Tag Archives: the wild rose press

Author Randy Overbeck – Human Trafficking & New Release: Crimson at Cape May

Please help me welcome author, Randy Overbeck, with an article on an important topic…

In the U. S., another teen girl is trafficked every 90 minutes!

Today, we have plenty of crises to deal with—political unrest, the traumatic toll of the Coronavirus, a devastated economy that will take years to recover. 

But there is one crisis—tragic, devastating and universal—that is going on everyday, in small towns and large, in inner cities and suburbs, which gets almost NO headlines or news coverage. Based on the best estimates, in the U. S. alone, 5000 teen girls get sucked into the world of human trafficking every year. That’s a hundred young girls a week, fourteen a day, almost two every hour.

And almost no one talks about it.

That why, when I penned my new novel, Crimson at Cape May, a ghost story/mystery, I chose to tie the whodunit to the crime of human trafficking. The narrative is set in Cape May, New Jersey, a breathtakingly beautiful resort town on the East Coast with pristine, white beaches and the largest collection of beautiful Victorian mansions in the country. A perfectly apt, small town setting for a murder mystery. 

And not very far from this idyllic getaway extends a network of human trafficking smugglers, who supply young girls and women as prostitutes, up and down the eastern seaboard.

Of course, all the events described in my novel are fictional. But the reality and the truth is amazingly close to the world captured in the novel. Crimson at Cape May has been described as a cold case murder mystery wrapped in ghost story, served with a side of romance, all set in one of the most beautiful locations in the country. But it is also a novel that reveals the ugly truth about the scourge of sex trafficking and bondage. 

The narrative for the novel is set more than twenty years earlier, in 1999, but the facts about human trafficking captured in the story are sadly still true, only more so today. In fact, did you know that in 2021, there are more people being trapped in human trafficking than at any time in human history.

Her is a link to a brief article with some astonishing—and depressing statistics:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2019/07/29/12-trafficking-statistics-enormity-global-sex-trade/1755192001/

Now, my new novel is no treatise on the subject of human trafficking. It is, as advertised, an award-winning, five-star amateur sleuth mystery and suspense with romantic elements, as they say in the business. I’m confident readers will be captivated by the breathtakingly beautiful scenery, fall in love along with Darrell and Erin, feel compelled to help the street-wise kid, Cassie, and solve the whodunnit of the baffling murder. Scores of Amazon, Goodreads and Bookbub readers have already shared how much they enjoyed the novel.

But I also hope and pray that readers come away with a better grasp of the problem of human trafficking and maybe, just maybe, a desire to do something about it.

 

BLURB—CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY

No matter how far you run, you can never really escape a haunted past.

Darrell Henshaw—teacher, coach, and paranormal sensitive—learned this lesson the hard way. With his job gone and few options, he heads for Cape May to coach a summer football camp. The resort town, with gorgeous beaches, rich history and famous Victorian mansions, might just be the getaway he needs. Only, no one told him Cape May is the most haunted seaport on the East Coast. One resident ghost, the Haunted Bride, stalks Darrell, begging for his help.

He can’t refuse.

Joining forces with Cassie, a street-wise teen and another sensitive, he investigates the bride’s death and discovers her murder is connected to a far greater horror. But can Darrell and Cassie expose those behind the crimes before they end up being the killer’s next victims?

 

REVIEWS—CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY

“With both elements of mystery and suspense, readers across genres will find this second book about Darrell Henshaw intriguing…I highly recommend it.” ★★★★★Literary Titan

“It’s a ghost/mystery story filled with suspense and action. The plot is so engrossing it had me hooked from the very first page.” ★★★★★—Nana’s Reviews, Greece

“An exciting paranormal mystery I couldn’t put down… A great read. Highly recommend!” ★★★★★N.N. Light’s BookHeaven

 “Rollicking good…Darrell is a wonderful protagonist, an ordinary man put into extraordinary situations and rising to the challenge..” ★★★★★ —Over My Dead Body magazine

“I loved everything about this book. As a ghost story combined with a mystery, a romance, a social injustice and stunning historical details, Crimson at Cape May has something for everyone.” ★★★★★—ReaderViews

 “Masterly spooky adventure…an accomplished work of haunting mystery fiction that fans of the genre won’t want to miss out on. Highly Recommend.” ★★★★★—ReadersFavorite.com

BOOK TRAILER—CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY

Social Media Sites:

randyoverbeck@authorrandyoverbeck.com

www.authorrandyoverbeck.com

@OverbeckRandy

FB: Author Randy Overbeck

PURCHASE LINKS—CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY

https://www.amazon.com/Crimson-Cape-Haunted-Shores-Mysteries/dp/1509231633/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1BCBKCDPQRK3L&dchild=1&keywords=crimson+at+cape+may&qid=1599856137&sprefix=Crimson+at+Cape+May%2Caps%2C163&sr=8-2

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/crimson-at-cape-may-randy-overbeck/1137088608?ean=9781509231638

https://www.bookbub.com/books/crimson-at-cape-may-by-randy-overbeck

BIO

Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker, capturing state and national accolades for his work. As an educator, he served children for more than three decades in a range of roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His thriller, Leave No Child Behind (2012) and his recent mysteries, Blood on the Chesapeake (2019) and Crimson at Cape May (2020) have earned five star reviews and garnered top awards and recognition from sites such as Literary Titan, ReadersFavorite.com, ReaderViews.com and N. N. Lights Bookheaven. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation “Things That Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.

 

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My New Release – Sweet Fantasy Valentine’s Day Short Story – Cupid’s Beau

I’m pleased to share my re-release of Cupid’s Beau through The Wild Rose Press – Just in time for Valentine’s Day! 

#WRPbks
#AHAgrp
#ShortStory
#BookWorm
#Valentine’s Day

Fun Fact:

I love to create fictional locations for my stories, and I always try to attach some kind of meaning to them. For Cupid’s Beau, I set it in Wisconsin because I wanted it to be a wintry setting and because my favorite NFL team is the Packers. For the name of the town I chose Castleville. It’s a play on Castle Rock, from Stephen King novels, and a town I lived in as a child for a brief, idyllic time, Cassville, Missouri. (Technically, we didn’t really ‘live’ in Cassville. We lived in some odd Bermuda triangle type location that was a mash up of Exeter, Washburn and Cassville, but we attended Cassville schools, so that’s what I went with 😊)

 

Blurb:

Ivy Pierce is a Cupid who prides herself on doing her job well. Except when it comes to a certain human male, Grant Crawford. Each time she’s supposed to shoot her arrow into his heart, her stomach hurts, her chest hurts, and she feels….sad. Cupids are never sad.

Humans who are not looking for love only get three chances to find it. And after Ivy sabotages Grant’s last chance, her boss, Aphrodite, sends her to earth to right her wrong. She has until Valentine’s Day to help him find his soul mate.

But the more she’s around him, the more she wants him for herself, even though she knows that can never be. A Cupid and a human? Unheard of.

As V-Day draws closer, can she sacrifice her own happiness to help the man she loves find his?

Excerpt:

He helped Gretchen into her coat and walked her to her car. She hesitated before climbing inside the door he held open. Did she expect a goodnight kiss? Snow had started, and he wanted to get back in, so he leaned forward. She lifted her lips, and he gave them a quick kiss. “Goodnight, Gretchen. I had a nice time.”

Her expression showed disappointment, but she didn’t voice it. She slid in the driver’s seat. He closed the door and watched while she backed out of the parking spot and headed down the road.

Before going in, he glanced down the street. A woman was outside a small cottage half a block away. Was that Ivy? What was she doing outside, in the dark, with a blizzard brewing?

None of his business. He turned toward the restaurant, but didn’t go in. What if something was wrong? If she was hurt? How would he feel if he didn’t at least go check on her? Cursing under his breath, he whirled and stalked down the sidewalk to her house.

“Ivy? What are you doing out here?”

She turned to him, her eyes wide. She wore a white coat with a fur hood framing her face. “Grant! Hi. Isn’t it beautiful?”

He blew into his hands and rubbed them briskly together. “It’s freezing. Are you out of your mind?”

She closed her eyes and stuck out her tongue, trapping a snowflake and swallowing. She looked at him. “You try it. It’s wonderful.”

He nearly groaned with irritation. “I don’t have time—”

She took his hand, her soft, gloveless skin warm on his. “Just try it.”

Letting out a heavy sigh, he groaned again. The sooner he acquiesced, the sooner he could leave. He stuck out his tongue. Icy snowflakes drifted into his mouth. Nope. He still didn’t get it.

She squealed. “Wasn’t it great?”

Her green eyes sparkled, the pink in her cheeks making her look…heart stoppingly lovely.

He hadn’t seen anyone show such pure joy in…well, ever. Especially in something so insignificant. He looked up into the sky. Snow drifted down from the blanket of blackness. The Heavens dumping an icy wonderland on Earth. Nature was amazing. While he didn’t exactly share Ivy’s enthusiasm, maybe it wasn’t so insignificant after all.

Kindle

Nook

Apple Books

 

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Author Interview with Nancy Brashear ~ New Release: Gunnysack Hell

Please help me welcome Nancy Brashear. Her new release with The Wild Rose Press, for which I was the editor, is a fantastic read. You’ll definitely want to grab a copy.

Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?

I’m a California girl, born in Santa Monica. However, I lived most of my childhood in the desert, my teens in a ski resort in the mountains, the majority of my adulthood in the San Gabriel Valley. And now I’ve cycled back to the beach where I have a lovely view of Catalina Island from my office (the gazebo in the breezy corner of the yard!) where I spend a lot of time writing. I live there with my husband (my high school sweetheart) and our rescue dog, Goldie Licks. Our three grown children and their families, which include seven busy grandgirls ranging in age from five to twelve, visit often.

Tell us a little about how the book came together

“The Challenges of Writing Gunnysack Hell, a Book with Rotating POVs”

Gunnysack Hell, my first psychological thriller, was inspired by my childhood stint in the desert and something that happened to my family. I began writing it in third person and got about halfway through, but the story didn’t feel right. I began over, this time switching to first person, and things began to come together, but it wasn’t until I let the other family members tell their own stories that the novel was born.  Writing in first-person, rotating POVs, presented me with many technical challenges such as keeping individual voices for each character (and what each person knew and wasn’t telling others), making sure there was minimal overlap, and always moving the action forward. With the help of an excellent editor Ally Robertson (aka Alicia Dean), I was able to make sure that all the moving pieces worked. I’m gratified that the book has received well by readers.

What book have you read that you wish you had written?

From a technical writing viewpoint, I loved the complete cleverness of the suspense book, Gone Girl, with Amy as the ultimate believable and, as we find out, unreliable narrator. I loved how the author manipulated the points of view (along with the reader) through the forward/backwards chronology of the story. I loved the planted clues. Most of all I loved the wild ride that the reader was taken on, and I’d love to write a book like that.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?

I was a junior high and elementary school teacher before I moved into teaching at the university level. I have a Ph.D. in Education with concentrations in literacy development and children’s literature. I served as the Chair of Teacher Education working with new teachers at my university for twelve years before moving to the English Department where I taught Literature for Children and Adolescents and mentored students planning to become high school and college teachers for another decade. I love teaching. As Professor Emeritus, I still occasionally teach an online course I developed in the M.A. in English program and also serve on students’ portfolio committees.

What was your first paid job (other than babysitting or ironing shirts)?

My neighbor hired me to work as a soda jerk in her penny arcade in Big Bear Lake, California, when I was thirteen. I learned to make a mean cherry coke, root beer float, and malt from scratch! I’m also a whiz at making cotton candy!

What actors would you like in the main roles if your book were made into a movie?

I made a Pinterest page (https://www.pinterest.com/nancybrashear/writing-ideas-gunnysack-hell/) while I was writing Gunnysack Hell so that I kept a visual in my mind as I described the characters (Sean Connery, father; Loretta Young, mother; Barbara Stanwyck, grandmother; Jodie Foster, older sister; and Georgie Henly, younger sister).

What do you want your tombstone to say?

“Life is all about choices.”

Have you written any other books that are not published?

I’ve written two adolescent novels (sci-fi and historical fiction) and two adult novels (realistic fiction). They all need a lot of editing, but I’m hoping to bust some of them out into the world!

How did you come up with the title Gunnysack Hell?

The perpetrator (in his off-screen crimes) has been attacking women around the periphery of the Mojave Desert and leaving them in gunnysacks. Gunnysack Hell began as a working title and stuck.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

That no matter how painful it is to do so, recognizing and speaking the truth will set you free. This is something one of the main characters has to do in order to free herself from the psychological bondage of silence.

Other bits about me …

  • I have eclectic tastes in music including rock and roll, jazz, classical, and musicals. For the last two years, our family has been caught up in the songs from Hamilton, and some of our grandgirls know all of the lyrics.
  • My favorite (well, most interesting!) place I’ve visited is Zimbabwe during a revolution during an election year there when I was teaching a course and had my family with me. We were almost hijacked on the way back to the airport.
  • In all my international travels, I haven’t visited Ireland (and I’m part Irish!). I’d like to visit there and track down some obscure relatives.
  • My favorite sports to watch are ALL of the Winter Olympics games!
  • I love assembling jigsaw puzzles.
  • My love language is making soup and sharing it.
  • I lived in a UFO Space Commune at Giant Rock with my family when I was in the second grade.

I enjoyed getting to know you better, Nancy. And thanks for the kind words!  

Enter Nancy’s Free eCopy Giveaway Drawing of Gunnysack Hell at her blog (ends February 26) by leaving your name and choice of the version you’d like: Mobi (Kindle), ePub (Nook), or [scrolling] PDF! Winners will also be mailed a postcard of Gunnysack Hell.

(https://www.nancybrashear.com/february-drawing-for-free-e-copy-of-brashears-gunnysack-hell-ends-feb-26/)

Blurb: “There’s more to fear in the desert than scorpions and rattlesnakes.” It’s the summer of 1962, middle of the Cold War, and the O’Brien family has moved off-grid to the Mojave Desert in Southern California. After all, the desert has to be a safer place to raise a family than the crime-ridden city, and there they can build a new future. But evil also stalks dusty desert roads, and eight-year-old Nonni finds herself harboring a terrible secret: Only she can identify the predator who has been terrorizing the community. And he knows where she lives.

Excerpt from Gunnysack Hell: Nonni – The Serpent

I read this morning that Donald Fricker was granted parole after serving twenty years in prison. Once I saw his name in print, the decades disappeared in the flick of a newspaper page. My childhood flooded back to eight-year-old me, too scared to identify him and save my family.

It was May of 1962. My family had recently moved to our new home, our grandparents’ one-room homestead cabin in the California high desert with tarpaper and chicken-wire lining the walls. It never occurred to me to ask my father why we had moved from our three-bedroom suburban home by the beach to “off the grid.”

All I knew was that we used kerosene lanterns, the chemical outhouse under the tall water tank, a wood- burning stove, and an old-fashioned ice-box that our father replenished with a big block of ice from Jolly’s Corner on his way home each day.

Tessa, my six-year-old sister, and I walked home alone, every school day, from the bus stop, a mile and a half down an isolated dirt road.

That’s when it happened, the thing that changed our family. I’ll never forget that day. I protected Tessa even though I broke all of my promises to Mama I’d made just the night before. To walk directly home from the bus stop, not to talk to strangers, and to stay away from open wells.

That afternoon, when the bus’s hissing air brakes signaled our stop, we leapt from the bottom step onto the dirt shoulder of the road.

I picked the perfect stone from the side of the road. It had to be small and round, with no sharp edges, and light enough to kick all the way home.

Tessa followed on my heels, talking my ear off, and stepping on the heel of one of my tennies. “Gave you a flat!”

“Back off!” I glared at her. Mama said those shoes were like gold, and we were to protect them. I gave the rock a punt and forged ahead.

Oblivious to things going on out there in the desert, we were lulled into a sense of safety and routine. Like Eve, we didn’t feel the danger around us until it was too late to escape. Instead, I should have been paying attention to the truck following us slowly.

Down the deserted road.

Yes, this is our story.

My story.

*****************************************************************

Check out Nancy’s short story… ONLY 99 cents!

Bio: Nancy Brashear lives in Orange County, California, with her husband, Patrick, and their rescue dog, Goldie, where her grown children and seven grandgirls have supported her writing adventures. A professor emeritus in English, she has published short stories, poems, academic articles, textbook chapters as well as website content and writing projects with educational publishers. Gunnysack Hell is her debut fiction novel and was inspired by a true-crime event. And, yes, she did live off-grid with her family in a homestead cabin in the Mojave Desert when she was a child. Visit www.nancybrashear.com to learn more about Nancy’s interests and writing projects (and to get a free prequel story, “Dare to Wish Upon a Star,” with Claire, the mother in Gunnysack Hell as a child).

Contacts:

Author website: www.nancybrashear.com

Author FB: www.facebook.com/nancybrashearauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nancybrashearauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/drnancybrashear

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/nancy-brashear

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Nancy-Brashear/e/B083JNZGPR%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/nancybrashear/

 

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#HobbyCareerPassion: “A Passion for Purses” ~ Author Wendy Kendall ~ #WRPbks #AHAgrp

Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.

I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Wendy Kendall…

(I’m proud to say that I was Wendy’s editor for Kat out of the Bag – and I love her book!)

A Passion For Purses

by Wendy Kendall

I have reveled in a passion for purses many years. I enjoy all kinds. You name it and I’ll claim it. My curiosity and wildly growing peronal collection led me to investigate the world of purses. That resulted in my new mystery novel Kat Out of the Bag, introducing Katherine Watson celebrated international purse designer and amateur sleuth.

Why do women love purses? I had my suspicions, of course. I followed many clues. I devoured everything there was to read about designers. I researched art appreciation. But it was when I interviewed every day women about their favorite purse, and learned about their incredible lives and families that I knew I was hot on the trail to uncovering the mystery of a passion for purses.

I met with a variety of women who enjoyed purses. Their favorite purse, the one they told me all about,  was often a special gift, maybe a family member, loved one, friend, or mentor. Sometimes their purse was a style similar to another woman’s who they’d known. Often it evoked a cherished memory, like an aunt who had a purse pocket with surprise candy treats for kids. There was a sisterhood here.

For some women their favorie purse represented a cause that they supported wholeheartedly. They were wearing their heart on their arm, or sometimes crossbody.

No matter how contemporary, these stories had roots in history. Yes, a woman’s purse tells a story, that’s unique and at the same time shared. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place. I traveled from Seattle, Washington to Little Rock, Arkansas to visit one of only three purse museums in the world – Esse. The ESSE Purse Museum does not simply showcase accessories. It makes HERstory tangible and familiar. ESSE is focused on honoring women, artisans and the stories that make us unique and connected.

Mystery solved! And my novel underway, about Katherine Watson the purse designer. She creates purses because it was a passion that her great grandmother had shared with her when she was a young child. It was then she learned  inside every purse there’s a treasured story of the woman who carried it, and those stories are important. When Katherine ends up temporarily back in her hometown of Bayside, she decides to create a purse museum in honor of her great grandmother, and all the women who’s stories would be told in the exhibits. Never did she imagine that the mayor would be murdered at the Gala Opening.

My character Moonjava is a fan of the hippies of the 1960’s. She’s also the museum historian. She loves the idea of showcasing history in creative exhibits. She shares a daily meditation with anyone who will listen, often with interesting repercussions.

Amber is the college student who manages the museum gift shop. She’s a wristlet gal. She stumbles on her own cold case mystery when she and her boyfriend Michael find a note in a donated vintage purse.

While Michael and Amber partner on their cold case, Katherine finds herself investigating the murder with, and sometimes at odds with local cop Jason Holmes and his K-9 partner Hobbs. Jason ends up learning some things about purses as the mystery deepens.

I wrote Kat Out of the Bag for the fun of mysteries, for the fun of creating the characters, for the women who are making history right now, and to honor memories of the women who have gone before.

Kat Out of the Bag is available on Amazon

Book Blurb –

When celebrated international purse designer Katherine Watson hosts a gala for her Purse-onality Museum, she never expected the next day’s headline to read: ‘Murder at the Gala Prmiere.’ But after a dead body is found during the event, that’s exactly what happened.

Working to solve the murder, Katherine matches wits with local cop Jason Holmes and his K-9 partner Hobbs. Although Holmes and Watson disagree often, they discover an undeniable attraction building between them. But they’ll have to put their feelings on hold and focus on solving the murder, before Katherine becomes the killer’s next knock off.

Excerpt –

“There’s an officer nearby. We’ll alert him. Hold the line.”

Katherine was worried by the operator’s monotone. Did she understand the urgency? Katherine watched in disbelief as the shadow figure moved toward the shed attached to the waterwheel. Too late, she thought to get a picture after the person disappeared inside the shed.

“Oh no,” Katherine muttered. She spoke into the phone, “Hurry, I think it’s the killer, maybe looking for something left behind? Hello?” Had the operator hung up?

“Yes, the officer is on the way. Please stay on the line.” The operator’s voice now sounded bored.

A sharp ray of light from inside the shed cut through the darkness. The light jumped around. Sweat collected on Katherine’s upper lip as she imagined the killer looking through her things for something, maybe critical evidence. Fear gave way to irritation at the invasion. Irritation gave way to anger. Someone had to stop that killer from removing whatever incriminating thing was so critical it had driven a return to the scene of the crime. Katherine wanted to scream. Where were the police? Maybe MJ was right about them. She pressed against the french doors. The light in the shed went out. Her breath caught in her throat. The silhouette walked out of the shed toward the alley leading to the maze that burrowed throughout Bayside and beyond.

Katherine spoke gruffly and fast, “Hello. Where’s your officer? The suspect is getting away.”

“Ma’am, please stay calm and hang on the line. They’re on the way.”

Katherine unlocked the door to the yard and whispered to the 911 operator, “I’m in pursuit.”

 

Author Bio –

Wendy Kendall has a passion for purses and stories of the women through history who carried them. Her cozy mystery Kat Out of the Bag is the first book of the In Purse-Suit Mystery series.

Wendy is a blogger, editor, speaker, project manager, and syndicated columnist. Catch exciting author interviews on her podcasts. She loves her two sons, Alex and Brad and lives near Seattle.

Website – Wendywrites.org

Blog – ApassionForPurses.blogspot

Facebook– Wendy Kendall, Mystery Author

Twitter – wendywrites1

Podcasts – Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries . . . A Novel Talk . . . The Cozy Mystery Quartet

Columns – Recommended Reads and Kids Are Bookin’ It

Esse Purse Museum

 

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Filed under Author Blog Post, Hobbies...Careers...Passions

“Lessons From Rejection” by Olive Balla

Please help me welcome Olive Balla with an article all writers should read…

“Lessons From Rejection” by Olive Balla

For the umpteenth time, I click my cursor through the terse, to-the-point emailed responses to my latest barrage of agent queries. Thanks, but no thanks; Unfortunately, your work is not a good fit for our agency; and finally, the dreaded: This is in no way meant to reflect on the quality of your writing, keep it up.

“I’m seventy years old; the clock’s ticking,” my internal doomsday prophet intones. How many increments of a typical six-month waiting period do I have left? I don’t even buy green bananas.

Driven by the desire to hit that sweet spot required to find an agent willing to take a chance on my writing, I ask, “What does a good fit look like?”

Apparently, as the old saying goes, it’s different strokes for different folks. One agent’s pot-o-gold is another’s anathema. The bottom line is, how tough would an agent find it to sell my story? The shifts in the industry over the past decade alone have made it harder than ever to sell anything even remotely considered cliché, passé, overdone, or not edgy enough. To quote an agent who spoke at a writer’s convention I attended, “Please, don’t send me another story about vampires or kid wizards.” It’s a market-driven business; fads quickly come and go – emphasis on GO. To be marketable, a novel must not only be well-written, it must sizzle and pop with unique plot, peopled with and acted out by unique characters.

The latest series of rejections compelling me to action, I spend the day researching books on Amazon, paying careful attention to the back covers and blurbs to get a feel for what’s selling. Then I read my manuscript out loud, in hopes that getting another sense involved may help me spot gaps in the plot or highlight weak verbs and wonky sentences. Regardless of how many times I’ve edited, I edit again, searching for typos, misspellings, and over-use of be, am, is, are, was, were, been, or has been and have been.

If I’m still happy with my plot and character arcs, I seek and destroy anything written in passive voice – the use of which will doom even a great story.

I then move on to the Query letter. Does it sing? Does the Hook really hook? I re-read Query by C.J. Redwine and invest a day re-working my Query letter. I search the pages of the latest Guide to Literary Agents, highlighting the agencies I’ve not yet queried.

After doing everything I know to do, and as the melody of Cast Your Fate to the Wind – a golden oldie from the seventies – floats across my memory, I send out another barrage of Queries. Then I square my shoulders, open the Outline Template on my desktop, type in a working title, and begin another story.

 

Blurb: 
Eleven-year-old Jillie Ross escapes the vicious relatives threatening to flush away her beloved sister’s ashes if she doesn’t lead them to her dead father’s rumored treasure. Determined to find her sibling’s ashes and honor them along with their parents’ remains, the feisty orphan must endure harsh weather, escape a stalker, and hide from the police. But how long can she survive when at least one family member wants her dead?
Excerpt: 

Jillie dropped the metal lid as if it were red hot… Her stomach heaved, and something sour shot up her throat. Panic sent her running to the door where she pounded against the unyielding wood until the muscles in her arms cramped.  She  fell to her knees and clawed at the floor, ignoring the pain radiating up her arms from torn fingernails…The sound of approaching footsteps made the tiny hairs on the back of her neck move. Jillie snatched up the broken shovel handle and took a position in front of the door. With her legs slightly bent,, she balanced on the balls of her feet as she’d seen a martial arts professional do on television. She gripped the pole in both hands as if it were a sword, aimed its broken, pointed end at the door, and waited.

Olive Balla is a retired educator and author of two mystery/suspense novels An Arm and A Leg and Jillie published by TheWild Rose Press, Inc. A New Mexico native, Ms. Balla lives in the village of Los Lunas with her husband, her bossy puppy, and her pesky Internal Editor.
Find Olive Here:

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Author Interview with Cassie Laelyn ~ Unforgotten, The Fallen Guardians Book 2 ~ + a Giveaway

Please help me welcome author Cassie Laelyn…

Hello, Cassie. Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets? 

Hi! I’m Cassie Laelyn and I’m addicted to paranormal romance. I mean, I write paranormal romance! I live with my husband, two BMX-mad boys and a crazy, very spoiled dog. I grew up in a military family, so I moved around a lot as a kid, but the family and I finally settled in a small beachside town in sunny Queensland, Australia. Right now, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere more beautiful.

Was there anything unusual, any anecdote about this book, the characters, title, process, etc, you’d like to share?

The whole Fallen Guardians series is based on the notion of soulmates. I’ve always believed that soulmates are two halves of the one soul. No matter what choices they make, regardless of the obstacles they face, those two halves will always find their way back together. After all, it’s destiny! But with Unforgotten, I wanted to take that one step further and show that even during great tragedy, there’s always a reason to choose hope.

In Unforgotten, Aric and Willow are two immortal soulmates living blissfully happy until one devastating choice tears them apart. Now, centuries later, those two halves are desperate to reunite. Consumed with never-ending love, commitment and a dangerous amount of hope, even Hell won’t stand in their way.

What book have you read that you wish you had written?

Anything written by JR Ward or Kresley Cole! Those ladies have an amazing ability to create complex worlds and characters in a long-standing series. I would love to have written the Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole. It’s a series based off the Major Arcana tarot Cards, and the whole world she created has blown me away. I can’t wait for the final installment.

Do you collect anything?

Books, books and books!! But I guess all authors collect books, right? Something else I love collecting are Willow Tree figurines. They’re tiny sculptures that come with a message, usually one of love, hope, comfort or inspiration. I like to buy a new one each time I experience a significant milestone in my life, such as releasing a book!

What do you want readers to come away with after they read Unforgotten?

Even when all seems lost, never lose hope. “Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” – Christopher Reeves

What is your favorite quote?

I have two favorite quotes I turn to when things seem impossible:

“It is often in the darkest night that we see the brightest stars.” – Richard Evans.

“Follow your soul, it knows the way.” – Unknown.

What celebrity would you most like to be stranded on an island with?

You said “celebrities” right?? Ha ha! I’d like an island with me, Ryan Reynolds, Ian Somerhalder, Scott Eastwood and right now, I’m adding John Krasinski to that list!

If you could be a character in any of your books, who would you be?

If I had to choose only one, I think I’d like to be Fate. She’s mysterious, powerful and not afraid to do what’s right. Even though many immortals think she’s the enemy, I believe her heart is in the right place.

Have you written any other books that are not published?

I’ve written Book 3 in The Fallen Guardians series, which is about to enter the editing stage. I also have a bear shifter novella plus a short story as part of a charity anthology to raise money for the Australian bushfire appeal. Both are due to release in mid-2020.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 

My favorite romance authors are: JR Ward, Kresley Cole, Jennifer L Armentrout, and fellow Aussie Kylie Scott… and many more! I love how they all write over-the-top flawed heroes who will stop at nothing for the one they love. They’re intense, fiercely protective and loyal, powerful and hot! I also love how the heroines are strong and not willing to sit on the sidelines while all the action happens!

Tell us your favorite… 

Movie – Sweet Home Alabama and Ten Things I Hate About You.

Music – Anything by Lifehouse!

Place you’d like to visit – New Zealand and the USA!

TV show from adulthood – The Vampire Diaries / The Originals

Food – Woodfired pizza

Sports team – My boys are mad into BMX, so that’s my favorite sport right now!

Which do you prefer: Board games/card games or television? – It depends on my company – I love doing all three!

GIVEAWAY!!! To celebrate Unforgotten’s release, I’d love to give one lucky reader an ebook copy! To win, tell me why love reading paranormal romance!

Unforgotten, The Fallen Guardians Book 2

Goodreads – http://bit.ly/Unforgotten_GR

Blurb:

Fate offers no mercy. Especially not to those who betray her.

Lethal Guardian Aric’s loyalty never falters. Not even when Fate exiled him and his brothers from the Heavens, separating Aric from his soulmate. He’ll do anything to reunite with her. But when Willow suddenly appears in the mortal realm, Aric’s greatest fear comes true—she’s no longer the angel he left behind.

Since Aric abandoned her, the Heavens have become Willow’s personal Hell. Centuries of bitterness and hurt is a toxic combination. It even affects her angelic powers. When a Fallen offers Willow a chance to escape, she accepts. But shunning her connection to the Heavens comes at a cost.

In a twisted battle of loyalty, trust and hope, what price will two soulmates pay for a second chance at love?

Excerpt:

Pivoting around, he peered over the cliff. Flames consumed the mountainside like bright orange burning fingers reaching for him.

Fuck. The fire surrounded him. No way out.

“Help!” Willow shrieked, her voice screaming through the roaring flames.

He had to find her before it was too late. Shielding his face with his arm, he crept closer to the flames.

“Willow, where are you?” A blast of heat scorched his face, forcing him back. “Fuck!”

Any gulp of air he managed burned in his chest. The smoke swirled around his body making his head swim and legs wobble. His stomach rolled.

The moment his throat squeezed shut, his legs gave out, falling to his knees in the ash, gasping for breath. Fire licked his arm as he reached for Willow.

He couldn’t find her. He couldn’t save her.

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon US – https://amzn.to/2GMnzbg

Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/3b5t8jb

Amazon CA – https://amzn.to/2OpzYGC

Amazon Aus – https://amzn.to/2GQbvWO

 

iBooks – https://apple.co/37TQ7vo

B&N – http://bit.ly/Unforgotten_Nook

Google – Coming Soon!

Kobo – Coming Soon!

Bio:

Growing up in a military family, Cassie had a childhood filled with countless crazy adventures. Eventually, sunny Queensland stole her heart, and she now calls it home with her husband and their two BMX-crazy boys.

Borderline obsessed with the paranormal world, Cassie has a passion for crafting stories involving strong, otherworldly characters in need of redemption. She’s a self-confessed book-a-holic and a sucker for a gut wrenching happily ever after.

When she isn’t narrating imaginary characters, Cassie loves binging on TV shows, spending time at the beach, and curling up listening to the rain.

Join Cassie’s newsletter (www.cassielaelyn.com) to stay up to date with release information, including the next instalment in her action packed, steamy paranormal romance series, The Fallen Guardians.

Stalk Links:

Facebook Reader’s Group (Cassie’s Log Cabin) – https://www.facebook.com/groups/CassieLaelynsLogCabin/?source_id=151798248858993

Facebook – http://bit.ly/Cassie_Facebook

Instagram – http://bit.ly/Cassie_Instagram

Twitter – https://mobile.twitter.com/CassieLaelyn

Website – https://www.cassielaelyn.com

Bookbub – http://bit.ly/Cassie_BookBub

Goodreads – http://bit.ly/CassieLaelyn_GR

Amazon Profile – https://amzn.to/2ZlZcwP

 

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Filed under Author Blog Post, giveaway

Christmas Frost – Four Sisters Find Romance at Christmas

I’m pleased to share these four sweet, holiday stories from The Wild Rose Press…

 

 

Joy Frost Burton lives a busy, successful life, finding comfort in the lovely home she shares with her three little boys. A widow, she isn’t looking for love again, in spite of her three younger sisters’ rather pushy encouragement.
Mysterious fate has other ideas and throws charming Sean Summers into Joy’s world again and again. Soon, however, ghosts from the past and a challenging family crisis create difficult complications.
Does Joy dare risk loss and sorrow a second time by following her wounded heart’s new rhythm?

Excerpt

As I arrived at the doorway, I took a quick look back and BAM—ran smack into a man coming in. An indelicate “Oomph” escaped my lips as we both reached out to steady ourselves. His hand covered mine on the door frame. Warm—very warm.

He kept it there, and I didn’t struggle to free myself at first. I was turned sideways and couldn’t see his face, but my senses—all of them—responded to his closeness.

Finally, I breathed again and pulled my hand out from under his, mumbling a weak, “Oh, so sorry.”

“No, I didn’t see you there. It was my fault.” He had a deep voice with a little rumble in it. I looked up and saw a ruggedly handsome face and dark blue eyes. He looked vaguely familiar, but I forced my eyes away too fast to think about that.

“Excuse me.” I tried to scoot past him, brushing my shoulder against his chest as we both turned to maneuver through the small open space. Unfortunately, we’d moved in the same direction, and then we bumped knees. I was mortified.

“Oh, sorry again,” I yelped. At that point I noticed his enticing aroma—a mixture of cool autumn air and spicy leather. Definitely masculine.

I couldn’t see his face now; mine was practically smashed into his neck. But I didn’t mind lingering in his scent. I may or may not have murmured, “Mmmm…”

 

 

TV Reporter Noelle Frost enjoys life now that she’s free of her abusive ex-husband. She and her young daughter are doing quite well without a man in their lives. Then she meets a giant of a man, six-foot-ten Zave Trayce, a basketball legend. Her trust in men is damaged. Zave seems like the ultimate player on and off the court. She will have to decide if she’s brave enough to risk her heart in the game of love.

Excerpt:

A shot of energy warmed my cheeks. This was undoubtedly the most incredible physical being I had ever seen, and he was looking at me. I continued to stare back, not knowing what to say, but certainly enjoying the moment, until that annoying college student interrupted my view by handing me my hot chocolate.

“Here you go, miss. That will be four dollars and twenty-five cents, please.”

“My treat.” Gorgeous Man’s low voice had come from those lips that turned up at the corners, hip still against the counter, his eyes dancing with amusement.

“Oh no, you don’t need to pay for mine.”  I pulled myself together, proud for uttering a complete and coherent sentence.

“I’m happy to do it, Ms. Frost.” He pushed his at least six-foot-ten frame away from the counter and winked at me, sending warm honey gliding through my body. Oh, my goodness. He actually winked at me, and it wasn’t cheesy. It was absolutely hot. Then a light flashed in my mind. He knew my name.

I took a step back. “Umm…have we met?” Although intrigued, since my divorce I was over cautious where men were concerned.

“CBS 4 Denver, TV reporter Noelle Frost. Everyone in Colorado must know who you are by now.”

He had an adorable lopsided grin. I could get used to that. I relaxed a little. I had only worked for the station for a few months, and it still surprised me when strangers recognized me. 

Holly Frost has suffered from unrequited-love since she turned down Elam Holmes in high school. Years later they are still doing the “friend zone” dance. They’ve seen each other through heartbreaking loss and shared everything–except the truth. Can they break down the walls they’ve built to find love beyond friendship?

Excerpt:

I had to be dreaming, but I was wide awake. Elam pulled on me some more, and the warmth of his hand made my arms and legs tingle. I floated up on the couch.

He sat beside me and touched my arm. “Holly, you feel cold.” He lay down and pulled my back against his chest, his arms wrapped around me.

Minutes crawled by while I struggled to breathe normally.

“I can feel your heartbeat through your back,” he whispered.

“I’m a little—”

His breath had warmed the back of my neck. “Are you warmer now?”

A shiver rippled over my skin from my toes to my head. “Almost,” I managed.

“Almost isn’t good enough.” He leaned up on one elbow, looking down at me and stroking the side of my face with his fingertips. “You are incredibly beautiful, Holly. No wonder Marco went after you.”

I rolled over on my back and looked up into his eyes. “There is no…”

He leaned down and skimmed his lips over mine in a friendly kiss. “I am so happy you came this weekend.”

I tilted my chin and gently kissed him back. Elam, Elam, Elam…“So am I.” I wanted more. I yearned for more. I shivered again.

Elam cleared his throat, moved over and stood up. “It is cold in here.” He grabbed my pillow and the blanket off the floor and spread it over me. “I’m not sure L.A. warmed you up as much as you’d hoped.”

“Maybe nothing is as much as I’d hoped.

Chrissy Frost’s self-identity has changed from “happy-go-lucky” to “broken” after losing her parents in a tragic accident the day after Christmas nearly four years ago. Every aspect of the holiday season, especially snow, has a devastating effect on her.
A work assignment where she is able to change others’ lives for better, in addition to meeting handsome, caring, caramel-delicious Decker, might spark a flame of hope in her wounded heart.
Yet there are so many bumps in the road, Chrissy’s not sure she can handle the risk of getting burned.

Excerpt

Gathering up all my ammo, I ran straight into him, shoving snow into his chest and face. He fell backward, and I came down on top of him. I tried to prop myself up, but he pulled me back into his embrace. I shivered, but he rubbed my back, warming me instantly. My heart thudded at a rapid pace, and every nerve in my body tingled. He loosened his grip enough for me to look at him.

You might think you’re playing fair, but this is not fair.

In one smooth motion, he lifted me off and sat up, pulling me with him. His arm remained around my waist, our faces inches apart. Those eyes that were always watching out for me locked with mine.

“I missed you on Wednesday.” Before I had a chance to respond, his warm lips were on mine. I didn’t resist. I let my arms slide around his neck. I’d never felt so safe in my life. What was happening? He was taken.

When the lusciously long, but not long enough, kiss ended, I collected my wits, which were strewn all around the kennel.

“Decker? But what about—”

“I’ve wanted to do that since the first day I met you.” The words vibrated against my willing lips, shaking the earth, or at least my heart.

Never mind the snow or Bre…what’s-her name.

I went in for more delicious kisses from the gorgeous man holding me.

 

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Interview with a Villain by Olive Balla

I’m happy to have Olive Balla back on my blog. Today’s article is entertaining and informative…

Interview with a Villain       

Grinning as if I’d just won something, which I never do, I push my office chair back from the desk and toss another ball of wadded paper toward the trash can. Whoosh, it falls through the opening without touching the sides. A good omen; one which cannot be ignored.

“Woo-hoo!” I pump my fist up and down. My pulse quickens, and I glance at my watch.

Today’s the day. In precisely six minutes, I will interview a murderer.

I couldn’t do such a thing on just any day, you understand. It must be a day filled with good omens, a day in which I feel physically energized and psychologically pumped.

A day like today.

In preparation for the interview, I drag a woven, cane-bottomed dining room chair into my office and situate it directly across from my seat. The straight, ladder back should prove uncomfortable enough to keep my guest off balance, thereby ensuring more spontaneous responses to my questions. The distance of five feet between chairs, give or take a few inches, will allow unimpeded eye contact.

I take a deep breath and blow it out through puckered lips then drop into my chair. With less than two minutes to go I peer at the screen of my laptop. My mouth goes dry as I consider the questions that seemed insightful minutes earlier but now appear insipid and pointless.

Do they zero in on the villain’s motivation like a professor’s laser pointer, or are they so ambiguous as to allow room for sloppy evasion? Are any of them redundant? Will they elicit responses that help my Readers to understand human nature while chilling their bones?

I chew my thumbnail and shoot a look toward the office door. A shadowy figure stands in the opening, backlit by the hallway light.

“You’re early,” I say.

“Insightful,” the murderer says. “Anything else, or is that it?”

“Thanks for showing up.” I point to the chair opposite me. “Have a seat.”

The villain saunters to the rattan chair. She stares down at it, snorts then grins and shakes her head. “Such an obvious ploy. Contrived. Best be careful or I’ll disappear before you have what you need.”

“Sorry.” I hold my hand up, palm out as if to stop a charging rhino. “Is there anything you’d like to tell me?”

“No, no, no.” My murderer moves her index finger back and forth imitating a clock’s pendulum. “That’s not how this works. While allowing me freedom of expression is important, it’s up to you to ask the right questions. Otherwise, you risk making me predictable, or worse, cliché. When I have something unexpected to say, as I most assuredly will if you do this right, I’ll jump in and it’ll be up to you to keep up.”

“Okay.” I take a deep breath.

For the next hour or so, I shoot questions at my murderer, furiously typing her responses into my laptop. I’ve just finished memorializing her umpteenth impromptu stream-of-consciousness monologue when she falls silent. I glance in her direction just as her shadowy form retreats through the office door.

“Thanks,” I call out.

Wordlessly, she waves an arm over her head then is gone.

My pulse pumps like race car pistons as I review the transcribed pages that will set the stage for my suspense novel.

“Not at all what I expected,” I murmur.

The fragrance of lilacs suddenly fills the room. I breathe deeply, sensing another presence.

“My turn,” says my Protagonist.

“So it is,” I say. “Please, have a seat.”

 

Thank you, Olive. Love this! It’s a great idea for writers to interview their villains, and main characters, before writing their stories. 

Now, here’s Olive’s latest release, chock full of villains…

 

Blurb:
Eleven-year-old Jillie Ross escapes the vicious relatives threatening to flush away her beloved sister’s ashes if she doesn’t lead them to her dead father’s rumored treasure.
Determined to find her sibling’s ashes and honor them along with their parents’ remains, the feisty orphan must endure harsh weather, escape a stalker, and hide from the police. But how long can she survive when at least one family member wants her dead?
Excerpt:

Jillie dropped the metal lid as if it were red hot..Her stomach heaved, and something sour shot up her throat. She pounded against the locked, unyielding door until the muscles in her arms cramped.  She  fell to her knees and clawed at the floor, ignoring the pain radiating up her arms from torn fingernails...   

The sound of approaching footsteps made the tiny hairs on the back of her neck move. She snatched up the broken shovel handle and stood behind the door. With her legs slightly bent, she gripped the pole with both hands as if it were a sword, aimed its broken, pointed end at the door and waited.  

Bio:
A retired educator, Olive Balla began writing in her sixties. Her first mystery/suspense novel, An Arm And A Leg, was published just after her sixty-fifth birthday, and her second, Jillie, was recently published. Ms. Balla is a mother of three, grandmother to eleven, and great grandmother of seven. When she isn’t writing, she can be found making sawdust in her wood shop near Albuquerque New Mexico.

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Author Interview with Jayne York ~ New Release: If Wishes Were Horses

Please help me welcome today’s guest, Jayne York…

Good morning, Jayne. Thank you for joining me today.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?

I’m a professional jeweler specializing in custom design and manufacturing. Writing is my second career, and just like my first, it fills all those gaping holes yearning for productive creativity.

What’s the main thing that you could get rid of in your life that would give you more writing time?

Distraction, I’m easily led astray.

What do you want readers to come away with after they read If Wishes Were Horses?

This is a story of lessons learned and the strength they bring. My main characters are both at turning points in their lives. How they handle the changes and the challenges is the crux of the story.

What actors would you like in the main roles if your book were made into a movie?

Debra Messing and Hugh Jackman.

Have you written any other books that are not published?

My WIP is a fast-paced heist enmeshed in a love story. Tentatively titled, “Midnight Acquisition”, I hope it will be out this time next year. After that, maybe a sequel to “If Wishes Were Horses.”

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

I was advised to put the MS under the bed and move on. But I believed in the story and kept at it until I had it the way I wanted it. The message there—trust your gut and listen to people with experience and a keen eye. The flip side compliment—another author called me a “Unicorn” because not only is this my first book, but my first pitch and was picked up by the first publisher I queried. Incredible luck all around, I know. Hope it holds going forward.

How did you come up with the title?

It was something my mother used to say to me all the time. Usually when I was whining about not having what I wanted.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

If I had to put a finger on the message; Remember to forgive yourself for doing the best you could when you fail. Life is a long road, and it’s full of potholes. So try to stay out of the weedy ditches.

 

BLURB:
Emily Converse never expected to return to Tamarack, Colorado. But she’s determined to rescue her drug-addicted brother and start a new life. Standing in her way, she finds her stepfather, a powerful US senator, looming over her future like the ever-present monster he’d been during their childhood. Meeting wounded retired Navy SEAL, Michael McCandlis, is a steamy surprise in her homecoming, though he’s adrift in civilian life. Together can they find a way to transform from victims to survivors?

EXCERPT:
Once upon a time, she’d run away from Tamarack like her heels were on fire, and now here she was volunteering to step back into the furnace. What was the definition of insanity? Doing the same things over and over, expecting a different outcome. Like if she managed to change, be stronger, be smarter, things would turn out better—different. It wouldn’t be that simple. She downshifted the Jeep to slow for the last of the S-shaped turns on the narrow ribbon of asphalt. The road led her past the pretentious granite columns that marked her stepfather’s compound. She wasn’t consciously holding her breath, but a trickle of fear dribbled down her spine just the same. Her molars ground together in determination. The past wouldn’t decide her present, not ever again. In spite of herself, images of her last day on his estate flashed through her mind like the herky-jerky frames of a child’s flip deck animation. Fear sharpened every visual, clarified every word, enhanced every touch. She’d run down the steps, racing for her car. He’d charged after her, smelling of alcohol and fury when he tried to stop her headlong rush toward an unknown future. They’d screamed out their mutual hatred, all the bitter dregs of their time together. She smirked when she remembered getting in the lucky shove that had landed him in a heap on the ground. It had been her first glimpse that Senator Ray Domenico was not the invincible, all-powerful monster she’d known him to be.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I’ve been an avid reader and sometime writer all of my life. I’ve never been able to resist the draw of a good story, and that has been true in my professional life as well. I was raised as the third of three children in the Colorado high country. Early on I discovered the joy of creating handcrafted jewelry, which led to a forty-five-year career as a professional jeweler. Every customer, every piece has its own story. I’ve collected them like pearls in a strand, and I often use them as a jumping-off point for the tales I tell. If you’re looking for me, you’ll find me on the shores of a northern lake, hammering away on my latest story of love and life in the modern world. ~*~ Find Jayne online at: http://www.JayneYork.com

Website: JayneYork.com

Blog: JayneYork.com/What’sOnMyMind/

Email: Jayne@JayneYork.com

Twitter: @JayneYorkAuthor

Facebook: JayneYorkAuthor

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Author Interview with ML Erdahl ~ New Release: Winter Takes All

I am very pleased to host today’s guest. I had the pleasure of editing this fabulous book, and of meeting the author face to face at a conference in Seattle. He’s funny and personable and very talented. Please help me welcome ML Erdahl.

 

Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?

My family were early homesteaders of Gig Harbor, WA.  They witnessed the city go from dirt roads and pristine forests, to the medium sized city that it is today.  I grew up there and attended college at the University of Washington in Seattle. Today, I live in Renton with my wife and a houseful of neurotic rescue pets.

Where did you get the idea for Winter Takes All?

 My writing story for Winter Takes All began with a genre swap suggested by my wife. Her favorite fiction genres are Mysteries and Thrillers, while mine is Fantasy.  She gave me Nevada Barr, Janet Evanovich, and Mary Daheim novels to read, and I gave her Robert Jordan. I loved the stories I was given, which were so different from the long epic adventures I was used to. I enjoyed the wit of the genre, as well as the concept of a ordinary person being forced out of their comfort zone to the point where they find themselves investigating a crime.

During the long bus rides to-and-fro work, I must have been inspired, because an idea for a cozy mystery percolated in my head. I began writing it down over the next year. After I’d finished my book, I read it back.  I’m not going to lie, it was pretty mediocre, but I could see the elements of a great story.  I began to study how to write fiction, and applying what I’d learned, re-wrote the entire book to its present incarnation.

The moral of this particular story for aspiring writers is to learn how to write, and then begin writing. I still believe that the best learning tool is to practice, but having an idea where you’re going will help you get there faster. Trust me on this.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?

By day, I’m an environmental chemist. My company specializes in analyzing fuel spills. We’ve received samples from the Exxon Valdez to the Deepwater Horizon gulf spill. It’s a satisfying job in that I know I leave the world a cleaner place with my work.

What do you dislike that most people wouldn’t understand?

Being from the Pacific Northwest and of Norwegian descent, you’d think I’d like seafood, but I can’t stand the stuff.  Whenever I eat it, my wife accuses me of “making the face.”

What was your first job?

Mowing lawns.  I still like yard work, but I remember one old lady’s yard I mowed had so very many snakes. Harmless garter snakes, but they still gave me the heebie-jeebies.

What’s your favorite book of all time and why? What’s your favorite childhood book?

A favorite book is a tough one since I love two genres, cozy mystery and fantasy. Therefore I’m going to cheat and pick two, Janet Evanovich’s “One for the Money”, and Brandon Sanderson’s “Mistborn”. Both of those authors know how to write the most memorable characters.  My favorite childhood book was Shel Silverstein’s delightful poetry in “Where the Sidewalk Ends”.

What do you want readers to come away with after they read Winter Takes All?

I want people to read my novel and feel like they escaped on a wild ride. I want a reader to turn the last page and immediately download my next book to continue the adventure.

What genre have you never written that you’d like to write?

Someday I’d like to take a crack at my other favorite genre, Fantasy. All of the advice to authors is to stay in your lane and not switch genres, because you’ll lose your audience. However, I don’t think I want to let life pass me by without taking a shot at it.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

For the most part, they are made up, but after I was done writing, I discovered my brain had also frankensteined bits and pieces of various people in my life. I recognized different attributes of friends and family in my characters.

What do your friends and family think of your writing?

They are my biggest cheerleaders.  My wife spends hours every day either helping me directly or doing more around the house to give me more time to write.  Furthermore, many of my family and friends were my beta-readers, who took time to not only read the earlier drafts, but give me valuable feedback. I couldn’t ask for a better support system.

How did your interest in writing originate?

In middle school, our English teacher had us free write for an hour once a week and I was hooked. After moving on from that grade, I continued writing short stories to amuse myself and my friends. However, it wasn’t until the last few years that I began to take writing seriously.  Reading books on writing from KM Weiland, Jane Friedman, and Stephen King has shown me how much effort needs to go into each and every sentence to make a compelling story. Instead of being intimidating, it has inspired me.

Your favorite…

Movie Shawshank Redemption

Music Eclectic

Place you’ve visited Venice

Place you’d like to visit Greece

TV show from childhood Night Court

TV show from adulthood Game of Thrones

Food Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Sports team Seahawks

Which do you prefer: Board games/card games or television? Board Games/Card games

Great interview, it was fun getting to know more about you, ML. Now, please tell us about your book…

 

Blurb:

Crystal Rainey is aghast when she realizes her new year’s resolutions haven’t changed one whit from the previous year. Wanting to escape a future as dreary as a Pacific Northwest winter, she walks out on her dead-end office job, despite her tenuous savings account.

Stumbling across a job opening posted by a wilderness guide outfit, an intrigued Crystal bluffs her way into the position. With handsome fellow guide, the stalwart Conner Oakes, she leads a corporate retreat on a snowshoe hike to a majestic alpine chalet.

But when the company’s detestable owner turns up dead in the snow, she fears her new life and budding romance slipping away. She finally has something worth fighting for and is determined to solve the murder and grab her chance at happiness before it’s too late.

Excerpt:

Not the most auspicious start to my guiding career, Crystal admitted to herself.

Conner sat back down, took a grateful swig of the coffee and sighed. “This could have gone better,” he said stating the obvious.

“What happens next?” Crystal asked.

“We wait until dawn, see if he turns up, and escort everyone out of here. Hopefully, Philip is waiting for us at the lodge, and we can drive this whole miserable lot back to the city a day early. In the meantime, I suggest we follow everyone’s lead and try to get a little shuteye.”

Conner’s radio crackled with Sam’s voice, “We’ve found the missing man from your group, Conner. He’s at the bottom of a cliff. I’m sorry to say this search and rescue operation has become a search and recover.”

Conner paled at the news.

“What does ‘search and recover’ mean?” Crystal asked.

“It means he’s dead.”

*************************

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Biography:

ML Erdahl lives amidst the trees of the Pacific Northwest, where he pens humorous cozy mystery novels set in the wilderness he has spent his lifetime exploring. The only thing slowing him down is when his adorable rescue dogs, Skip and Daisy, demand to be petted and cuddled on his lap while he types. When he’s not wandering the mountains, you can find him gardening, reading, or searching for the best coffee in Seattle with his wife, Emily.

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