Posted in Interview, Texas, Travel on December 11, 2017

YONDERINGS

Trails and Memories of the Big Bend

by

Ben H. English

  Genre: Memoir / Travel / Texas

Publisher: TCU Press

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Date of Publication: November 17, 2017

Number of Pages: 221

It was a time before Terlingua Ranch, chili cook-offs, and when you could drive a hundred miles without seeing another vehicle or another person.  The year was 1961, and the tides of humanity that ebbed and flowed into the lower reaches of the Big Bend were at their historical nadir.  It was a vast, empty land spotted by isolated ranch headquarters, a national park with few visitors, and the many ruins of a past shrouded in legend, lore, and improbable truths. Six generations of Ben H. English’s family have called this enigmatic region home.  With his family headquartered at the old Lajitas Trading Post, he worked and lived on ranches and in places now little more than forgotten dots on yellowing maps.  He attended the one-room schoolhouse at Terlingua, prowled the banks of the Rio Grande, and crisscrossed the surrounding areas time and again on horseback and on foot.

Some fifty years later he writes about those years, revealing along the way the history and legends of the singular land he knows so well, separating fact from fiction, and bringing the reader into a world that few have experienced.  He also explores the lower Big Bend as it is found now, and the extraordinary vistas one can still discover just over the next rise.

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Author Ben H. English discusses his book Yonderings: Trails and Memories of the Big Bend, answering various questions about the book and his motivations for writing it.



An eighth-generation Texan, Ben H. English was raised mostly in the Lajitas-Terlingua area. An honors graduate of Angelo State University, he served in the United States Marine Corps for seven years, was a high school teacher, and retired after twenty-two years in the Texas Highway Patrol.

 

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Posted in Giveaway, Historical, Interview, mystery on November 28, 2017

Death at Thorburn Hall

A Drew Farthering Mystery, #6

by

Julianna Deering

  Genre: Historical British Mystery / Suspense

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Date of Publication: November 7, 2017

Number of Pages: 336

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Investigating a suspicious accident leads Drew on a path that points to international intrigue and ever-growing danger

Drew Farthering arrives in idyllic Scotland for the 1935 British Open at Muirfield, hoping for a relaxing holiday with his wife, Madeline, and friend Nick. But death meets him once again when Lord Rainsby, their host at Thorburn Hall, is killed in a suspicious riding accident–only days after confiding in Drew his fears that his business partner was embezzling funds.

Thorburn Hall is filled with guests, and as Drew continues to dig, he realizes that each appears to have dark motives for wanting Rainsby out of the way. Together with Madeline and Nick, he must sort through shady business dealings, international intrigue, and family tensions to find a killer who always seems to be one step ahead.

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PRAISE FOR Death at Thorburn Hall

“Amateur sleuthing at its finest!”–Fresh Fiction Review

“Another great mystery headed by the charming Drew Farthering and his intelligent wife, Madeline. There is murder, mystery, intrigue and a little romance, which makes Death at Thorburn Hall a most enjoyable read . . . The plot has twists, turns and a few surprises throughout the story. Deering is at her best when penning Drew Farthering mysteries.”–RT Book Reviews

“This sixth series entry will delight Agatha Christie fans.” —Library Journal

 

Character Interview with Madeline Parker Farthering

I’m delighted to have a moment to chat with Madeline Parker Farthering, the wife of the celebrated amateur sleuth, Drew Farthering.

So, what’s it like being an American married to a high-society Britisher?

In one word? Delightful. Not that I don’t worry about him when he goes off to investigate. And not that we haven’t been in our fair share of tight spots when we’ve crossed paths with a murderer or two, but thank God, we’ve made it through. Of course, there is much more to our life together than just solving mysteries. It can be fairly dazzling going to some of the affairs we’re invited to, especially knowing that famous, noble and even royal people will also be in attendance. But we’re as likely to spend a quiet evening at home with our cats, a good book, and a nice cup of tea.  The people of England have been so delightful to get to know. Apart from the murderers, of course. Drew makes me laugh, he makes me think, and he makes me feel like I’m the most wonderful girl in the world. How can I not adore him and love the life we have together?

How did you and Drew meet?

I was supposed to be on a brief visit to Hampshire in the middle of a European tour with two girlfriends of mine. My Uncle Mason was also Drew’s stepfather, so of course I had to stop by and visit him during the trip, and that’s when I met Drew. More quickly than I thought possible, I realized that I never wanted to leave Farthering Place. Not as long as Drew was there. Of course, I didn’t let him know that. Not right away.

How do you manage to put up with Drew and Nick?

They’re such boys, aren’t they? I don’t think they’ll ever grow up, but I suppose I’d be very disappointed if they did. They’ve been friends since they were babies. I know either of them would do anything for the other, but I’m sure they’d both strenuously deny that if you asked them about it. Even when they’re exasperating, they’re so much fun to be around. I hope they never change.

You mentioned reading. Is that one of the things that brought you and Drew together?

Oh, absolutely. When I found out Drew loved mystery novels, and that was on the day after we met, I couldn’t help being interested. Add in his love of Shakespeare and Austen, Sherlock Holmes, the Brontës, and even such frivolity as Gilbert and Sullivan, and I was smitten.

But surely it wasn’t just his mind that attracted you, was it?

Well, he is awfully nice looking, don’t you think? Not many men, even the well-built ones, know how to dress so stylishly without being foppish. And I can’t help loving the way Drew smells. The boys I went out with when I was still in America all smelled like cigarettes and liquor, but Drew always smells of fresh linen, new books, and tea and honey. And, of course, there’s that smile of his . . .

Do you miss America?

Sometimes I do very much. I don’t have much family back there anymore, just an uncle and two aunts, but I would like to see them again. And Drew has promised we’ll go to that new golf tournament in Georgia, The Masters, before long. As much as I love it here in Hampshire, and it really is wonderful, I’d still like to go back to America. I’d like Drew to see what my home is like. He’s fairly keen to see some of the big bands we hear sometimes on the radio, The Dorsey Brothers and a few others, so I hope we’ll get a chance to go sometime soon.

What would you be doing now if you hadn’t married Drew?

I don’t even want to think about it!

JULIANNA DEERING (also writing as DeAnna Julie Dodson) has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness, and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching, and watching NHL hockey. Her series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuted from Bethany House with Rules of Murder (2013) and is followed by Death by the Book and Murder at the Mikado (2014). Dressed for Death (2016), and Murder on the Moor and Death at Thorburn Hall (2017). She is represented by Wendy Lawton of the Books and Such Literary Agency.

 

Julianna Website ║ Twitter ║ Deanna Website

║ Amazon Author Page ║  Facebook

 

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, Spotlight, suspense on October 31, 2017

Book Title: The Fabergé Entanglement by Lesley Meryn & Elle Brookes
Category: Adult Fiction: 306 pages
Genre: Suspense/Action/Romance
Publisher: Lisa Kolber
Release date: July 2015
Content Rating: PG + M (There is some, not much, bad language, sensuality, one alluded sex scene but not described, possible triggers for sexual abuse/non-consensual sex as a plot point, action-style violence)

Synopsis

Sabinne ‘Saber’ Darrieux’s father, the billionaire CEO of Frontenac Global Security has been kidnapped. His ransom is not cash in a numbered offshore account, or a briefcase of Bearer Bonds but something utterly unique, incredibly valuable, and until recently, hidden away from the world.

The kidnapper seems to know Saber very well and knows that the next day, through her work as an elite translator she will be in the same location as the Object. She must steal the Object and deliver it to the kidnapper to ransom her father.

Adrian Steele, a British Intelligence agent has just come off of two harrowing missions. Upon returning to London for a well-earned rest, he learns that his friend and fellow agent has been murdered in Moscow, but not before he made use of a unique Object as a mobile ‘drop site’ for the valuable intelligence he was carrying.

The drop site is traveling from Moscow to England. Steele insists on completing the mission to honor the death of his friend, Gerry Cornell.

At an ultra-chic quasi-diplomatic gathering in a mansion in Windsor, England, Saber and Steele meet and find themselves faced with a powerful, undeniable attraction. But at the moment, this compelling attraction is very inconvenient.

In reality, they are at the mansion to check out the security arrangements — for their own reasons — to steal the Object, a Fabergé egg worth thirty million dollars. But who will get to the egg first?

Fabergé eggs are very famous for their unique surprises. Saber and Steele are about to be very surprised, indeed.

And when Saber clashes with Steele; more than sparks will explode!

Interview with Elle Brookes

In your book you make a reference to the SonicStar, how did you come up with this idea?
Part of my research process! The SonicStar does exist, it’s just not ready to be rolled out yet. Suborbital flight has been a goal for many years. I wish the Concorde was still flying They’re not quite the same, but I love the idea of supersonic flight.

What is your next project?
I’m drawing together the pieces of a new story about Saber and Steele. I really love these two characters, and the dynamic between them. There is more to their stories as people, how relationships are like mine-fields for both of them. Their desire to be with each other, but the issues they have trusting other people, and each other.

What genre do you write and why?
I love reading action-y romantic adventures, with a bit of humor. I thought it would be great fun to write one. So I did! I’m also a great reader of espionage novels. Adam Hall is one of my favorites. His Quiller series is amazing. I wanted to recreate the breathless intensity of his books but my main characters are very different than Mr. Hall’s. However, I did name my hedgehog “Quiller.”

What is your favorite dessert?
Creme Brûlée. That is a bold statement coming from a fierce chocoholic. I love making them. It might have something to do with the mini-blowtorch I get to use to caramelize the sugar on the top.

What is your writing schedule?
I do not have a set schedule, I write as the mood takes me. A better question might be what is a writing schedule?  I’m in Japan right now, having fun and doing research as well as writing. I’ve been spending a lot of time in trains, do manage to get some notes and scenes down.

How do you do research for your books?
I travel a lot, and try to get to know as much as I can about the places I’ve written about. Even Las Vegas!  That is the fun part. I also do extensive online research and talk to the people who work in the areas I write about.

About the Authors

LESLEY MERYN
Enjoyed an exotic, adventure-filled childhood, following her anthropologist father and travel writer mother to the farthest corners of the world. She later took inspiration from her Aunt Sophia Francesca and became the author of romantic adventure novels. She alternates her time between Los Angeles, and a family property located in Yorkshire England.

ELLE BROOKES
She is the author of the first two books of the Time Frame Series, LUST. MECHANICS. MINI COOPER. and SEX. COFFEE. TIME TRAVEL. Loves travel, discovering new foods to try, reading and writing. She currently lives in the central highlands of Costa Rica with her dog Pixie and her hedgehog Quiller.

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Posted in Fantasy, Giveaway, Interview on October 17, 2017

Synopsis

Dahlia, a centuries old genie, lies hopelessly trapped in a damaged golden locket charm attached to an ankle bracelet. Its owner, sixteen-year-old Liana, wears it for the first time during her father Jamison’s opening night illusion spectacular. Not only does its presence cause Jamison to folly his performance, but it also starts a chain of bizarre events that lead to a showdown with Dahlia’s mortal enemy, Stefan, and an unsuspecting romance between Liana and his son.

Interview with Matt

How did you do research for your book?

I did most of my research online. I had a lot of ideas that I wanted to incorporate into the genie/djinn folklore, but I didn’t want them to be completely without foundation. My goal was to create a world that was intriguing to those who had no knowledge of genies, aside from Disney’s Aladdin, and true to those who hold may this folklore dear to their heritage.

In your book you make a reference to quantum physics. How did you come up with this idea?

While I was writing the first draft, I stumbled upon an online news article about a new discovery where particles seemingly knew what was going to happen before it actually happened. This theory more or less answered the question: If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to see or hear it, does it still fall/make a sound? The answer, according to this theory is, No; the tree only falls/makes a sound if someone/something in the future knows that another will witness it. I used this theory as an explanation of genie powers and how they are able to make the impossible, possible.

There are many books out there about genies, what makes yours different?

I incorporated two things that I thought would set this story apart from typical genie stories: the idea of a half genie/half human entity and the very real possibility that the entire mythology of the djinn is a product of mental illness.

Your book is partially set in the Middle East. Have you been there?

I have not been there, but my brother in-law is from Syria, so I have a decent amount of exposure to the culture.

What is the last great book you’ve read?

While I’ve liked Kurt Vonnegut for some time, I recently read his “The Sirens of Titan” and loved it.  I think a lot of people feel that they have been used by others and feel that their worth is summed up by the cliché, “what have you done for me lately.” And while this sentiment may cause great despair, the book reminds us of the alternative: “The worst thing that could possibly happen to anybody, would be to not be used for anything by anybody.”

Do you have another profession besides writing?

Yes, I am the co-founder and Vice President of a boutique medical billing firm in New York City.

About the Author

Matt Dallmann has a background in acting and holds a BFA from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. His films and screenplays have been featured at film festivals across the United States including Cinequest, Big Apple Film Festival, Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival, DragonCon and Zero Independent Film Festival. His piano compositions have been published for commercial use and he is a member of ASCAP. Matt is also the Co-Founder and Vice President of the boutique medical billing firm VGA Billing Services, Inc. in New York City. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.

Amazon Author Page * Goodreads

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Posted in Interview, nonfiction on October 7, 2017

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY HERO

T.J. Patterson’s Service to West Texas

by

PHIL PRICE

  Genre: Biography / African American Leaders

Publisher: Texas Tech University Press

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Date of Publication: November 20, 2017

Number of Pages: 277

On April 7, 1984, T. J. Patterson became the first African American elected to the Lubbock City Council, winning handily over his four opponents. It was a position he would go on to hold for more than twenty years, and his natural leadership would lead him to state and national recognition.

Patterson grew up during a time of American social unrest, protest, and upheaval, and he recounts memorable instances of segregation and integration in West Texas. As a two-year-old, he survived polio when African Americans were excluded from “whites only” hospitals. When he attempted to enroll at Texas Tech after graduating from all-black Bishop College, he was not allowed even to enter the administration building–the president would speak with him only outside, and then only to say Patterson could not be enrolled. Two years later, his aunt would become the first African American to attend Texas Tech.

Patterson spent his whole adult life as a grassroots activist, and as a city councilman he understood how important it was to work in solid partnership with representatives from the predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods of the city. Over the years, Patterson took every opportunity to join African American and Hispanic forces, but with a few exceptions, the traditional geographic divide of the minority population limited his efforts–and yet Patterson never gave up. His brave public marches to homes of known drug dealers brought attention to their undesirable activities. Patterson also supported city investment in Lubbock history and culture, plus new development activity, from annexation to paved roads to water mains to fire stations. During his long career he truly was an equal-opportunity hero for all of Lubbock’s citizens.

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**Why did you choose to write about this topic? 

As a black city councilman who served his community for more than twenty years, TJ Patterson endured the Equal Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and segregation. He made an impact on all he served.

**Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured if your book?

Black communities survived hardships with amazing resiliency. Despite laws and restrictions imposed upon their race… honor, dignity, and service prevailed. TJ Patterson led the way.

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

Large windows with seasonal colors outside. A large stone fireplace with a 52-inch TV above. Winged backed chairs to read and reflect. Bookshelves floor to ceiling. Food delivered to my desk. Thank you, wife, for making it a reality!

**Is there any person you credit for being your inspiration for writing?

My sister, (best selling author, Jodi Thomas), has the imagination and love for the written story. With my forty-two years as an advertising agency owner, I had to tell a story in 30 and 60 second commercials.

**What is your favorite quote?

“Jump!!! Grow wings on the way down.”

**What do you want your tombstone to say?

I would love to do it all over again!!

Phil Price has been friends with T. J. Patterson for more than twenty years. Now retired, Price was President and CEO of a marketing and design agency. Over the years he has served the Lubbock Independent School District, the Lubbock Better Business Bureau, the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, and other city agencies. He lives in Lubbock USA, with his wife, Victoria.

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Posted in Christian, Giveaway, Historical, Interview, romance on October 3, 2017

LOVING LUTHER

by

ALLISON PITTMAN

  Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Publisher: Tyndale House

Date of Publication: September 1, 2017

Number of Pages: 432

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Germany, 1505

In the dark of night, Katharina von Bora says the bravest good-bye a six-year-old can muster and walks away as the heavy convent gate closes behind her.

Though the cold walls offer no comfort, Katharina soon finds herself calling the convent her home. God, her father. This, her life. She takes her vows–a choice more practical than pious–but in time, a seed of discontent is planted by the smuggled writings of a rebellious excommunicated priest named Martin Luther. Their message? That Katharina is subject to God, and no one else. Could the Lord truly desire more for her than this life of servitude?

In her first true step of faith, Katharina leaves the only life she has ever known. But the freedom she has craved comes with a price, and she finds she has traded one life of isolation for another. Without the security of the convent walls or a family of her own, Katharina must trust in both the God who saved her and the man who paved a way for rescue. Luther’s friends are quick to offer shelter, but Katharina longs for all Luther has promised: a home, a husband, perhaps even the chance to fall in love.

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Praise for Loving Luther:

[Pittman] pens an exquisite tale, capturing the emotions of a nun grappling with the faith she’s always known vs. a new and unfamiliar freedom in faith.  Simmering with tension of Katharina’s discontent and longings, the novel unveils a slow morphing that follows Katharina’s own personal transformation, from reverence to spirited determination in choosing her own way in the world. — Booklist

Loving Luther is a moving and rich historical romance based on Luther’s relationship with his wife Katharina.  In addition, it shows how their marriage was actually significant to the Lutheran faith.  Instead of dwelling on the couple’s courtship, the story goes deep into the roots of the Reformation.  Luther and Katharina interrogate their faith, living out their convictions in a way that is both inspiring and profoundly human.  Loving Luther has depth, and it is unexpectedly touching.  Katharina and Luther, in search of a happy ending, find one another.  Their love, Pittman shows, really did change the world. — Foreword Magazine

A historical novel with characters who are brave, strong and willing to take chances in times of persecution.  The plot is partially based on the teachings of Martin Luther and the many lives he changed, some for the better, some for the worse.  Pittman is a talented author who touches on topics that have been debated over the decades and are still being talked about today. — Romantic Times Reviews

 

How has being a Texan (or Texas) influenced your writing?

I’m a transplanted Texan, but I’ve been here for almost 30 years—more than half my life now… I don’t have novels set in Texas (except my little Christmas Novella that is basically a love letter to San Antonio and HEB), but I like to think that I have a Texas attitude in my stories. Meaning this: Texans love Texas, without reservation, despite our flaws, regardless what other people think. My books don’t always feature the most loveable characters, but I love them. Fiercely. I’d love them if they never reformed, if they never reconciled their sins. I love them in the dirt and I love them when they’re all cleaned up—and all the miles and miles in-between.

Where did your love of [books, writing, reading, and/or storytelling] come from?

My love of all things reading and writing came from my mom. Long before I knew how to write, I would dictate stories to her and she would faithfully scribe them for me, without changing anything. And my earlies memories are of her reading to me. In particular, I remember my illustrated classic volume of Heidi. I remember thinking: She’s enjoying this just as much as I am! That meant something, to know that she wasn’t just reading to me, she was reading with me. Ever since, I’ve thought of reading as a shared experience.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

The hardest part about writing Loving Luther was the huge feeling of responsibility I felt for everybody who knew this story, who knew the characters and the circumstances of Martin Luther and the Reformation. I had some history hi-lights to work as bullet points in the story, but lots of free room for imagination. I’m good with the imagination part! And I had to take some fictional license in places. The thing is, I never really know where the line is. So, I’m praying that readers will experience the story in the same spirit I used in creating it.

What did you find most useful in learning to write for publication?  What was least useful or most destructive?

Most useful? There are so many people who know so much more than I do about so many things. Designers know how to design. Editors know how to edit. I have great story instincts and a certain level of writing skill, but that’s such a small part of making a book successful. I had to learn that not all great ideas make great books, and past success doesn’t guarantee anything for the next title down the line, so approach and write EVERY book as if it’s your first. After all, every book is a first of my books for someone! Least useful? Destructive? I’ve been fortunate enough to work with two VERY supportive publishers. I think overall the least useful adage in writing is the idea of “Write what you know.” If I did that, I’d never be able to write about baseball or dust storms, or Martin Luther, or flappers, or…anything. I’d have to center an entire cannon around enchiladas and 80’s TV.

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

My perfect writing spot is the spare room/office in my house—walls are a soothing sage green, shelves displaying my books, photographs of friends and family on the desk and shelves. All of my research books are within an arm’s reach. My candle smells like Disneyland in the morning. The light is low and the AC is perfect. Now, my ACTUAL writing spot? Same house, just down the hall. In the living room, curled up on a corner of the sofa, with episodes of The Golden Girls barely audible in the background.

Do you have any strange writing habits or writing rituals you’d like to share with your readers?

I should probably acknowledge Twizzlers and coffee in all of my book dedications.

What book do you wish you could have written?

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It is my absolute favorite novel. A dream-dream-dream project would be two write the love story of Officer McShane and Katie Nolan, through the eyes of the patient, lovelorn McShane.

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

I would love to pop into the late 1920s. I want to see a Charlie Chaplin movie in a theater with an orchestra. I want to wear an amazingly cute hat. I love the post-war excitement and liberating mentality. As much as I love delving deep into the past for novel research, my research confirms that I wouldn’t want to live anywhere pre-indoor plumbing and cheeseburgers. The 20s has everything I love now, only fresh and new. Specifically, I’d want to zap onto a Hollywoodland Studio lot. I’d fetch coffee, carry scripts, whatever—just to see that world.

Allison Pittman is the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and a three-time Christy finalist—twice for her Sister Wife series and once for All for a Story from her take on the Roaring Twenties. She lives near San Antonio, Texas, blissfully sharing an empty nest with her husband, Mike.

 

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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.

AmazonBarnes & NobleKoboIndieBound

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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Check out the other blogs on this tour

6/7 Author Interview StoreyBook Reviews
6/8 Review Reading by Moonlight
6/9 Scrapbook The Page Unbound
6/10 Review Syd Savvy
6/11 Promo Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books
6/12 Excerpt Missus Gonzo
6/13 Review Hall Ways Blog
6/14 Scrapbook Texas Book Lover
6/15 Promo CGB Blog Tours
6/16 Review Forgotten Winds

 

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