Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Love Songs Murders by Kelly Marshall - Review


Goodreads Blurb
Seattle homicide detectives Nick Winston and Pat Strom dig working together. Their lively banter gets them through the daily dark side of their business. After all, dead bodies dominate their workload.

He's straight, she's gay. In politically liberal Seattle, that's not a problem until they both find the same woman irresistible. Suddenly their wonderful working relationship is intolerable.

At the center of their attention is radio announcer, Jasmine James. Beautiful and sultry, James has a sexual appetite big enough to satisfy both detectives. The two officers are not the only ones obsessed with the Love Songs host. A crazed fan kidnaps Jasmine James while four of her male listeners are discovered dead with a single bullet to their ear as her Love Songs program plays softly in the background. The pressure is on the Seattle cops to find the murderer and locate James before her air runs out.




My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Jasmine James is a well-know radio personality in Seattle who has attracted a creepy stalker. Nick Winston meets Jasmine during the course of his investigation into a peculiar murder. Nick is smitten by the breathy beauty and her non-too-subtle hints that she finds him attractive, as well. When Jasmine is abducted, Nick is tenacious in his efforts to locate and save her. He and his partner, Pat Strom, pull-off an astonishing feat and manage to capture the stalker, but Jasmine’s where-abouts remains unknown. Finally, though, their dogged investigation produces results. But meanwhile, more men are dying; each with surprising similarities in circumstantial and forensic evidence. Pressure mounts on Nick and Pat to solve the murders. Then the unthinkable happens.

 
With enough twists to keep even the most experienced armchair sleuth guessing, this novel is an unusual and exciting foray into the seedy side of jealousy, revenge, and desire. I thought the character development throughout was outstanding. Even though the murderer’s identity becomes obvious to the reader about 75% into the book the story remained spellbinding to the very end. Well-written, intense, and savvy; this mystery will not disappoint.



Reviewed by Laurie-J

Reviewer for Night Owl Reviews


View all my reviews


ALSO, please check back here on January 4th when Kelly will be my Featured Guest Author.

Thanks for looking!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Egyptian by Layton Green - Interview : Featured Author

At a mausoleum in Cairo’s most notorious cemetery, a mercenary receives a package containing a silver test tube suspended in hydraulic stasis.

An investigative reporter tracking rogue biomedical companies is terrified by the appearance of a mummified man outside her Manhattan apartment.

A Bulgarian scientist who dabbles in the occult makes a startling discovery in his underground laboratory.

These seemingly separate events collide when Dominic Grey and Viktor Radek, private investigators of cults, are hired by the CEO of an Egyptian biomedical firm to locate stolen research integral to the company’s new life extension product. However, after witnessing the slaughter of a team of scientists by the remnants of a dangerous cult thought long abandoned, Grey and Viktor turn from pursuers to pursued.

From the gleaming corridors of visionary laboratories to the cobblestone alleys of Eastern Europe to a lost oasis in the Sahara, Grey and Viktor must sift through science and myth to uncover the truth behind the Egyptian and his sinister biotech – before that truth kills them.


Buy Link:


Prime Members can borrow and read for free. 





INTERVIEW


How did you start your writing career?
I started my writing career with a story that was dying to be told, but with zero aspirations to be an author.  I thought I would write some thoughts down, put it in a drawer, and that would be that.  I realized very quickly that writing novels was what I wanted to do with my life.  Of course, then I had to figure out how to write! 
 
Does travel play in the writing of your books?
Absolutely.  I live to travel, and most of my books do and will involve exotic settings.  I like nothing better than journeying to a foreign country, delving into a culture and then relaying the experience in a novel.

Who is your favorite author?
That’s always a tough one,  as there are so many amazingly talented authors who I admire or whose writing has influenced me in some way or another.  My favorite novel is The Magus by John Fowles, but some of my other favorites are James Lee Burke, Herman Hesse, Michael Gruber, Haruki Murakami, Charlie Huston, Martin Cruz Smith, and Dan Simmons.
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
I have a couple of extremely intelligent and well-read friends who are my beta readers, and then it goes to my editor, Richard Marek, who was a gift from the writing gods.

What do you think makes a good story?
I think a good story is one that is, above all else, interesting.  Assuming a well-written story, no matter the genre, my advice for aspiring writers is: Don’t be boring.  That doesn’t mean you have to write a novel at a breakneck pace, it just means that readers shouldn’t want to put it down because they have to see what you’re going to say next.
 
What books are you reading now?
Hyperion by Dan Simmons, and Big Machine by Viktor LaSalle.
Your novels deal with a lot of human issues – religion, cults, government oppression, race relations, etc.  Are there any personal challenges you want your readers to take away from your novels?

That’s a great question.  My goals as a novelist are to: 1) entertain and 2) challenge people to think about various issues.  In The Summoner I tried to explore questions of faith and theology through the lens of an ancient religion, as well as to provide a snapshot of a beautiful country in peril and explore some of the issues involved. 
Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?
Write, edit, read the great writers, rinse and repeat ad nauseam.  Never let a book see the light of day until you can’t stand the sight of it anymore, yet grudgingly admit that it’s decent.

Who should play you in a film of your life? 
Harrison Ford.  Not because I in any way resemble him, but because he was Indy, and Hans Solo.  And Indy.  And how cool would that be?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

In addition to writing, Layton attended law school in New Orleans and was a practicing attorney for the better part of a decade (even though he still resents having cut his hair for that first interview). He has also been an intern for the United Nations, an ESL teacher in Central America, a bartender in London, a seller of cheap knives on the streets of Brixton, a door-to-door phone book deliverer, and the list goes downhill from there.

He has traveled to more than fifty countries, lived in a number of them, and has a burning desire to see every country, city, beach, moor, castle, cemetery, twisted street and far flung dot on the map. Religion and cults, as well as all things spiritual and supernatural, have also been a lifelong interest. Combine the travel and the religion with fifteen years of Japanese Jujitsu training, and the Dominic Grey series was born.

Layton lives with his wife and son in Miami.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Committed by John W Mefford - Excerpt, Interview & Review : Featured Author

COMMITTED (The Michael Doyle Chronicles: Book One)
Author: John W. Mefford
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Release date: 11.1.11

 
Sinful deception. A malicious corporate takeover. A grisly murder. Unrelenting greed.

We all have that inner voice, the one who knows all but refuses to let even our closest confidantes inside. The one we must calm when we’re most unsettled. The one who seeks to understand our path, our destiny.

Michael Doyle lives in emotional anonymity, resistant to fully devote himself to anyone or any cause. Without warning, a technology conglomerate acquires Michael’s company, and he quickly sees through the fog of political posturing: false hope, layoffs, and blatant dishonesty.

Then, death reaches up and grabs him. Shaken to the core, Michael leans on his live-in girlfriend, who has touched his heart like no one else. But her haunting past resurfaces, and she’s pulled into a seedy web by an outside force so cruel, so cunning it destroys every soul in its path.

Can Michael rise above his greatest fear to uncover the truth about a murder and save the life of the person he loves most?

Only if he's...COMMITTED.

Buy Links:






EXCERPT
Fluorescent lights shined through stained plastic, creating a slight yellow hue in the white walled room. I sat in an ice-cold chair that must have weighed fifty pounds, in front of a square metal table that was bolted to the painted concrete floor. Comfort and style weren’t the objectives in decorating the police department interview room.

A rectangular mirror faced me on the opposite wall. It was probably one of those two-way mirrors to allow someone on the other side to study my every movement. I had nothing to hide, but butterflies fluttered in my stomach like I was preparing to perform in front of a sold-out crowd.

A microphone dangled from the ceiling. It swayed gently from the air blowing out of the filthy vent. I saw cameras placed in two corners of the square room. The thick white door opened and Detective Carl Pearson walked in, followed by another person, also in plain clothes.

“Hey, Carl, does this mean I need to worry about the DVD being sold on the black market?” I pointed at the camera, hoping my humor might reduce the pressure.

Carl gave me a mild smirk and introduced his partner.

“Michael, this is Detective Smith, Roger Smith. He’ll be helping in the investigation.”

“Any relation to the former GM CEO?” Two stern, blank faces stared back. “You know, the guy from the 1980’s who had the documentary made about him, Roger and Me?” I wasn’t sure if they knew or cared GM Roger Smith was an older white guy, while Detective Roger Smith standing before me was African-American. It was all nervous chatter.

“Michael, we’d like for you to begin by recalling any interaction you had with Tiffany, and then any interaction you personally witnessed Tiffany having with anyone else.” Carl seemed natural giving instructions.

I couldn’t provide any specific evidence that would help find the killer, but I did tell them Tiffany was sharper than your average administrative assistant and quite attractive.

“I never found Tiffany very warm, which seemed a bit odd for a receptionist,” I said, offering more opinion than fact. “She seemed emotionally distant. As far I knew she didn’t have many friends. But I sensed the wheels in her mind were always turning. Smart as a whip.”

Then, the detectives asked me to recount every step of the gloomy morning in which I found Tiffany’s arm.

My breathing accelerated as I began to think through the sequence of events. Perspiration formed on the back of my neck. I closed my eyes and felt the cold rain pelting my face as I peered up into the thick, dark sky to locate the gutter leak. I moved slowly to the right…suddenly, it felt like a hand reached up to drag me downward so I wouldn’t miss the plastic bag. It must have been Tiffany’s spirit crying out in desperation.

Once I knew something was in that bag, the weight of it made me wonder if there was a body inside. Then, the bag split open, and Tiffany’s arm slid out. I stared at the blank wall in the interview room while a slide show of pictures projected in my mind. The pale white color of the arm stood out from the darkness of the bag and the surrounding alley. A red line of what appeared to be dried blood scaled up her forearm and disappeared into the bag. Part of me wanted to look in the bag, but my flight instincts took over. I ran away as fast as I could.

I’m still not sure why I screamed for help. How could I believe anyone would still be alive? Tiffany’s arm never showed any signs of life.

Was there life after death? Can a spirit talk to us from the other side of life as we know it? Was it heaven? Was it hell? Or, was there a state in between, where some type of resolution must occur before deciding a person’s ultimate fate? Tiffany’s fate.

I was a mildly religious person, one foot in, one foot out, like many things in my life. I felt certain there was a God, an almighty being who put us on the Earth for a purpose. Beyond that, the path and ultimate destiny beyond death…I wasn’t sure.

My pulse began to slow to a more normal pace. I looked at my watch. Thirty minutes had passed. I’d lost all concept of time as I recounted the details of the day my life changed forever.

Roger turned off the recording device.

“I appreciate you being so thorough,” Carl said calmly, his head down as he finished his notes.

Roger thanked me for coming in. “We’ll let you know if we have more questions.”

“I have one question for you guys. Do you have any leads as to who did this?” I hoped he’d confide in me just as I had opened my soul for them.

“No comment.” Roger responded without hesitation.

***

I shut my car door and rested my head on the chilled, vinyl steering wheel, waiting for a flood of emotions to gush out. I noticed a thick layer of dust accumulating on the dashboard, then realized I wasn’t distraught or haunted by my detailed description of the events from that morning. The recounting had opened my eyes to the fragility of life and allowed me to explore a different perspective on what happens following death. It had been cathartic. I was more at peace, yet I felt my role in this ordeal wasn’t finished.



REVIEW

4 Stars

This well-written Mystery/Thriller is an engrossing story about an affable man caught up in a series of events that entangle him in a seething conspiracy with far-reaching tentacles.  As he begins unraveling the mysterious circumstances of the death of a co-worker, his own relationship with his long-time, live-in girlfriend becomes strained almost to its breaking point.

A stressful situation at work becomes unbearable as Michael is forced into the role of hatchet-man after his company is bought out by a larger corporation.  Top government officials are bribed so that facts can remain buried and re-zoning is fast-tracked.  When that does not stem the pesky leaks, more aggressive measures are undertaken.

When Michael’s friend is railroaded for the murder by a consortium of wealthy entrepreneurs hell-bent on maintaining the secrecy of their clandestine agenda, Michael refuses to set-aside his own investigation; instead, he turns up the heat, and not even the woman he loves can escape the scorching repercussions of his whistle-blowing.

This book grabbed my attention at the start.  The tension is outstanding; deftly ratcheted ever tighter all the way to the exciting conclusion.  I felt a few times that the conversations between Marisa and Michael seemed a little forced or a tad stiff, and I personally questioned why a teenage indiscretion should retain such a forceful grip over a thirty-something, successful woman; but, these nits aside, I thought this was an outstanding debut novel.

Reviewed by Laurie-J

INTERVIEW

How did you start your writing career?

Prior to my first newspaper interview, the only writing I had done was writing copy for my radio broadcast at the campus radio station. The editor handed me the box score of a Texas Rangers game and told me to use her typewriter to write a one-page story. My hands got clammy and I sweated for the next ten minutes. She walked back in, read over the story, and offered me the job on the spot. It didn’t pay much, but I became a writing sponge, soaking up every bit of advice from my colleagues and editor. Years later, that experience gave me the confidence to return to my roots and create a story that would be my first book.

Where do you dream of traveling to and why?


I like to say I don’t dream, I just plan way ahead. I’ve seen many incredible pictures of the Amalfi coast in Italy, so that’s high on my list of places to visit. I recently read a blog about the top 30 places to visit in Spain. It appears to be an amazing array of natural beauty and historical architecture, so Spain is also on the short list. For me, traveling is the development of a story that will be re-told someday. I love to have my breath taken away…somewhat like reading a thrilling mystery.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Depending on the season, I either wanted to be a football player, basketball player, or baseball player. But even at age 10, I told myself that I needed another career after my professional days ended, likely around age 35. Kids have such simplistic minds. They only see what’s possible. I never played professional sports, but now I find myself developing that later-in-life career – author. I used to think that scoring a touchdown or making a long jump shot was the ultimate high. Now, I realize that creating a story that evokes emotion from a reader is the best feeling in the world.

What are your favorite TV shows?

 I’m really drawn to shows with fast-paced story lines and quick, witty banter, all wrapped around an intriguing mystery. And the best show on TV – according to an unofficial poll released by me – is Castle. Playing the lead, Rick Castle, Nathan Fillion’s comedic timing is impeccable. The supporting cast is outstanding and the writers have done a marvelous job of developing long-running story lines that provide depth and meaning to the series. Nathan’s character, Castle, is an author who is paired up with an NYPD detective, Beckett. At least once a year, they have an episode where Castle plays poker with his best writer friends, including James Patterson and Stephen J. Cannell. And to top it all off, Nathan’s character is based on a real-life author named, Richard Castle.

Here’s a great line from Castle: I had sex with my ex-wife this morning…And she's thinking about moving back to New York. Do you know what that would mean to me? That would be a very special brand of hell. The hell of a deep-fried Twinkie.

When's the last time you played that musical instrument?


I haven’t picked up a trombone since I played the final note in high school. I sold it to help pay for my first car, a used 1977 chocolate brown Monte Carlo. I’ve played a little piano, but not in the last 10 years or so. I would love to pick it back up and maybe even write some music of my own, but these days I spend all of my spare time tapping away on a different set of keys.

Beatles or Monkees? Why?


 Without a doubt, The Beatles. They hit the mainstream music scene before I recognized any music other than the theme to The Electric Company. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate their lyrics and music. For me, Paul McCartney – as the lead for The Beatles, Wings, and as a solo artist – is far and away the greatest rock-and-roll star ever. Pure greatness.

Tell us about the absolute BEST fan letter you have received.

Two stand out. After developing my writing chops for about three years at the newspaper, my columns really started to flow. Following one of my better columns, I received a typed letter in the mail from a retired journalist. His praise for my writing gave me a smile that didn’t leave my face for the next week. The second “letter” was an email I received just after the 11/1 launch of my debut novel, Committed. She is an avid reader – just the type of person from whom I enjoy receiving feedback. Her praise was effusive. Among the many number of wonderful compliments, she said “You have IT!” It helped reaffirm what I already knew – writing is like oxygen for my soul.

What is the next big thing?

I’m very excited about Book Two of The Michael Doyle Chronicles. I’ve written an early draft and toyed with a couple of titles. Like my first book, it takes a present-day issue for which everyone can relate and weaves a spine-tingling, emotional plot around it. As you learn more about the characters and their challenges, you find yourself on edge wondering how, even if, they can survive this mind-blowing series of events. My current target release date is March / April, 2012.
While I still have a lot of plot and character treats left in the bag, is there a certain aspect of Michael or Marisa that readers would like for me to divulge in a future book? I’d love to hear your feedback. 
 
 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A veteran of the corporate wars, former journalist, and true studier of human and social behavior, John W. Mefford has been writing his debut novel since he first entered the work force twenty-five years ago, although he never put words on paper until late 2009.

Considered a visionary leader in his fifteen-year IT career, he quit his job and started writing, pouring out his thoughts with no net.

When he’s not writing, he chases three kids around, slaves away in the yard, reads, takes in as many sports as time allows, watches all sorts of movies, and continues to make mental notes of people and societies across the land -- even if they piss him off.

Committed is the first book in the series, The Michael Doyle Chronicles.

John lives in Frisco, Texas with his beautiful wife, three adorable kids, and a feisty fat cat.

THANKS FOR LOOKING!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Morning Afterlife by Sonnet Odell - Interview : Featured Author

If remembering could bring about the end of everything, would you still try?

Karrin wakes up on the side of the road with selective memory loss; she knows her name and age but nothing more about herself. She walks the highway back to a town to find all but a few people have disappeared and that there are strange but beautiful beings hunting them down. It seems to her that some great apocalyptic event happened but she just doesn't remember it.

Karrin however is in more danger than she realizes as someone in her new group of friends is more deadly to her than those hunting them down. When she finds one of them, a young man roughly her own age named Gabe injured, she goes against all she's been told and helps him. Gabe in return wants to help her, help her to remember. Karrin's memories, however, could put her in even more danger and bring an end to everything she now holds dear.




Excerpt from The Morning Afterlife
A sound came from ahead of her, it echoed in the absence of her own footsteps as she had sat to rest for a while. Slowly she opened her eyes again, letting them flutter slowly as the light glanced off of the metal bus sign, till her eyes had adjusted to it once more. She looked across to the other corner and from around it came a man dressed in a white suit. She wasn’t sure at first that it was the same one she had seen until she saw that he was carrying a black umbrella. Had he followed her all the way into town? If that were true, how had he gotten ahead of her or even know she would come that way?
 


MY REVIEW     

I just recently read this novella and liked it.  My review is pending edits at Night Owl Reviews and should be published in a couple of weeks.  I will update with the review link once it has been posted.



INTERVIEW

Tell us about your current release.

The Morning Afterlife is a young adult novella set around seventeen year old Karrin who wakes up in a ditch at the side of the road with no memory of how she got there or even who she is. The story revolves around her quest to find answers to what has happened to her world only to find that knowing might be more dangerous than not. It’s due to be released by Eternal Press on the 7th of December 2011.

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?


I actually find I’m more of a night writer. I seem to split my life between two realities, the boring day job of an office clerk and the exciting night time imaginings of a writer. I can tell you right now which one is more interesting, although it’s not hard to guess. I’m like Clark Kent if his alter ego had been Stephen King instead of Superman. Even sometimes when I’m crunching numbers I’m really thinking about roof top battles and underground secret societies. As to length sometimes it’s just a half an hour, sometimes I can spend till the wee hours writing away at a scene. I write for as long as my muse is happy to sit with me whispering wicked little plot twists in my ear.

Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?

I actually find that I don’t like to write in silence. I enjoy creating playlists with songs that to me seem like they could be background music to a film of the book I’m writing. I know imagining them as films is getting a little ahead of myself, lol, but when I close my eyes I see what I’m writing about in a very visual way. At the moment I have a mix of songs that I have on repeat from Lady Antebellum to Nickleback to Beethoven.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

I find that the hardest part of writing my books is getting my facts straight. When you create a world and a lot of characters continuity is key. I’ve read books where the name of a characters husband for instance changes every other book. It’s sad to say I’ve been making detailed lists to make sure I can keep straight in my stories whose who, what they do, where they are from, how old they are. Speaking of age, writing vampires who are older than a few decades is really hard. I was never very good at history and remember dates and facts to include can often mean some serious rewriting or compensating.

How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?

As I was saying above I have lists when it comes to character development. I have decided something about characters now that won’t happen till much further on in a series. My series of books – the Cassandra Farbanks novels – are an example of this. For one character in particular I decided after meeting him in book one by book four he’d become a werewolf.

Plots wise I’ve always liked subtle intricacy. For instance I include no detail in one book that won’t be relevant at some other point. I like to work in a small event that become prevalent later on, you’re just beginning to forget about the weird seemingly unimportant moment when bang, it makes sense and was a sign all along of trouble ahead. I seem them as weaving each individual story together, connecting them.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

It might be surprising to a few who know how passionate I am about writing now but when I was really young, lets says about eight maybe I wanted to be an archeologist. I loved the idea of uncovering ancient tombs and dealing with the remnant of some ancient civilization – until I realized how unlikely that was. All the good stuff had already been discovered and what was left – digging in a field in Yorkshire – seem a little dull to me. I wanted grand adventures which turned me closer to the idea of becoming a writer, because if I couldn’t have them myself I could just make them up. I began to spin elaborate tales of mystery and the anger of ancient gods that led most of the career councilors to tears by the time I reached high school.

What group did you hang out with in high school?


I didn’t have all that many friends in high school. I was a misfit because I wasn’t all that interested in giggle over the latest boy band or discussing fashion, hair, makeup etc. I tended to spend most of my time immersed in a good book from Dante’s Inferno (which my teacher deemed inappropriate reading at fourteen) or murder mysteries trying to work out who’d done it before I reached the last page. The few friends I had then are still my friends now. High school wasn’t easy for us and it bonded us together. I am thankful for those people every day or I’m not sure if I’d have made it.

Do you hear from your readers? What kinds of questions do they ask?
Not as much as I would like to. The one thing missing on my website you’ll notice is an FAQ because people don’t ask me things. It might just be because I’m not all that well read because I’m new and the world of books is so large. I would love to hear from anyone who’s read my work. I like to know that someone is enjoying what I write, not for vanity’s sake but I’ve always had this need for reassurance. A lot of the authors I read and wrote to never replied and I am determined whether I get one letter or a thousand that each person will get a response, even if only a few heartfelt words. My email is sonnetodell@hotmail.com and I check it every day.


GIVEAWAY
Answer a question for a chance to win a PDF copy of The Morning Afterlife.
This contest is hosted on the author's website.
TO ENTER CLICK HERE                                                         


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sonnet was born at the John Radcliffe in Oxford and spent the first six years of her life living in the town of Abingdon close to both her grandparents and most of the rest of her family. She moved after that to Cornwall for three years and then to Devon for another three before moving to where she has lived for the last fourteen or so years. Sonnet now lives in Worcester, Worcestershire, famous for Lea & Perrin’s Sauce and as the site for the last battle of the Civil War.
Sonnet has had a passion for the written word from a very young age and enjoys nothing more than to read a good book. The worlds created by words. Some of her favourite authors include Laurell. K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Molly Harper and Rick Riordan.
Her own work tends to be worlds of Urban Fantasy, alternate reality and contains a heavy amount of magic, mystery and mythology.


Links:
My website – www.sonnetodell.com
THANKS FOR LOOKING!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Spotlight Interview with Toni Noel

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

While growing up in the South and completing seventh grade Toni Noel, writing under another name, laboriously typed each copy of the newspaper she published and circulated at church.

When she was fourteen Toni began an autobiography, but after only three chapters realized she had not lived long enough to give her life story an arc. She concluded her effort in the fourth chapter by giving her heroine an incurable disease.

She later edited her high school paper and one of her editorials earned her membership in Quill and Scroll. She also wrote a weekly fishing column, perhaps her first published work of fiction, for at that time she had never held a fishing pole.


For two of those high school years a weekly column about the happenings of her high school friends earned Toni a byline in a Scripps-Howard daily newspaper and a neighborhood weekly, the first income earned from her writing, money her father faithfully set aside for her to attend college.


Toni thrived on spending time in the library, loved to do research and write term papers. She would finish her theme well ahead of the due date so she could type the papers of classmates, a lucrative way to add to her college fund.


She met her husband of fifty-nine years her first week on campus and at the end of her freshman year gave up her dream of teaching to marry the first-year teacher who had captured her heart. He retired in 2010, ending a sixty year teaching career. ...Profile is continued on her website.    


Find Toni Noel on the Web:





INTERVIEW


How did you start your writing career?

 
At a snail's pace. I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but didn't find out there was so much to learn until I retired in 1995 to write full time. It took 14 long years to make a sale.


What was your first sale as an author?

Desert Breeze Publishing bought Law Breakers and Love Makers the day after I submitted it in December of 2009, and I'm still riding that high. It meant so much to have an editor who earns her living reading manuscripts to say she liked my quirky heroine and wanted to publish my novel.


Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc. released my first three novels and will release three more in 2012.

Do you hear from your readers?

No, I don't hear from my readers, and sometimes feel like shouting 'Hey, I'm over here.' Promotion take all my time, and is the hardest job I've ever undertaken.

Plotter or Pantster?

I'm a plotter. I get an idea for a novel, or see a character in my head, and start thinking about a story that will touch the reader's heart. When I've written at least 50 scene ideas on 3 by 5 inch cards and am sure my characters arc as I tell their story, I start writing directly from those cards. I write novels of about 70,000 words and know the resolution before I write even one word.

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?


Never, ever give up. Persistence pays. Join local writers' groups. Belong to more than one, so you get varying advice. Listen and learn. And write. The more you write, the better your writing will become. Find a critique partner. Enlist the help of a trusted reader, and polish, polish, polish your manuscript.

Do you have a milestone birthday coming up?

Not a birthday, our sixtieth wedding anniversary. We plan to take the Sunset Limited to New Orleans and back again. Hope our favorite restaurant reopened. I plan to set a mystery there.

Morning Person? Or Night Person?


I'm a morning person. I do my best writing between 7 a.m. and 11, but don't often get to my computer that early any more. I start running down about 4 p.m., but stay up longer than I should.

What would we find under your bed?

Too much. We've been in this house so long all the closets are jammed, so my under bed storage is on overload, too. Everything from rollout shoe storage boxes to extra picture frames have wound up under my bed. Finally gave away the baby bed mattress I was keeping for my twenty-seven-year-old granddaughter's first child. I had stored it under the guest room bed. The baby bed was so old it was no longer considered safe.

What group did you hang out with in high school?

I belonged to a sorority, a friendship club. I helped the other members sell donuts to pay for our dances when I wasn't at cheerleader practice.


What are you passionate about these days?

I oppose the banning of books, and object to the shortened hours forced on our local libraries due to the city's budget crisis. When times are bad, the residents should be able to turn to go to their libraries for free help, not less.


What do you do to unwind and relax?




I knit, listen to music while a read, and walk our new dog. We adopted a five-year-old terrier mix we named Toto and she keeps us entertained. We watch every crime show on TV and have fun seeing who figures out 'who done it' first. We also like to camp in our RoadTrek, but for now are camping out at home.

Tell us about the absolute BEST fan letter you have received.

My best fan letter came from Glen Cantrell, a reviewer I met on Twitter, who posted a great review of Decisive Moments on Amazon. Com.

Does your significant other read your stuff?

No, my husband is a retired teacher and elementary school principal. Our beliefs on what makes writing proper differ greatly, and after a few attempts to bridge that gap, I no longer seek his help. He has successfully critiqued scenes where a large format camera plays an important part, my fly fishing descriptions, though.

If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy birdie or a grumpy bear?

Grumpy, until I have my first cup of tea, which is not until I've walked for forty-five minutes on the treadmill. Although I am hypoglycemic, I don't eat until after I walk, so don't expect to engage me in conversation for at least an hour after I get up.

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

Back to Italy. We didn't have time to see Pompeii when we were there this past summer, and needed more time in Venice. Love those friendly Italians. There has to be a book somewhere, maybe a romance on a speeding commuter train, or a murder in Venice, with no way for the murderer to escape.

Do you have a Website or Blog?

My website and blog are at the same address, www.toninoelauthor.com

 



Because Carina Carrington equates happiness with success, she owns a thriving business and a nonexistent sex life. To replace her ailing secretary the temp agency sends Greg Lawless, a secretive temp without credentials who possesses exceptional office skills and a voice that curls Carina's toes.


With this temp comes temptation, and Carina's problems multiply. Her strong attraction to Greg leaves her in breathless confusion. Her longing for his hard body interferes with her work, but he determinedly keeps her on track.


She seeks advice from her support team -- her best friends and her mother -- who advise her to pursue Greg with a vengeance, the identical path her heart wants to pursue. Under this pressure Greg succumbs and shares her bed.


Then Carina learns someone, perhaps even Greg, seeks to destroy her company. Torn between her belief in his innocence, and he's likely guilt, Carina tells Greg she's terminating him, but Greg convinces her to give him twenty-four hours to find her saboteur and prove his innocence. Can he?







Temp to Permanent excerpt

Carina Carrington's fingers flew across the computer keyboard.
Not fast enough.
She'd never meet her schedule without another pair of hands. Of all possible days, why did Rachael pick today to call in sick?
And what happened to her replacement? The temp agency had promised to send a secretary an hour ago. What was keeping her?
At the scrape of a leather shoe sole, Carina's concentration cracked. "There's no one at the desk out front," a husky male voice rasped.
Startled, Carina hit a wrong key. Unless his face matches that heart-stopping voice, I'll kill this salesman. She abandoned the keyboard and swiveled around in her chair. Six feet of tanned muscles crossed her carpet. No death warrant for this hunk.
Surrounded by masculine scent, Carina riveted her gaze on his business card, then glanced up. Devilish blue eyes locked with hers. She looked away to conceal her unprofessional, very unladylike reaction.
"I'm Gregory Lawless from Data Services. Pat Kilpatrick said to see Mrs. Carrington. Your receptionist--"
"Has the flu."
This perfect example of centerfold material could not possibly type.
With all the work still to turn out, I'll kill Pat, instead.
Reluctantly Carina pushed back her chair and stood to shake his hand. Good grip, self-confident. "That's why you're here, Mr. Lawless. I'm short handed today. And it's Miss Carrington."
She indicated a chair and waited for him to sit. "The agency didn't say they were sending a man." Oops. Maybe employers weren't supposed to say things like that anymore.
"Is that a problem?"
She wasn't about to acknowledge how difficult he made the simple act of speech. "Only if you can't do the job."
He folded his lanky frame into the visitor's chair she'd indicated and placed a folder on her desk. "Ms. Kilpatrick asked me to give you this copy of my resume."
A deep cleft creased his chin. How could she work with that distraction? With her weakness for cleft chins she couldn't hope to actually work around this distraction. His devastating smile belonged in a bedroom. In a bar. Anywhere but in her office ruining her concentration.
Carina sank into her own chair and opened his file to study the brief list of qualifications while steadying her heart beat. San Diego Data Services normally provided exceptional help, but Pat had explained this flu epidemic had also left her short handed. Gregory must be the last healthy soul available.
Healthy? He was that, all right. From what she could see, far healthier than a man had any need to look.
He'd indicated a willingness to work. Any warm body could man the phones in her secretary's absence. Surely she could control her body's response for the next few hours.
What about this unexpected heat? Maybe Mom was right and she was sex-deprived.
Perhaps tomorrow Pat would have a real secretary available, or not such an attractive man. Her mind pictured a prim woman. Someone wearing a skirt whose very presence wouldn't launch her pulse into orbit.
She glanced up from the resume to study Gregory. Information in the agency's file was scant, little more than name, address and social security number. He looked about her age. Why would a man approaching thirty-five resign himself to temporary work?
Carina drew a steadying breath. "Have you been with Data Services long?"
He tilted his head as if mulling over a reply. "This is my first assignment."
Great. Disgruntled by his admission, she looked away. Few skills and even less experience. Carina stole a glance. The smile hovering about his mouth prevented objective reasoning. "With a busy week ahead of me, there won't be much time for training."
He peered at the scribbled notes on her calendar and lifted one cocky eyebrow, giving him a rakish appearance that almost brought her out of her chair. "Tell you what. Let's not waste any more time. Give me a chance to help and if I don't meet your requirements, you don't owe me a cent."
Desperation evident in his voice caused her to give him a sharp look. "So you're a gambler, too."
He straightened his back against the chair, then leaned forward and gazed at her. "I've nothing to lose," he admitted with admirable honesty.
Carina thought about everything she would gain if Gregory could fill Rachael's shoes. She wouldn't need to postpone tomorrow's meeting and might still land that contract. Provided she somehow kept her mind on her business and off this man. Could she do it?
Quick decisions were her trademark. "I'll only expect you to answer the phone. On Mondays it rings constantly."
He grinned, nodding. "How shall I answer?"
Criminey. Would she need to hold his hand and walk him through the office as well? "Carrington Graphics will do."
"I'll manage. What is the nature of your business? Ms. Kilpatrick said you needed someone in a hurry and didn't take time to fill me in."
"Advertising." From the bookcase behind her desk Carina selected two brochures and unfolded them for Gregory to examine. "This is a terrible time to come up short handed. I've two important presentations scheduled, one tomorrow, and another on Friday. Rachael always handles my prepress. Without her, I'll never be ready."
After a moment, Gregory leaned across her desk to return the brochures. Fragrance, spicy-clean and fresh, teased her nostrils. Aftershave and a recent shower, a masculine scent she adored.
"I've had some experience with--"
"It's likely the phones will occupy all your time." She couldn't picture his neatly trimmed fingertips flying over a keyboard.
Imagining his hands in her hair though...
Easy, far too easy.
Cut that out. "Why don't I get you settled at the front desk, Gregory."
He followed her into the outer office. "Call me Greg."
    She ignored the thump of her heart his seductive tone induced. His voice ranked among her all time favorites, too. "Greg it is."





GIVEAWAY
Enter below and comment for a chance to win a Gifted Amazon Kindle copy of Temp to Permanent. Winner will be randomly selected from all eligible entries. Ends December 24th 11:59PM CST.



THANKS FOR LOOKING!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Spotlight Interview with Jenny Twist

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jenny Twist was born in York and brought up in the West Yorkshire mill town of Heckmondwike, the eldest grandchild of a huge extended family. 
She left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and escapologist’s assistant, she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford.
She stayed in Oxford working as a recruitment consultant for many years and it was there that she met and married her husband, Vic.
In 2001 they retired and moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat.



INTERVIEW

How did you start your writing career?

I had always wanted to write but life kept getting in the way, so I didn’t actually get started until my husband and I retired to Spain ten years ago. I started writing stories and articles for a local magazine and also entering short stories in competitions (which I never won). These later became the basis for my anthology Take One At Bedtime.

Tell us about your current release.


My latest release is Domingo's Angel, which is set in Los Pueblos Blancos (White Villages) of Southern Spain and tells of an English girl who travels to Spain in the early 1950s when it was ruled by the dictator, Franco. She falls in love with one of the villagers and stays, becoming completely integrated into village life.

This is the story of their love affair. But it is also the story of the people of the tiny mountain village – the indomitable Rosalba - shopkeeper, doctor, midwife and wise woman, who makes it her business to know everything that goes on in the village; Guillermo, the mayor, whose delusions of grandeur are rooted in his impoverished childhood; and Salva the Baker, who risked his life and liberty to give bread to the starving children.

The events in this story are based on the real experiences of the people of the White Villages in Southern Spain and their struggle to keep their communities alive through the years of war and the oppression of Franco’s rule.

Tell us about your next release.

Since writing the two novels, I have contributed to two anthologies – Curious Hearts and Spellbound 2011, both published by Melange Books, and a third, Warm Christmas Wishes, will be released December 4th. I have two stories in this: Jamey and the Alien, about a little boy whose father is seriously ill and who asks Santa Claus to bring his Daddy home; and Uncle Albert's Christmas, about an old man who is afraid his niece is plotting to take over his life, and how he outwits her.

Has someone been instrumental in inspiring you as a writer?

I have been inspired all my life by wonderful authors, beginning with Enid Blyton and most recently Kate Atkinson. Of all of them, the most inspiring for me were John Wyndham, M R James and the great Stephen King. It was Stephen King's On Writing which prompted me to write my first short story, Waiting for Daddy, which I think is probably still the scariest thing I've ever written. I cannot thank him enough.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?

I was very surprised to discover that you had to promote your own books. I think I supposed once you got published you just sat back and waited for the money to roll in. But my publisher, Melange, has been extremely supportive and helpful and I think I'm beginning to get the hang of it now.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be Doris Day, all-singing, all-dancing film star. I practised for hours singing into my hairbrush as a substitute for a microphone. I just knew somebody walking past the house would hear my wonderful voice and discover me.

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?


Write about what you know. Keep it simple with short sentences and paragraphs. Listen to what people say, but remember it’s your story and you decide whether to change something. I have about a dozen long-suffering friends who read and comment on what I write. If several of them make the same criticism I take it seriously. And finally, do not be put off by criticism or rejection. Stephen King papered his wall with rejection slips when he was first starting out. J K Rowling had so many rejections for her Harry Potter stories that she gave up and only tried again when her friend urged her to give it another go.

If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy bird or a grumpy bear?

I am the worst person you would want to meet first thing in the morning. I hate staying in hotels because I have to speak to waiters. The chirpy birds of this world drive me insane. As far as I am concerned they can go and chirp somewhere else until I have had at least three cups of coffee.

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

Santorini. It's one of the Greek islands. It was the site of an enormous volcanic eruption 3,600 years ago when Greece was ruled by the Minoans. The entire island was covered in volcanic ash and a whole city has been preserved, not unlike the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy. Only this is even older. 1,600 years older, in fact. It is one of the candidates for the lost city of Atlantis.

I am actually writing a novel about Atlantis which is on the back burner at the moment, so it would be really appropriate to send me there. Are you reading this, Melange?





GIVEAWAY


4 Lucky Winners - One copy each of Take One At Bedtime, Domingo's Angel, Curious Hearts and Spellbound 2011 - will be given away. Enter the giveaway for the book(s) of your choice. Kindle or PDF formats are available. Comment on this post and/or "Like" Jenny's brand new Facebook page for bonus entries. This Giveaway ends December 24th 11:59PM CST.


Take One at Bedtime

Nobody ever goes upstairs in Margaret’s house. So what is making the strange thumping noises up there? And why is there a toy rabbit under the kitchen table?

Margaret’s Ghost is just one of a collection of short stories consisting mainly of horror and science fiction, ranging from a classic gothic tale – Jack Trevellyn – to the Wyndhamesque Victim of Fortune, and the modern Waiting for Daddy, with its spine-chilling twist.

There is also the occasional excursion into romance with A Castle in Spain and Jess’s Girl.

But most of these tales take you to a place which is not quite as it seems.

It’s bedtime now. Time to go upstairs. Time to take a look.
A-mazing Shift by Jane Carver:  A maze in 2011 throws Jolie back to the summer of 1969. Away from her husband Al, now with her lover Remy, will she stay in the past? Where does her heart truly belong?


Just one look.


WARNING: Do not exceed the stated dose.

Domingo's Angel

When Angela turns up in a remote Spanish mountain village, she is so tall and so thin and so pale that everyone thinks she is a ghost or a fairy or the dreadful mantequero that comes in the night and sucks the fat from your bones.


But Domingo knows better. “Soy Angela,” she said to him when they met – “I am an angel.” Only later did he realise that she was telling him her name and by then it was too late and everyone knew her as Domingo’s Angel.

This is the story of their love affair. But it is also the story of the people of the tiny mountain village – the indomitable Rosalba - shopkeeper, doctor, midwife and wise woman, who makes it her business to know everything that goes on in the village; Guillermo, the mayor, whose delusions of grandeur are rooted in his impoverished childhood; and Salva the Baker, who risked his life and liberty to give bread to the starving children.

The events in this story are based on the real experiences of the people of the White Villages in Southern Spain and their struggle to keep their communities alive through the years of war and the oppression of Franco’s rule.



EXCERPT from Domingo's Angel

The next day he took his goats to the top of the ridge near the pass and looked down on the smallest casita of Guillermo the mayor. There was a mule tethered outside and a string of washing had been hung between two almond trees. Otherwise there was no sign of life. Halfway down the slope was a large algarrobo tree. He decided it would be an ideal place for lunch.

But although he sat and watched the little house all the time as he ate his bread and cheese and olives and drank his wine, nobody came out and nothing happened. Only the mule moved along the side of the house to keep in the shade as the sun moved round. So he went to sleep.

When he woke up, someone was calling him. “Hola, goatherd!”

He squinted up into the sun and there, standing before him was an angel. It was very tall and thin and there was a fiery halo round its head. “Hello,” it said, "Soy √Āngela - I am angel. I am delighted to meet you! Who are you?”

In absolute panic, Domingo shot up into a sitting position and shuffled backwards into the algarrobo tree. His head hit the hard trunk with a resounding crack and he subsided and slumped back down, feeling a little stunned.

The angel came forward into the shadow of the algarrobo tree and he realised that the halo was, in fact, hair - very long hair - falling in waves down beyond her shoulders and almost to her waist. It was exactly the colour of oranges that have dried on the tree. Her skin was so white it was almost blue and her eyes were so pale they had no colour at all. “How could they think she was a dead person?” he thought in a confused fashion. “She is obviously an angel.”




Curious Hearts
by Jane Carver, T.D. Jones, Nell DuVall, James N. Cricket, Walt Trizna, Jenny Twist, Ellen Margret



Just A Little Too Late by T. D. Jones: When Sujo Crane's past calls her home, she has to make the decision of staying with her past or moving on and marrying her future.
The Corpulent Chiropteran by Nell DuVall: A naive young man, seduced by an older woman, finds himself unwittingly turned into a vampire, but has no desire to kill human.


Mission to Doom by James N. Cricket: Jack's fantasy dream has come true. He has been assigned as co-pilot to the perfect woman for a mission to deep space. Jack discovers some shocking truths about Dana that he could never have anticipated. Perfection proves to be a subjective definition.


Bi-Curious Wife by James N. Cricket: (GLBS - Bi-Sexual)  Distraught with her husband Evan, Jennifer, during his business trip absence, samples forbidden pleasures with her bi-sexual coworker Sue. But her feelings of guilt overcome her and she admits the affair to Evan. Can they deal with the infidelity and find a way to cope and heal from her actions?


Elmo's Sojourn by Walt Trizna:  Elmo, a retired scientist, enjoys tinkering in his basement. One day, he suddenly travels to a distant planet, and experiences a host of adventures.


Doppelganger by Jenny Twist: When Christine wakes up in a sumptuous white room with silken hangings, she assumes she is in heaven. But she soon finds out she is not in heaven. And before too long she begins to wonder if she is even still Christine.


Retrograde Travellers by Ellen Margret: Interfering with the past is forbidden but an apprentice angel attempts just that. She knows soul mates, David and Morag, were meant to be together.


Spellbound 2011

Spellbound at Midnight by Isabelle Kane and Audrey Tremaine:  In the sultry Big Easy, Viole Godin is hired to restore Magnolia Place, an antebellum mansion which is crumbling under a mysterious curse. Marie Verret and her dangerously attractive grandson, Lucien, believe Viole is the key to ending the curse one magical Halloween night.


Room 1309.5 by John M. Mecom:  Inspired by the works of Poe and Stephen King, Room 1309.5 is a story of revenge and despair. It is the author’s first story to be published and received honorable mention in the Fifth Annual Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards.


Mansion of Nightmares by Walt Trizna:  A mysterious mansion, long abandoned, harbors a past that claims those who enter. Then one day, by a stroke of luck, an intruder survives and uncovers its secret.