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Spotlight Character Interview from Desire and Deception by Sharon Buchbinder

CHARACTER INTERVIEW

Hi Laurie--
It’s me, Isabel (Izzy) Ramirez, the hot heroine from Desire and Deception. Sharon Buchbinder told me you wanted me to ask a few questions. I’m not sure why she couldn’t do this herself, she knows me as well as I know myself. She took the liberty of giving a list of questions, so here we go.

To start with, here’s a great photo of me on the cover of Desire and Deception with my boy toy and new hubbie, Sean Richards. Isn’t he hawt?

He definitely looks scrumptious, Izzy - Good enough to eat!  You two look great together. Since we're on the topic of food (clears throat loudly and grins) What's your favorite meal?

(dark eyes sparkling innocently) My favorite meal is dinner. I like to get the three kids off to bed in their wing and have some me time with Sean. The cook prepares us a nice three course dinner--chicken mole is the best--and we kick back by the pool and relax with some wine. It’s so romantic. The moonlight, the soft conversation, skinny dipping. Of course the bodyguards always try to sneak a peek at us, but that’s part of the fun. I like having an audience when Sean and I are having dessert a la nude.
 
What group did you hang out with in high school?
I didn’t hang out with a group in high school. With a father who ran the biggest Mexican mob, no one wanted to piss me off, so they left me alone. Just as well because they were a bunch of snotty rich bitches. While I was studying to prepare for college, they were out getting high and drunk. My father and I were determined that I would be the first person in our family to graduate from college. Well, I did that and more. I have my PhD in Anatomy and Physiology and that comes in handy now that I’m in the family business.

Do you play any sports?
I wasn’t into the whole team thing. See above. I was what you would call a loner in high school. I took ballet lessons and horseback riding lessons. I still enjoy taking Nightrider, my black Arabian out for runs. He had a fright the other day, though. Some nut case staggered out of the bushes waving a machete at us. Good thing my bodyguard, Pepe, was there. He shot the lunatic in the leg. We’re still having some, shall we say, conversations with this guy, trying to figure out his real agenda.
 
What are you passionate about these days?
Family first--Sean and the kids, then my work comes second. My parents passed away and left me the family business. Even though I run a billion dollar transnational crime syndicate, at five in the evening everyone clocks out and it’s Mommy time. Sometimes there are emergencies, but with the executives I have in place now, those are rare. When Sean and I aren’t relaxing around the pool or playing with scarves and blindfolds, we play with the kids. Ramon worries me. He’s too serious for a little guy. I know he still misses his father, Tomas. But he’s so much better off without that loser in his life. I never tell him that, of course. Someday Ramon will thank me for killing his father.

What do you do to unwind and relax?
My favorite way to unwind and relax is to create new and exciting sex games for Sean and me to play. I’m toying with the idea of inviting my new accountant to play with us. He’s so hot. My nipples get hard when he walks in the room. I’d like to make an Izzy sandwich with Sean on one side and Torres on the other side and little old me in the middle. Whew. I’m getting wet just talking about it.

If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?
You are a buzz killer. Okay, one person I’d like to apologize to is the first nanny I had. I got pissed and killed her by accident. Then I had to kill a few other people to cover that up. What a PITA. Anyway, I used to have a temper problem, but Sean has helped me with anger management techniques.  I’m much better now. I have my guys do it if someone’s in my way. It’s just business now, nothing personal. And, if I can ever help Sarah Wright Rosen, to make amends for giving her a hard time, I’d do that in a heartbeat.

What would we find under your bed?
Well, not under my bed, but in the dresser next to my bed you would find silk scarves, ropes, handcuffs, flavored lubricants, and an assortment of sizes of dildos and vibrators. Whew. Is it hot in here or is it me?

What is the next big thing?
I’m getting out of the drug, gun and human trafficking business. I’ve decided to take the multinational corporation to a new level. We’re going into the banking business. A lot safer and something the kids can take over when they’re old enough without having to get their hands dirty. It’s a big project and I’ll still need my enforcers and bodyguards--but what bank doesn’t have a security team?

Do you have a Website or Blog?
Seeing as how I run a crime syndicate at the moment, no, I don’t. When we move into banking, however, we will. My buddy, Sharon Buchbinder has both. Her website is www.sharonbuchbinder.com and her Snap, Crackling and Popping Blog is at www.sharonbuchbinder.com/blog

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Sharon told me to say that she loves to hear from readers and she can be reached at sbuchbinder51(at)yahoo(dot)com

She also wanted to let you know that she’s working on the sequel to Desire and Deception, called Desire and Obsession. Sharon said to tell you and your readers that in this story a recovering addict must work with a Mexican drug lord to rescue her one-year old son from a cult leader who believes the child is the Chosen One. And yes, I will be in that book, too and just as hot as I was in the first one.

Sharon also said that she would give away one electronic copy of Desire and Deception to one person who comments on this interview.

Thanks so much Izzy for taking time out to chat with me here today. 

Readers, Remember to comment for a chance to win a FREE digital copy of this book, Desire and Deception - Sharon's newest release. Please don't forget to include your email address, especially if it is not readily available on your Google profile page. Entries will be open through Saturday, July 16th 11:59 PM CDT. The winner will be announced and contacted the following day. 

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Desire and Deception Excerpt (PG)
Dan’s forearm corded as he cast his fishing line. Brow furrowed under his lucky Ravens fishing cap, he aimed his baited hook under the waxy leaves.
After all this time, was Dan really hers?
He turned his head, raised his sunglasses, winked at her, and blew her a kiss. Her breath caught in her throat and a host of butterflies flapped around in her stomach.
Of course he was hers. They were on their honeymoon. What could possibly go wrong?
He shook a finger at her. "You better be thinking about something other than your job."
Sarah laughed out loud. "I am not thinking about work."
"No, you obsess about it."
"And you don’t about Randallstown Community Hosptial?"
He held the fishing pole with one hand like a jousting lance and cocked his head, considering her question. "As a vascular surgeon, I have to obsess over my work. The smallest of slip-ups can kill a patient."
"My work saves lives, too. I don’t have the instant gratification--or risk--that you do. But, if I improve one kid’s life with my work, then it makes it all worthwhile."
He nodded. "True. But no one dies if you don’t teach a class, go to a committee meeting, or publish a paper."
"If I don’t make the third year tenure review cut, my career at BMU will die. And I can pretty much forget about going anywhere else in Baltimore or DC. I’ll be considered damaged goods."
He frowned and flapped his hand at her. "Pffft. Not only is Bobbi your boss, she’s your friend. She put you on her five million dollar grant. With her in your corner, your tenure and promotion are a slam dunk."
Easy for him to say.
"If I don’t get a paper published in the Journal of Child Abuse Prevention, I’m out on the curb." Sarah should have gone to see Bobbi when her boss texted her at end of the Women in Science Conference on Sanibel three days ago. But Bobbi knew they planned to go across the water to Punta Gorda for their honeymoon. Sarah chewed on her lower lip. Typical Bobbi. Waiting until the very last minute of the conference to say she needed to talk in private, away from the other attendees.
Sarah patted her pants pockets and realized in her rush to get out the door, she’d left her cell at home. The sun’s glare pierced the side of her shades and she closed her eyes. What did Bobbi text? "Investigating a faculty member. Need your help. Trust no one. Tell no one." Though the air was hot and humid, Sarah shivered with an unexpected chill and crossed her arms to battle sudden goose bumps. Dan was right. She had to stop obsessing about work.
She opened her eyes and watched as two huge turkey vultures looped in eccentric circles and dove into the dense mangroves.
"Buzzards in paradise?" Sarah asked, not realizing she’d spoken aloud.
"Bet they’re after a wild pig that got stuck in the mangroves and died," the fishing captain said. "Don’t be surprised if we smell it soon."
Sarah wrinkled her nose in disgust. "Yuck. How would a pig get in there? Can you walk across the mangrove roots?"
Captain Fred made a perfect cast, removed his cap to scratch his shining scalp, and considered the question. A retired firefighter, only his balding head didn’t boast a Florida fisherman’s permanent tan.
"Nah, it’s tough going. You’d fall through. I tried it once. Didn’t get very far. Banged up my knees pretty good, but pigs don’t know that."
Dan hooked a mangrove branch and his bait fish dangled over the water.
Sarah teased, "Hey, Bushmaster, you trying to teach the snook to jump?"
"Captain Fred told me they can leap three feet in the air." A flash of silver popped out of the water. "See?"
She poked his arm. "That’s mullet--not snook."
"Ahh, bickering so soon?" The captain smiled. "You guys should be making love, not fighting."
Sarah stifled a giggle, but Dan was less successful at controlling his laughter. Captain Fred blushed up to the tips of his ears.
Sarah still found it hard to believe their small wedding was a scant two months ago. A Labor Day perfect ceremony. They were lucky in so many ways. Perfect weather. And there were no drunken brawls, thanks to Bobbi sponsoring her Mom at AA
"We don’t fight," Dan said. "We have discussions."
"Yeah. Loud ones." Sarah laughed. "Followed by great make up--umm--sessions." She began to reel in her line. Dan leaned over and gave her a salty kiss. Momentarily distracted by the touch of his tongue on her bottom lip, she was startled by a sudden heavy tug. She laughed and called out, "Here fishy, fishy, fishy." She pulled hard on unyielding weight. "I think I caught a mangrove root."
"Could be a nurse shark or a big manta ray. Keep the tip of your pole up," Captain Fred yelled from the front of the twenty-two foot Ranger. "Slow down. Dip and reel."
Twenty minutes later, her shoulders and arms ached, cork and metal rod slipped in her hands, and sun block-soaked sweat stung her eyes. She stopped for a moment, wiped her brow, and looked over her shoulder at Dan. "Want to reel for a while?"
"It’s not your fish if you don’t get it to the boat," the Captain warned.
Right about then not a huge selling point in Sarah’s mind.
Grunting at the effort, she pulled back on the pole as hard as she could. Finally, her catch broke the surface of the water. Eyes still burning, she stepped back to pull it closer to the boat--and saw a bloated corpse in a neon orange bikini.



About the Author
                                                                                                                  
Sharon Buchbinder got into a lot of trouble for when she was a child for "making things up." After working in health care delivery for years, she became a researcher, then an academic. But that itch to write kept beckoning her to "come on back" to writing fiction. Since romance has over a dozen sub-genres, she was able to turn her fascination with horror and mystery into erotic, paranormal and romantic suspense. When not writing she can be found reading, fishing, working out, golfing or enjoying a good meal and laughter with friends and family. 

I want to thank Izzy for giving us a glimpse into her character and background, and Sharon, also, for creating such a tough, mysterious, mischevious woman.  Remember to comment for a chance to win a FREE digital copy of this book, Desire and Deception - Sharon's newest release. Please don't forget to include your email address, especially if it is not readily available on your Google profile page. Entries will be open through Saturday, July 16th 11:59 PM CDT. The winner will be announced and contacted the following day.