Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Interview with romance author Wendy May Andrews

Today’s special guest is Wendy May Andrews who is talking with me about her new Sweet Regency romance, The Reluctant Debutante.

During her virtual book tour, Wendy will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there too!

Best-selling author, Wendy May Andrews, has been in love with the written word since she learned to read at the age of five. She has been writing for almost as long but it took her some time before she was willing to share her stories with anyone other than her mother.

Wendy can be found with her nose in a book in a cozy corner of downtown Toronto. She is happily married to her own real-life hero, who is also her best friend and favorite travel companion. Being a firm believer that every life experience contributes to the writing process, Wendy is off planning her next trip.

Welcome, Wendy. Please share a little bit about your current release.
The Reluctant Debutante is set in Regency era England, a time period that I love. The earl sees an attractive young woman and is intrigued but immediately finds out that she is his niece’s enemy. His initial reaction is to somehow try to use her in his revenge against her uncle, but he cannot bring himself to do so. They have many obstacles to overcome in order to reach their happily ever after.

What inspired you to write this book?
I love the initial reaction of seeing someone for the first time. I had the idea for the opening of my hero seeing the heroine as she climbed the front stairs to her home. But in this case, there’s the complication of him realizing that she is actually going into the house of his sworn enemy. From that initial kernel of an idea, this story developed. I loved their complicated journey!

Excerpt from The Reluctant Debutante:
chapter 3 – first sparks

Victoria was beginning to feel quite miserable. She was soaked from head to toe, most of her body immersed in the water. Her heavy skirts were feeling like lead weights as they pulled her towards the current. Her boots were slowly sinking into the sludge on the river bottom. And the gorgeous stranger was now looking at her appraisingly.

“Can you reach my hand?”

Victoria felt a shiver slither up her back at the sound of his deep voice as he leaned down for her.

Wishing there were some other way, Victoria looked at him then up and down the river once more. Unfortunately, the riverbanks had not changed in the last few minutes and there was still no way to get up the bank on her own. Turning back to the stranger, she gritted her teeth and stretched out her hand.

Bryghton was struck by the young woman’s beauty. Her remarkable eyes held so much expressive emotion. He could tell she was scared and embarrassed but she had the wit to realize she had little choice if she wished to be rescued from her precarious position. The duke knew that not too much farther downstream the river deepened considerably.

The feel of her cold little hand in his large, warm one sent a strange sensation through him, but he knew this was not the time to be distracted. Despite her slight frame, her soaking clothes were weighing her down considerably, and effort would be required to get her out. In a similar gesture to hers, he too gritted his teeth and yanked on her arm.

With a plop, and after a swift scrabble up the bank, Victoria landed on the edge of the river next to the impeccably dressed, handsome stranger. Blushing again, she offered a shy, hesitant smile as she pushed herself to a seated position.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently writing the first book in a new series which I’m very excited about. The entire series was inspired by a historical plaque I saw while I was in England doing research. I’m so excited about it because the possibilities are endless with where I can go with this series which is great because I always have more ideas than time to write them so having a broad range to build a series will be fantastic. Writing the first draft is, for me, the very best aspect of being an author. And I’m actually at the most delicious part of the story, just before my hero is about to become truly heroic. I can’t wait to see how the story turns out! Stay tuned…

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I always loved to read but even though my aunt used to joke about me becoming a writer, I never thought it would be possible. Even after I actually wrote a book I didn’t feel like a “real” writer until the day I received the first shipment of my first book, in hardcover no less. I cried a little bit, I will admit. To see an actual book that I had spent so many hours working on, that was surreal. And then my first writing related workshop. It was the first time I ever met other writers. It felt like I had finally found home. It was so reaffirming! Like I wasn’t alone anymore.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t yet write full-time. I have a day job. I’m a bookkeeper for a small business. I actually love numbers, so I don’t mind my job, but of course, the dream is to be able to quit the day job and focus on writing, no matter how much I like the numbers. Finding time to write that is the age-old question – we all only have 24 hours in the day. The fact that I really love it helps. Everyone finds time for the things they really enjoy. Even if I can only squeeze in a few minutes each day, as long as the story is progressing I can keep it active in my mind. I have never yet been blocked so as soon as I sit at my desk words can flow. I’m fortunate that way.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love naming characters after people I know. In this story, almost everyone is named after or by friends and family members. My sister-in-law named my hero, Bryghton. It’s an unusual name, I’m not sure where she came up with it. But I love her, so I kept the name ;-) And my hero is wonderful and suits his unique name.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Apparently, I did not have high aspirations. I wanted to be a zamboni driver when I grew up. In case you don’t know, a zamboni is a machine used to resurface the ice at a skating rink. I still think it would be really cool to get to drive the zamboni some day but I’m glad I ended up down a different career path. Although, come to think of it, a zamboni driver would probably have a lot of free time for writing. Maybe I ought to revisit that idea…

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I am an avid reader. I am in love with words. I will even read the cereal box over and over. Traveling is another favorite hobby. And I also enjoy long walks. Living in a vibrant city, I love to walk to the coffee shop or out to dinner. And I absolutely love hearing from readers, so please visit me online at my Website, on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Amazonor leave some comments or questions here.

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Interview with writer Larry Kilham

Writer Larry Kilham is here today as part of a virtual book tour for his non-fiction technology book, The Digital Rabbit Hole.

Larry Kilham has traveled extensively overseas for over twenty years. He worked in several large international companies and started and sold two high-tech ventures. He received a B.S. in engineering from the University of Colorado and an M.S. in management from MIT. Larry has written books about creativity and invention, artificial intelligence and digital media, travel overseas, and three novels with an AI theme. His book website is www.larrykilham.net and he looks forward to hearing from readers at lkilham@gmail.com. Currently, he is writing a novel about free will.

Welcome, Larry. Please tell us about your current release.
The Digital Rabbit Hole reveals that we are becoming captive in the digital universe. The portals are smartphones and the world is the Internet. We immerse ourselves in social media; we learn through packaged feel-good information; and we will leave the hard work to robots and AI. The book details digital media and discusses smartphone addiction problems. It proposes solutions to stimulate creativity and education and to recapture our humanity.

What inspired you to write this book?
With my knowledge of digital information technology, I felt that it was time to give my readers perspective about the digital rabbit hole they are falling into.

Excerpt from The Digital Rabbit Hole:

Let us imagine today’s version of the classic story, Alice in Wonderland. The story might open like this:
     Alice began to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the lawn, and of having nothing to do. Once or twice she peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “when people can see everything in color and sound on their smartphone?”
     She smiled mischievously, grasped her glowing smartphone and began listening to it through her tiny earbuds. Suddenly a white rabbit appeared in a great state of agitation, saying, “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!” He took a smartphone out of his vest, glanced at it attentively, and said, “Be quick, follow me, or we will miss the tea.” Alice jumped up, and looking for a little adventure, ran after him. The rabbit tapped his smartphone screen, and Alice’s smartphone screen came to life with a live video of some people and creatures sitting around a picnic table having tea.                                                                    
     “Hurry up,” he said, as he disappeared down a hole under a hedge. Alice followed and found herself falling weightlessly, with the walls of the tunnel fading out of view. “Is there a bottom?” she wondered. She was so absorbed by it all that she forgot to be afraid.
In this new world, Cyberland, Alice could find no places to eat, no malls, only some strangers sitting around a picnic table having tea. Then, boom! Alice hit the ground. She struggled to her wobbly feet and scraped her head on the roof of a space with no walls in any direction.
     A button appeared on her smartphone labeled “click here.” Alice clicked without thinking about what could happen next and found herself shrinking. The rabbit appeared again. “You are as tall as me!” Alice cried. “So?” he said. “Hurry, we’re late!”

This Alice in Cyberland scenario is no longer fantasy. More and more people—almost all of the younger generations—are falling down digital rabbit holes. We all make forays into digital places where we find our friends, gather information, make discoveries, or set out on adventures.
     For centuries, social groups, books, libraries, songs, movies, and other media fulfilled those functions, but they were optional behavior. Now we have the Internet, which is not optional. It is a digital rabbit hole we fall into and cannot escape. The doors and windows to this infinite Cyberland are the smartphone.
     There are two basic reasons why this trend is happening and will become pervasive and controlling:

·    Technology – The perpetual digital connection to everything, which can provide us an easy apparent answer, rather than make us devise one of our own.
·    Human nature – We gravitate towards convenience, good enough, emotional feedback, least action and distractions.

     We are creating two knowledge worlds. There is the Knowosphere enveloping the world. It is a collection of all digitized and stored knowledge. The Knowosphere cross-references almost infinite combinations so any piece of knowledge, image or scene is available instantly.
     The other knowledge world is all around us. It is writing on paper, books, movies, television, information stored in computers, and, in general, knowledge stored by traditional means and not in the clouds or Knowosphere. It also includes direct experience and social interaction.
     The trend is to use the Knowosphere whenever possible and to forget about processing and using information via conventional media. At the very least, one can still duplicate, access and store the information and knowledge in the conventional media. Good examples of this today are doctors’ notes and medical records. In the older and more traditional practices, the information would be hand written into medical charts and transcribed to digital files later. Newer and larger practices currently send their patient information directly into digital files.
     There is a need for a new kind of thinking in the face of the recently available mountains of data—data instantly accessed and conveniently packaged like a supermarket consumer product. In order to break loose from a steady diet of packaged information, you must fire up your imagination and embrace new ideas. You should always think critically and search for the truth. From that start, there are new frontiers in education, creativity and understanding of culture.
     In a sense, we are all Alice. In this book, we are all going to discover the possibilities and pitfalls in Cyberland.

What exciting story are you working on next?
A near-future novel, Free Will Odyssey, with the theme of free will immersion via VR to treat drug addiction.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I won a writing prize in high school.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Yes, I write full-time now that I am retired. I write in the morning when the day and my mind are sparkling. In the afternoon, I do book research, take a hike, catch up on sleep.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to experiment with computers in the writing process such as for editing and taking dictation.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An electronic engineer.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Write about what interests you. Unleash your imagination.


Thanks for being here today, Larry.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Interview with writer and novelist Stephen Clark

Debut thriller author Stephen Clark joins me today to talk about Citizen Kill.

Stephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and as a politics editor for the Washington, D.C. bureau of FoxNews.com. Stephen grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now lives in North Jersey with his wife and son.

Welcome, Stephen. Please tell us about your current release.
Citizen Kill tells the story of a covert effort to finally end the War on Terror after the president loses her son in a devastating explosion. Her administration authorizes the launch of a CIA program that targets for assassination U.S. citizens suspected of radicalizing Muslims. Among the recruits is Justin Raines, a suspended operative determined to redeem himself after a botched assignment overseas. But when he is assigned to kill a mysterious Muslim educator that he believes is innocent, he grows disillusioned. Now he must find a way to prove her innocence and derail the program before they both are assassinated.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by then-Attorney General Eric Holder’s declaration in 2012 that it was constitutional for the government to kill U.S. citizens overseas without any judicial review if they were deemed a terrorist threat. Holder’s declaration came after a U.S. drone attack killed an American-born Muslim cleric in the Arabian Peninsula. Given my experience covering national politics at FoxNews.com, I thought it would be fascinating to write a story that took that policy to its logical conclusion.

What exciting story are you working on next?
A psychological thriller centered on a deadly police shooting that sets the shooting cop on a collision course with the victim’s family.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When my wife gave me an ultimatum: our family or my novel and I chose to finish my novel. LOL. Actually, I’ve considered myself a writer since I was a young boy spinning revenge fantasies in my journal against my siblings for real or perceived grievances. After college, I briefly worked as a financial advisor for American Express. But I could not ignore my true calling and soon I was packing my bags to pursue a career as a journalist.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Now I’m a full-time marketing professional for a Wall Street law firm. During the week, I sneak in as much writing as I can at night and during my one-hour-plus commute. The weekend, though, is when I really start cooking.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Not sure how quirky or unusual this is, but I often get my best ideas on the toilet or in the shower. Then I end up scrambling to finish what I’m doing so I don’t forget the idea by the time I get to my computer.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As the child of a Pentecostal preacher, I was groomed to walk in my father’s footsteps. But before I enrolled in Bible school in Oklahoma, I rebelled and devoted my life to worldly pleasures.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Not only do I love reading books, I also enjoy watching prestige dramas. My favorite shows of all time are: The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, and The Leftovers.


Thank you for being here today, Stephen!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Interview with romance novelist Maggie McConnell

My special guest today is romance novelist Maggie McConnell. We’re chatting about her new romantic comedy, Spooning Daisy.

During her virtual book tour, Maggie will be offering a Nordstrom "Daisy" vegan leather clutch, a Nordstrom turtle pin, or a Rebecca Minkoff star pendant/necklace to three (3) randomly drawn U.S.-only winners. International winners will receive a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card. To be entered for a chance to win a gift, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!
Golden Heart nominee Maggie McConnell spent her childhood overseas as the daughter of US diplomats. Attending college in Illinois, she earned a BA in Art and an MBA while working at the local humane shelter. At 26, she packed her dog and cat into a Ford truck and drove the Alcan Highway to Alaska, where she spent 23 years exploring The Last Frontier in a single-engine Cessna. A vegan and animal rights advocate, Maggie provides a sanctuary on her Arizona ranch for all creatures great and small, but her immediate family includes dog Molly, cat Sara, horses Quinn and Teena, and an ever-growing dynasty of chipmunks. Every year, like the Gray Whale, Maggie returns to Alaska.

Welcome, Maggie. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Chef de Cuisine Daisy Moon is a woman without a kitchen after a "bit of trouble" at her last job. Now blacklisted from Seattle to San Francisco, Daisy's sole job offer is from Wild Man Lodge in Otter Bite, Alaska, where the end of the road is just her beginning.

What inspired you to write this book?  
The original idea (and opening scene) was inspired by my own garage sale, right down to the sheets covering the makeshift plywood tables and the silver-plated chafing dish. As the day progressed, I started thinking “what if…” and the book was born. The primary location of the story, Otter Bite, Alaska is inspired by the very real Kachemak Bay village of Seldovia where I spent summers during my 23 years living in Anchorage. Anyone interested in learning more about this special place can visit Seldovia.com.

Excerpt from Spooning Daisy:
"I had apple strudel. I never have apple strudel. It's not my usual."

"You came here to tell me you had apple strudel?"

"The thing is...I liked it. For a change, I mean. Once. Not every day, of course."


"The truth is..." He stepped toward her. "The truth is...I feel bad about giving you such a hard time at breakfast."

"Ohhhh. This is an apology."

"No, absolutely not." Max retracted the step he'd just taken. "This is absolutely NOT an apology."

Daisy huffed. Normally, she'd take great satisfaction in Max's guilt and take equal pleasure in the banter that would surely follow. However, she was a woman on a mission, and she didn't have the time, not with Otter Bite hanging by a manila envelope. "Fine. Thank you for coming here NOT to apologize and for that apple strudel thing. And--" She momentarily softened. "--the money. But I just don't have the time for whatever this is."

Once again he stepped toward her. "You're making this extremely difficult."

"This? This what? What am I making--"

"This." The word melted into her mouth.

The two hundreds floated from her hand to the floor. Then, her arms wrapped Max's neck, his body pressed hers, and Daisy was lost in a kiss she never expected to own.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Embracing Felicity, also set in Otter Bite. Thirty-five-year-old, part-Alutiiq Felicity Arhnaq lives on Bobrovie Spit and has a curio shop in town named FLuke Eleven-Nine. Enter Ian MacIntyre and his 10-year-old daughter Emily. Ian is an oilman whom we met along with Emily in Spooning Daisy. Now he and Emily are back in Otter Bite for the summer, but what’s Ian up to? Looking for the next drilling site where it otter not be? Not on Felicity’s watch! Throw in the legend of Sedna, a 200-year-old mermaid, and it’s romcom with mystery and environmental undertones.

And for those familiar with Spooning Daisy, we see what’s happening with Max and Daisy since their Happily Ever After.

Anyone wanting to read the first chapter can visit my website. Or, if you sign up for my Once in a Blue Moon newsletter, I’ll be sending out the first three chapters to subscribers.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Interesting. Maybe when I put “writer” as my profession on my tax return and started deducting expenses! My first royalty check made it legitimate.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I live on a (no-kill) ranch and spend 6-8 hours a day taking care of ranch and animals, including wildlife that wanders through and sometimes stays, like the skunks under my back deck. I try to get in at least 6 hours/day writing so I’m up early, 4-ish, and write until 7:30 when I start my ranch day. I fit in another 3 hours of writing in between ranch work, usually in the afternoon before I return to the barn for evening feeding. After that, I have dinner and watch some television, usually PBS (including Grantchester, Call the Midwife, Nature, The Great British Baking Show, A Place to Call Home, Miss Fischer’s Murder Mysteries, Father Brown, The Coroner, and Murder in Paradise, Last Tango in Halifax, My Mother and Other Strangers, Home Fires, and assorted documentaries that might catch my interest. Currently loving The Big Pacific.) I try to spend a little Facebook time before bed, where I read a bit, then lights out, and I do it all again the next day. I’m an hour out of town so I only go in about once a week and try to get all my grocery shopping and errands done. Every day is pretty much the same as the next.

On my personal Facebook page I have photos and videos of ranch and critters.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t think I have a quirk, but then would it be a quirk to me? I always meditate in the morning before I write—would that be a quirk? In general, I think I write “normally.”

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A horse. Seriously. I’m not sure how old I was before I realized that wasn’t going to happen. Then I switched to veterinarian. But I have horses now so I feel like part of the herd—perhaps I’ll have to rely on reincarnation.  BTW, Queen Elizabeth II (when she was a child) also aspired to be a horse. So I’m in good company.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
With so many books competing for attention, I’m grateful to all who notice Spooning Daisy, and especially to the tour hosts who make Daisy noticeable. Thank you and good luck with the giveaway. BTW, each giveaway item has a connection to the book.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

Thank you for having Daisy and Max, and me.

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