Posted in authors, books, characters, cozy mystery, fiction, mystery, novels, series, writers

Author Theresa M. Jarvela, novelist and freelance writer brings cozy mysteries

Author Theresa M. Jarvela resides in Brainerd, Minnesota. Theresa was a young mother when the idea to write a novel first struck her. It became one of her lifetime goals. Years later, her five children grown, she took an advanced creative writing class and joined Brainerd Writers Alliance. The door to the writing world opened.

Theresa M Jarvela

An avid reader, Theresa loves “cozy” novels so it comes as no surprise that she is the author of the “cozy” mystery series – Tales of a Tenacious Housesitter. Her first novel in the series – Home Sweet Murder – was published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc. in June, 2012. Her second novel in the series – Home for the Murder – was published in June, 2013.

When Theresa isn’t busy writing, you might find her scooting around town during the warmer months in her Mazda Miata with the top down. In the winter months you can bet she’ll be sitting at the end of her couch with a good book and a cup of tea.

Theresa’s philosophy – “Life is full of adventures – live them, read them or write them! You’re never too old to enjoy them.”

Welcome, Theresa, to Author Interview Friday of Writing Under Fire. Tell us Theresa,  when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

When my children were young, I read a novel that wasn’t particularly good. I challenged myself to write a novel and made it a lifetime goal.

Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

I have no formal education in writing but I took one evening course in Advanced Creative Writing.

What other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing career?

I freelance and have been published in several regional magazines. I entered one of my articles – Facebook – Friend or Foe – in the 79th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition and was awarded Honorable Mention in the Magazine Feature Article category. I joined a writers group with the intention of writing my novel but came to love magazine writing, also.

Do you have any special time or place you like to write?

I find early morning works best for me. Also, I accomplish more if I am away from home or at least outside in my gazebo (in warmer months).

Are you published through a traditional publishing house?

If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher? I am published by a traditional publishing house – North Star Press of St. Cloud, MN, Inc.

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Tell us about” Home Sweet Murder”  in 3 sentences:

In Home Sweet Murder baby-boomer Meggie Moore finds life in the small town of Pine Lake, Minnesota, a little too mundane, even with her part-time job at a local gift shop owned by Vera Cunningham, a spry lady in her late 70’s. Meggie accepts a house sitting position offered to her by an elderly gentleman even though her husband objects. Her outspoken friend and side-kick, Shirley Wright, labels Meggie a nut who has lost touch with reality for agreeing to house sit in a neighborhood where there have been numerous burglaries.

You also have a second novel published. Tell us briefly about it.

Meggie and Shirley set off for Key West, Florida to house sit for a friend, but their working vacation  takes a sinister turn when a body turns up on the property. Winging their way back to Minnesota, they believe they left  murder behind them. Little do they know another murder awaits back in Minnesota.

Home for the Murder- (418x640)

Do you have another manuscript in progress?

I am working on a third novel in my Tales of a Tenacious Housesitter cozy mystery series. Meggie agrees to housesit a hobby farm before she finds out it is reputed to be haunted.

Where can readers buy your books?

www.theresamjarvela.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Theresa-M-Jarvela/286910401371856?ref=hl

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1?ie=UTF8&field-author=Theresa+Jarvela&search-alias=books&text=Theresa+Jarvela&sort=relevancerank

 

Posted in adventure, authors, books, erotica, jihad, kidnapping, novels, religion, sex, Terrorism, thrillers, writing

From tennis stardom to sexual slavery

Nick Kalvin 9.2014

 

I have accumulated a lot of writer friends since I started writing commercial fiction in 2010, but today I have one of my dearest of friends. Besides being a wonderful writer and an experienced eye surgeon, he is a great friend. Nick is  one of those guys you can always go to when you need something done, or someone to listen. H e won’t make excuses why he can’t be there, or ever say he doesn’t have time for you (i.e. me).  And in spite of his age, he can run circles around most of the other people I know.  So, without further, ado, I present to you, Dr. Nick Kalvin.

Nick,  Sexual Jihad is a large book in most people’s thoughts. You and I have compared it to Moby Dick or Gone with the Wind. How long did it take to write and publish Sexual Jihad?

It took about six months to write it, and three or four months to edit, review two printed proofs, then, even with help, upload and make design decisions. It was humbling and amazing to correct a couple hundred typos, punctuation and word-order glitches, to get the proof back to find things I missed. Then to restart the process, of course uploading to Create Space, each version. There is a good argument for professional proof readers.

And of all that, what was the hardest part?

One would think that the hardest part was writing it out on paper and, then retyping into the computer. The major stumbling block, which made things tough for me, turned out to be that much of Sexual Jihadwas in an older program, Microsoft Works. This did not have the bells and whistles of newer Word programs to catch mistakes as one typed. So, I could not even see all the mistakes. The latter portion of the book went easier, no doubt. Once, about 2/3 through, I did something on the keyboard that deleted the entire manuscript. Lucky for me, I got it back on a Go-flex recovery I had installed. After that, I made about a dozen DVDRW external copies and also saved copies into Docs.You got me into external devices, neater and smaller. But, the smaller the easier to misplace they become as some in MIW found out.

As we all learn, staying up to date on technology really helps.  I’ve known you through our local writers group. What has belonging to MIW (Marco Island Writers) done for you?

I was inspired by the published authors, listened carefully to invited speakers. I heard the dissatisfactions of experienced authors, with traditional publishing houses, and the POD companies that charge outrageous fees.  Plus, they want the lion’s share of any profit and any offerings which might follow. I speak of rights for TV, film, art work, overseas sales, merchandise, and so on. Most importantly, MIW led me to you. Without your generosity, enthusiasm and self-acquired skills, I would never have succeeded on Create Space and Kindle. Your flying fingers dazzled me. I did learn to do some of the tasks, but will still need help again, for the sequel, CHAOS vs. THE CALIPHATE. Much of the computer and trade terminology was like a foreign language. Now I understand some of it.

You are too kind. That’s what we do. “Writers Helping Writers” as our logo says. Now that your book is out in print, how does it feel?

Yes, it’s intoxicating to see one’s name in print. That’s why most folks write letters to the editor. For me, my first time was at Lakewood High, in Lakewood Ohio. I was one of the sports editors of the High Times. I was so proud, when the advisor used an editorial cartoon I had drawn. Unlike other kids, I actually enjoyed doing required reports and theme papers. Mom told me when I was about three, I used to take paper and pencil, then used a low magazine rack, with a flat side as my desk, scribbling and sketching. She said it was hard to get me away from it, and that when she called, I complained “I busy!”

After she died, one of my sisters found a poem Mom wrote about me after I was born in 1933. She and Dad loved to sing. My maternal grandmother authored little Slavic musical plays for the church with my Dad.He was a cantor, wrote some of his own church music. Mom was in his choir. Most lyrics are poetry. So, perhaps there may be a poetry gene in us, in others, not.

Sexual Jihad

What inspired you to write Sexual Jihad, a book you can be sure will be controversial, regardless of which side of the world you are in?

For years, I have been bothered by Islamic Extremism and what it has been doing. I learned that it’s hardly news, been going on since 630 AD. At first, I wrote poetry based on news articles.

Some examples of those poems are: “Border-zone Date,” about an Israeli male teen lured to a death by torture by a cute Muslim girl he meets at a coffee house; “Saving Honor by A Nose,” a true story about Bibi, who had her ears and nose cut off by an Islamic misogynist, a physical abuser, her husband; “Lovely Malala,” is the school girl in Pakistan who had a blog about education for females. She was shot in the head, but survived amazingly well. Two pieces concern young girls who volunteer to work with immunization programs, and end up assassinated by Fundamentalists, under the joint title, “Angels in Muslim Hell.”

Some of my poems are on my site,http://www.poetrypoliticallyincorrect.com. I wanted people to notice the real world. A fool could see what was ultimately going to happen. To get people to read about it, I had to use an adventure novel, one with some sex, suspense, intrigue, interesting people, exotic places and geography, a sport…all stirred up in religious and cultural facts, aping genuine events, so the message, the explanation, was not just a dissertation about danger to our way of life, and most of all, our personal God-given freedoms.

I love tennis. As Judy and I watched the Australian Open and tennis events leading up to it, I chose to make my heroines, the WTA number One and Two. They would be kidnapped in an act of Jihad, which would make them sex slaves. My book has facts and quotes, which back this up. As I wrote, current events chased after me, like the abduction of a couple hundred school girls, who were sold as sex slaves and child brides.

The antagonists, is a cultured man, with many contradictory sides. Sheik Prince needs sons while his wives produce only girls. A devout Muslim, he will not make sons by adultery, with willing women outside his three wives. But he sees a way to do it with the women he so admires, since his college years, attractive female athletes, by using sexual jihad. He easily finds modern support, as I did, from Islamic sites on line. Additionally, his wives have all had FGM as girls. But, he likes his women natural. So, he is conflicted. Soon, he must decide if he will submit his young daughters to this mutilation and, forever, deprive them of sexual pleasures. He likes the way, Allah, the Supreme, the Almighty, created women. FGM affects perhaps a billion women, mainly in Muslim nations and Africa. So FGM becomes part of the book. Decades ago, a young female, from a prominent tribe, fled Saudi Arabia to avoid FGM. She wrote about it in some magazine I read in college, back in the early 50’s. A pre-med, I had no idea such existed.

Sheik Prince wants an heir or two to continue his 1000 year lineage. He wants his sons to become leaders in the Caliphate, he knows will one day come. So, he wants courageous, athletic, intelligent and natural women. He wants women able to respond to his pleasuring. These qualities abound in Ingrid and Marie, my protagonists. They make things tough for him. I mean, what did he expect? He is used to subservient Muslim girls and women.

That’s an intriguing story, full of action and taboo subjects. So let’s talk about marketing. What have you done to promote your book? As an Indie publisher, we know that marketing can be the hardest part of all.

I asked my family members to put out the word on my book, attaching a summary and jacket cover. I asked each to contact everyone on email and social network and ask those folks to spread the news. I am doing the same with four different Alumni groups and medical societies. You helped me with a poster, rack cards and business cards. I plan to give copies to book reviewers, and would like to send one to my three favorites on talk radio, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin. Each of them knows the score when it comes to Fundamental Islamic fanaticism. The book might be seen by them as one way more to educate people who are still free, before it is too late.  We are bound to enter the era of Islam armed with nuclear bombs and biologic warfare. They have progressed from swords and axes, to guns and suicide bombers. Now they reach for the ultimate weapon.

Where can readers get a copy of Sexual Jihad or read it on their electronic devices?

You can buy the print copy through my publisher, Create Space at this link.

https://www.createspace.com/4875374

You can buy the print edition online at Barnes and Noble

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sexual-jihad-nick-kalvin-md/1120026603?ean=9781500326579

Sexual Jihad is also available on Amazon in e-book and print edition.

http://www.amazon.com/Sexual-Jihad-Nick-Kalvin-M-D/dp/1500326577/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412118082&sr=1-1

 

Posted in authors, characters, love, novels, readers, romance, writers, writing

Everyone has a story to tell says Blueberry Falls author Annika Hansen

Blueberry Falls. Carol Kusnierek

Please help me welcome Annika Hansen to Author Interview Friday. It is a pleasure to have you with us today.  Before you became a novelist, what other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing career?

I’ve been a proofreader for much of my adult life, beginning at the University of Chicago Press right after college.  Later, when I was working toward an MA in Drama, I proofread for American Bar Association publications, and as a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto I was a nightshift proofreader for Harlequin Enterprises—yes, THE Harlequin, romance super-publisher. We toiled in a high-rise office building with a big pink neon heart on the side. The offices were decorated with original cover art.  It was by far the most entertaining job I’ve ever had! All of us nightshifters were convinced that we could write a book as good as most of the stuff we were reading . . . and many of us were inspired to try.

Interesting. That must have given you very good insight into what the “Big Five” wanted, or didn’t want.  How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

About a year after completion, my book was accepted by North Star Press, an indie publisher specializing in works set in or relevant to Minnesota.

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Building the story.  I’m not a systematic writer; I don’t do outlines and I don’t necessarily know how the story will end.  I begin with a set of loosely-defined (age, gender, appearance) characters and a series of situations.  As the characters grow, develop their own personalities and begin to speak in their own voices, the situations also get fleshed out.  It’s a bit like being a stage director, giving the actors basic information about the characters they’re playing and watching them define their roles.  (Not for nothing was I a drama major!)

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Just do it—tell your story.  Don’t wait for the magic bullet—one more class or one more bit of research that will make the whole thing fall into place. It really helps to do your first draft in longhand, on legal pads or in a notebook.  When you’re composing at the keyboard, it’s virtually impossible to restrain from editing as you go along.  Let me restate that, it IS impossible not to tweak and tinker, when it’s so easy to do so.  Write in longhand.  Let it flow, and get the story out.  Make marginal notes about things you might like to expand or change, but KEEP WRITING.

What is the premise of Blueberry Falls in Love?

St. Paul attorney Jessica Skoglund’s world came crashing down when she failed to protect her client from a murderous ex-boyfriend. When Jess learns that her late aunt has left her a derelict farm outside her hometown, Blueberry Falls, MN, she decides to leave the urban fast track for the slow lane of rural life, setting up a solo practice on the little town’s Main Street. She inevitably encounters her high school sweetheart, Cody Ouellette, now the county sheriff, who is grieving the loss of his fiancee in Iraq. The old spark between the two is rekindled, and their growing attachment is followed avidly by the townsfolk. When Jess’ client and friend, Lutheran pastor Mavis Tostensen, draws her into a dangerous situation involving the battered wife of Cody’s deputy, Cody must prove his courage and love for Jess while staying inside the bounds of the law he has sworn to uphold.

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?

They turned down the road to the farmstead. Jess had left a single lamp on in the parlor, which glowed dimly and invitingly as they approached the house. Cody got out of the car and walked around to her side to open the door. She climbed out without protest, placing a hand on his arm to steady herself as she jumped down. When they stood in front of her door, she extended her hand shyly and formally.

“Cody, it’s been a lovely evening—”

 “Ah, crap, Jess!” Cody pulled her to him and kissed her fiercely.

They were both out of breath when he finally released her. He still held her by the shoulders. Her hands were on his chest.

 She laughed nervously. “Is this the part in the film where we tear off each other’s clothes and have wild, passionate sex?”

 ********

 She dialed 911 with trembling fingers and forced herself to speak calmly. “This is Jess Skoglund out on Niedermeyer Road. I’m reporting a break-in in progress—”

 “Bitch!” roared Randy, increasing his blows until he almost split the wood.

 “I know, hon,” Marlys responded. “Cody’s on his way. Hang in there.”

 Suddenly the hammering stopped. Goosebumps prickled Jess’s arms. “I’ll try.” She heard glass shattering in the kitchen. “Tell them to hurry!” With a wordless snarl, Randy crashed into the room, grabbing Jess’s shoulders and shaking her violently. The phone flew out of her hand. Randy’s face was purple, the veins popping in his neck. He slapped Jess hard across the face.

Do you have another manuscript in progress?  If so, can you tell us a little about it?

I’m currently at work on a sequel to Blueberry Falls in Love. The emphasis is on suspense, not romance. I’m introducing several new characters, although the central characters from the first book have a role to play in this book as well. A secret from long ago resurfaces to haunt the present, and creates a moral dilemma for both old and new characters. There are also several contemporary issues I’m hoping to work into the plot.

Where can readers buy your book?

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Blueberry-Falls-Love-Annika-Hansen/dp/0878397019/ref=la_B00HQMX4S0_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412089321&sr=1-1

Can you share a little from the  book?

Beth had known Josh since the first year of college. He was from Hutchinson, the town they later called home. She grew up in the cities, and wanted to get out of the busy, urbanized area. Beth had always felt trapped by the tall buildings and fast paced way of life. Both had attended many of the same general education classes, and the friendship grew into love. He proposed the week after graduation, and they got married the following April. Even at 23, she knew with him was where she was meant to be.

One thing that drew Beth to Josh was his willingness to help. It was no surprise to her that he desired to follow his dad’s footsteps and become a member of the Hutchinson Volunteer Fire Department.  He joined the spring before school was out, and commuted from Hutch to school every day. He didn’t want to miss any called and let his numbers slip. The fire department was a second family to him.  His best friend Petey, the brother he never had Josh always said, was the best man at their wedding.  It was a great source of friendship for both Josh and Beth.

They had been married 3 years when they started talking about having a baby. They were lying in bed tossing around ideas of what to name the future little one when Josh’s pager went off. He kissed her good-bye, and told Beth he loved her before grabbing his socks and getting his jeans on as he ran out the door. Beth caught part of the end of the page, hearing it was a car wreck on the main highway. Please keep the guys safe and get the people the help they need, she said in a quick little prayer. It became habit when she knew he was on a call.

A few minutes later, Beth heard the sirens. Their house was less than a mile from the fire hall, which usually resulted in Josh getting on the first rig to leave. About ten minutes later, there were more sirens. Car accidents meant at least one fire truck, the rescue rig, and an ambulance. She waited to hear the third set of sirens, and then got out of bed to get some things done. Josh wouldn’t be back for a while, longer if it was a really bad accident.

Beth worked on getting laundry done, cleaning the living room, and headed to their office in the half story of the house. The office was on the main level, and their room and a third room that was mainly used for storage in the top level. Beth went upstairs and stood at the doorway of the storage room, trying to picture what it would look like with a crib. They were ready to be parents. Josh would be a great father.

As the afternoon went on, Beth found herself cleaning the spare room. There were a lot of things kept in the room that could be moved to the basement already. She took a trip down memory lane as she flipped through photo albums of their wedding and honeymoon. Beth found a box in the garage and labeled it “Photos” before adding the albums and other pictures to it. She brought the box to the basement, along with a few other boxes.

As she came up the steps the last time, she took a look at the clock and decided to start making supper. Beth was filling a pot of water when she looked out the kitchen window and froze. The Hutchinson Fire Department car had just rolled up to the curb in front of their house. Petey got out, wearing a tired look. This couldn’t be good, Beth thought. He rubbed his face for a second, and then crossed the street and walked up to the door. The first knock on the door jarred Beth back to the present, and she turned off the water. Walking to the door, she knew Petey wouldn’t have shown up unless something had happened to Josh. She opened the door, and saw it was grim by the look in Petey’s eyes.

“Can I come in?” he asked her, leaning on the doorway.

“Sure.”

They walked into the living room, and Petey sat on the couch. Beth stood with her arms crossed.

“I think you should sit down, Beth.”

Beth let out the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding, and sat on the couch with Petey.

“What happened?” she asked, fearing the reason he was there.

“Do you know what the call was for?” Beth nodded yes, and Petey continued. “ We were out on 7 for a roll-over. The car was smashed so bad, but being the first crew on the scene, we were doing as much as we could to assess the victims’ conditions. Josh was on the driver’s side when a truck came barreling through our scene. The driver didn’t see Josh.” He put his head down in his hands. “He hit Josh.”

Beth didn’t notice the tears falling until they started hitting her arm. “Where’s Josh? I need to go see him.”

Petey looked up, his eyes also wet.

“He’s gone.”

Posted in books, fiction, ghosts, novels, writers, writing

The Bonnie Neuk Tea Room: Friends and Uninvited Guests (Ghosts) by Connie Hope

the Bonnie Tea room

 

Welcome Connie.  You are a versatile author, writing cook books and then a paranormal ghost  book.  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

I was ten years old and won a writing contest for the C.A.R.(Children of the American Revolution).  I knew that I loved to write and was fair at it.  My mother said you need to find a profession to make money at not play.  I went to college for Elementary Education.  I should have done English.  But it took 50 years for me to have the time—kids, work, life.  I remember the day, we had moved to Florida to retire.  I figured I’d take 2 months off then go look for a job. I was a mortgage closer at the time.  You remember what was happening in 2007 and 2008 the housing market was going into the toilet.  I was sitting on the lanai with my eyes closed.  I felt this tap on my shoulders, looked around saw nothing. I closed my eyes again and something said to me, “You now have time to write your cookbook and novel, go to it NOW.” I got up and started putting together the outline for my cookbook—In Addition…to the Entrée.  Three years later it was done and printed.  Now a year later, I have my novel completed and being edited and hopefully printed in October.  The Bonnie Neuk Tea Room:  Friends and Uninvited Guests (Ghosts).

Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

I have a degree in Elem. Education with a minor in Photography.  The Photograph helped me with the cookbook.  All 200 photos were taken by me. I have taken several courses in writing, character development and plot.  I still am taking course now.  I always think you can learn something new.

How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?

I self printed my first book, the cookbook.  My son has a printing company in China so I printed through him—PRC Book Printing. jacob@prcbookprinting.com  It took me a year and a half to write, photography and get it edited. Then about six months to have a book design work with me on the layout. It was a back and forth for 10-15 hours for 5 days a week.  I knew just what I wanted the book to look like. It took time.

ConnieCover1a

 The novel took about a year of writing, re-writing and re-re-writing.  I would write a chapter, then wait a day and print it out and edit it, then re type it and them re-edit it and change things, then re type it. Now I am having it professional edited.  I’m not the best person in grammar.

Do you always write in the same genre?

I do not always write in the same genre.  My first book was a cookbook.  My second is a novel—paranormal mystery.  Who knows what the next will be.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

You could find it on the mystery section, but maybe in the paranormal also.  Although this is not like some of the paranormal violent novel, it’s just a friendly ghost or two.  

Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and   publisher?

 No, I self printed my cookbook.  The novel I am self publishing through Create Space.

Author, Jennie Nash was quoted on Writer Unboxed that she reads other novels to study structure. Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s.

 I do not follow a structure pattern.  I write from the heart and see where it takes me. I do outline each chapter, but I also change the outline as I get into the story.

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the  story itself?

 I can’t say which was the hardest—they are all challenging as you are writing. As I said I make an outline, but change it at times as I am writing and get another twist in.  Building the story is the fun part, not necessarily the easy part.

It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Writing the book was the easy part, marketing it the challenge as in trying to sell the book and get it to an audience.  I still need help with that part.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

I am definitely a planner.

What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

My advice is to keep writing.  Write everyday and edit the next.  Then write again.  It doesn’t have to be a long period of time, but do it everyday. Not everyone likes to write, then edit, I just find it more rewarding to complete a chapter that I am comfortable with, then move on to the next.  Not saying, I haven’t writing two or three chapters at a time because I get on a roll before I go back and edit it.

What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today? The Bonnie Neuk Tea Room: Friends and Uninvited Guests (Ghosts)

Victoria Storm, divorces her husband of twenty five years, takes her comfort, stuffed bear and starts out on a new life’s adventure.  One day her phone rings and someone tells her that her grandmother owned a tea room in 1932.  Who was this anonymous caller?  She returns to her hometown of Metuchen, New Jersey, buys and renovates an old house, and creates a tea room called the Bonnie Neuk—named after her grandmother’s tea room.  She meets new friends, shares new experience and finds out that her tea room has some unexpected guests from out of this world!  The adventures with these uninvited guests go on all while serving tea, scones and homemade soup to her guests.

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet out appetite?

Here is a page from my novel:  The Bonnie Neuk Tea Room:  Friends and Uninvited Guests (Ghosts)

Working hard until late in the evening after moving in to my new home, I wanted to unwind.  The best way is to make a cup of Rooibos tea and relax in Auntie’s chair that enveloped me with its sturdy arm. It made me feel secure. These herbal leaves or tisanes are from Africa.  Tisane is a catch-all term for any non-caffeinated beverage made from the infusion of herbs and/or spices.  It is naturally caffeine free,  with a rich red color and a sweet nutty flavor.

Closing my eyes to inhale the fragrance of the nutty tea, I felt a cool breeze and a hint of lavender.  Suddenly, the room became extremely cold and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  Despite my fear, I looked up to see in the far corner of the room what looked like a person—a young man, his body image not defined, but rather fuzzy. I stared at the figure until I gathered enough courage to speak.  “I pray for the white light to protect me.  My name is Victoria Thorn Storm.  Having bought this house as a means to a new start for my life, I mean you no harm and come in peace. My dream is to remodel this house into The Bonnie Neuk, a tea room similar to the one my grand mom Thorn had in Metuchen many years ago. Who are you? What is your name? What do you want?”  The room remained deadly cold and quiet.  His shape became more defined, and I noticed he was dressed in a WWII Army uniform.  I sat still for what seemed like hours. In reality only minutes had passed.

The voice said with surprise, “You can see me?  Time is irrelevant. I have been drifting in this house for many years.  I can’t leave. Most people don’t see or hear me, and some tried to ignore me. I want to be known and looked upon with respect.  I am a soldier and have fought for the honor of my country. I was one of the twenty-seven killed many years ago in a freak bus and train accident. We were returning to the base from maneuvers.  I was the oldest soldier.  The young man sitting next to me was twenty one.  Your name sounds familiar.  Did I know you?  My name is Derrick,” he stated in a scratchy, but audible voice.  “I hope to be friends with the owner of this house.”

On a hunch, I asked him, “Did you move a lunch bag of one of the workers the other day?”

“I could have…  It did make everyone laugh.”  After a long pause he said, “I will return.”

The air turned warmer and the room silent.  The voice, fuzzy figure, and the smell of lavender vanished as quickly as they had appeared.  It’s un-nerving from the get-go to realize that you are seeing a ghost let alone talking to one.

 

Thank you Connie. Where can readers buy your books?

My website is www.thebonnieneuktearoom.com You can buy my book on my website and I will sign it for you.

You can buy my book on Create Space using this link.  https://www.CreateSpace.com/4775503. Click Add to Cart and Check Out.

Or you can order on Amazon on the following links.

http://www.amazon.com/Bonnie-Neuk-Tea-Room-Paranormal/dp/099165384X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410882393&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Connie-Hope/e/B00LD8117Y/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

 

 

Posted in family, fiction, fire, fire fighter, love, novels, purpose, romance, small towns, womens fiction, writers, writing

Learning to love among the ashes. A firefighter’s wife’s story.

Megan Kiffmeyer

 

I’d like to introduce you to one of our youngest writers. Megan (Truenow) Kiffmeyer is a 2004 graduate from St. Cloud Technical High School. She was a writer and editor for the high school paper. After graduating, she attended St. Cloud Technical College and received an AAS degree in Credit and Finance. Megan married her husband, Brian in 2007. They welcomed their first son in 2008, and a second son in 2009.

She currently resides in Kimball, Minnesota. Megan is a part of their local Fire Department Auxiliary, and is the wife of a fire fighter.

Her debut novel,  Moving On, is the first of a series that focuses on three couples who all have ties to the Hutchinson, Minnesota Fire Department.

Megan, what drove you to write your novel?

I had started reading more books after receiving a Kindle for my birthday. Out of habit, I was reading a lot of romance novels, and had a hard time finding books with the main male character as a fireman. I’m married to a fireman, and figured there had to be other wives that would want to read the same thing.

How long did it take to write your first draft?

I started writing the first part of June 2013, and had it done by the end of August. It took me a few weeks to outline the story in my head before any of it was written. I set my own deadline because we were moving, and wanted to have it done before the move.

Do you always use the same POV?

My first book is written as third person switching between the lead male and female, but I would like to try first person. It was hard using she/her all the time.

Tag Line:  After Beth’s husband dies responding to a fire department call, she fears finding new love. But sparks fly with a new member of the fire department, and Beth has to decide if she can handle a new relationship. Will she take the chance on another fireman?

Mving On

What was the hardest part in the writing process?

My husband is on our local fire department, and for me it was difficult to come up with names and situations that were not too closely related to people in our town and on the department. The characters are purely from my imagination.

Any advice for new writers?

Keep writing! If you enjoy writing, keep trying. The more patience you can have, the easier the process will feel.

Do you stick with the same genre when writing?

My first novel is considered a romance, and I will write more romance novels. I would like to write a children’s book with my boys as the characters, but I haven’t figured out what kind of story I want it to be yet.

Where can readers buy Moving On?

Blog:  http://mnfirefighterbooks.blogspot.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Megan-Kiffmeyers-Author-Page/564803140270543

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Megan-Kiffmeyer/e/B00HX89T8G/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Can you share a little from the  book?

Beth had known Josh since the first year of college. He was from Hutchinson, the town they later called home. She grew up in the cities, and wanted to get out of the busy, urbanized area. Beth had always felt trapped by the tall buildings and fast paced way of life. Both had attended many of the same general education classes, and the friendship grew into love. He proposed the week after graduation, and they got married the following April. Even at 23, she knew with him was where she was meant to be.

One thing that drew Beth to Josh was his willingness to help. It was no surprise to her that he desired to follow his dad’s footsteps and become a member of the Hutchinson Volunteer Fire Department.  He joined the spring before school was out, and commuted from Hutch to school every day. He didn’t want to miss any called and let his numbers slip. The fire department was a second family to him.  His best friend Petey, the brother he never had Josh always said, was the best man at their wedding.  It was a great source of friendship for both Josh and Beth.

They had been married 3 years when they started talking about having a baby. They were lying in bed tossing around ideas of what to name the future little one when Josh’s pager went off. He kissed her good-bye, and told Beth he loved her before grabbing his socks and getting his jeans on as he ran out the door. Beth caught part of the end of the page, hearing it was a car wreck on the main highway. Please keep the guys safe and get the people the help they need, she said in a quick little prayer. It became habit when she knew he was on a call.

A few minutes later, Beth heard the sirens. Their house was less than a mile from the fire hall, which usually resulted in Josh getting on the first rig to leave. About ten minutes later, there were more sirens. Car accidents meant at least one fire truck, the rescue rig, and an ambulance. She waited to hear the third set of sirens, and then got out of bed to get some things done. Josh wouldn’t be back for a while, longer if it was a really bad accident.

Beth worked on getting laundry done, cleaning the living room, and headed to their office in the half story of the house. The office was on the main level, and their room and a third room that was mainly used for storage in the top level. Beth went upstairs and stood at the doorway of the storage room, trying to picture what it would look like with a crib. They were ready to be parents. Josh would be a great father.

As the afternoon went on, Beth found herself cleaning the spare room. There were a lot of things kept in the room that could be moved to the basement already. She took a trip down memory lane as she flipped through photo albums of their wedding and honeymoon. Beth found a box in the garage and labeled it “Photos” before adding the albums and other pictures to it. She brought the box to the basement, along with a few other boxes.

As she came up the steps the last time, she took a look at the clock and decided to start making supper. Beth was filling a pot of water when she looked out the kitchen window and froze. The Hutchinson Fire Department car had just rolled up to the curb in front of their house. Petey got out, wearing a tired look. This couldn’t be good, Beth thought. He rubbed his face for a second, and then crossed the street and walked up to the door. The first knock on the door jarred Beth back to the present, and she turned off the water. Walking to the door, she knew Petey wouldn’t have shown up unless something had happened to Josh. She opened the door, and saw it was grim by the look in Petey’s eyes.

“Can I come in?” he asked her, leaning on the doorway.

“Sure.”

They walked into the living room, and Petey sat on the couch. Beth stood with her arms crossed.

“I think you should sit down, Beth.”

Beth let out the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding, and sat on the couch with Petey.

“What happened?” she asked, fearing the reason he was there.

“Do you know what the call was for?” Beth nodded yes, and Petey continued. “ We were out on 7 for a roll-over. The car was smashed so bad, but being the first crew on the scene, we were doing as much as we could to assess the victims’ conditions. Josh was on the driver’s side when a truck came barreling through our scene. The driver didn’t see Josh.” He put his head down in his hands. “He hit Josh.”

Beth didn’t notice the tears falling until they started hitting her arm. “Where’s Josh? I need to go see him.”

Petey looked up, his eyes also wet.

“He’s gone.”

Posted in authors, children, fiction, novels, publishing, readers, writers, writing

The Ghosted Bridge by Kristy Abbott

Kristy Abbott pic

Welcome Kristy,  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

I’ve always had the desire to write.  I composed my first book in the second grade.

Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

I have an undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California in Journalism and a Master of Professional Writing Fiction also from USC.  I am a working online content writer specializing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) content (such as blogs, website copy, social media messaging and eBooks) for companies in a wide variety of industries.

How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?

From start to finish 4 years.

Do you always write in the same genre?

Ha Ha!  No.  My first book was a novel – a ghost story set against the backdrop of Minnesota’s I35W Bridge collapse in 2007.  My second which has just debuted is a children’s picture book about a homeless cat searching for a name and a forever family – opposite ends of the spectrum!

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

The Ghosted Bridge shows up on a number of shelves. Paranormal, fiction, I’ve even seen it in fantasy. Of course in Minnesota it also appears on local author shelves. You can even find it at the USC bookstore in the Alumni Authors section.
For Finding Home you’ll hopefully find it cover front out on a shelf in the Children’s section surrounded by loads of happy kids sitting on the floor with the book in their laps!”

Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Yes, both of my books were published by a small regional press.  I did many query letters to agents and publishing houses to no avail.  This publisher – North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc. – was looking specifically for Minnesota topics and Minnesota authors.  I scored on both fronts for both books.

Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

I did try to change one of my books from 3rd person to 1st person after I read Angela’s Ashes but it didn’t work for my story.

Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

I think the topic of Voice is quite interesting.  The main thing I know is that my writing voice is sometimes quite different from my out loud voice.  For me the writing lets the real Kristy Abbott come out to play without judgment.

Author, Jennie Nash was quoted on Writer Unboxed that she reads other novels to study structure. Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s?

I actually write the type of structure I like to read and that means shifting back and forth between characters as the story progresses.  This includes jumping back and forth in time because I like to explore generational themes – i.e., the ghost in my book is actually the relative of someone living and both story lines happen concurrently. 

I purposely used this tactic to build suspense in The Ghosted Bridge and actually sped up the pacing of the character shifts to heighten the reader’s captivation as I got closer to the climax. I think it worked quite well.  Nearly every reader I’ve talked with brings that up and says, “You captured me.  I couldn’t put it down.”  I’m happy to have contributed to some sleepless nights!

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

A few things were difficult, the query process is very disheartening.  You feel like your work doesn’t warrant an agent or publisher’s interest when you send dozens of letters out without feedback.  However, I have learned that there are LOTS of small publishing houses that are looking for niche books so I don’t feel discouraged anymore.  I’d tell any hopeful writer to acquaint themselves with publishers who might be interested in your theme or subject.

I also found it challenging to make my characters believable.  It’s easy to have a strong picture of them when they live in your head but you’ve got to make them solid for readers, too.  My main character in The Ghosted Bridge is a psychic and I had to really believe that she had these gifts to make her real.  Interestingly, the psychic goes through the book questioning her own abilities and is validated at the end. 

It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Well this is the biggest thing I’ve learned about having a book published.  It doesn’t matter who you are, when you become an author, the hard work is just beginning.  I wrote a post on my blog called, Get out Of Your Longsuffering Writer’s Chair, You Are an Author Now, about the transition from being a writer to being an author.  The writer is the artist who creates the work, the author is the marketer who sells it. 

Today’s authors have to be committed to a nearly full-time effort toward marketing.  You’ve got to have a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Goodreads and Amazon profile, and a big email list.  I am good at some things and not so much at others but I’m doing everything I can think of – including getting television, radio and print interviews to get the word out about my books.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

I think I am a combination.  In terms of marketing, I go in stints and try to stay committed for the long haul.  In terms of writing, I let the story come out when it wants to.

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

I say allow the story to be born without judgment.  I have author friends who write a few pages, maybe a chapter and then they go back and edit it before moving forward.  I feel like this completely stalls my process.  I don’t allow the editing policeman in the room until I’m pretty sure the characters are done telling their tale.

What is the biggest thing you didn’t know about being an author?

I never realized how terrifying it can be to do a book signing with the prospect of no one showing up.  We’ve all had to do events at independent book stores or Barnes & Nobles never knowing if the advanced preparation of getting the word out worked.  On those days it didn’t it can be discouraging but as an author you can’t let that derail you.

What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

I’m encouraging people to check out both of my books.  My novel, The Ghosted Bridge, is a fun paranormal mystery for adults.  The children’s book, Finding Home, is the heartwarming tale of second chances for lucky creatures for kids of all ages.

Ghosted Bridge Cover_The Ghosted Bridge Layout 1

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet our appetite?

Attached chapter from The Ghosted Bridge.  In these paragraphs, Sedona psychic Madison Morgan is visited by a mysterious ghost for the first time, setting off a search to determine who the ghost is and what she’s trying to communicate.

 

Madison didn’t notice it at first.  The psychic was having so many readings a day that her tablet pages covered with numbers were filling up fast.  She made a note to go to the office supply store and get another.  She looked at her watch and then contemplated the rest of the day, one more reading, and then off to yoga at 5:30.  The phone rang.

“Yup, I’m coming.”  She told the perpetually crabby Miriam.  As she trotted down the stairs she realized that the heaviness that had been hanging around her had lifted a bit.  Mercury was leaving retrograde, she guessed.

Fifteen minutes later she was just warming up her new client (an eight of diamonds – business expertise extraordinaire) in a session on opportunities coming down the pike, when a peculiar vibration filled the room.  Immediately, Madison’s hands went cold and her hair stood on end, but she was so intent on the young woman in front of her that for a minute, she didn’t even see the older woman standing in the corner.  With the ghost’s entrance, she got a stronger shiver that told her someone from the other side was about and she lifted her eyes to meet the measured grey stare from the woman by the door.

“Holy shit,” Madison squeaked.

“What?”  The young woman sat up straight in her chair.

“Nothing, just, just…shut up for a minute.”

The girl sat back quickly with a look of shock.

Madison turned her attention to the woman in the corner.  She looked older and was dressed in a plain pastel dress.  The woman’s skin shimmered as her visible molecules filled the space where she stood.  Madison sat fascinated.  She knew from experience that these people didn’t typically speak in words. In fact, they rarely made themselves seen.   They used pictures instead.  This woman’s ability to crystallize impressed her.

The ghost stood in the corner silently.  Madison realized that this amount of energy was a huge effort.  She whispered softly to the woman.

“You have a word for this girl?”  Madison pointed at the silent girl whose face still registered confusion.  The girl looked over her left shoulder.  Seeing nothing, she looked back to Madison, eyes wider than before.

The woman gave no trace of response.  Madison tried again.  “You need something from this girl?”  The woman’s quiet presence entranced her.

“Is your mother still alive?”  Madison asked the girl quietly.

“Yes.”

“Grandmothers?”

“Yes.”  The girl was brimming with prickling curiosity.  “Is there somebody here?”

Of course there is somebody here, Madison’s internal dialog snapped.  What are you an idiot?  Do you think I’m making this up?  But the voice that left her lips was soft and gentle.  “Yes, we have a visitor here.  Do you know an older woman who has passed?”

The girl brought a ragged fingernail to her mouth and began furiously chewing.

Madison breathed deeply and spoke from inside herself.  “Who are you here for?”  It seemed as though the presence would not respond but then ever so faintly, the woman moved her head slightly toward the door.  It was a subtle gesture but one that effectively told Madison this visitor wasn’t attached to the girl in the chair.

“I can’t think of…I don’t really know anybody….”

“That’s ok.” Madison cut her off.  “Just remember it.  Maybe it will come to you later.”

“Oh, ok.”

Madison looked back at the door.  The corner was empty.  She felt unbearably tired all of a sudden.  This typically happened when spirits spent that much effort to connect with her.  It was as if they tapped her energy to create a link.  She felt the weariness settle about her shoulders.  She passed her hand across her face and turned her attention back to the reading. A familiar tingle rose behind her eyes.  The sensation was a sign she’d get when she realized a heightened sensory connection.  She hadn’t felt this way in a long time.  It took nearly all her concentration to finish the reading.

 

Thank you, Kristy, for being one Writing Under Fire’s Author Interview Friday.  Where can readers go to buy your books?

My website: www.KristyAbbott.com where you can read more about me, purchase my books and leave comments. I encourage you to check it out.

 

 

 

Posted in authors, books, history, novels, suspense, thriller, writers

Robert Dean Bair gives life to history lessons

RobertDeanBair-a(2)

I am so excited to have Bob on my interview today. I have had the privilege to getting to know him over the past couple of years through our local witer’s group. Bob is one of the sweetest and funniest people I have ever met.  AND he is a fabulous author.  Tell them Bob, why did you start writing?

About ten years ago I realized that there were events in my life that my children and grandchildren would never read in a history book.

I started making a list, with the first event that had been responsible for many more events and direction in my life.

It was New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1947. I was a Military Policeman with the First Army stationed at Fort Jay on Governor’s Island in New York Harbor. I was on guard duty at the airstrip in a blinding snow storm. There was an event that President Harry Truman heard about it. This was the first of many events.

You certainly have a lot of stories to tell. -Did you have writing experience in your life?

Not really. I wrote reports when I was an insurance investigator and when I was a management consultant with M.K. Sheppard and Associates, a management consulting firm in Cleveland, Ohio.

How did you get published?

I was attending a Naples Press Club two day event that featured publishers, editors and agents. On the first day I met an agent from East Florida. I had completed my manuscript and planned to have a couple dozen copies printed at Quick Copy for my family. After talking with her for a while she suggested that I send her three chapters. I was delighted.

On the second day she had more question about my book and at the end of the day she suggested I send her all of the manuscript. The next day I overnighted the manuscript to her.

Three weeks later she called and said she would like to represent me. We signed an agreement within ten days.

Three months later she had a contract for two books if I would change the voice from third person to first. I had written the story as if I was reading it to the children.

I completed the change in three months and had a contract for two books with AecheBooks a traditional publisher. In October 2006 The Cloisters of Canterbury was published by ArcheBooks.

Cloisters of Canterbury by Robert Bair

That is a dream come true for most of us authors that wait years and years to find an agent. You made it sound too easy.  I know that is not the end of the story. Please continue.

You are correct Joanne.  Two years later when my second book was ready to be submit the book business was in a slump and based on the firms production schedule it could be four or five years before my book would be published.

My second book Peace at Lambeth Bridge was published by iUniverse, in November 2008.

Peace on Lambeth Bridge Robert Bair book

In 2013, Peace at Lambeth Bridge, Second Edition was published by Create Space.

Dead Man Talking was  published by Create Space March 2014.

Dead Man Talking

How do you compare Traditional Publishing with self-publishing through Create Space?

I had very little to say with ArcheBooks and received very little marketing support.

Create Space gives the author the opportunity to change prices and market.

I think price sells books. But you need a good cover and a good story.

There are no free lunches.

That is for sure, Bob.  Can you tell us the premise of  Dead Man Talking?

Just before his death on a sandy beach in Anguilla, British West Indies, David Lee Casady, a former CIA operative reveals the true story of the overthrow of Juan Bosch Dictator of the Dominican Republic. Casady held a gun to his head, a Bloodless Coup.

Thank you so much for being on my blog. Below are the links to buy Bob’s books.

Buy Links – Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1?ie=UTF8&field-author=Robert+Dean+Bair&search-alias=books&text=Robert+Dean+Bair&sort=relevancerank

Create Space – http://www.createspace.com/4631602

Posted in authors, books, Christian, fantasy, fiction, God, novels, purpose, writing

James Voris presents The Perfect Daughter

James Vois      James L. Voris

Welcome James to Author Interview Friday. Your story is an interesting one and I am going to let you tell it without my interruptions. Take it away James.

I’m probably going to sound like some weird nut case but I had this story in my head for many years. When I retired, I finally had some time and decided to try to write it. It ended up with over a million characters and I had to trim, trim, trim. The characters took over early on and all I did was write down what they dictated. I found my self laughing with them, crying with them and actually arguing with them. I would often say (out loud) I can’t get you out of this or that situation but low and behold they could, … and did.

My first writing endeavor began as a graphic adult love story with a science fiction twist (The Waters Series – 2 books). That was followed  by to science fiction that developed into four books (Tra$h Man Series). Then a change of genre, to a humorous memoir of my time in the US Air Force as a photographer (Helluva Ride), to a fictional religion based book dealing with the second coming of a messiah, a woman this time. (The Perfect Daughter)
 I am a lousy self marketer of my works. I chose to self publish because I don’t have to answer to anyone and write the kind of stories I like to read. They don’t fit to formula writing and if no one reads them, that’s okay. I’m just not concerned with selling books. I believe I’m a “author” not a writer. Writers write to earn a living and authors write in hopes of being read.
Without a doubt, for me the editing process is the most difficult. Luckily I have several very intelligent friends and the Pine Island Writers group that provided constructive criticism. I’m terrible at grammar and if it were not for computers and spell check writing would be impossible for me. Sorry to say that I don’t follow an outline. I tried to, but with my writing style of letting the characters go their own way, following an outline doesn’t work for me. My characters play in a similar manner to life itself, where despite the best of plans, what the next day brings is often a roll of the dice.
I am probably be the last person to answer any questions about writing as a career. If it’s for your own feeling of self worth then write what comes calling and let it flow. Let your story tell itself and don’t worry about things that are “cleaned up” later in editing.
The Perfect Daughter
 The title of my book is “The Perfect Daughter” You can get it on Amazon at the link below. Briefly, it is a strange twisting chain of events collimating in the second coming of the next Messiah, a woman this time. The product of an immaculate conception virgin birth, Christine brings a message of love and hope for humanity. Her mission is to find and train twelve women to carry on her message as she explores her own human side. (It’s kinda the story I think most people would like to know about Christ and his human side.)
 Here are excerpts from my book.
 (Character talking with God.) Why don’t you show yourself to me? I’d feel less afraid if I could see you.”
 “In all the religions of all the worlds throughout the universe, I made my creations with free will first, and secondly, I gave them an awareness of me. Please, understand this wasn’t so they would worship me. I am not vain. I neither need nor want the whole of creation falling on their faces at altars to sing my praises, or pray to me morning, noon and night ad infinitum. Certainly I never, ever, want sacrifices to me. I would never ask that of my children. The only reason I want my creation to know of me is so they know love, forgiveness, trust, and kindness. I greatest desire is for the whole of my creation to celebrate that. But nearly everywhere across the universe, where their writings proclaim me as their only God, I am assumed of have make them in my image. They often presume that I demand the blood of anyone that doesn’t believe in the religious cultures teachings in this country or that. The same as it is here on your world.”
 “Then, …” I asked clearing my throat and with a little fear in my voice, “ ahhmm … what do you really look like?”
 (Sara’s – [To be Christine’s mother] early introduction into story)
 So, this young woman, who had everything; brains, beauty, talent, and in the prime of her life only months from obtaining her PhD – was lying on the highway amid the cataclysm.
 Each heartbeat spurt from the gaping wound in her neck lessened her chance for continuing life.
 First, she was aware of the tumult, a cacophony of sounds, … sirens screeching, men and women screaming, people running, the deep, heavy rumble, crashing sounds of heavy things breaking and the ground shaking under her. Then the sounds of shattering glass and dogs howling, but it was the screaming and running that frightened her most.
Then she was aware of acrid, black rubber and tar-burning smoke that seared her lungs, stung her eyes and burned her throat.
 Dazed, she rose up on one arm to look through the fog in her mind. The caustic smoke, bedlam and carnage all about her overwhelmed her senses as she tried to understand what was happening. Looking at the ground through a fuzzy haze, she was aware of blood splattering, and the thought flashed through her mind….‘who’s getting blood all over my new, beautiful, yellow, dress, … I’ll have a devil of a time getting that stain out. Who’s doing that, … stop it!’ The blur increased as she grew weaker. The sudden realization struck her that she was the source of the blood. She began to cry as she slumped forward. It grew darker and she felt sick as the chill overcame her.
 (First meeting with 25 of the top world religious leaders  to show the proof of the divine miracle of virgin birth.)
 By the time they entered the vault room Keith had another lighting pack set up. There were twenty-five cases stacked. There were also comfortable chairs for those gathered to sit in. Robert stepped forward at this point and addressed the group. “This ‘proof’, is by far the most unbelievable of all. I’m a medical doctor and I had doubts, even though it was my own daughter, so rather than bore you with my story I’ll just show you the proof.” Robert gave a visual presentation of every record, the entire CT scans, Sonograms, MRIs, DNA evidence, detailing everything he had discovered. He had Sara and Victor tell their story in their own words of what they experienced. At the conclusion he wrapped it up with the statement. “I can’t offer you more proof than this. I’m giving you all the material I have, every scrap of paper, every note, memo, thought. I have to let you now decide what to do with it.”
Thank you James. It has been a pleasure having you on Author Interview Friday.
Posted in authors, books, editing, education, favorite books, fiction, history, literary fiction, memoir, non-fiction, novels, political injustice, readers, spiritual, spiritual, womens fiction, writers, writing

Janet Levine bring us Leela’s Gift

Janet Levine
Janet Levine

Today’s author, Janet Levine was born and raised in South Africa.  Multi-published, from her political memoir, Inside Apartheid to her women’s fiction novel, Leela’s Gift, she is a superb writer with a superb grasp of the art of story-telling.  Welcome Janet. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

There was never a time I did not want to be a writer. I still have my five-year old scribbles. Vividly I remember the first book I read on my own. It was about a visit to the circus and described the dawn colors and the day’s events. I was enchanted, exhilarated at the world evoked on the pages and I told my mother I was going to do that, write a story. So I did, and I’ve never stopped.

How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?

At fourteen, a short story I wrote was read on the national radio in South Africa, and was a finalist for the best teenage writer prize that year. What a thrill. Since the age of eighteen I became a published freelance journalist in the national press in South Africa in those “liberal” newspapers that were against the apartheid regime. I have continued to write articles all my life. I now blog and write book reviews. I also wrote novels from about the age of twelve but none of them were publishable. Because of my involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle I did not have time to polish and revise. My political memoir Inside Apartheid was my first book length manuscript to be published. I started it in 1985 shortly after we immigrated to the USA. My then husband is American and we arrived to live in the Boston area with our two sons. I craved peaceful time to write after the drama of South African politics and wrote the book to establish that a number of white activists were part of the human rights struggle, too. Americans seemed to think that all whites supported apartheid. Because of my reputation in political activities and journalism, I was invited to be on the MacNeill/Lehrer News Hour commenting on the situation in South Africa, and interviewed by Judy Woodruff. A few days later PBS forwarded me a letter from a New York agent who asked if I was thinking of writing a book. I told him I was already working on one. Several months later we had a contract with a large Chicago publishing house.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. What shelves would we find your books in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

I’m a cross over writer; I’ve published a political memoir, two psychology books, and a novel. The book we are promoting today is a novel and we would find it under fiction, women writers, and spirituality.

Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

POV is one of the most challenging decisions for a fiction writer. My voice is decidedly first person. In the novel I am working on now I have two first person narrators; I enjoy making readers “work” a little at figuring out what is the structure. This is highly experimental and unconventional and I still need to work on smoothing the transitions between the voices. In a recently published, magnificent novel The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (recently won the Pulitzer Prize for literature 2014) the author mastered the first person POV to perfection. A pre-pub novel (by a well-known author) I am reading now for review has two, third person (omniscient) narrators, and he works the transitions between their POVs superbly.

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Currently the hardest part of the writing process (for me) is deciding to go the traditional route of seeking an agent, or trying to find an indie publisher, or to self-publish. What I have learned is that however long your work takes to write and revise, it is pristinely your baby, until you hire an editor to bring that professional polish. But the aggravation of the editing process and all those revisions is nothing compared to the resilience and patience (and time and/or money) you need to publish your book. You have to absolutely believe you have something to say that other people want to read or don’t even begin the publishing journey. It is a tough world out there.

Tell us about one of your books in 3 sentences

In Leela’s Gift the protagonist, a New Yorker, undertakes an enriching spiritual journey in the mountains near Darjeeling, India. The novel uncovers highly relevant spiritual teachings for our modern world. In captivating prose the novel intertwines modern philosophy and ancient wisdom in telling a story as old as the human heart.

Complete this sentence……. My favorite place to write is in almost total silence in a room surrounded by my favorite books and pictures and with a window that looks out on a garden or some greenery.

How about this one. …. A book about writing I love is Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings.

Where can readers buy your books?

My website is  www.janetlevine.com. All four books are linked to Amazon from my website and readers can follow me on twitter @jlevinegrp

Thank you Janet.  I know we will have you back to tell us more about Inside Apartheid.  Can you share a few paragraphs from the book we are promoting today, Leela’s Gift?  

“There was no mistaking Maharishi, standing amidst a group of solemn looking men all dressed in white. Pausing with one hand on the gate, Maharishi looked searchingly at me, drawing my attention back to him. He wore a long, immaculate white kurta, a collarless Indian shirt, over wide white trousers. Open sandals adorned his thin feet. In his other hand the beads of his mala slid effortlessly and deliberately through his slender, elegant fingers. His gaze seemed to penetrate my being and warmed to life many layers of my inner self that until that moment lay dormant; quickly I lowered my eyes, the force of his energy overwhelming. In his presence I struggled for breath.

His dark, deep-set eyes were softly luminous, and they smiled as he opened the gate. At the abrupt loss of his presence I felt cold, as I were in the Atlantic Ocean in winter. His presence radiated such heat and desire than when he left I was bereft. Considering this state along with my urge moments earlier to sink to my knees and prostrate myself at his feet, there was every reason to ask with rising hysteria; what was happening to me? After five minutes at the ashram my inner being swirled in choppy eddies. Maybe I should return to the taxi and drive back to Bagdora airport. The familiar known world tugged at me—standing at the threshold to this world seemed perilous, too risky.”

 

Posted in books, cowboys, education, family, fiction, mystery, novels, romance

Marlene Chabot debuts her 4th Mystery/Romance

Welcome Marlene Chabot to Author Interview Friday.  Congratulations are in order on the release of your 4th book  Death At The Bar X Ranch, is being released by North Star Press of St. Cloud Inc. I  understand it will be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Marlene Chabot

 When did I know I wanted to be a writer

I always enjoyed writing short story assignments in grade school, but didn’t think about being a writer when I got older. At the age of 13, I left home for Ohio to attend high school and two years of college to prepare to be a Franciscan Sister. Sunday afternoons were set aside for letter writing. So, believe me, I got a lot of practice writing informational stories. While I was an educator, I wrote a few plays for the children, and helped second and third graders  create their own newspapers, but again never gave writing for the pure enjoyment a thought. It wasn’t until I was 48 and riding back from visiting friends in Colorado the idea of writing mysteries struck me, and I quickly jotted down titles for books and plot ideas.  Particular inspiration:After reading tons of mysteries to and from Colorado, I decided I could come up with some darn good mysteries of my own.

Tell us about your background in writing.

I didn’t have a writing background. My four year degree was in education. But I did take a two year business management class and communication class was a must.  After I wrote my first book, and was getting rejection letters from major publishers I decided to take a 18 month correspondence course from the Institute for Children’s Literature which is affiliated with Writers Digest. I learned a lot. So much in fact, I decided my first book stunk, revamped it and then self-published. I have attended about six writing seminars none of which were specifically for my genre. And haven’t had the opportunity to attend any big writer conferences.

How long did it take you to have your first book published.

I started writing my first novel in 1995, began to revamp it in 2000 and finally had it self-published in 2003. A long process.

Do you always write in the same point of  view? 

My novels are written in the first person. I find it easier to write in first person. I like using a lot of conversation. Many short stories I’ve written, including two for anthologies, have been in the third person.

 What has been the hardest obstacle in your writing career? 

Having been required to write many essays and research papers in college the outline and synopsis were easy for me to pen  once I had the main idea. I felt writing the query was the hardest.  Now that I’ve done several I refer to the others when creating a new one.

 It is exciting that your 4th novel is coming out this month. What advice would you give to knew authors just  getting started in their career?

My advice to a new writer when getting started with a manuscript is to have someone you can bounce your ideas off of and to find a good writer’s group for support and suggestions.  I didn’t join a writer’s group until after my first book was published. I currently belong to 2 groups–one for my genre and the other is a mixed bag.

Tell us a little about the book we are promoting today.

My fourth novel deals with an unemployed teacher, Mary Malone, who is looking for a new place to live and any job she can get. Her private eye brother, Matt, is out of the country so she and her widowed aunt take over his apartment.  Listening to a message intended for her brother, Mary decides to get involved with a case pertaining to horses. The problem is she was scared by a horse around the age of 4 and swore she would never go near them again.

Marlene Chabot's book

 Can you share a little bit of your work? 

Prologue

Mary Colleen Malone’s my name. I’m not what most people would consider either a girly-girl or a tomboy. I’m more an in between type of gal, in between men, in between diets, in between jobs. It varies from week to week. This week, however, not I, but circumstances beyond my control, shoved employment to the top of the heap.

Teaching’s my game, or it was up until yesterday morning when I strolled into the teachers’ lounge and spotted a rare, unexpected gift tucked inside my cubbyhole. At first, I thought the hot-pink slip was someone’s idea of a joke, but then reality smacked me in the face. I hadn’t slid under the unemployment radar after all. With one swift hurricane after another chiseling away at the U.S. economy, teachers without tenure were the latest surfers to be caught up in the storm.

Hmm? Maybe I can sub in Blaine. That’s not too far north to drive. “Aim for the stars,” everyone said. Yeah, right. Fat lot of good it did me. The aligned planet and stars supposedly assigned to my personal universe imploded on contact. Goodbye lifetime job. Hello unemployment. To think I was once so elated being the first member of the Malone clan to receive a master’s degree. Now, I’m just depressed. While I sit idly by twiddling my thumbs, my siblings continue being smugly employed, including the one who flips flapjacks at the local pancake house just around the corner.

So, what’s a smart, single thirty-five-year-old unemployed dame to do? I haven’t a clue. Perhaps it’ll come to me while I snooze.

 

Thank you Marlene. She is the author of  Death at the Bar X Ranch, Mayhem with a Capital M, and two other Minnesota mysteries.

Her website is  www.marlenechabotbooks.com

Amazon link:   http://www.amazon.com/Death-at-Bar-X-Ranch/dp/0878397388/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403615298&sr=8-1&keywords=Death+at+the+Bar+X+ranch

Barnes and Noble link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/death-at-the-bar-x-ranch-marlene-chabot/1118015601?ean=9780878397389