Posted in Giveaway, Historical, Interview, romance on July 13, 2017

Title: Lord of Lies

Author: Amy Sandas

Series: Fallen Ladies, #3

ISBN: 9781492618782

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

“You do strange things to me, Dell Turner. Tell me I am not alone in what I feel.”

His voice was low and rough. His eyes burned. “You are not alone,” he said.

Portia Chadwick longs for a life of adventure. When a dangerous moneylender kidnaps her sister, she dares to seek help from a man known only as Nightshade. Soon she finds herself charging headfirst into his world of intrigue and danger—and unexpected passion.

Dell Turner grew up in London’s back alleys and gin lanes. Vowing to escape his low beginnings, he hires himself out to society’s elite. When he accepts a job from a beautiful debutante, he doesn’t anticipate her relentless determination to join his mad occupation…or her unnerving ability to inspire emotions he thought long buried. She’s as dangerous to him as his world is to her, and yet Dell can’t bring himself to turn Portia away—even if it means risking her life.

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Interview with Amy

Elizabeth: What’s your favorite line from your new release, LORD OF LIES?

Amy: “He knew before he spoke, however, that a sensible lecture would only end in a roll of her fascinating eyes or a snort of derision before she went along doing exactly what she wanted to do anyway.”

 

Elizabeth: I know you have small children at your house just like I do.  What’s your number one tip for juggling mom life with author life?

Amy: The struggle is real! I don’t know if any mom feels they successfully juggle the many balls they have in the air. My number one tip to keep writing in the midst of mommy tasks is to set a routine and stick to it. The early morning hours of every day are for my writing. My kids still interrupt, but at least they are not surprised when I shoo them out the door.

 

Elizabeth: Let’s talk movies.  What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?  What’s your favorite movie? What movie are you embarrassed to admit that you love?

Amy: Last movie seen in the theater was the live-action Beauty and the Beast with my twelve-year old daughter. My favorite movie is constantly changing. Right now, it’s Wonder Woman. A movie I’m embarrassed to love—Bedazzled with Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley.

 

Elizabeth: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Amy: I’ve loved writing since I was a pre-teen, but it wasn’t until college that I knew I wanted to make a go of it as a career. It took many years after that to actually commit to a discipline that would make it happen.

 

Elizabeth: If you had to live within the world of any genre of romance, which one would you choose and why?

Amy: I’d have to go with contemporary. Specifically, the gritty, rock-and-roll, tattooed, dive bar contemporaries. Oh, to be young and rebellious again!

 

Elizabeth: Have any of your (adult) family members read your books?  Do you tear out the pages of the sex scenes? Or let them read the whole thing?

Amy: Yes, many of my adult family members have read at least one of my books. Even my grandpa! And, as far as I know, they read the whole thing. We just don’t talk specifics afterward…

About the Author

Amy Sandas’ love of romance began one summer when she stumbled across one of her mother’s Barbara Cartland books. Her affinity for writing began with sappy pre-teen poems and led to a Bachelor’s degree with an emphasis on Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She lives with her husband and children in Wisconsin.

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Title: The Wicked Heir

Author: Elizabeth Michels

Series: Spare Heirs, #3

ISBN: 9781492621393

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

The Spare Heirs Society Cordially Invites You to Meet Fallon St. James: The Mastermind

When the love of Lady Isabelle Fairlyn’s life is betrothed to her twin sister, Isabelle vows to find a suitable replacement before the end of the season. He must be a talented dancer, have a keen fashion sense, and be perfectly dashing in every way.

Fallon St. James is the farthest thing from perfectly anything. As head of the secretive Spare Heirs Society, he must stick to the shadows…even as Isabelle’s friendship pulls him reluctantly into the light.  But when Isabelle gets involved with the one man who could destroy Spares, Fallon must decide between protecting his life’s work—or risking everything to save the woman whose warm smile leaves him breathless.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble |iBooks | Kobo | IndieBound

Interview with Elizabeth

Amy: If you could be a character in any movie, which movie and what character would you want to be?

Elizabeth: Without a doubt I would want to be Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries! She gets to learn to be a princess.  I mean, twist my arm, right?  Torture me with makeovers and learning to properly sip tea any day.  I won’t complain even a little. Mia Thermopolis has the bright future of one day ruling Genovia which looks a great deal like one of the countries in Epcot.  Again, it would be complete torture to have that to look forward to. 😉 And bonus—my grandmother would be Mary Poppins.  Not too shabby.

 

Amy: Who is your favorite musical artist of all time, and why?

Elizabeth: That’s such a tough question! I think I’ve now changed my answer on this 4 times, but in the end I have to go with Dave Matthews.  I’ve been to more of his concerts than any other band.  I can put on his live album with Tim Reynolds at Radio City Music Hall in the background at my house and be content to leave it on for hours.  I like any musical artist that tells a story or paints a picture with lyrics, so for me Dave Matthews Band is the perfect music…even if I did come really close to answering this question with Led Zeppelin.

 

Amy: Do you listen to music while you write? And if so, what do you listen to?

Elizabeth: I only listen to classical music and theme songs from movies while I’m writing because of the lyrics.  If I listen to a song with words, I stop writing to sing along, using the stapler on my desk as a microphone.  Yes, I discovered I have this problem the hard way.  I do, however, have inspiration music for each book.  I listen to it while I’m sipping my coffee or I’m in the car.

For THE WICKED HEIR, I listened to a mix that included the acoustic version of Everlong by the Foo Fighters, Everything Has Changed by Taylor Swift, Someone Like You by Adele, Crash Into Me by Dave Matthews, She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5, and a random selection of songs from Disney movies.  I blame my heroine, Isabelle, who is a bit of a princess for that last part.

 

Amy: If you could go anywhere in the world for a vacation, where would you go?

Elizabeth: London, of course! My house is in the country so I enjoy going to cities on vacation for a change of pace.  And what better city is there in the world than London, England? I love London, but I haven’t been able to go in years since I have a little one at home.  It seemed like a long flight for a wiggly little boy to sit through, but now that he’s getting older I’m hoping I can take a family vacation there in the coming years.  Until then I’ll just have to sip tea at home and dream.

 

Amy: If you had only one book to read for the rest of your life, what book would it be?

Elizabeth: Only one book?! Forever?! Man, ask me a tougher question, why don’t you, Amy.  Geez! I would have to go with the book that will always hold a special place in my heart: the one that hooked me on reading when I was a teenager.  There was a long list of acceptable books for summer reading that year.  I wasn’t a big reader at the time, so I sighed and looked down the list settling on a title that turned out to be AMAZING! After I read it, I wanted more and began devouring book after book for the first time in my life.  But that first one is still my favorite book of all time.  The book that changed my life: REBECCA by Daphne Du Maurier.

 

Amy: What is the strangest way that an idea has come to you for a story?

Elizabeth: LOL I definitely have to go with the plot of my debut novel, MUST LOVE DUKES, for this one.  I was in the shower one Saturday afternoon after working in my flower beds all morning.

It went something like this: shampoo, shampoo, shampoo… ENTIRE PLOT OF THE STORY SMASHING ME OVER THE HEAD! I gasped, didn’t even stop to rinse or repeat, and ran for a pen and paper before I could forget the details.  I wrote down a summary of the entire book with shampoo bubbles still dripping from my head.  And the rest is history.

 

Amy: Who is a favorite secondary character you’ve written, and why?

Elizabeth: Kelton Brice, Lord Hardaway! I love Kel! I can always count on him to go off on some tangent of complete randomness, and whatever story he tells, it always makes me giggle.  He’s one of those people who talks with his hands and is always in danger of accidentally back handing someone who gets too close when he’s mid tale of some adventure. I never know what he’s going to say, but you can bet that it will be slightly inappropriate and at top volume so that everyone on his side of town can hear it.  He’s awesome.  I want to be his friend.

About the Author

Elizabeth Michels grew up on a Christmas tree farm in rural South Carolina. After tip-toeing her way through school with her focus on ballet steps and her nose in a book, she met a boy and followed him a thousand miles away from home to Kansas City, Missouri, before settling down in North Carolina.

Website * Twitter * Facebook

Giveaway

Amy Sandas’ Fallen Ladies Series:
Luck Is No Lady
The Untouchable Earl
Lord of Lies

Elizabeth Michels’ Spare Heirs Series:
The Infamous Heir
The Rebel Heir
The Wicked Heir

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, Interview, mystery on June 26, 2017

Death on West End Road (Hamptons Murder Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Dunemere Books (June 20, 2017)
Paperback 268 Pages

Synopsis

Like a basket of warm cinnamon buns, an unsolved crime is something that Hamptons innkeeper and sleuth Antonia Bingham just can’t resist. Despite a busy high-season schedule and an inn booked to capacity, Antonia has agreed to investigate a cold case in her beloved adopted hometown, East Hampton, NY: the killing of Susie Whitaker, whose brutal 1990 slaying on a tennis court in the poshest part of town was never solved. And the person who has hired Antonia? Prime suspect Pauline Framingham, a manipulative pharmaceutical heiress from a powerful family. The crime scene is compromised, the circumstances are complicated, and former witnesses are cagey, haunted and very reluctant to revisit what happened on that sun-splashed afternoon decades earlier. As Antonia attempts to unravel the mysteries of the past she unearths even darker secrets and ultimately wonders if it would have been best to let sleeping dogs lie. To make matters worse, past acquaintances and love interests reappear in the Hamptons, disrupting Antonia’s world and causing her to scurry to the fridge for comfort.

Death on West End Road is the third book in the Hamptons Murder Mystery Series. Along with a colorful cast of supporting characters, the beating heart of the book is Antonia Bingham, restaurateur, gourmand, and nosy carb-lover.

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Guest Post

Antonia Bingham of “DEATH ON WEST END ROAD”

By Carrie Doyle

Sometimes you just need help finding the secret ingredient. That’s what happened to me in my quest to create the perfect hors d’oeuvres.  Despite all my best efforts, it was not until my friend Merecias Gandela, or “May” as she is more commonly known, came to visit me in my kitchen at The Windmill Inn, that I was able to complete the most delicious version of shrimp balls that I have ever tasted.

I had been asked to create a new hors d’oeuvres to present at the Ladies Village Improvement Society benefit. This is an important organization that, in their own words, ‘has been keeping East Hampton beautiful since 1895.’ The volunteers and employees there work hard maintaining the historical landmarks, as well as the ponds, parks, greens, trees and gardens in the village. They do a fantastic job and I certainly do believe we have the prettiest town in America!

With that in mind, I wanted to make sure I created a special dish that was both tasty and original. I like crab cakes, and they are always a crowd pleaser. But they are not the most innovative hors d’oeuvres. And I also hate to say it, but they kind of make your breath stinky after you eat them. It’s true! That’s why it’s kind of weird to me that they serve them at cocktail parties where people keep talking to one another. Maybe they would be better eaten in private. But what I love about shrimp is you don’t have that bad breath when you eat them and I think they are even tastier!

I had tried various batches of shrimp balls, always tweaking the recipe. At first I used rosemary and thyme, then I tried cilantro until I finally settled on tarragon as the herb of choice. Settling on seasoning was a head scratcher. I finally thought I had the recipe down—much to the relief of Marty and Kendra who work with me in my kitchen and were up to their eyeballs in shrimp balls—when May came to visit me. She took one bite before nodding and saying, ‘old bay.’ Of course! I needed Old Bay seasoning. With May’s help (Marty and Kendra were fed up) we quickly created a new batch. I have to say—fantastic! I’m including the recipe below and you can try it yourself. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. The Ladies of the Ladies Village Improvement Society certainly weren’t!

May’s Shrimp Balls

1 pound of shrimp, peeled, deveined and finely chopped or blended in a Cuisinart

1 egg

2 tsps of Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of ground pepper

1/8 cup of chopped fresh tarragon

2 tsp of mayonnaise

3 cloves of garlic

1 bundle of scallions (mostly white part)

½ cup of panko (will be 1 cup total but ½ now)

½ tsp of Old Bay

Mix all together, then roll into individual balls 2/3 the size of a ping pong ball. Spread rest of panko bread crumbs on a plate and roll each ball in panko. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.  Then fry each one in olive or vegetable oil.

Serve hot with a horseradish sauce mixed with Siracha.

Q & A with Carrie

I was lucky enough to also get some insight from Carrie.  Some interesting information that you may never have known!

Q: How did you ‘get into a life of crime’? Writing, not committing crime?

A: I’ve always been drawn to stories of murder. Whether it be the big celebrity cases—like JonBenet Ramsey or Laci Peterson—or the less well known ones. I think perhaps because I have known people or met people personally who have committed a crime or been a potential victim of a crime. For example, the doorman in my apartment building where I grew up killed his wife. One day I was talking to him in the lobby and the next thing I heard he was doing 25 to life for killing her. So random. Also, my aunt Katie Mahon had a very close run in with Ted Bundy in the 1970s and almost was his victim. She wrote about her experience in her book The Miracle Chase. Her story is harrowing and always captivated me.

Q: What is it about it that captivated you?

A: I think the fact that an everyday person can be homicidal. Not just someone who in frustration says, ‘oh I want to kill her,’ but someone who actually does! I mean, one of the reasons the public couldn’t accept that O.J. Simpson killed Nicole and Ron was that we all felt like we knew him. It was like, ‘O.J. wouldn’t do that.’ But it turns out, we didn’t know him at all.

Q: I heard you had a connection to O.J.?

A: Not really a connection but a weird coincidence. OJ Simpson used to go jogging with my upstairs neighbor. And our doorman told us after the murder (not the same doorman who killed his wife I might add) that he saw OJ beating Nicole up outside our building. Then during the recent documentary ‘Made in America” about OJ they showed a picture of Nicole’s diary. She says the first time he beat her up was at the party in the apartment of my upstairs neighbor! I would have been 12 years old and sleeping right below the party. It is eerie.

Q: How did you pick East Hampton as a setting for your Hamptons Murder Mystery Series?

A: I have spent every summer of my life in East Hampton as well as most holidays and long weekends. For the past ten years I have also gone there every weekend. It is my favorite place on earth and I know it like the back of my hand. They say ‘write about what you know’ and so I did. You can tell if the writer really knows the location they are writing about so it was important to me that I not set it in say, Oklahoma, because I’ve never been there and it wouldn’t be authentic.

Q: Have there been a lot of murders in East Hampton?
A: Not really. Although now the bodies are stacking up in my books! But the case that really captivated people was the Ted Ammon murder in East Hampton in 2001. He was a wealthy banker who was good looking and well liked, and he was brutally murdered in his ten-million dollar home near the ocean. It ultimately came out that the boyfriend of his estranged wife—a local electrician—had killed him. It had all the elements—money, class warfare and murder. But at the end of the day, he had two small children whose life were ruined by his death.

Q: What’s next for Antonia Bingham, the heroine of your books?

A: The next book will be very straight forward and all about murder. Less of Antonia’s personal life, I’m hitting a pause button on that. Someone will arrive at the inn and they are not the person they say they are. It’s inspired by Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap, my favorite play.

About the Author

carrie-doyleCarrie Doyle was the founding Editor-in- Chief of the Russian edition of Marie Claire Magazine. She is currently a Contributing Editor of Hamptons Magazine and has written extensively for Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country and has also written for Women’s Health and Avenue on the Beach. With Jill Kargman, Carrie co-wrote the film Intern (which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999), as well as several screenplays sold to Showtime, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Films and the Oxygen Network. Carrie and Jill co-wrote five books together, including three teen books for HarperCollins and two bestselling women’s fiction books, The Right Address and Wolves in Chic Clothing (Broadway Books). Carrie also penned the popular novel The Infidelity Pact (Broadway Books). Carrie lives in New York City with her husband and two children and is currently at work on an animated series for broadcast as well as her new series, the Hamptons Murder Mysteries.

Webpage * GoodReadsAmazonPublisher Page * Twitter

 

Giveaway

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

June 19 – My Journey Back – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

June 19 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 20 – deal sharing aunt – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

June 20 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT

June 21 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

June 21 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – GUEST POST

June 22 – Books Direct – GUEST POST

June 22 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

June 23 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

June 24 – Valerie’s Musings – INTERVIEW

June 24 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 25 – A Holland Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 26 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

June 26 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 27 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW, SPOTLIGHT

June 28 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

June 28 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

June 29 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – REVIEW

June 29 – The Self-Rescue Princess – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 30 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

Posted in Book Release, Interview, Young Adult on June 25, 2017

Synopsis

Li Nguyen, aka Juice Box, has never really had a friend. That is, until he meets the ultra cool, super mysterious Shame. Though Juice Box feels certain this is his new BFF, Shame’s dark past and nefarious entanglements get them both into serious, life-threatening trouble. It doesn’t help that Shame inadvertently pissed off one of the baddest crime bosses in Baltimore, Anna Nguyen (aka Laoban), who also happens to be Juice Box’s cousin. Shame stirred up trouble with a rival game, putting Anna and her crew in a precarious situation. Torn between his love for Anna and his new, exciting friendship with Shame, Juice Box must choose where his loyalties lie.

Will he choose family and leave Shame out to dry, or will he choose the only friend he’s ever had, despite the danger?

Praise

“MIND BLOWING! From the first sentence, “I am ugly.” to the last sentence, “I see you.” this book had me glues to the pages. I read this book in one night.”

“Fantastic roller coaster of a book. VERY visual.  There were moments where I was too in the moment and felt as if I was truly there.”

“The ambiguity that surrounds the main character’s gender/sexuality is a welcome change. It allows you to get wrapped up in the character’s development.”

“It’s like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets Middle Sex.  The gender ambiguity coupled with the vague use of personal pronouns was bold and executed masterfully.”

“What a relief it is to not have a completely heteronormative main character with a love interest for once, and to also have it executed so damn well.  Shame’s identity is kept under wraps masterfully by the author and I almost hope she never reveals it.”

“This book sucked me in as soon as I opened it. I swung from feeling pity and heartache for Shame, to hating the character, and back again. After whipping through it in under a week, I can honestly say the novel didn’t disappoint in the least–my main problem is desperately wanting the second and third installments in the trilogy to be written NOW so I can read them!’

Q&A with the Author & Illustrator

I love the Comic Book vibe and illustrations you’ve incorporated into The Adventures of Juice Box and Shame! Can you tell readers what inspired this theme for your thrilling novella?

Liv Hadden: I grew up around comic books because my brother loved them. Some of that rubbed off on me! I was reading a Deadpool comic before bed one night. When I woke up the next morning, I had this vision of Juice Box and Shame on the cover of a comic book called The Adventures of Juice Box and Shame. I was so excited about the idea, I knew I had to make it real.

Mo Malone: I also grew up reading comic books when I was a kid. My dad would take my brother and me to a local comic book shop on a fairly regular basis and I was always excited to add to my collection. I always found the artwork to be striking and dramatic. It impressed me how line weight, perspective, and color theory can further the emotion and storyline of a comic. I was very excited when Liv asked me to join her on this project.

Liv, how did you find Mo Malone, and inevitably end up partnering with her on this project?

LH: I knew I was going to need an artist to pull off the comic book theme, and Mo popped into my head immediately. We met years ago when she started tattooing my entire back. Through that process, I got to know her and see what she was capable of. She’s a brilliant artist and a wonderful woman – she seemed like an obvious choice.

Mo, did you ever think you would contribute to publishing a book?

MM: I have always wanted to contribute artwork for a book and I’m elated with joy that I get to team up with such a talented and overall amazing person as Liv!

How has it been working as a ‘team’ with a co-author/illustrator, versus flying solo?

LH: As far as the writing goes, not too much different, other than having someone’s eyes on my drafts immediately. As a reader of the series herself, she was able to give me perspective I wouldn’t have had access to so early on. She caught some things and helped me fine-tune the characters, which was very helpful. It’s been amazing for me to see her bring the characters to life in her drawings. I love seeing her interpretations of things. It’s a good check for me to see if I’m illustrating the story well with my words.

MM: It can be a bit of a daunting task. To find that balance of vision between author and illustrator, you want to make sure you both are on the same page. Having Liv’s guidance through the drawing process has made it much easier to ensure that I carry out her vision for the book.

Mo, how quickly did you dream up your illustrations from Juice Box and Shame? Was there any specific part of In the Mind of Revenge that really influence how you saw these characters?
MM:
It was quite helpful having already read a book that included these characters. I think we all paint a picture in our mind, when we read. And Liv is so descriptive, that it came pretty naturally. It was important for me to choose scenes from each episode that would further the storyline and keep the reader guessing what might happen next.

What do you think will surprise readers most about The Adventures of Juice Box and Shame?

LH: Some things that weren’t revealed in In the Mind of Revenge get addressed. For some, it will be obvious, for others a surprise. There’s also a hint as to where to story will go from here!

Liv, you talk about some medical procedures in your story, as well as some of the advancements humans have made in metal. What was the most interesting thing you learned while researching for the book?

LH: I came across a type of metal that can disintegrate bullets on contact! As of now, it primarily has military applications, but I had to ask myself, “What if we could replace human bones with this material?” The answer was intriguing and leads me to some very exciting plot items for the future.

About the Author

Liv Hadden has her roots in Burlington, Vermont  and currently resides in Georgetown, TX with her partner and two dogs, Madison and Samuel, where she is an active member of Writer’s League of Texas. Her 2016 release In the Mind of Revenge received high praise from Blue Ink Reviews, Writer’s Digest, Kirkus ReviewsindieBRAG and five stars from Foreword Clarion Review.

Incredibly inspired by artistic expression, Hadden immerses herself in creative endeavors on a daily basis. She finds great joy in getting lost in writing and seeing others fully express themselves through their greatest artistic passions. It’s no wonder she teamed up talented tattoo artist Mo Malone (who scribed a majority of Hadden’s body work) to create her latest release The Adventures of Juice Box and Shame.

Find Liv Online: Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads

About the Illustrator

Malone has been making art since she was a kid. Offered a tattoo apprenticeship while obtaining a B.F.A. in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University. Malone briefly diverted from tattooing to be an elementary and middle school teacher,  an experience she greatly enjoyed, but ultimately came back to her artistic roots. She has tattooed at Rick’s Tattoo in Arlington, Virginia (where she got her start), Iron Age Studio in St. Louis, Missouri and Triple Crown Tattoo in Austin, Texas where she met Hadden.

A lover of travel, her craft has taken her all over the world, to include a dozens of tattoo conferences spanning from New York to Moscow. You can now find Malone back in St. Louis at Ragtime Tattoo. She has recently joined Evil Prints to expand into screen-printing, and when she’s not working her magic in the art world, you can find her feeding her adventurous spirit BMXing at her local skate park or wandering the Missouri Botanical Garden

Find Mo Malone Online: Instagram

 

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, nonfiction on June 7, 2017

THE REBIRTH OF HOPE

My Journey from Vietnam War Child to American Citizen

by

Sau Le Hudecek

  Genre: Memoir / Inspirational

Publisher: Texas Christian University Press

Date of Publication: June 15, 2017

Number of Pages: 160

Scroll down for Giveaway!

Born in a demilitarized zone during the Vietnam War to a Vietnamese mother and American soldier, Sau Le arrived in the United States as a young woman with only twenty dollars in her pocket. Though bullied and abused since childhood, she nevertheless came to her new homeland armed with courage and determined to build a decent life for herself, her infant son, and her traumatized mother. This is the story of how she overcame every conceivable hurdle—significant culture shock, a daunting language barrier, serious illness, heartbreak, and betrayal—to become a landlord, a successful business owner, a joyous wife and mom, and a woman blessed with generous, loyal friends. She describes an arduous journey, both physical and emotional, from a place of terror and utter despair to a life overflowing with love and prosperity. Ultimately, this is a story of hope, something Sau Le thought she’d lost long ago in the minefields of Vietnam. Her goal is both to uplift and to remind everyone born on American soil that anything in this land is possible for those willing to put dedication, faith, and passion to work.

TCU Press * IndieBound * Barnes & Noble * Amazon

Praise for The Rebirth of Hope:

“Sau Le has an innate abundance of beauty, wisdom, loyalty and dignity which led her to overcome unbelievable challenges and fully realize her dream in America. Thus proving once again that adversity builds character. I couldn’t put it down.” —Dan Jenkins, bestselling author of Semi-Tough

“Sau Le lifted her head and walked through years of hard work and determination, inspiring other women along the way! Every word of her personal journey was written to remind all of us!” —Robin Sanders, Sanders Travel Agency

“An inspiring story of a Vietnam refugee’s journey to achieve the ‘American Dream.’ This book is a lesson for everyone.”  —Martin C. Bowen, financial executive

“To have written this remarkable story is one more example of the focus and tenacity that Sau Le Hudecek has shown in achieving her previous goals. You will remember this gripping tale of resilience and courage.”  —Gail Williamson Rawl

“A truly inspirational story of a fearless person who overcame unbelievable odds to make a better life and obtain the ‘American dream.’”  —Janie Beggs

You mention throughout the book feeling flickers of hope. Can you tell us about a specific time or event that you remember feeling this most strongly?

The first time I remember having a sense of hope after my sister died was my experience in the running rain (flash flood) when I knew at least God loved me enough to save me from being swept away in the flood.

Another time was when my mom’s friend said that my father came back to look for us. Whether this was true or she was just trying to make me feel better it did help.

I also had a strong sense of hope when I earned my beautician’s license here in America. My hard work and sacrifice paid off, and I knew that I could make a better life for my family and that anything was possible.

In the book, you say you wanted a job that made you feel valuable and connected to something important. How does that translate to working in a salon?

Because I was different from everyone else in my village in several ways, growing up, people tried to make me feel defeated by calling me a freak and always trying to make me feel “less than.” I still remember that hollow feeling, thinking that I was a freak just as many people were telling me. I knew how you look can have an impact on how you feel about yourself. Although while in Vietnam I didn’t know that that there was much I could do to help myself. I felt that if I could at least help others feel beautiful about themselves that I would feel I was worth something.

Once in America, listening to my clients talk, I found that everyone feels self-conscious or unhappy with something about themselves. Remembering my hollow feeling makes it natural for me to empathize with my clients, and if I can help them get past this negative feeling and allow them to feel better about themselves, I believe that it will make their lives better and that this positive energy will naturally be passed onto others as well.

Each time I see someone light up about how they feel about themselves I think that it also heals me a little bit.

How have your family members in Vietnam and your mother reacted to your story?

I don’t think my mom really understands. I’ve told her a few times about writing this book, but I don’t get the feeling that it registered with her. My mom didn’t have the opportunity to get an education, and she never read a book for pleasure or otherwise. She tries to read a Bible in Vietnamese, but other than that I don’t think she has the concept of a book that isn’t for instruction.

I haven’t told my brother and sister or anyone else in Vietnam.

What do you miss from Vietnam?

Two people who are now gone: my sister and my grandmother. They took care of me growing up. Other than them, only the few friends and neighbors who were kind to me when the easy thing to do was to act as the others who yelled at me, called me names, and were always trying to put me down.

There are also a few things I reminisce about, such as chewing on a good stalk of sugar cane.

When did you first feel like you’d found a home in America?

Day one! I woke up on June 4, 1993, and I felt I was home. It was like breathing fresh air for the first time. I had no clue what I was going to do for a job or what I was going to do to even survive, but I did know that now it was up to me. I felt home.

How has it felt to write and share your story with the world? What advice would you give others who might also want to share their stories, but may be a bit apprehensive?

Writing the book and then reading it back during the editing process were the first times I truly cried about many of the things that happened to me as a child because it freed memories that I had buried deep down below my skin and away from my heart just to survive.

Growing up, many people tried to ruin me, and I was lucky to find ways to cope and survive and not break and kill myself from feeling less than and hopeless.

I had originally started this book just for my children, hoping to teach them various lessons that I had learned without them having to live through the pain I did in order to learn what I have, but I found out that writing this book was healing many old scars that I had forgotten I had.

If someone has a feeling to share their story, chances are that they do have an important story to tell. Maybe as a book, but at least as a story to share with others. Maybe it will be painful, but telling your story won’t kill you. Not speaking up will kill you because your untold story will eat you up from the inside.

Tell your story—all of it. And be true to yourself. Don’t leave anything out just because you think it is uncomfortable. Those uncomfortable things are probably the parts of your story that you need to tell for your own self, for something in you that needs healing. Maybe it’s related to your skin color, hair, shape, weight, religion, beliefs, intelligence, clumsiness, speech, your past. No matter what, don’t be afraid. Don’t feel alone.

If publishing this book helps someone beyond my children who feels “less than” for whatever reason, it would be a blessing.

What do you hope your children learn from your story?

I want my children, and others, to stand tall and honor themselves. To be true to themselves and accept where they are at so that they can get where they need and want to be. To understand the importance of being polite and kind to others and to understand the damage that can be caused if they aren’t. To honor their country and be good citizens.

Sau Le Hudecek owns a successful salon in Fort Worth, Texas, while still serving her own elite clientele.  In 1993, she arrived in the United States at the age of 22 and was sworn in as a citizen in 2001. She lives with her family in Granbury enjoying the sunsets from their home on the lake.

 

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Posted in Giveaway, Guest Post, Interview, mystery, suspense, Young Adult on April 20, 2017

EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN
By Lindsey Lane

 

  Genre: YA /  Mystery / Suspense

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

Date of Publication: December 16, 2015

Number of Pages: 240

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Tommy Smythe is missing.

Fact: Tommy was good at physics and less good at basic human interactions.

Fact: Tommy recorded his thoughts and observations in a notebook.

Fact: Tommy believed in the existence of parallel universes.

Fact: Tommy was adopted.

The facts are simple. The conclusions to be drawn from the facts are not simple. Did he run away to find his birth parents? Did he slip through a wormhole and enter one of the multiple universes he believed in? Did he simply wander off?

Only one thing is certain: until a possibility is proven true, all possibilities exist.

Told through multiple perspectives, here is a story about how residents of a small town seek answers to the mystery of a teen’s disappearance.

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Praise

“In her first novel for teens, Lane offers a gripping and genre bending mosaic.” – Publishers Weekly

“Complex and Rich” – Horn Book

“This is the kind of book you tuck in with and escape into, and it will stay with you long after you finish the last lines.  Haunting and beautiful.” – Jennifer Mathieu, author of The Truth About AliceDevoted, and Afterward

“The narrative jiggers between unexpected opposites—joy and fear, love and violence, grief and hope—all the while holding forth the constant idea that the world offers us credible evidence of what seems impossible if we only know where to look.”  J.L. Powers, author of Amina, This Thing Called The Future, and the forthcoming Broken Circle

“Ever look at a pearl and notice that its one color is, in fact, many colors? That’s the beauty of EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN, the stunning debut novel by Lindsey Lane.” – Conrad Wesselhoeft, author of Adios Nirvana, Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways To Fly

Check out the book trailer!

 

 

A Dead End That Changed My Direction

Guest Post by Lindsey Lane

In a way, the beginning and ending of every book must be discovered.

Let me explain. For Evidence of Things Not Seen, there were a few beginnings. There was the beginning when I woke up from a dream where I saw a boy standing in a pull out by the side of the road. I wondered what that boy was doing there, so I began writing into the dream, into the place by the side of the road, into that landscape and its people.

But there was also the beginning several years before when I wrote a play called The Miracle of Washing Dishes, which was a play about the epiphanies characters had while washing dishes. The epiphanies and the dishes held the play together. I think the play was a success because people like to witness epiphanies. They like to feel their world can be shifted even if they are too afraid to do it themselves.

There was also the beginning when Alexander Calder’s mobiles touched my work and I realized that I could fracture a storyline and that all the fragments would still hold together and tell a complete story with spaces for the reader to enter in and make it their own.

These few beginnings above informed me as a writer. They brought me to the place of telling this particular story. The boy led me into the world of the pullout where everyone who came there had some sort of epiphany. The characters each had their own gossamer thread and, because the center of the story was missing (Tommy), the threads wobbled (like pieces of a mobile) as they do when some thing has gone missing from our lives. Each time we come to the pages of our manuscripts, we bring our history as well our intention to tell a true and honest story. We quarry for the best nuggets and we line them up one by one leading the reader deeper into the world we have created.

But where do we take our readers once we have them traveling the bloodlines of our stories? Where do we want them to land? What feeling do we want them to have as they step away our stories? Comfort? Despair? Promise?

My original ending had a bow on it. Luckily enough, an agent was reading my manuscript and she was quite enthused about it. She kept emailing me all the way along, saying how much she liked each chapter and how deep and finely woven each character was. When she got to the ending, she wrote, “With the tenor of this book, I don’t believe you can wrap things up so neatly. “

I took another look.

If each story line shakes the characters to their core and brings them to a revelation, could I really wrap the whole kit and caboodle in a bow?

I knew that I didn’t want to land in a place of despair. That wasn’t the essential truth in each character. Each epiphany, each revelation was meant to be positive. You see, essentially, I believe that people treat people like they want to be treated and that given a choice, we fall on the side of good. But at the same time, there is a natural anxiety in being alive. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We don’t know what will happen when we wake up in the morning. We can feel afraid. Or we can live with the mystery and find the promise that something good might happen. That’s where I landed the book: there is promise in the mystery.

Lindsey Lane is the author of the young adult novel Evidence of Things Not Seen (Farrar Straus Giroux) and the award-winning picture book and iTunes app Snuggle Mountain (Clarion/PicPocket Books). She is represented by Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Before she received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2010, Lindsey was a features journalist (Austin Chronicle and Austin American Statesman) and an award-winning playwright (The Miracle of Washing Dishes). Lindsey is a featured presenter at schools and conferences and universities and also teaches writing at Austin Community College, Writers League of Texas, and the Writing Barn. She lives in Austin, Texas but loves to travel, especially to the ocean. She loves books, films, good food and her cadre of dear friends. Her idea of a perfect evening is having a dinner party at her home with friends from around the world and discussing everything under the sun while eating, drinking, and laughing.

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4/17 Review It’s a Jenn World
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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, romance, women on April 19, 2017

Title: My Kind of You

Author: Tracy Brogan

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Series: Trillium Bay, #1

Synopsis

Emily Callaghan never expected to spend another summer on Wenniway Island. Yet here she is, back in her quaint northern Michigan hometown of Trillium Bay, divorced, flat broke, and dragging along her precocious twelve-year-old. It’s a simple arrangement: Emily, a house flipper, will renovate one of her grandmother’s rental properties in exchange for a much-needed loan. Once a wild child, the reformed Emily also hopes to remodel her reputation and show her family she’s all grown up.

But coming home is never simple. Emily’s dad is more distant than ever. Her younger sister is dating a much older man, and Emily’s worried it’s a mistake. The cottage remodel grows increasingly daunting. And then there’s handsome out-of-towner Ryan Taggert…

Ryan has his own family drama. A smart, ambitious land developer, he’s come to Wenniway to rescue his father from the grips of a new girlfriend and protect their family business. But he’s quickly distracted by gorgeous, witty Emily Callaghan.

There’s no denying the attraction between Emily and Ryan. But will their conflicting interests destroy any chance at love? Or will Emily finally get the chance to rebuild her life—and repair her heart?

Interview with Tracy

1)    In My Kind of You, your heroine Emily Callaghan is returning to her small hometown of Trillium Bay in Michigan. Is this out of necessity or is she longing to get back to her roots?

She has actually been avoiding her roots! Or at least her father. They had a falling out when she ran away at nineteen to get married, but now she is back out of necessity. Emily is a house flipper and a bad business decision left her broke. Her grandmother has hired her to renovate a cottage back in Trillium Bay. Emily realizes this job was just a way for her Gigi to get Emily back home, but she’s willing to give it a try. Because she is THAT broke.

2)    She has a lot going on in her life including running her own business and raising a pre-teen. Does she think she has time for romance?

Emily is a busy, independent woman who has convinced herself she doesn’t have time for romance. Once bitten, twice shy. Her disastrous first marriage left her cautious and a little suspicious. She’s had some boyfriends but none of them have really gotten past her defenses.

3)    How does the handsome Ryan Taggert change her mind?

Ryan and Emily have a shared goal that causes them to work together. Time, proximity, great sexual chemistry, and things were bound to head in the direction. Neither one of them thought a fling was a great idea, but moonlight over the lake has a way of making people forget that.

4)    What first draws Ryan to her and visa versa?

Ryan is immediately attracted to Emily’s beauty, and as he gets to know her, he falls for her determination to do the right thing, and her self-deprecating sense of humor. He’s also drawn to warm, genuine affection he sees between Emily and her daughter. Of course, he doesn’t realize more of this at the time. He thinks his feelings are just about manly instinct. But we readers know better.

As for Emily, she fights her attraction to his “business-like hotness” because she really has no place in her life for romance, and she doesn’t want more heartbreak. When she finally decides to trust him, things go awry and he must prove himself to her all over again. Does he succeed? Of course he does, but the fun of romance novels is finding out HOW he succeeds.

5)    What is Emily’s family’s reaction to a new man in her life?

They keep their relationship a secret for quite a while because Emily’s family is so distracted by the relationship her younger sister Lilly has fallen in to. That one is pure scandal so Ryan and Emily are able to fly under the radar for a bit.

6)    You are really well known for writing realistic characters and settings that readers can relate to. Do you draw your inspiration for your writing from real life? Is there anyone in your life similar to your characters in Trillium Bay?

Thank you for saying that! I’m glad to hear it. As for inspiration and real life scenarios, I use everything around me. My friends and family all know that anything they say can and will be used in a book someday. I love taking a rather ordinary moment from life and writing about it in a way that will make people laugh. I also entertain myself by creating eccentric characters who do and say things that I would secretly like to say or do. There’s always at least one character in every one of my books who is brutally blunt or who has no filter.

7)    What can readers expect next from this series?

Readers can expect love, laughter, nostalgic family moments, and insightful growth from the characters. In this series they’ll find a May-December romance, a father and daughter learning to forgive each other, hot kisses at the top of a lighthouse, secret rendezvous, a crazy librarian, a martini-swilling grandmother, and a bee-keeper. Oh, and also horses, buggies, boat, bicycles, bats, the evil Mahoney sisters… yeah, there’s a little bit of everything in this series. I hope readers enjoy it!

About the Author

Tracy Brogan is an award-winning, bestselling novelist who writes fun and funny stories about ordinary people finding extraordinary love, and also lush historical romance full of royal intrigue, damsels causing distress, and the occasional man in a kilt. She has been nominated by Romance Writers of America for a prestigious RITA® Award for her debut novel, Crazy Little Thing, and was nominated by RWA for two Golden Heart Awards. She’s a Booksellers Best Award recipient, along with two Golden Quill Awards in both contemporary and historical romance. Unapologetically devoted to romance, Tracy lives in Michigan with her often-bemused husband, their gloriously above-average children, and their two intellectually challenged dogs.

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, suspense, women on April 17, 2017

THE GRAVE TENDER
By Eliza Maxwell

  Genre: Women’s Fiction / Psychological Suspense

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Date of Publication: April 11, 2017

Number of Pages: 248

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A chilling psychological suspense novel, The Grave Tender explores the dark boundaries people cross to save loved ones, and the limits of family bonds tested by the deepest of betrayals.

Endless questions from a shadow-filled East Texas childhood haunt Hadley Dixon. People said her mother, Winnie, was never quite right, but with one single, irreparable act, life as Hadley knew it was shattered. The aftershocks of that moonlit night left her reeling, but the secrets and lies had started long before

When a widowed and pregnant Hadley returns years later, it’s not the safe harbor she expects. The mysteries surrounding a local boy’s disappearance remain, and the townspeople still whisper about Hadley’s strange and reclusive Uncle Eli—whispers about a monster in their midst.

But Hadley’s father and grandmother, the cornerstones of everything safe in her world, avoid her questions. If Hadley stays here, will she be giving her children the family they need or putting their lives in danger?

The hunt for answers takes a determined Hadley deep into the pine forests, in search of sunlight that will break through the canopy of lies long enough to reveal the truth.

“The Grave Tender will grasp you in its hooks from the beginning as you try to figure out the truth behind each character, because no one is truly what they seem … Addicting, easy to read, and hard to put down.”Shelbi LeMeilleur, Insite Magazine

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Please welcome author Eliza Maxwell to StoreyBook Reviews!  We wanted to get a feel for Eliza and her writing and so we hope this interview with her answers all those burning questions!

Where did your love of writing come from?

I’m a mom, and honestly, if I could get anyone to listen to me at home, I probably wouldn’t feel the need to write stories to send out into the world.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but sometimes I do feel a bit like I’d imagine the zookeeper at the monkey house feels.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

The Grave Tender was my first book, and the toughest part was learning a system that worked for me through good old fashioned trial and error.  There are as many different ways to write a book as there are voices to write them, and the advice of others can only take a person so far.  I took the long, hard road with The Grave Tender, but I hope I learned a few things along the way, about myself and about how to build a book.

What literary character is most like you?

I’ve always had a fondness for Agatha Christie’s Miss Jane Marple.  I think I’d be perfectly content in an English village, gardening, gossiping, and solving the occasional murder.  English villages do seem to have more than their fair share of dead bodies around, at least in fiction, don’t they?  Yes, when I grow up, I definitely want to be Miss Jane Marple.

What does your perfect writing spot look like? Is that what your ACTUAL writing spot looks like?

When the weather is willing, I prefer to write outdoors.  My amazing husband has helped me turn our deck into a bit of an oasis, and that’s my favorite place to write, hands down.  Occasionally though, when I need to leave the distractions at home, I like to sit at a bench in the local cemetery with a pen and notebook.  A bit odd, maybe, but it’s peaceful and it feels connected to the kinds of stories I write.

If you could time travel, what time period would you first visit? 

Funny, when I think of time travel, the first thing I’d love to do would be to go back and meet my family when they were young.  I’m fascinated by the idea that our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, each led unique lives long before we ever came on the scene and how those lives influence the generations that came after.

If you could speak with any accent from anywhere in the world, what would you choose and why?

British.  No hesitation.  I’d love to be able to get away with saying things like, “Cheeky bugger,” and “Bloody hell”.  In fact, I might go around saying nothing but that.  All day.  Every day.  Perhaps with the occasional, “Murder is never simple, Inspector,” thrown in for good measure.

What is your favorite quote?

“You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” –Glinda the Good Witch

Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever patient husband, two impatient kids, a budgie named Sarah, and a bird dog who lives a tortured existence.  She’s an artist and writer, an introvert and a British cop drama addict.  A former bookseller with a lifelong love of the written word, she can often be found barefoot on the front porch lost in a good cup of coffee and a great book.

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Posted in Children, Giveaway, Interview, women on April 7, 2017

ALMOST A MINYAN
by

LORI S. KLINE

ARTWORK BY SUSAN SIMON

  Genre: Picture Book / Jewish Traditions

Publisher: Sociosights Press
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Date of Publication: April 5, 2017

Number of Pages: 40

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Will she be the one to take Grandfather’s place?

According to Jewish tradition, a quorum of ten adults is required for public worship. Almost a Minyan traces the story of a young girl whose father and grandfather are regular participants in the town’s minyan – until her beloved Zayde passes on.

Without him, it is even harder for her father to find enough people to make a minyan. Then one day, he brings Zayde’s tefillin to his eldest daughter. A striking new addition to the diverse books movement, Almost a Minyan shares important Hebrew terms and religious concepts through a compelling and beautifully illustrated story for children.

Purchase from Sociosights Press

PRAISE FOR ALMOST A MINYAN

“A warmhearted introduction to coming-of-age in a worship community.” Kirkus Reviews

“A story of inclusion, belonging and equality. I loved the modern, egalitarian, and traditional values shared in this meaningful story. This is a wonderful modern story for our children and grandchildren!”  Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray, Congregation Shir Shalom, CT Founder of the Women Cantors’ Network

“A delightful read for girls and boys alike, this poetic family tale brings a wonderful sentimentality to daily Jewish prayers. Moreover, the beauty of the illustrations contributes additional warmth to this snapshot of Jewish life. A nice addition for all libraries and all ages.” Rabbi Jimmy Kessler, DHL, DD Congregation B’nai Israel, Galveston

 

What was your inspiration for writing Almost a Minyan?  Moving to Austin, where there was often difficult to gather the complete 10 Jewish adults to “make a minyan,”–from the large city of Pittsburgh, PA—where there are several morning minyans daily, gave me pause, as well as concern that we would lose our opportunity to transmit out traditions to our next generations.

What can you share with readers about minyans and Jewish traditions? I would say that, “community” is one of the basic pillars of the Jewish religion. Minyanim (plural of, “minyan”) require a gathering of 10 adult Jews in order to recite prayers. These prayers remind us and bind us to each other and as a community. Also, many of our traditions rely on gathering and engaging with each other. Our Tradition is replete with customs in which together we pray, celebrate, study, mourn and work together toward social justice.

What cultural value do you see in storytelling?

Stories serve as a natural means of transmitting traditions and values.  Nearly no one I know likes being told what to do, but in a story, one can glean…from the characters.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I have the luxury of writing when the inspiration hits me, and socking away a manuscript for months or even years before rousing it from slumber.  This gives me a chance to step back from the writing and its cadence and more objectively read it.  I imagine that my life experiences over time also affect the manner in which my stories evolve into their final form.

What book do you wish you could have written?

Anything by Dr. Seuss.

What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

Lie on the beach in Hawaii, sipping a drink garnished with a paper umbrella, breathing in the ocean air and listening to the rhythm of the waves.

Do you have a mantra for writing and/or for life?

“Yes, you can.”

Lori Sales Kline heralds from Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, PA, which hosts a wonderfully rich Jewish community that fueled her love for Jewish tradition, ritual and practice at home and at, “the shul.”  Following her undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Texas in Austin, Lori chose to make Austin her home, largely due to the spiritual connection she felt in the close-knit Austin Jewish community.  In her spare time, Lori enjoys camping, celebrating Judaism with her husband and son, and friends. She previously authored the children’s picture book,  Josiah’s Dreams.

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Artist Susan Simon

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, romance, women on March 30, 2017

 

Title: The Lilac Bouquet

Author: Carolyn Brown

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Synopsis

Come hell or high water, Emmy Jo Massey will have a wedding. After three generations of Massey women with children out of wedlock, she wants the whole town of Hickory, Texas, to witness the legitimacy of her union with Logan Grady. But dream weddings aren’t cheap. So she accepts a highly lucrative stint as a home health assistant to retired realtor, and town recluse, Seth Thomas—a decision her great-grandmother Tandy is dead-set against.

Seth isn’t happy about it, either. The eighty-two-year-old doesn’t want a “babysitter”—much less a Massey—something he makes clear when Emmy arrives at his house, an empty mansion built for the woman who broke his heart. But as Emmy stays and the two eventually open up to each other, she learns the reason behind a feud between Seth, Tandy, and Logan’s grandfather Jesse Grady that goes back six decades. She also uncovers a secret that forever changes how she sees her past and her future…

Interview

Hello to everyone at StoreyBook Reviews. Thank you so much for inviting me to make a stop here today to talk about my 84th published book, The Lilac Bouquet. It’s actually the first book I ever attempted to write over forty years ago. It didn’t sell—not at that time and not the second time when I revised it. Looking back I do believe with all my heart that the story was waiting on Emmy Jo to be born so that she could bring out the big Hickory, Texas secret that was more than sixty years in the making. But I understand you have some questions for me? I’ve got coffee in hand and donuts (with maple frosting) right here in a pretty platter, so let’s get started.

In The Lilac Bouquet, your heroine Emmy Jo Massey is on a mission. Tell us a little bit about her wedding goals.

Emmy Jo is determined to break the Massey curse—three generations of unwed mothers before she was born. A big wedding will show the whole town that she is indeed married and she intends to have that. But a wedding the size of what she wants is very expensive. When she’s offered a job as Seth Thomas’s assistant until his hip heals, it’s like winning the lottery. She’ll be able to pay for the wedding and her goal will be met. Even though her great grandmother, Tandy, throws a southern hissy fit about her working for Seth and her best friend comes close to disowning her, the wedding is that important to her. So she takes the job and then discovers that the wedding plans aren’t as important as figuring out what the secret between Seth, Tandy and her fiancee’s grandfather is all about.

Emmy Jo has been influenced heavily by the women in her family. Can you give us a rundown of these feisty Massey women? Do you have anything in common with any of them?

Tandy Massey, Emmy Jo’s great-grandmother, is full of sass even though she’s past eighty years old. She raised a daughter, Rose, back in the 30’s when it was way past socially acceptable. Then Rose had a daughter, Crystal, out of wedlock and left her with Tandy to raise. When Crystal was still in high school she got pregnant. She planned to marry her boyfriend but died when Emmy Jo was only a few days old. Living in a small town like Hickory, there’s no way to cover up a background like that. My mother was a single mother in the mid 50’s. My father had a problem with settling down to one woman so she walked away from the marriage. She was a strong, independent woman with a lot of spunk so maybe that’s where I got the inspiration for Tandy.

When Emmy Jo starts working for Seth Thomas, the town recluse, there is some major tension that erupts in Hickory. What should readers know about this infamous feud?

The folks in Hickory have known there was bad blood between Seth, Jesse and Tandy since they were all in high school. But not a single one of the three of them are willing to step up and tell the story. What happened back then set them each on a course that drove them apart for more than sixty years. Right up until Emmy Jo started digging into the past and got Seth to talking.

We also need some more info on Hickory, Texas. It seems like a great place to live, but there are also some … interesting characters that inhabit the area. Who are some of your favorite Hickory-ites? How do you create these characters? (Are they based on people you know?)

Hickory, Texas is a fictional town in north central Texas. It actually gets its name from an old country music song by Merle Haggard, “Hickory Holler’s Tramp” which was the inspiration for the original story that I wrote more than forty years ago. One incident that happened eighteen years before Seth was even born affected the lives of three people for the rest of those folks days on earth. Are they based on people I know? Not necessarily but any small town in Texas has a life blood of its own and that is sometimes fueled by gossip. The best way to feed gossip is to keep talking. The best way to kill it is to stop talking but then that’s when it becomes so enticing that everyone wants to know what’s going on. We have a saying around here. “Everyone knows everyone, what they’re doing, when they’re doing it, and where they’d doing it. They read the weekly paper to find out who got caught.”

Are you going to be returning to Texas anytime soon in your upcoming books?

Oh, yes. Most of my books are set in Texas. Authors tend to write what they know and I’m a Texan by birth. Even though Mama jumped over the Red River and raised me in Oklahoma, my Texas blood calls to me when I start to write. The Toughest Cowboy in Texas, the debut book in the Happy Texas Trilogy, is set in Happy, Texas and comes out May 30. The Strawberry Hearts Diner, a women’s fiction book is set in a fictional town of Pick, Texas, hits the market on July 18. And Long, Tall Cowboy Christmas, the second book in the Happy Texas Trilogy will be out Sept. 26. So keep your boots on folks, there’s more on the way.

Thank you again for the visit. Now let’s refill these coffee cups and have another donut before we turn out the lights on this party.

About the Author

Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, as well as a RITA finalist. She has written several beloved and popular romance titles, ranging from historical to contemporary to cowboy-themed. She and her husband live in Davis, Oklahoma. They have three grown children, and enough grandchildren to keep them young.

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, Monday, mystery on February 20, 2017

Synopsis

After months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect … except in the middle of the night when, in darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.

When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family living near a winery owned by distant relatives she was visiting and suppressed the memory.

Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?

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Interview with Lauren

What’s your favorite thing about the writing process?

Oh, it’s the creative process—coming up with the plotline and figuring out how the murder is committed, who done it, how they are caught—all of that! For me, it is as close to being an amateur detective as you can get. They have the committed crime and work backwards toward the beginning. I am at the beginning and working forward, through the crime, and right up to where the culprit is caught.

How long have you been a writer?

Let’s just say my whole life. I believe writers are born. If you’re a writer, even if you aren’t writing books, you’re a writer. You’re thinking up storylines in the shower instead of singing. If you’re late for work, you can’t just say traffic was terrible, you have to tell a whole story about it being a dark and stormy morning …

I remember rewriting The Bobbsey Twins when I was in grade school to make it more suspenseful. That’s what writers do.

For what would you like to be remembered?

For making everyone around me smile.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Introvert. Most writers are introverts—that’s what makes personal appearances hard for many writers. That’s why I love virtual book tours. I can do the whole tour naked!

What is the most daring thing you’ve done?

Skydiving. I was nineteen years old and dating a great guy who had scheduled parachuting lessons for him and his buddy. Well, his friend backed out, so I asked to go. Thing is—I had never even been up in a plane before! When I told my mother, she said it was okay, but not to tell her what day I was doing it—instead, tell her that I was going on a picnic. So, a couple of days before the jump I asked her for eighty dollars for my picnic on Saturday.

On the day of the lessons, we have six hours of instruction before going up in the plane. Two hours was on how to jump and how to land. The next four hours was on what to do if something went wrong. One of the things they stressed was that when you hit the ground to stand up quickly so that they could see you were okay. If you don’t stand up, they’ll send out the ambulance.

So then, we went up in the plane for our jump. We were suited up with our parachutes and our reserve chutes and all of this equipment. Back then, I weighed about a hundred and ten pounds and I was wearing close to sixty pounds of chutes.

Then, we went up. Remember, I have never been in a plane before. I was more excited about that than the jump. Jon, my boyfriend, jumped out first. Then I jumped.

It was fabulous! I loved it. I could see Jon down on the ground waving and jumping up and down and I was waving back.

Then, I hit the ground beautifully and rolled just like they told us to do. And then … I couldn’t stand up because I was wearing sixty pounds of chutes and equipment. I remembered them saying that I needed to stand up. So, I’m rolling on the ground in the field like a giant turtle on her back trying to get to my feet. In the distance, I hear the ambulance racing across the field and Jon yelling.

By the time I stood up I saw about a dozen people and an ambulance racing across the field toward me.

Jon told me that the whole time he was running across the field he was trying to think of how to tell my mother that I did great … until I hit the ground.

It was five years later before I went up in a plane and actually landed in it.

What is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?

Recently or over the course of my life? This morning I ate two bags of chocolate truffles while answering questions for interviews. Now I have a stomach ache.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

Telling my husband that I couldn’t meet him for lunch because I have a stomach ache from eating two bags of chocolate truffles.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?

Deciding between eating a nutritious breakfast and two bags of chocolate truffles.

What would your main characters say about you?

There are two main characters in A Fine Year for Murder, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton. An heiress, Jessica is Mac Faraday’s daughter. She would say that I was obsessive about my writing to the point of being a workaholic. The solution would be spend a weekend at a spa without any Internet or technology.

On the other hand, Murphy Thornton would say that I had a brilliant mind—after all, I am the creator of three mystery series. However, it would do me some good to work on becoming more disciplined—especially when it comes to health and fitness. Cut out the chocolate truffles and go to the gym more.

How long is your to-do list?

I don’t know. You need to ask my husband. He’s the one who makes it up and keeps track of it.

What are you working on now?

Twofer Murder will be a treat for mystery lovers because it will be two mysteries in one novel. This book will contain all of the characters from the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose mysteries. The guys go fishing and get embroiled in a murder mystery. Meanwhile, the ladies go off to a murder mystery writers conference and end up wrapped up in their own mystery when an up and coming mystery writer ends up dead! Can’t beat that! Two mysteries for the price of one!

As for Murphy and Jessica of the Thorny Rose, sorry, readers, but the next Thorny Rose Mystery is at least a year away. I’m now working on three series! The working title for the next Thorny Rose Mystery is From Rags to Riches to Dead. In this mystery, Jessica’s best friend Amy receives news that her leech of a husband was killed in a freak accident at an expensive resort, where he had spent the last several days living it up. Amy, and Jessica are still trying to sort out this news when Dean walks in—alive and well. Upon investigation, they discover that a killer has been stealing the identity of deadbeat husbands who have been living off their rich wives, and then luring them to expensive resorts to murder them.

Lightning round:

Cake or frosting? Frosting!

Laptop or desktop? Laptop because I’ll write anywhere. Desktops are just too awkward to carry in a case with a shoulder strap.

Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? Bill Murray. Ghostbusters is one of my favorite movies.

Emailing or texting? Emails. I tend to send long wordy messages (the writer in me) and the keys for texting are just too tiny.

Indoors or outdoors? Indoors with central air conditioning. I have seasonal allergies with every change of season.

Tea: sweet or unsweet? Sweet, of course!

Plane, train, or automobile? Automobile—with me driving. My husband and son claim I’m a backseat driver.

About the Author

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

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