Friday, January 19, 2018

Interview with Tanya Stowe

This week, I interviewed author Tanya Stowe.


author photo

On your blog you mention, “Have motorhome will travel.” Where have you traveled thus far?
We just retired a little over a year ago so we haven’t been far. Last summer we planned a trip from California to Florida. It was going to be a nice leisurely drive but my husband needed surgery. They scheduled it for August so we ended up driving home with the motorhome in one week. Long daily drives. Not much fun. But we saw lots of amazing country and before that, we flew our granddaughter out for a graduation present and went to Disney World in the middle of July. I thought I’d be miserable since I have an aversion to bugs, humidity and alligators but I loved it. Florida is beautiful. It rained every day. The clouds were so close to the ground it felt like you could touch them. And the lightning! I had no idea Florida was the lightning capital of the U.S. Our return trip was rushed but I have every intention of going back through the Gulf States at a much slower pace and enjoying those areas as much as I did Florida.

But I have to say our most interesting trip last year wasn’t in the motorhome. We had an opportunity to tour China and we jumped on it. The best impulsive idea we’ve had in a long time! China is fascinating. I’ll be blogging about it for many months to come.

You’re a multi-published author. Which book has been your favorite to write?

Every book is your baby so it's hard to pick just one. But I have to say the one that was the most fun to write was Santa Fe Sunrise…simply because I love everything about Santa Fe. The scenery. The history. The food and clothes. Even the music. I’d put on my Nouveau Flamenco tunes by Ottmar Liebert and start typing. That book just seemed to flow. It might not be my best book or the most compelling but it was fun to write.

Did you always want to be a writer?

I wrote my first book when I was eleven years old. It was about a princess named Shalimar set in Ancient Egypt. So yes, I’ve always wanted to write. And it’s interesting to note that my first published book was a time travel romance about…you guessed it…an ancient Egyptian slave girl named Mara caught in a plot to murder the Pharaoh.

You have a large family. How do you find a good balance between family and writing? 

What is balance? Is there really such a thing? Lol. I think balance is a lot like a faith walk. You stumble and fall. Get back up and start again. It’s the getting up that’s important not the state of being “balanced.”
Having said that, I will tell you I’m a list maker. Always have been. Lately I’ve found a planner that incorporates all aspects of my life, work, relationships, faith, chores, appointments. It even has a scripture passage for each week. I sit down on a Sunday night, name all of my goals and tasks for the week then plug them into a daily calendar. I find that if I get busy and drop the ball, it’s on the planner and I can pick it up the next day or the next week. Things I need to do don’t disappear into the ether, especially those important writing or PR goals I need to meet. I also find that my daily to-do list that seems overwhelming in my head isn’t such a monster when it’s down on the page.
Tanya's latest release, Mojave Rescue (Love Inspired Suspense), is available on Amazon. 
cactus shown on cover

Friday, January 12, 2018

Review of An Unexpected Legacy by Amy Anguish

Man and Woman are shown holding hands on the cover




Review:

In An Unexpected Legacy, an intriguing tale by Amy Anguish and set in Texas and Arkansas, Jessica Garcia and Chad Manning are drawn to each other, but a family secret threatens to keep them apart. Thus, the main characters are forced to unravel this mystery before moving forward in their relationship. Along the way, the novel delves into the topic of forgiveness. I liked this because the topic wasn't just glossed over; the author demonstrated how an unforgiving spirit can harm others, including the person who chooses not to forgive. This book should appeal to readers of Christian fiction who enjoy romance and mystery.*

photo of author Amy Anguish


Author Bio:

Amy Anguish grew up a preacher's kid, and in spite of having lived in seven different states that are all south of the Mason Dixon line, she is not a football fan. Currently, she resides in Tennessee with her husband, daughter, and son, and usually a cat or two. Amy graduated with a degree in English from Freed-Hardeman University and hopes in all her creative endeavors to glorify God, but especially in her writing. She wants her stories to show that while Christians face real struggles, it can still work out for good.



*I received a copy of this book from the author and this is my voluntary review.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Interview with Amy Anguish

Author Amy Anguish is shown in photo


What was life like as a preacher’s kid?  

In some ways, being a preacher's kid is hard. A lot of people expect you to be perfect or to know all there is about the Bible. For us, the hardest part was probably that I never lived anywhere longer than six years (still haven't, honestly). As a kid, it's hard to have to leave your friends behind and pack up and move somewhere new every few years. But now, looking back, I can see that it helped me in a lot of ways. I am able to adjust to things like that easier (for the most part), I can make friends or figure out new situations more quickly now, and I have tons of friends all over the country that I made through the years. Being a preacher's kid didn't necessarily give me a strong faith, but it gave me a great foundation to build one.

I noticed that you have lived in several states, so I am curious. In which states have you lived? 

I have lived in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas.

What authors have influenced your writing style?

I am an avid reader (almost 70 books this year alone, if you don't count the children's books I read to my children). I read so many authors that I like to think a lot of them have merged into my style. I guess of my favorites, my style is probably most like Christine Lynxwiler or Annalissa Daughety, although everyone has their own quirks and ways of phrasing things.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

My advice is to not give up. Even when it seems like you're never going to get published, keep trying. It only takes one person to notice your talent and fall in love with your story to make it turn from a dream to reality. My second piece of advice is to make sure you've edited your manuscript as much as possible and then edit it again. Most publishers aren't going to want to see a manuscript that needs tons of work. They want to see that you're serious enough about pursuing publication that you're willing to make sure your work is as perfect as you can get it before sending it out.

Novel cover shows a couple and a leaf


Tell me more about An Unexpected Legacy. How long did it take you to write the story?


"An Unexpected Legacy" started as a Nanowrimo novel in 2011, believe it or not. It was around 52,000 words when I first wrote it, and very rough. I started only with the idea that Jessica and Chad would meet at a smoothie shop and that would be their common interest that helped them fall in love. I knew that there was going to be something in their family history that was going to cause problems for their relationship ... that their family would be from the same town. But it took me almost the whole book before I figured out exactly what the actual reason for the conflict was. I started writing and meant to only write from Jessica's perspective, but as I continued, I realized I needed some back story (not to mention more words if I was going to meet my 50K word goal for that November) so I started including the historical scenes to tell "the rest of the story." I did a quick edit and then sort of let the story sit for a while. When I started really considering publication seriously, I sent my manuscript to a friend I had who was an acquisitions editor at a newer company. That company wasn't right for my story, but she remembered it and loved it, and years later, when she decided to start her own publishing company, she contacted me about it. She helped me polish it up, teaching me more about the craft and what I needed to do in the future, and we finally had it in print and ebook this last November. It's been a crazy journey, but one that was full of learning and growth for me. And the culmination has definitely been the icing on the cake. I can't wait to start my next journey with one of my other manuscripts just waiting to go out into the world!

Please join us next week, on the 13th, when I share a review of Amy's book. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Rachel McCalla: Twin Threat Christmas

By Kelly Bridgewater

Back Cover Copy:

Separated twin sisters are reunited at Christmas in these two connected novellas  

One Silent Night 

Framed for murder and on the run from her kidnappers, Vanessa Jackson secretly hides her infant son in a safe place and flees for a wooded cabin. There she finds her childhood friend Eric Tomlin—a man she must trust with her life…and her family's future. 

The Danger in the Manger 

Alyssa Jackson is shocked to find a baby in her Christmas manger. But the message on the infant's T-shirt tells Alyssa the child must be her nephew. Alyssa believes her twin sister, presumed dead for years, is still alive. With the help of handsome police officer Chris Jensen, Alyssa goes on a dangerous search for the truth to reunite her family for Christmas.

My Review:

I really enjoyed how Rachel McCalla framed this book. It was different than most books. She wrote the two short stories to go hand in hand. To begin, I followed the story of Vanessa where they captured the villain. Then we are transported a little bit back in time to start Alyssa’s story. Both of the stories were handled well and the transition was smooth. I hope Rachel McCalla writes more stories like this.

As for the heroines of Vanessa and Alyssa, I liked both of them. I’m really glad they finally got their happy endings with Eric and Chris (Not get mad. It is a Love Inspired Suspense book, and the writers are required to have a happy ending, so there!) The strength in the twins is evident in every decision they make. The heroes allow the women to reach for the stars and help them along the way. Just the way a partner should be.

The setting was vaguely mentioned but that was okay; I never felt like I was floating around in space. There were enough details to draw you in with allowing your imagination to roam the wilderness.

The spiritual aspect of holding on to hope and trusting in God to see his promise through is amplified with each girls’ story. Something I struggle with on a daily basis. I have been waiting a long time for my writing to be acknowledged, so I understand the struggle of waiting on God.

In short, Rachel McCalla’s Twin Threat Christmas is a unique story written in the form of two shorter novellas. I really enjoyed the suspense and twist with human trafficking. I will be recommending this story to my friends.

Rachel McCalla’s Writing Bio:

Rachelle McCalla plays with words like some kids play with fire. When she's not writing, she can be found digging deep research holes, setting up ideas like lightning rods to catch the next big bolt to shoot from the sky. Please use caution when picking up her books, as some may emit dangerous sparks.

Where to connect with Rachel McCalla:
Author’s Personal Website
Facebook
Goodreads

Where to purchase Twin Threat Christmas:


The idea of two short novels interlinked by twins was a unique and interesting twist to a full length novel. Does it entice you enough to go read the book? Why or Why not?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dog Tags Giveaway

Happy 240th Birthday, Marine Corps! 

For anyone interested in military-themed fiction, I'm giving away an e-copy of Dog Tags

Dog Tags Blurb

When disabled ex-Marine Mark Graham reconnects with his best friend’s sister, he finds himself falling in love. But Beth Martindale’s presence is a constant reminder of events he’d rather forget. Mark wants to move forward, but the secrets surrounding her brother’s death as well as his own confinement to a wheelchair threaten to tear them apart. When a psychopath who calls himself The Knight fixates on Beth, Mark is determined to give her the protection he failed to give her brother on the battlefield, yet he discovers that a wheelchair isn’t the only impediment he has to keeping Beth safe. Will terror win or can Mark find the strength of mind and body to rescue Beth and find his own redemption?

To enter to win an e-copy of Dog Tags:

Leave a comment and include your email address (you may spell it out, for example, bobatdotcom).

The giveaway ends on November 25, 2015.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Hope White: Covert Christmas

By Kelly Bridgewater

Back Cover Copy:

DIAGNOSIS: AMNESIA 

A man has been shot and left for dead on Echo Mountain, and Search and Rescue K-9 handler Breanna McBride wants answers. With no memory, all the injured man can recall is that his first name is Scott, and that someone wants him silenced. Scott knows better than to depend on strangers, yet he finds himself falling for his captivating protector. And although Breanna won't rest until she helps him piece together the rest of his past, she vows to ignore the attraction between them. But as they close in on the truth, she becomes the killer's next target. Now the pursuers will stop at nothing to ensure the pair is six feet under by Christmas. 

My Review:

Covert Christmas has everything a good short romantic suspense should have. A loving hero, a thoughtful heroine, a great setting, and tons of mystery and adventure. Covert Christmas gripped me from the first scene where Scott ran through the woods and fell down with Breanna watching from a tree.

I truly enjoyed spending time at the Echo Mountain Resort. I love places in the middle of the nowhere with no neighbors. This story took place during Christmas, so it sparked an interest in me. Plus, I love the image of the lodge wrapped in Christmas lights on the cover with the ground covered in snow. It was inviting. While the image showed a cold winter scene, the story never felt like it was the middle of winter. Scott even gathered samples of the water in a stream nearby. If it was the middle of winter, wouldn’t the water be a little hard to find. Might have frozen over. None of the characters really complained about the cold as they traveled around in the outdoors.

Scott and Breanna had to learn the hard lesson of allowing others to help them in the hard challenges of life. Luckily, White created Scott and Breanna to fall in love and lean on each other during the struggles in the fight for their lives. The romance was slow going but that is the way I like my romantic suspense to be. It makes the ending where everything seems happy a lot more believable. If the couple starts feeling emotions for each other on their first encounter, I don’t trust the romantic journey through the story. Yes, emotions can be question, but I hate when characters start planning their futures together on page one.

Overall, Hope White’s Covert Christmas is an interesting adventure story set at a resort, filled with bullets and sparks flying across the page. I would recommend this short read to fans of Lynette Eason, Irene Hannon, Colleen Coble, and other writers of the romantic suspense genre.

Hope White’s Writing Bio:

Accused of being an eternal optimist, Hope began spinning tales of intrigue and adventure when she was in grade school. She wrote her first book when she was eleven -- a thriller that ended with a mysterious phone call the reader never heard!

Hope is an RT Reviewer's Choice nominee for Christmas Haven (2011), and she received the Cataromance Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Love Inspired Suspense two years in a row for Safe Harbor (2013) and Small Town Protector (2012).

When not dreaming up inspirational tales, she's usually hiking in the Cascade Mountains, enjoying a fine cup of tea with friends, or hiding out in a movie theatre
.

How to connect with Hope White:
Author’s Personal Webpage
Facebook
Goodreads

Where to purchase Covert Christmas:

What is the ratio between romance and suspense do you like to see in a romantic suspense novel?


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Interview with Shirley Raye Redmond

Recently, I interviewed Shirley Raye Redmond.

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO START WRITING?
I have wanted to write ever since I was in 5th grade and read Little Women. I wanted to be like Jo March, scribbling stories in the attic. I was 16 when my first article was published in a newspaper and I’ve never looked back.

WHAT AUTHORS HAVE INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?
Too many to list! But C.S. Lewis, Georgette Heyer, Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Grace Livingston Hill would definitely be in the top ten.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING AUTHORS?
You’re never going to “find the time” to write. You have to make the time. Give up a night of television, computer games, etc. I know too many people who promised themselves they would start writing when their children were grown or when they retired, but they are, instead, raising their grandchildren or they didn’t live long enough to retire. Don’t wait!

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LATEST RELEASE. 
Viper’s Nest (Harborlight/Pelican Book Group) is a romantic suspense novel set in Jacksonville, Illinois. Allan Partner, a handsome history professor and his widowed research assistant, Wren Bergschneider, find themselves in danger when they explore an old insane asylum slated for demolition, unearthing a scandal someone is willing to kill for to keep secret.

WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM YOUR RESEARCH?
I actually had a private tour of the Jacksonville Insane Asylum many years ago. Mary Todd Lincoln was a patient there briefly following the death of President Lincoln. Built in the mid 1840s, the asylum was the product of humanitarian Dorothea Dix’s impassioned plea to the Illinois Legislature. Miss Dix was a stalwart advocate for mentally ill individuals mistreated by society. Some were locked away in cellars and attics. Others were put on display in county jails. No medical aid or social services were available at the time for those declared insane. Everyone was lumped into the same category—whether one was a cruel psychopathic killer or a melancholy young mother suffering from postpartum depression.  Dorothea Dix changed that.

Originally, I wrote about my tour of the asylum for a Writer’s Digest nonfiction contest. My submission won an Honorable Mention. People who read the piece urged me to “do something else” with all the historical information I’d collected.  After toying with the idea of for quite a while, I decided to write a suspense novel, using the abandoned asylum as the backdrop of the story.

HOW CAN READERS CONTACT YOU AND/OR LEARN MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR WRITING?
I love to hear from readers! They can contact me through my website at www.shirleyrayeredmond.com or visit my author facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shirley-Raye-Redmond-Author/533496973399344

Viper's Nest - male and female shown on cover in front of an assylum


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sharon Dunn: Wilderness Target

By Kelly Bridgewater






















Back Cover Copy:

A WANTED WOMAN 
Clarissa Jones is running for her life. Though she has no idea why her ex-boss wants her dead, the killers at her heels are very real. Deep in the Montana woods she finds what seems like the perfect hideout, in Ezra Jefferson's survival training school. The ex-military outdoorsman has the skills and training to keep her safe…but only if she'll lower her defenses enough to let him help. When her attackers close in, Ezra's protection and Clarissa's fierce determination are all that will keep her alive—while the growing bond between them gives her a reason to fight to survive.

My Review:

I enjoy Love Inspired Suspense books. They are short and sweet, yet pack a punch of mystery while not taking too much time to read. I refer to them as day books.

In Sharon’ Dunn’s book, Wilderness Target, Ezra and Clarissa make quite a pair. First, Ezra started out seeing Clarissa as a city girl who wouldn’t know her way around the great outdoors, but Clarissa surprises him. I really enjoyed getting to know and spend time with Clarissa. She is a strong, determined heroine who doesn’t want others to pay for the mistakes she has made in her life. As for hero’s, Ezra was really not one of my favorite. He seemed very underdeveloped. Ezra knew a lot about the outdoors, but as a wife of a survival fanatic, some of the survival tips seemed off to me.

Clarissa and Ezra moved through the pages of the book, trying to outrun the external conflict. While Dunn kept the reader on the run with their imagination, I would have liked to have been a little more surprised who the bad guy was. It appeared to be just a big chase scene through the mountains and woods, begging from one shelter to the next.

The romance between Clarissa and Ezra was not too my taste either. Way too fast and way too cheesy. Sorry!

Overall, Sharon Dunn’s Love Inspired Book, Wilderness Target, kept me rushing through the book with all the hurried action, but the villain was introduced in the first chapter. Even though Clarissa was a strong and determined heroine any woman could admire.

Sharon Dunn’s Writing Bio:

Sharon Dunn first fell in love with mystery and suspense about the time she read Nancy Drew mysteries in the fifth grade. Her country school library had a whole collection of them with pink covers. She began taking herself seriously as a writer when her oldest son was born. About twenty years and three babies later, she is an award winning author of not only humorous mysteries but romantic suspense novels. Her first book in the Ruby Taylor mysteries Romance Rustlers and Thunderbird Thieves was a finalist for the Romantic Times Inspirational Book of the Year. The second book in that series Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante was voted Book of the Year by American Christian Fiction Writers. Her first book in the Bargain Hunters series garnered a second place award from ACFW for Book of the Year. Her education makes it look like she couldn’t decide what she wanted to be when she grew up. She had degrees in Film Production and History with lots of English and theater classes thrown in the mix. About everything she studied contributed to her becoming a better writer in one way or another.

Where to connect with Sharon Dunn:

Where to purchase Wilderness Target:


Do you enjoy Love Inspired Suspense books? Why or Why not?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review of Organized Grime by Christy Barritt

Organized Grime is book three in Christy Barritt's Squeaky Clean Mysteries.

Back cover copy: 
Gabby St. Claire knows how to clean up scum. She can get blood out of carpet, pick shattered bones from plaster, and clean up other less-than-enticing fluids from nearly any surface. St. Claire also knows how to clean up another kind of scum— the scum of the earth. 

Crime scene cleaner and wannabe forensic investigator Gabby St. Claire knows her best friend, Sierra, isn’t guilty of killing three people in what appears to be an ecoterrorist attack. But Sierra has disappeared, her only contact a frantic phone call. 

Crime scene evidence Gabby discovers while cleaning ties seemingly random murders together—and points to Sierra as the guilty party. Just what has her animal-loving friend gotten herself into? 

If that’s not disturbing enough, who’s the person following Gabby? A federal agent who hopes Gabby will lead him to Sierra? Or someone with more sinister plans? 

To find Sierra and prove her innocence, Gabby will have to rely on all of her training and abilities, plus the help of a man she loves and the protection of a God she’s only recently begun to believe in. 



When, Gabby St. Claire's best friend,  Sierra Nakamura disappears and is implicated in ecoterrorism that resulted in multiple deaths, the crime scene cleaner is determined to clear her friend's name. No matter the cost.

A stalker follows her and crime scenes reveal evidence tying them to Sierra increasing the danger to Gabby's life as she continues to search for the truth.

While investigating the circumstances surrounding Sierra's disappearance, Gabby must also deal with her alcoholic father, an ex-boyfriend cop with a pregnant girlfriend, and her handsome neighbor, Riley Thomas.

Riley struggles to keep Gabby safe even to the extent of accompanying her to crime scenes. Gabby can't deny her growing feelings for Riley with him ever-present even though she knows their backgrounds are far too different for a relationship to work.

Organized Grime is a clean read with well-developed characters and an intriguing storyline. However, there were a few issues.

When the FBI has evidence that Sierra was involved in the terror attack, they don't obtain a search warrant and go through her apartment. I found this to be a little unrealistic. Then, Gabby, who is studying to be a forensic tech, sneaks into her friend's apartment, finds evidence that points toward Sierra and conceals it for a time.

The book had a few typos, but I've not read many that don't.

Also, I counted a form of "gaze" over fifty times. Sometimes the word was used multiple times on a single page. This is a trend I've noticed in Christian fiction as I've read books for contests and for pleasure, but it's a very distracting trend. When a word is repeated over and over, it throws me out of the book. The writer could have used any number of words to convey the same concept.

Here are just a few of the times that "gaze" dumped me right out of the story:

“His gaze began roaming again.”
“…his gaze flicked behind me to the kitchen…”
“His gaze ran up and down the length of me.”

“His gaze searched mine…”

I give Organized Grime three stars for the pacing, characters, and storyline. Had the author found other ways to communicate they were looking somewhere or at each other, I would have given the story four stars.

* * * 





Sunday, August 23, 2015

Interview with Hope Callaghan


Image result for hope callaghan



Deb: Tell us a little about yourself.
Hope:  I was born and raised in a small town in West Michigan. I lived there until early 2003 when I finally grew weary of the long, dreary winters. A job transfer to Central Florida came up and I was the first in line to apply for the job and leave the Mitten State.

I still live in Central Florida with my husband, my daughter, step-son and step-daughter. (All of the kids are currently in college!) When I'm not writing books, I love to read books, travel and take day trips to the beach.

Deb:  Tell us about your most recent book.
Hope:  I recently started a new cozy mystery series, Cruise Ship Cozy Mysteries and just published book number two, Port Side Peril.

Deb:  Whey did you choose this particular genre?
Hope:  I love the mystery genre, especially cozy mysteries! The setting for my most popular series, the Garden Girls, is in a small town, quite like the one I grew up in so I write about my own personal experiences, although all of the characters in my book are purely fictitious.

Deb:  What was your journey to publication like?
Hope:  I started writing non-fiction (travel books) and published my first book in 2013. I wrote several more and then switched to fiction in 2014, and haven't looked back since.

Deb:  What are a couple of your favorite books and what are you reading now?
Hope:  One of my favorite authors is Cynthia Hickey. She cracks me up. Jogging is Bad for Your Health, is next on my list. I also like to read Amanda Tru's time travel series. The idea of time travel is fascinating.

Deb:  What are you working on now and can you give us a little peek inside?
Hope:  I'm working on book number seven in the Garden Girls Series, which should be published the first week in August.

Deb:  What advice would you give authors who are on their own journey to publication?
Hope:  Write fiction.  I waited two years to publish my first fiction piece and I regret not starting sooner. Start with a short story to "get your feet wet." Write in a series. Readers love to get to know the characters and if they care about the characters, they will want to read your books.

Deb:  Do you have any books or websites that have helped you with your writing that you could share with us?
Hope:  I highly recommend Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain. Although published in the early 80's this book has so much good information inside, it is worth the read. Some of the topics are a bit out dated but for the most part, it contains nuggets of pure gold for the writer.

Deb: Please let us know where we can find you on the web.
Hope:  www.hopecallaghan.com


Image result for hope callaghan


Image result for deborah MaloneDeborah Malone has worked as a freelance writer and photographer, since 2001, for the historical magazine "Georgia Backroads." Her writing is featured in "Tales of the Rails" edited by Olin Jackson. She is a member of Georgia Writers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.