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

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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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4/15 Excerpt Take Me Away
4/16 Author Interview Missus Gonzo
4/17 Review It’s a Jenn World
4/18 Scrapbook Books in the Garden
4/19 Review CGB Blog Tours
4/20 Guest Post StoreyBook Reviews
4/21 Review The Page Unbound

 

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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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4/12 Excerpt Missus Gonzo
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4/21 Review Forgotten Winds
4/22 Playlist Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books
4/23 Promo A Novel Reality
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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?

Trailer

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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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, memoir, nonfiction, Spotlight on December 18, 2016

WALKING THE LLANO

  A TEXAS MEMOIR OF PLACE

by

Shelley Armitage

 

Genre: Eco-Memoir / Nature

Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press

Date of Publication: February 15, 2016

Number of Pages: 216

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When American explorers arrived in the Texas Panhandle, they dubbed the region the “Great American Desert.” Its rough terrain appeared flat, dry, uninhabitable. Later, cell phone towers, oil rigs, and wind turbines added to this stereotype. Yet in this lyrical ecomemoir, Shelley Armitage charts a unique rediscovery of an unknown land, a journey at once deeply personal and far-reaching in its exploration of the connections between memory, spirit, and place.

Armitage begins her walk by following the Middle Alamosa Creek thirty meandering miles from her family farm to the Canadian River. Growing up in the small llano town of Vega, Texas, she finds the act of walking inseparable from the act of listening and writing. “What does the land say to us?” she asks as she witnesses human alterations to the landscape—perhaps most catastrophic the drainage of the land’s most precious water source, the Ogallala Aquifer.

But the llano’s wonders persist: colorful mesas and canyons, vast flora and fauna, diverse wildlife. While meditating on the region’s history, Armitage recovers the voices of ancient, Native, and Hispano peoples as interwoven with her own: her father’s legacy, her mother’s decline, a brother’s love.  The llano holds not only the beauty of ecological surprises but a renewed kinship in a world ever-changing.

Reminiscent of the work of memoirists Terry Tempest Williams and John McPhee, Walking the Llano is a soaring testimony to the power of landscape to draw us into greater understanding of ourselves and deeper connection with the places we inhabit.

Amazon * University of Oklahoma Press

 

 PRAISE FOR WALKING THE LLANO

Both an intensely lyrical and intimate scrapbook of familial history and a uniquely sublime travelogue of the American Southwestern landscape” A Starred review from Kirkus

“. . .an enticing mix of memoir, nature study and the hunting of ghosts. [ Walking The Llano] is a testament to the value of slowing down and watching where you are going.” Ollie Reed, The Albuquerque Journal

. . .[Armitage] is an explorer, and from her book we learn much about people who settled [the llano] and those who must now make gutwrenching decisions about modern methods of energy extraction. . .a perfectly balanced memoir.” Kimberly Burk, The Oklahoman

“With a cleareyed appreciation for landscape and our place in it combined with uncluttered flowing writing, Armitage establishes her place in the tradition of the best American nature writing.” Mark Pendleton, INK

“Once you’ve ambled into the lyrical, evocative pages of Shelley Armitage’s ‘Walking the Llano’, the Plains will never seem plain again.” William deBuys , Author of A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest

“Shelley Armitage’s prose is as poetic as it is intelligent. She masterfully weaves together her personal story with the narrative of the Llano, and she does so in a way that begs the question of what lies ahead for the people and the land she loves. If literature is a study of the human heart—and it is—then Walking the Llano is a quiet masterpiece.” BK Loren, Author of T heft:A Novel and Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays

“In Walking the Llano, Shelley Armitage does for the Staked Plains what John McPhee did for the Northern Plains in Rising from the Plains. She carefully mines the history, character, and geology of the Llano Estacado and combines it with a compelling personal narrative to create an account that flows with lyricism, authenticity, and wisdom. A splendid and cleareyed book.” Nancy Curtis – Coeditor of Leaning into the Wind: Women Write from the Heart of the West

What kind of research did you have to do for your book?

As the book grew, I found I could bring together oral history, memory and a lifetime of interest in the natural world. I interviewed local folks about history, events and their memories of the area and also consulted university historians and archaeologists. I took a course on memoir at the UNM Writers’ Summer Conference in Taos, NM and continued research on key scholarly works on geology, geography, archaeology, history, Native American culture and the pastores. My study and certification as a  Texas Master Naturalist also was a great help.

As an academic, I love the detective work and the opportunity to incorporate a number of other scholars and writers I had read during my time teaching environmental writing and literature courses. These helped me build the case for eco­wisdom as the book became a meditation on the meaning of place.

Anything surprising you found in conducting your research?

All of it surprised me because just along this modest drainage to the Canadian had been incredible history: the major 19th century American expeditions (Abert, Whipple), major Spanish entradas (Coronado, Onate), ancient trade routes and meeting/trading places, important spring sites in a high desert landscape (one spring still flowing after 400 years), sites of Clovis and Folsom people, connections to one of the primary and oldest industries in North America ­ the Alibates Flint Quarry, last used by the Comanche.

While the book is factual and well­researched, I use the evidence of this earlier life to discuss cultural adaptations and beliefs, keys to understanding our places and our relationship to them. One thing that sticks in my mind is discovering ancient petroglyphs and pictographs on private land, sites few people would ever see. These were sacred places. What are they now? Can they be sacred to us as well? Can we recognize that we are a part of our landscapes not separate from them?

The book treats the complexities of change and consequent decision­making about our responsibilities to the natural world, questions about whether the “spirits of place” can survive development, whether concepts of beauty must be revised, how memory and story are acts of conservation.

Are there under-represented groups or ideas in your book?  If so, discuss.

Absolutely!  One of the main thrusts of Walking is to give voice to a landscape much ignored or maligned and similarly to forgotten peoples who lived there: ancient cultures, Natives such as the Antelope Creek Phase people, the Comanche and Kiowa, Hispanos who were among the first permanent settlers.  I also wanted to raise the issue of facile acceptance of the wind turbine industry which despite its green advantages can also threaten land and wildlife as well as transform places into commercial settings.  The “use” of land rather than our being in a place is an idea I address through witness and learning from the world view of other dwellers, like Native people, on the llano.  The book is an interweaving of ideas and experiences in the present, through time, and in memory.  I posit memory not as living in the past but as a way of sending meaningful stories forward.

How long did it take you to put together your memoir?

I began the hikes around 2005 and published the book in 2016. During that time, I wrote and rewrote the manuscript several times, almost giving up on it. During the hiking and discoveries, both my mother and brother passed away, like my father years before them. One of the underlying themes in the book is loss in the face of gain. Though we take this for granted now, I was unnerved, as a woman, by the prospect of being solely responsible for the farm and decisions about it as I eventually inherited it ­ alone. But the kinship I felt because of the experiences with the land comforted me and made me feel part of something larger again.

Why do you feel it’s so important to share the story of this part of the country?

My hope was to write a literary work that would not just present facts and reflections about the area, but one that would also speculate lyrically on how we can feel akin to a landscape and thus care about, protect and conserve it. We learn more about ourselves and others by rediscovering our relatedness within and to places. The book is about a specific place, long marginalized and ignored, but also a narrative and meditation that is universal in meaning. As the Navajo have observed, beauty is about being “emplaced.” My hope is that no matter where our places, we may focus our attention on them, their care. We’ve understood, perhaps most profoundly through the distant photographs by astronauts of the earth as a living, breathing cell. Up close and personal, we have a chance to realize ourselves as part of this livingness. As Eckhart Tolle has said, we can learn from nature’s stillness, its being. The degree to which we respect and care for our places is the degree to which we care for others and ourselves. The llano comforted me as well during its own changes and my personal losses.

What do you hope readers most get out of your book?

I hope readers find an appreciation and heightened awareness of what it means to truly be part of our environment rather than think of it as “other.” Thought the book is about a part of the southwest, my hope is that the ideas and experiences resonate across lives and places. As Wendell Berry has said: “There are no unsacred places, only desecrated places.” I’d like my readers to be transported and perhaps transformed by what I hope is lyric prose, so full of the cadence of poetry and how poetry means lastingly ­ how it teaches us, affects us. And that story and memory about our places and our interrelationships are acts of conservation that are not so much about a past as about the shape of the future. It’s also a book about accepting change, seeing the beauty in it and about how adventure and loss are complexly mixed. During my hikes I lost all of my family. The book chronicles those deep sadnesses and how we may grow from them, also the challenge of a woman alone inheriting a farm she must learn to manage and care for.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

To be named a Distinguished Fulbright Chair of American Literature at the University of Warsaw, representing the United States but also bonding with fellow world citizens, learning about their country. This is the highest Fulbright honor and I am still amazed that someone like me who was a graduate of state universities and a small town high school could have the privilege of such a position.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

I love this question because years ago I saw a New Yorker cartoon which I clipped and put on my office door.  Two men are in a cemetery looking at a friend’s grave and one comments to the other:  “Well, he published but he perished.”

Dr. Shelley Armitage is Professor Emerita from University of Texas at El Paso where she taught courses in literature of the environment, women’s studies, and American Studies.  She is author of eight award winning books and 50 scholarly articles.  She resides in Las Cruces, New Mexico but still manages her family farm outside of Vega, Texas.

Armitage grew up in the northwest Texas Panhandle in Oldham County.  She owns and operates the family farm, 1200 acres of native grass—once part wheat and milo—bordering Interstate 40 on the south and near the Canadian River breaks on the north.  Armitage shared this landscape from her childhood on, riding with her father and grandfather to check crops and cattle and later jogging and more recently walking the farm roads.  Though most of her adult life has been spent away from the Panhandle as a university professor, Armitage has always returned to the “farm” which offered until recently a 360-degree view of earth and sky.  Wind energy farms, oil and gas, microwave towers, and strip mining have greatly altered her childhood landscape.

Throughout her distinguished university career, Armitage’s professional life offered her a connection with landscape. Because of senior Fulbright teaching grants in Portugal and Finland, a Distinguished Fulbright Chair in American Literature in Warsaw, a Distinguished Fulbright Chair in American Studies in Budapest as well as research, writing, and teaching in Ethiopia, the American Southwest, and Hawai’i, place has taken on special meanings.  As the Dorrance Roderick Professor at University of Texas at El Paso and a Distinguished Senior Professor in Cincinnati, she decided in her most recent book to write about the meaning of home place as connected to the land’s own ecological and human stories.

As the holder of three National Endowment for the Humanities grants, a National Endowment of the Arts grant, and a Rockefeller grant, Armitage nevertheless prizes a recent recognition from the United States Department of Agriculture most highly.  Commended for her “commitment to the spirit, principles, and practices” of the Conservation Reserve Program, Armitage has restored the farm to grassland in an effort to heal fragmented landscapes by recreating wildlife corridors and habitat.  Like the fragmented narratives of stories lost, she says: “If we could read the land like a poem, we might more intimately learn from it, understand what it says of natural and human cycles—and that sometimes uneasy relationship between them.”

Author Website * Amazon Author Page * Facebook * Goodreads

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12/16 Review Forgotten Winds
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Posted in Christian, Giveaway, Historical, Interview, romance on December 7, 2016

FOR THE RECORD

by Regina Jennings

  Genre: Historical Romance / Christian

Publisher: Bethany House

Date of Publication: December 6, 2015

Number of Pages: 336

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synopsis

 

for-the-record-coverRather Than Wait for a Hero,  She Decided to Create One

Betsy Huckabee has big-city dreams, but nobody outside of tiny Pine Gap, Missouri, seems interested in the articles she writes for her uncle’s newspaper. Her hopes for independence may be crushed, until the best idea she’s ever had comes riding into town.

Deputy Joel Puckett didn’t want to leave Texas, but unfair circumstances have made moving to Pine Gap his only shot at keeping a badge. Worse, this small town has big problems, and masked marauders have become too comfortable taking justice into their own hands. He needs to make clear that he’s the law in this town–and that job is made more difficult with a nosy reporter who seems to follow him everywhere he goes.

The hero Betsy creates to be the star in a serial for the ladies’ pages is based on the dashing deputy, but he’s definitely fictional. And since the pieces run only in newspapers far away, no one will ever know. But the more time she spends with Deputy Puckett, the more she appreciates the real hero–and the more she realizes what her ambition could cost him.

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PRAISE FOR FOR THE RECORD

“Jennings creates a perfect blend of love, mystery, and wit in this 19th-century romance.” —Publishers Weekly starred review

“Jennings’ latest is a delightfully entertaining historical romance featuring charismatic humor, unpredictable thrills, and vigilante justice. The plot is tense and exciting, and the novel sparkles with the wit and charm of its spirited heroine. It is more romantic and less stuffy than your average inspirational, and Jennings uses classic western touches like six-shooters, spurs, and white Stetsons to land readers squarely in the Ozark Mountains of 1885.” —Booklist

“This is such a delightful read with an adorable romance and a fun and entertaining story line. . . The interactions and dialogue between the main characters are sheer perfection. The mystery and drama with the hero’s backstory and the masked marauders keep the momentum of the story going at a nice pace and allows for no dull moments. There is so much to love here in this little gem, it is easily one of Jennings’ best.” —RT Book Reviews

AuthorInterview

What projects are you working on at the present?

My next series is set in Indian Territory just a few miles from my home in Oklahoma. The series is going to kick-off with a story about a dance hall singer who gets mistaken as a governess by the commander of Fort Reno. There’s going to be a lot of dashing cavalrymen, cowboys, Indians, and outlaws. Look for the first book, “Holding the Fort” in December of 2017.

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

I’m not much on tradition or ritual. I pretty much have to write when I can, which usually means toting the laptop to basketball or football practice. That’s me, the anti-social one sitting in the car while the rest of the moms are visiting in the stands.

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?

You write about Betsy making the perfect hero…and then she realizes that the perfect man isn’t perfect. What are the key ingredients for a perfect hero?

For me, the first thing a hero must have is character. If he’s dishonest, unfaithful or unkind, he can’t be a good match for the heroine, no matter how handsome, talented or rich. And I think the perfect hero is also able to laugh at himself. Laughing at yourself shows confidence, and nothing is more attractive than confidence.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I have this conversation with my kids about once a week. While it would be noble to request the gift of healing, I have to say having instant teleportation would be a lot more fun. (And since this is make-believe, let’s have fun!) Can you imagine how cool that would be? I want to see the Eiffel Tower this afternoon…boom! I’m there. I want to take tea at Piccadilly Circus? Cheers! I’d probably even use it daily to run errands with the kids. How handy would that be?

My second choice would be time travel, but you still need teleportation to make it feasible. It’d be hard to time travel if you always end up in the exact place you left.

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

My problem is that there are very few places I’ve traveled to that I don’t want to visit again. In fact, visiting somewhere usually makes me want to go back even more. If I’m visiting again, I’d say England and Scotland. If I’m limited to a country I haven’t been to, let’s try Australia. It looks so beautiful in the pictures and I hear that the people are very friendly.

If you could speak with any accent from anywhere in the world, what would you choose? What? You mean besides my Oklahoma accent? What’s wrong with that? OK, British I suppose. Probably north England, or Scottish. Nothing too posh.

What’s something fun or funny that most people don’t know about you?

Well, you see I’m Baptist and my parents were pretty strict, so I never got to take any dance classes or even gymnastics when I was growing up. Judging from an 8mm film of me dancing at four years old, I think that if I would’ve just had a few lessons I might have won the first Nobel Prize for a dancer. It would’ve changed the world. At least that’s what I thought until I actually tried it.

After I was married with kids my cousin and I enrolled in a dance class at the local community college, but not just any dance class… a belly dancing class. We had a great time, but I realized that my parents did not deprive the world of the next prima ballerina. They just saved them from some really awkward recitals.

What’s your funniest flaw?

I’m a morning person. I don’t know if that’s funny to some people, especially those who go to church camp or mission trips with me, but I find it amusing how the world caters to those who stay up late and punishes those of us who are evening-challenged.

Instead of high school football games that last until 10:00 or 11:00 pm, why not have them at 4:00 a.m. instead? Then we could celebrate the win and go off to work for the day. Same with firework celebrations. Why wait around on those long summer nights for it to get dark? I’m so sleepy! Let’s shoot off the fireworks at 5:00 a.m. before the sun is up. That sounds like a great way to start the day!

 

about the author

regina-jenningsRegina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She is the author of Sixty Acres and a Bride, Caught in the Middle, and At Love’s Bidding and contributed a novella to A Match Made in Texas. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children.

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, Spotlight, suspense on November 22, 2016

westobou-gold

Synopsis

The Indian Queen would risk torture and worse to keep her secrets from these barbarians in suits of metal and their search for cities of gold. They never found the gold. Empires rose; empires fell, the centuries passed. Legend became fireside myths, but no treasure was ever found. Yet, among the grey-green drapes of wisteria and wild jasmine along the misty shrouded lowlands of bayous and marshes of the Westo River, the folktales persist.

In the lazed creep of a near-tropical dawn lit the pungent Turkish coffee permeates Moccasin Hollow. Beyond the kitchen door Lucky, Craige Ingram’s German shepherd gnaws a favorite bone. Looted burial mounds seem a world away until plundered mounds on Moccasin Hollow land brings amateur archaeologist PI Craige Ingram into the cross-hairs of kidnapping. Stealthy hideaways are concealed in old colonial brick-lined river grottoes beneath the big house of Ardochy plantation. Sex-tape underage blackmail and thrill killings on federal land spur a medical examiner’s preliminary postmortem to more than a hired cleaner’s quickie cover-up passed off as drug deals gone sour. Greed tangles a witch’s pigswill of illicit affairs and murder-to-hide-murder. Shady investigators and shadier politics stir an unexpected concoction that threatens the lives of those at Moccasin Hollow in a spiteful plot against ex-SEAL Craige Ingram and the woman he loves.

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Interview

Do you write every day? 

Absolutely…even if that comes down to scratching notes between airport boarding gates or boarding an overnight sleeper riding the rails–laptop gadgets really do come in handy for the quickie note-takin’.

Where do you write?

In a secluded no-window study…UNLESS…I’m out and about where there’s lots of warm bodies letting me make notes for downside-up characters/faces/body-shapes/clothes/ruffle-hair…the out of the ordinary or blend into the wallpaper.

What is your writing schedule?

Though not a written in stone schedule – early in the sunrise a.m. after my sunrise cup of Marine bilge-slurry coffee…then brunch…then afternoon usually deleting or editing “stuff” followed by an early snack. Take a walk or go to the gym and p.m. editing.

In today’s tech-savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?

All of them. For the written word computers/laptops are typewriters with pages made into pictures; paper and pen bundled into printers/copiers/faxes. These contraptions are tools, and make 15-20 edits/drafts possible for a manuscript. First drafts are written pen-to-paper for scribble and scratch-outs…churning imagination/fantasy into warp-drive…developing characters, grabbing the setting, pace, theme, conflict and so much fun.

If you’re a mom writer, how do you balance your time?

Balancing time isn’t gender related. It’s a budget with one EXCEPTION…a body can’t buy more time. Spend more money (or time] than one has…one’s peace of mind vanishes. Cram one’s time beyond the rim of the proverbial over-filled glass can be destructive…Mother Nature will win – and sometimes win very unpleasantly. Keeping that in mind, I always try to pace myself and not schedule more in a day than I know I can handle.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

…back to my horses and dogs BUT only if I could take what I’ve learned from my mistakes. I miss unencumbered country living with all its worldwide ‘tools’ it hammered into me.

About the Author

Internationally acclaimed author and public speaker, Hawk MacKinney began writing mysteries for his school newspapers. He served in the US Navy Reserve for over 20 years, and was a tenured faculty member at several state medical facilities, teaching postgraduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem, Israel. Since retiring Hawk has authored several novels that have received national and international recognition. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel, was nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award. The Cairns of Sainctuarie, his science fiction series, includes The Bleikovat Event and The Missing Planets, with a third book in the works. Hawk’s latest project focuses on The Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series. Book 1 in the series, Hidden Chamber of Death, was released early 2016.

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Posted in Giveaway, Inspirational, Interview, nonfiction, Spotlight on October 10, 2016

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GATHERING COURAGE

A Life-Changing Journey through Adoption, 

Adversity, and a Reading Disability

by

T.A. McMullin

Genre: Inspirational Memoir

Publisher: Gathering Courage Media

Date of Publication: January 19, 2016

Number of Pages: 222

Scroll down for Giveaway!

synopsis

gathering-courage-coverWhy do some people find success despite hardships and others sink into a pit of despair?

Gathering Courage: A Life-Changing Journey through Adoption, Adversity, and a Reading Disability by T.A. “Terry” McMullin is the author’s incredible, award-winning memoir meant to inspire hope and encouragement to those who are going through tough times.

Terry dusted off the hurt from abandonment, rejection by her adoptive parents, dyslexia, shock of placement in a foster home, and a life-altering accident. Her faith and tenacity along with the internal desire to overcome is thought provoking as Terry worked her way through Texas A&M University. Terry’s life transformed from a broken-hearted child who could barely make out words in elementary school to a distinguished educator and writer who encourages young people to work hard and achieve their greatest aspirations.

Any reader who loves a true story with a Christian focus should definitely read this book. Learn about the special love for rescued animals and how they played a part in healing hurts and encouraging success.

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PRAISE FOR GATHERING COURAGE

*North American Book Awards, 2015 Winner

Gathering Courage is an American story filled with adversity, triumphs, heartbreaks, and great personal victory. . . I give this epic book five stars. I held my breath after every chapter and you will too! — Charmaine Carraway, writer for the HUFFINGTON POST

“Overall, this memoir is a testament to the endurance of the human spirit in the face of emotional and physical pain. The author consistently notes the need for love and encouragement when dealing with both people and animals as well as the necessity of prayer and thankfulness; it’s almost a rhythmic incantation in the text. Readers will feel as if they’re walking alongside McMullin as she tells her story and advises readers how they, too, can survive setbacks. — KIRKUS REVIEW

Gathering Courage is a truly moving read that will touch many hearts and positively inspire them to touch the lives of others.” — Faridah Nassozi, READERS’ FAVORITE

AuthorInterview

Welcome and Thank  You to T. A. McMullin for stopping by and answering a few questions for our readers!

 

How has a reading disability influenced your life?

It created struggles and challenges but it taught me that failure is just a word. Failure sinks a lot of people and dissipates dreams and accomplishments.   Failure propelled me forward out of the sinking sand of dyslexia and adversity.

How has being from Texas influenced your writing?

I was born and raised in Texas, graduated from Texas A&M University, and belong to

The American Quarter Horse Association, The Mustang Heritage Foundation, and the All Border Collie Rescue which are all located in Texas.

Texas is just part of who I am, how I talk, how I dress, and where I’ll be.

In your book, you talk about your donkeys.  Can you tell us about their personalities? 

Jubilee and Hope Rose belonged to a friend of mine who, sad to say, developed cancer.  My friend loved her two donkeys and wanted them to stay together after she could no longer care for them.  So I promised my friend that I would care for them and that they would have a forever home with me.

Jubilee has an inquisitive personality and wants to know everything about everything.  If I am in the barn feeding, he wants to be in the barn with me.  Jubilee often will snatch an empty feed sack in his mouth, run out of the barn, and through the pasture with this bag flapping up and down.  He definitely has a way of gathering the attention of Hope Rose and the horses.  This attention sets Hope Rose off brazing and the horses standing at attention as they watch this miniature Sicilian donkey with huge, dark ears, on parade all by himself.

I read that you spent three and a half years writing your book before it was self-published. What kept you going?

“I proudly put my boots on everyday,” and I am a self-starter determined to accomplish the task at hand, and rejection is simply dust under my feet.

The years of writing were long and drawn out but the focus was steady.   Early morning hours from four to six, lunch breaks at work, late evening hours after the chores were done, weekends, and days off centered around thoughts and writing.

Brewing inside was a life-changing journey to tell the world and now it is available for the world to read.

What was it like when you finally got your book in print?

Reality hit when I was a North American Book Awards winner in 2015 with a proof copy with lots of corrections to be made.  The mistakes were corrected, and five star reviews began to come in.  At that point, I knew deep within that Gathering Courage was a good book and the mission of making life better was on the launching pad.

Tell us about your hobbies.

As the reader will discover, I am connected to the land as a farmer and rancher. I provide a forever home for horses, donkeys, and a crew of rescued border collie dogs.   This is more than a hobby to me; it is a calling and a passion.

I have a small leather workshop at home and I enjoy tooling and making items out of leather. I have had the opportunity to learn under the best of the master leather crafters and saddle makers.  When time permits, I hone my skills and give away most of what I make.

How did your dog, Rocky, help students to read?

Rocky encouraged a group of first grade students who were struggling to read. In their classroom, these students would sit on the floor with a big pillow and read to Rocky. He would either lie in a student’s lap or on the pillow itself. He helped to build confidence in each one of them, as they would read to him without hesitation. Their skills may not have been perfect, but Rocky never corrected them or read for them. He simply listened and encouraged the slightest try.   The classroom teachers and I enjoyed seeing the progress that was made every time Rocky met with his young friends.

Rocky was once abandoned and left in an animal shelter with no pedigree. He won the Best Practice Award at our local Regional Educational Service Center for his efforts in helping dyslexia students learn to read. The school administration recognized Rocky as a valuable tool in motivating students with dyslexia to overcome their fear of reading. Hanging on the wall in the administration office of my school district is an eleven by seventeen picture of a first grade student reading to Rocky.

Rocky proved that even a dog can make a difference.

 

about the author

author-pic-mcmullinAward winning Gathering Courage author, T. A. “Terry” McMullin, knows as well as anyone that hard times are a part of the journey of life.

Terry was born in an orphanage, then adopted, and made a foster child by her parents.  Because Terry struggled with reading, comprehension, and spelling, she was placed in a foster home at the age of nine.  As a child in the 1960s, hardly 
anyone recognized the learning issues related to dyslexia. The struggle to learn continued through high school.

From her deep faith in the Lord, Terry developed an internal desire to excel, no matter the obstacle, no matter the situation. Pushing adversity and a reading disability aside, Terry enrolled in college. While attending college and working full-time, Terry taught herself how to read and study.  With pure grit and determination, Terry succeeded and earned  Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Texas A&M University.

At crucial points in her life, Terry found people who showed her unconditional love and encouragement. Terry gained gratification, emotional, and spiritual support from working with horses and dogs. The encouragement from others made Terry’s life better so she vowed to be a champion for others who needed help.

Terry lives on a small ranch in Texas, a forever home, with her horses, donkeys, and rescued border collie dogs.

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Katie Lynn’s Courage Facebook * Amazon Author Page

 

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