Angels, Demons & Vampires: Let's Talk Paranormal Romance with Tena Stetler

Today, Tena Stetler is with us on Visiting Authors. She is a best-selling author of award winning paranormal romance novels. She has an over-active imagination, which led to writing her first vampire romance as a tween to the chagrin of her mother and delight of her friends. After many years as a paralegal, then an IT Manager, she decided to live out her dream of pursuing a publishing career. Her books tell tales of magical kick-ass women and mystical alpha males that dare to love them. Travel, a bit of mystery, and adventure flourish in her books.

Colorado is home for Tena; shared with her husband of many moons, a brilliant Chow Chow, a spoiled parrot and a forty-five-year-old box turtle. When she’s not writing, her time is spent kayaking, camping, hiking, biking or just relaxing in the great Colorado outdoors. During the winter you can find her curled up in front of a crackling fire with a good book, a mug of hot chocolate, and a big bowl of popcorn.

Her latest book, An Angel's Unintentional Entanglement, book 4 in the Demon's Witch series, released from The Wild Rose Press.

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Fallen warrior angel, Caden Silverwind, lives alone in Colorado's rugged Rockies, healing from physical wounds as well as the mental anguish suffered during battles with dark demons. Then he finds a woman barely clinging to life after a horrendous beating. He is not prepared for the entanglement she brings to his life, nor the feelings she awakens in him.

Bureau of Indian Affairs Agent, Mystic Rayne’s personal dilemma and assignment nearly gets her killed. Divine intervention is a complication she never expected and her growing attraction to Caden is undeniable. Can she trust him with her secret?

Their quest to uncover her attacker takes them from the pristine mountains in Colorado to the wilds of Wyoming. Along the way, they find answers which may place them in more danger. Determined to solve the mystery, they must also navigate their feelings and fears to find love and unite heaven and earth.

It's available at Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon AU, iTunes, The Wild Rose Press and Barnes and Noble

Now for the Speed Round!

Oxford comma, yes or no? Yes, because I’m forced to use it.

Ice cream? Cake Batter & Chocolate                  

Coffee or tea or wine? All flavors of hot tea.

What does your desk look like?  When I’m working like a tornado hit it. After each book is finished I put everything away and get stuff out for the new book.

 A method to the madness...

A method to the madness...

What is your writing vice or must-haves? Post-its, two screens, glass of ice water.

Describe a perfect writing day. Sit all day in my writing cave undisturbed and write with a couple dog walks in between.                 

What are some of your go-to methods for writing? I’m a panster, so anything goes. I write chapters and scenes out of order, characters control the story, but somehow everything comes together in the end.

In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job? Graphic artist.

Favorite place you've visited? Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

You have a time travel machine. Do you go to the past or future? And where/when? Future...the research and development department of Apple.

What do you like to do when not writing? Camping, hiking, kayaking, and reading.

Beach, lake, or mountains? Mountains

If you could meet one famous person, living or dead, who would it be?  J. K Rowling

How about an excerpt from An Angel's Unintentional Entanglement...

Dislodged rocks and sticks bounced down the path ahead of him as he stopped to admire the view and noticed something in the brush.

She lay naked, battered, and beaten several yards off the trail. Her long, straight black hair fanned around her head, tangled with twigs and bits of grass.  Caden moved silently toward her, stopped, and picked up a Bureau of Indian Affairs ID a few feet from where she lay. He stuffed it in his pocket while watching the surrounding area for signs of her attackers. Kneeling down at her side, he saw scratches and bruises on her high-sculpted cheekbones and her full lips had a shading of blue around them. He placed his hand lightly on her chest, felt a weak heartbeat and sensed a brave soul unwilling to give up. God, this is the last thing I need.

Summoning medical help here was futile. The altitude at 12,092 feet, combined with rocky terrain, made it difficult for most rescue vehicles. They’d be too late to save her. He slid his hands under her body. At his touch, a scene unfolded in his mind of snarling wolves, the valiant fight she waged against a male until she was too weak to defend herself any longer, then blackness. Anger surged through him as he carried her along the rocky path to the fifth wheel trailer he called home.

 Mystic Pointer...

Mystic Pointer...

Healing the Heart with Leslie Bowes

Today we have Leslie Bowes visiting us to share about her latest release, Heart Healer. Ms. Bowes says that writing was always something she did for fun but when she went back to school she had to take a writing class and was hooked. The idea for Heart Healer came about because she loved the idea of a heart being healed by love. She is working on the second book in the series now, The Choices for Love. Welcome, Leslie!

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A bit about Heart Healer...

Catherine Andrews is an English woman living in the 1800's. Her father sells her to Blake Von-Clyer to be his wife to pay off debts owed to Mr. Von-Clyer. Catherine soon finds out Blake is a cruel and horrible man.

On their wedding night, to escape his cruelty, she throws herself into the river. Death is better than marriage to a beast.

Christopher King is living in 2014 doing his best to raise his young son Ryan after his wife left him. One night, Christopher finds a woman in the river unconscious and barely breathing. She is also wearing old fashioned clothes. Christopher does everything in his power to help the young women. When Catherine regains consciousness, she finds herself in a strange and unbelievable situation. Terrified, she does her best to keep her guard up against Christopher. But as she gets to know him, she can't help but fall for the man who saved her life. When Catherine's dangerous past comes back to haunt her, it has Catherine and Christopher fighting for each other and their love.

 

How about a little more with an excerpt...?

“That’s true, but I don’t need a servant. I need a wife.”

Catherine dropped the spoon as her whole body shook. What was her father planning to do? Hard work? A wife? What was going on? She was not her father’s slave to trade as he wished. She was his daughter. Too nervous to turn around, Catherine prayed that she heard wrong.

“What did you say?” her father asked, shocked.

“You heard me.” Mr. Von-Clyer laughed. “You had no problem selling her to me as a servant Mr. Andrews, but now that I want her for my wife your conscience haunts you. What’s the difference? Either way your debt to me is paid.”

“Catherine, get over here now!” her father yelled drunkenly. The longer she stared at the vein in her father’s neck; she realized that she was making him angrier than Catherine had ever seen before.

She slowly walked over to the table and stood in front of her father. Her heart was pounding in her chest as she watched him drink his last bit of wine.

“You will be Mr. Von-Clyer’s wife to pay off my debt.”

“What debt?” Catherine asked angrily.

“Catherine, do not speak unless you are spoken to,” her father snarled.

“What debt?” Catherine yelled.

Her father jumped up from his chair with an angry shout, bumping the table, but James jumped in front of him.

“You cannot treat Catherine like that, Father. She is your daughter and my sister, not your slave!” James yelled.

Catherine’s father was having none of that. He lunged for James, but Catherine got in between them before her father could do anything. She knelt in front of James and wiped his tears. All the while she prayed for strength.

“Thank you, James, but I need you to go to your room.”

“But, Catherine—”

“No buts. Go to your room and stay there until I come for you.”

As soon as James was in his room, Catherine’s father grabbed her arms and shook her hard.

“Don’t you ever speak to me like that again, Catherine! Do you understand me?”

“Yes, sir,” Catherine whispered, scared for her life.

“Good. Now go with Mr. Von-Clyer and pay off your debt.”

“Father, I beg of you. Tell me what my debt is?”

 

I hope you check out Leslie's book, Heart Healer, which can be found on Amazon, The Wild Rose Press, Google Play, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

 

Thank you for joining us today, Leslie!

 The super-super quick speed round:  Oxford comma: No  Ice cream: Chocolate  Coffee, tea, or wine? Tea  

The super-super quick speed round:

Oxford comma: No

Ice cream: Chocolate

Coffee, tea, or wine? Tea
 

Meet Romance and Historical Author Kathy Otten

Kathy Otten is the published author of multiple historical romance novels, novellas, and short stories. She is also published in contemporary romance and historical fiction. She is a Northwest Houston RWA Lone Star winner and Utah/Salt Lake RWA Hearts of the West finalist. A Place In Your Heart is her fourth full-length novel. Currently, she is putting the finishing touches on a contemporary young adult novel.

She teaches fiction writing online and at a local adult education center, and is a regular presenter at area events. Kathy also does manuscript assessments and editing. She lives in the rolling farmland of western New York where she can often be found walking her dog through the woods and fields. She has been married for thirty-four years and is the mother of three grown children and one grandson.

Let's spice it up and do the speed round first!

Oxford Comma? Yes

Ice cream (Vanilla or chocolate)? Chocolate

Coffee or Tea?  Coffee

What does your desk look like? Fairly neat.

Writing must haves: Assorted colors of markers, pens, pencils and highlighters. And notebooks.

Describe your perfect writing day. On a day when I’m not working and have no place to go… Up at 8 a.m., go to the fitness center, shower, breakfast, then go into my office. I do 1 hour sitting at the computer and 15 minutes moving around. Do some dishes, throw in a load of wash, etc. Then back sitting for another hour. Those hours I’m in my office, I check and answer emails, work on critiques/ or editing I do for other people, any online classes or workshops I’m presenting, my newsletter or blog. Then around mid-afternoon I take my dog for a walk, and spend my remaining hours at the computer working on my own stuff, writing, researching, editing, etc. I quit around 6-7 p.m. and make dinner. Clean up the kitchen, read or watch TV, and go to bed. Of course days like this are few and far between. 

In an ideal world, right? (That sounds like my ideal day)

In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job? I'd be a teacher.

What’s your favorite place you’ve visited? I grew up in Vermont, so beautiful and favorite places equaled home. Now I live in a farm town, surrounded by woods and rolling fields, out on a road with horse and buggy traffic most of the day. I have lots of wildlife, beautiful views, a nice deck, and peace and quiet. So, I’m quite content to be home and have little desire to travel.

What do you like to do when not writing? Read and walk my dog.

Okay...that was fun! Now on to the more serious and traditional questions...

When did your writing journey begin? What drew you to writing?

I don’t know of anything specific which drew me to writing. I used to make up stories when I first learned to write. Lucky the Dog, I wrote in second grade I believe. The Lost Uranium Mine when I got a little older and The Mystery of the Old Yellow House in fourth grade. TV westerns were popular when I was a little older and I used to make up stories about my favorite characters, like Johnny Lancer and Heath Barkley. I guess they would be considered fan fiction today. That early hook for westerns became my comfort zone I guess, which is why I write romance in that genre.

What was your inspiration for A Place In Your Heart?

This novel takes place during the Civil War and during my early research phase, I came across Mary Ann Bickerdyke, a nurse at Cairo, Ill. She never let anything stand in her way with regards to the care of, “her boys.” She was in charge of the supplies which came from the Sanitary Commission, and guarded them fiercely. At one point she discovered the cook and his friends had been eating the fruit intended for the wounded. So she cooked up a peach compote, put in a purgative and left the pot on the stove. When she returned to the kitchen and found sick and groaning men, she told them next time she would add rat poison. Another time she tackled an orderly in the ward and sat on him while she pulled off his shirt, (which she’d discovered bore the initials for the North West Sanitary Commission) and whirled it around above her head while the patients cheered. She then stripped off his socks and slippers. She left his pants on, as they were his.

Because of her tenacity and dedication to the men she sent officers running in fear. I loved this woman so much, she became my inspiration for Gracie McBride, the heroine in my story.

Wow, what an interesting nurse to inspire you!! (I'm still laughing at the purgative)

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Gracie McBride isn’t looking for love; she’s looking for respect. But in this man’s world of Civil War medicine, Gracie is expected to maintain her place changing beds and writing letters. Her biggest nemesis is the ward surgeon, Doctor Charles Ellard, who seems determined to woo her with arrogant kisses and terrible jokes.

Charles is an excellent surgeon. He assumed he would be well received by an army at war. He was not. Friendless and alone, he struggles to hide the panic attacks that plague him while the only person who understands him is a feisty Irish nurse clearly resolved to keep him at a distance.

But, Charles is sent to the battlefield, and Gracie is left with a wounded soldier, a box of toys, and a mystery which can only be solved by the one man she wishes could love her, both as a woman and a nurse.

Did you go the traditional route to publication?

I actually did submit this story to a couple of agents and traditional publishers, but didn’t hear back from any of them. Nothing for my rejection slip collection. Later, after the story won in the Northwest Houston RWA Lone Star writing competition, I had two requests from e-publishers for a full manuscript. I decided to go with The Wild Rose Press, as they have published most of my work.

What was the hardest part of the story to research?

The medical stuff was the hardest. My hero was really smart, but he couldn’t have medical knowledge which did not exist at the time. It was tough to find that balance. I read several journals from doctors who fought in the war, as well as medical books of the day.

Now for a short excerpt from A Place in Your Heart:

 

“No. I want you to go home before the death of that ten-year-old boy becomes so ordinary that one day you wake up and realize you no longer have the ability to feel.”
She squared her shoulders and stepped toward him. “Me own husband was a doctor, sir. I’ve birthed babies and stitched wounds. I stood by William’s side during surgeries and passed him instruments. I helped him clean the intestines of a man gored by a bull, before putting it all back inside that man’s belly. Me delicate sensibilities did not send me into a swoon then nor will they here. I thank ye for yer concern, Doctor Ellard, but ’tis who I am. And by the saints, as long as I have breath in me body, I will feel, and I will care.”
Their gazes locked in that moment and something flickered in his icy depths, overshadowing his usual cynicism with what she suspected might be admiration. The harsh lines of his face softened.
“Saint Jude must indeed be watching over you, Mrs. McBride.”
“That he is, Doctor Ellard, that he is.”
He gave her a brisk nod and opened the door. “You’re not going home then, are you?”
She turned. “Ye know us Irish, Doctor Ellard. We don’t know what we want, but we’ll fight to the death to get it.”
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Where can you find Kathy and her books?

A Place In Your Heart is available at Amazon, The Wild Rose Press and other e-book venues (Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc.)

Kathy can be contacted at

kathy@kathyotten.com

on her Website 

or on Facebook

 

Thanks for joining us today, Kathy! Good luck on A Place in Your Heart!

 

 

Thrilling Suspense with Lin Weich

Today I welcome Lin Weich to my table!

When did your writing journey begin? What drew you to writing thrillers and suspense novels?

My writing journey began by accident. On our way to kayak off the Island of Haida Gwaii (located off the west coast of Canada), we passed a huge sign warning girls not to hitchhike on the Highway of Tears. Many unfortunate young women have disappeared on this section of highway. I then noticed a car in front of us and thought that its trunk would easily hide a body. While on the mothership vessel hosting our kayaking tour, I asked the captain if he had ever seen any smuggling going on. All this combined to inspire me to write my first novel Strength of an Eagle. From then on my life has not been the same and I was hooked on the writing process.

Oh, now that gives me chills! I love an interesting backstory on a novel's genesis!

What was your inspiration for Widow's Luck?

My inspiration for my latest novel Widow’s Luck developed from a short workshop I attended called How to Kill Your Characters Correctly. I love research and after delving into studies of serial killers, psychopaths, sociopaths and various poisons and medications I set the story in South Africa and the Chilko Lake area in Canada.

It sounds like you draw a lot from your own experiences in your writing.

Yes, in all my stories I draw from my life experiences. I have been fortunate to travel widely, grew up in Nigeria, taught school in many areas of Canada, and most importantly love talking with people…everyone has a story.

 If that cover doesn't draw your attention, I'm not sure what will!

If that cover doesn't draw your attention, I'm not sure what will!

Behind her back they call her “The Black Widow.”

Daphne McNeil has been widowed four times in ten years. Each time, her husbands have left her considerable sums of money. She finds that she must use these inheritances to support her beloved charities. The money does not go far enough and with increasing financial pressures, she becomes desperate.

When Steve Johnson, a forensic scientist, discovers human remains in an isolated lake near Daphne’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, he unwittingly puts himself in danger.

He begins to suspect the beautiful widow is not as innocent as she seems. Will he become her next victim?

Widow's Luck can be found at:

Friesen Press

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

Chapters Indigo/ Kobo

Nook

I have also written four other thrillers/suspense novels: Strength of an Eagle, Half Truths Total Lies, and Alone.

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.

Chasing agents and publishers does not interest me. I just want to write and have my stories read. After a small attempt at the traditional route I decided to go the self publishing way and have not looked back.

Any new projects on the horizon? 

Right now my life is in chaos but I am starting to think about the short story genre or a sequel to Strength of an Eagle.

Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches?

Writing the story is the easier part. Be prepared for the revising and editing that must be done in order to have a quality product.

Sounds really gross, but making sure I had all the killing methods correct was the hardest and most unusual part of the research process!

Lin in some of her favorite places, Africa and Australia.

Speed round! 

Oxford comma, yes or no? (Be careful how you answer this! Ha) Yes!

Ice cream: vanilla or chocolate? Vanilla

Coffee or tea? Wine should be an option, if not coffee. (Yeah, I think I need to add wine to this list!)

What does your desk look like? A total mess. I write, run a small business and am dealing with an estate. Tidying it up does no good because I continually throw more paperwork on top of the piles!

What is your writing vice or must-haves (e.g. for me it's post-its, red pen, and coffee)? Quiet, time, and a dictionary.

Describe a perfect writing day. There isn’t one.

What are some of your go-to methods for writing? I am a blend of an outliner and a pantster. I know exactly where I am going but enjoy the creativity of letting the action flow. If I get stuck I think about the problem before I go to sleep and the answer is often there in the morning.

In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job (besides author)? A shepherdess in Greece or a ranger on a game reserve in Africa.

Since I'm a hiker/travel-lover, what's your favorite place you've visited? I can’t pick between Uluru, Australia and Karegia Game reserve in South Africa.

What do you like to do when not writing? Kayaking, photography and chatting with all sorts of people.

Thanks for stopping by today, Lin! Let's end with an excerpt from Widow's Luck:

 

He stood up to his knees in fetid muskeg, his breath coming in jagged gulps. Adrenaline pumping through his exhausted body, he slid his hand into the cavity under the edge of a crumbling bank. Sweeping his fingers around the dark, narrow space, he struck a solid, cold, hard object. He tugged and pulled at the plastic container, easing it out of its hiding place.

Success. The rush from the find made the hours of trekking through this swampy scrubland worthwhile. He forgot the mosquitos and blackflies biting every inch of exposed flesh; forgot the chill seeping up his legs; forgot the numbness in his toes from his waterlogged hiking boots. He’d found this geocache using only a compass and topographical maps. He had honoured the memory of his dad and did it old school.

Smiling and chuckling, he peeled off the duct tape surrounding the faded, green plastic container. Inside were half-a-dozen rabbit foot key chains, the usual logbook and pencil, and a note that simply said, ‘You’re fortunate to have found this cache. I wish you the best of luck as you journey through life.’

Reaching into the zippered pouch on the front of his backpack, Steve withdrew his own treasure: a piece of amber with an ancient insect trapped inside. Holding it in his hand for a few moments, he remembered when this memento had been given to him. His father had found the amber on one of their hiking trips in the foothills of Alberta. Later that evening while sitting around the dying embers of their campfire, his father had made a bit of a production giving the pretty stone to him. While mumbling something about always remembering their trips in the wilds, he’d gruffly passed the hand-warmed treasure over to him.

 Steve gave the amber one last stroke with his thumb and placed it in the worn tub. He hoped the treasure would pass through many hands as it continued on its own journey.

Meet Romantic Suspense Author C.B. Clark

Today I welcome C.B. Clark to our Visiting Authors corner. She has four published romantic suspense novels by The Wild Rose Press.

Her latest novel is Bitter Legacy, which released in March of this year. This month, the audio book just released on Audible in June. If you're like me, I love audio books. Haven't tried them yet? Well...they are a perfect way to listen to books while working or doing chores, on long commutes or drives, or when your eyes need a break from reading. I’ve always enjoyed the narration and voices and get lost in the world and lyrical nuances of the narrator. (No, it doesn’t distract me from driving!) If you've not yet tried them, I highly recommend listening!

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What is Bitter Legacy about?

Sharla-Jean Bromley returns to her hometown after a seventeen-year absence with vengeance in her heart. From the very beginning, her plans go awry when she meets devastatingly handsome Josh Morgan, the man to whom her father left half of his multi-million dollar lumber mill.

Josh, suspicious of Sharla-Jean’s reasons for returning to town after such a long absence, vows to keep control of the company he feels is rightfully his. She is equally determined to prove she can run her father’s mill, even though it means working side-by-side with Josh, a man whose very presence evokes an attraction that is increasingly difficult for her to ignore. In the process, they must overcome a villain who’s determined to destroy both the lumber mill and their lives.

Will Sharla-Jean succeed and heal the anguish that has long filled her soul? Will she and Josh find the passion of a lifetime?

For those who need more of a teaser, here is an excerpt:

Fire!

Even as the dreaded word reared like a monster inside her head, a thin trickle of smoke crept out of the dark storage room. Terrifying images of flame, smoke and searing heat threatened to overwhelm her. For a nightmare second, she was back in the midst of scorching heat and roaring flames.

Using all her strength of will, she tore free of the chilling memories. Instead of fleeing, she placed one wobbly step in front of the other and shuffled toward the storage room. Her nostrils flared at the acrid tang of gasoline and smoke. With a shaking hand, she gripped the door handle and opened the door.

A figure burst out of the darkness, crashing into her, knocking her back.

She yelped at the pain of the blow and the shock of falling. A jolt of agony and blinding light as her head hit something hard.

Heavy boots pounded across the tile floor. Cold air washed over her. And then darkness.

Thirsty for more?

How about an Audible excerpt? :) (give it a moment to load in your MP3 player...)

Oh, chills!

Now for a little fun…speed dating round!

Ice cream: vanilla or chocolate? Chocolate.

Coffee or tea? Definitely wine. (well, that wasn’t an option, but I like how you think!)

What does your desk look like? Why not a photo?

 That looks like a pretty clean desk. And I love her love of post-its (just like mine...).

That looks like a pretty clean desk. And I love her love of post-its (just like mine...).

Since I'm a hiker/travel-lover, what's your favorite place you've visited?

I love to travel. In the past four years, I’ve hiked the Inca Trail in Peru, Kayacked on Lake Titicaca, cycled through Central America, Toured Vietnam and Cambodia, hiked in the deserts of Jordan and the glaciers of Patagonia. My favorite country was Jordan. The archaeological sites, the warmth of the people, the delicious food, spectacular Petra, and the stunning stark beauty of the desert. 

 Petra, Jordan.

Petra, Jordan.

What do you like to do when not writing?

Travel. I also love to hike, camp, and canoe…any activity in the great outdoors. (Wow, sounds like we are kindred spirits in this regard! It looks like you've already been to some pretty amazing places.)

Thanks, C.B., for joining us today. It was a pleasure to speak with you and learn more about your interests. Good luck with your audio book Bitter Legacy!

Her books can be found on:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

The Wild Rose Press

iTunes

Kobo

Audible Buy Links:

Amazon

iTunes

Where can you find her online?

Facebookcbclarkauthor@facebook.com

Twitter

Blog: https://cbclarkauthor.wordpress.com

Goodreads Author Page

Instagram

A Haunted Salon with Penny Burwell Ewing

What do you get when you cross ghostly mysteries with a sprinkle of romance and Southern humor? You get Penny Burwell Ewing's Haunted Salon series.

Penny is our guest today on Visiting Authors. She writes full-length paranormal mysteries with a dash of romance and smidgen of southern humor and hopes to spin out a couple of novellas in the future.

When did you first become interested in writing?

My interest in writing began in the early 70s after the publication of The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. After reading the mega-hit, I consumed every historical romance by the industry’s top authors. A couple of years later I decided to entertain myself, so I sat down and wrote a historical novel set during the American Civil War. After that, I was hooked, and have been writing ever since.

Where did you get the inspiration for Dixieland Dead?

The inspiration for Dixieland Dead came from my years as a cosmetologist. While practicing Aesthetics, a client had a severe reaction to a facial mask I’d whipped up in the facial room. The frightening incident stayed with me for days and left me asking a question: How easy would it be to kill or maim someone with a facial mask?

Love that! (as I chuckle to myself about a few villains I’ve concocted). Aren’t twisted plots inspired by our own lives (or daydreams) a joy to write?

Yes, indeed. I’ve added many kooky incidents behind the stylist chair to my Haunted Salon Series. You can’t imagine how many silly and interesting ‘accidents’ happen in a beauty salon every day.

Oh, I love romance (naturally) and magic!

How bumpy was the road to publication?

After many unsuccessful attempts to hire an agent, I submitted to small presses and contracted with The Wild Rose Press. My experience has been positive with each book in the series. My editor, Amanda Barnett, has become a good and close friend. She's offered excellent editing advice and has kept me from making wrong choices. I re-wrote the ending to Book Four, Bein' Dead Ain't No Excuse, upon her recommendation. Her expertise saved me from disappointing my readers.

What’s on the horizon for you?

I loved writing all the books in the Haunted Salon Series, but I’m taking a break to write the Casa de Bella Trilogy. Romantic suspense set against the lush backdrop of Florida's Lake Okeechobee, the century-old Spanish Hacienda has endured nature's finicky hand, an ancient curse, and most recently, two grisly murders. The land is steeped in history and dangerous secrets—but nothing good can come from unearthing secrets from the past. A story spanning three generations—One house, three strong, independent women woven together by tragedy and triumph.

Sounds intriguing! Curses and magic? You and I must be kindred spirits.

What would you tell a new author on this journey?

Never give up and never stop learning. Read, read, read, and then read some more. Listen and pay attention. Also, lastly, be true to yourself.

Dixieland Dead is a wonderful cozy that offers a little mystery, a little romance, and a lot of magic:

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When the economy tanks in Whiskey Creek, Georgia, hairstylist, Jolene Claiborne expands her business to include skin care. A wise move until Scarlett Cantrell, a local celebrity, is murdered in the facial room. The police brush aside Jolene’s suspicions that the incident is tied to a recent break-in, and to complicate matters, the victim’s ghost threatens to make Dixieland Salon her permanent place of residence if Jolene fails to expose the killer.

Scarlett’s last words provide the only clue: “Find the jade elephant. Explains everything.” That is until a book of poetry turns up with a dangerous secret inside. Dealing with a diva ghost ain’t easy in the Bible belt. Throw in a sexy police detective, a crooked mayor with connections to the mob, a family cover-up, a mother who hasn’t cut the apron strings, and you get one stressed out middle-aged hairstylist with murder and mayhem on the brain.

Speed Dating questions!

Oxford comma, yes or no? Oxford commas are sexy.

Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate.

Coffee or Tea? Coffee.

Your desk: Organized. I can write blindfolded.

Writing vices: Visual boards and mood music.

Perfect writing day: No phone service or distractions. The dog would feed himself and leave the neighbor's cat alone. My computer wouldn't slow down, and I could stay off of Amazon. Oh, and my muse would show up when summoned.

Writing go-to method: A phone call with my best writing buddy, Darlene C. Hancock. Together, we discuss different methods of approach and hash out my problem areas. She motivates me.

Alternate reality job: Pastry Chef (seriously, are we twins separated at birth?)

Favorite place: The Texas Hill Country

What do you do when not writing? I enjoy fine needlecrafts and counted cross-stitch. I also love to tinker in the garden. (be still my heart – gardens…ahh, happy places, right?)

Where can we find your books?

Amazon 

Barnes & Noble 

BAM (booksamillion.com)   

The Wild Rose Press 

Bonus…an excerpt from Dixieland Dead. Thanks again, Penny, for joining us!

The facial room pulled at me like a magnet. Where did the human life energy go after departing this life? Could Heaven and Hell truly be our last destination, or could we linger here trapped in the last peaceful or hellish moments of our life? Thoughts like these had troubled me since Daddy died. For years afterward, I’d studied books on the afterlife, religious teachings from various faiths, the great philosophers, and the occult, and even ancient alien theorists, always trying in vain to contact him.

This morning’s strange incident at the cemetery resurfaced. I removed the yellow-crime scene tape, the door vibrating under my hands. Call it déjà vu or precognition, but I suddenly knew something monumental waited on the other side. Slowly, I turned the knob. The hairs on my nape prickled as a voice whispered in my ear, “You can’t go in there.”

I snatched my hand from the doorknob. "Crap, Deena, you scared the hell outta me. Must you sneak around?"

“I never sneak. You simply weren’t listening.”

The kitchen door swung open. Mama stood in the doorway. “What’s going on out here? Stop horsing around. Go find Billie Jo. I’m ready to leave.”

“Jolene’s going in there.” Deena jerked her thumb toward the closed facial room door.

Billie Jo rounded the corner. “What’s all the commotion?”

“Jolene’s going in there,” Deena repeated.

“No, she’s not,” Mama said. “The police will accuse us of tampering with evidence. We’ll go in when Sam gives the okay.”

“We can’t leave before making sure that multi-function Skin Care Station is properly shut off,” I said. “It cost over fifteen hundred dollars.”

“No one’s going in there,” Mama huffed. “Got it?”

Billie Jo reached out and tested the knob. “It’s locked anyway.”

“That’s strange. It wasn’t a moment ago,” I said, twisting the knob and finding it locked. “Go get the key, Deena.”

“We lost the key years ago.”

“Wait,” I said excitedly. “I’ll get a butter knife from the kitchen.” I turned to leave, but Mama grabbed me by the arm, causing me to stumble against the door. With a thump, it flew open, propelling me into the room. As I stumbled for balance, something white fluttered in the semi-darkness. Regaining my balance, I quickly switched on the lights before Mama could protest.

"Ahhh," I said with vexation, my eyes taking in the discarded jars lining the countertop. A dusting of fine powder covered the floor. "This room's a mess. It'll take hours to clean."

"They must've taken a sample of everything," Deena piped up behind me. "What's on the floor?"

Billie Jo bent down and ran her finger over the floor, leaving a thin trail. “It looks like oatmeal. Carla said she mixed everything into that death mask.”

Mama stuck her head in the doorway. “Don’t touch anything and get out of there right now. We need to get over to the hospital. Jolene, if you don’t come out of there right this instant, I promise you that when the roll is called up yonder, you’ll be there!”

Deena backed out of the room. “She’s right; the hospital is expecting me.”

“I’m ready to leave, too,” Billie Jo said, joining Mama and Deena in the hallway.

There wasn’t any need to try and argue my point with them—my vote would be vetoed immediately. The facial equipment was unplugged, so I turned off the lights and shut the door. A loud crash sounded from inside the room. Quickly, I flung open the door, flipped on the overhead lights, and screamed with every ounce of my being—for there, on the facial bed, sat the faint, ghostly image of Scarlett Cantrell.

Tea with Eileen O'Finlan

Know what's amazing in the authoring world? The people you meet! Though Eileen and I have only had virtual tea, we live a few towns apart and have been supporting each other since a mutual friend connected us. It's like finding a kindred spirit when you "meet" another author (be it in person, on Facebook or Twitter, or somewhere in cyber space).

When I heard about Eileen's book, Kelegeen, the premise captured me so I ordered it and read it right away! Disclaimer: You will need tissues. What a heart-wrenching, amazingly-researched tale of the Irish potato blight. I fell in love with the priest (not too many books are told from that POV and I loved that element), as well as the young, strong Meg.

Okay, enough of the preamble; here is a chat with author Eileen O'Finlan:

 Eileen can be found on her  website  or on  Facebook . 

Eileen can be found on her website or on Facebook

Where does your heart fall in the writing world?

I write novels. On rare occasions I’ve written short stories and prose poems.  I find, though, that I really need the big canvas of the novel.  I need to take time to develop my characters and let a story unfold over a few hundred pages.

When did your writing journey begin? What drew you to writing?

Even as a young child, I’d look at a picture, say in a magazine or catalog, and if something about it grabbed my attention, I’d start making up a story in my head to go with it.  It wasn’t something I did consciously.  It just happened.  The same is true if I was bored.  I’d just start imagining stories which would play themselves out in my mind.  I guess I was drawn to writing in order to get the stories out of my head and onto paper.

What was your inspiration for Kelegeen?

I was taking a course in Irish history for my undergraduate degree (BA in History).  While studying the Potato Famine, my professor suggested that, as a creative exercise, I keep a diary as if I were a parish priest in Ireland at the time of the Famine.  I really enjoyed writing that diary.  After the course ended, I thought it would make a great basis for a novel.

Do you find inspiration in your own life for your writing?

Quite often, yes.  I’m a New Englander to my core so most of my writing is set in New England.  Obviously, that’s not the case with Kelegeen which is set in Ireland, but it is with most of my writing.  Also, since I write mainly historical fiction, coming across some interesting historical event or tidbit often triggers the idea for a story.

Tell us about Kelegeen.

Kelegeen is the fictionalized story of what brought countless Irish immigrants to the North American shores.  The little village of Kelegeen is going about its day-to-day life when the potatoes - the only food available to the Irish peasants - is suddenly struck by a horrible blight wiping out the entire potato crop across all of Ireland.  In what would become known as An Gorta Mor (the Great Hunger) over one million Irish would die and another million would emigrate.

Meg O’Connor, a bright, resilient, resourceful, and compassionate young woman must find a way to prevail while keeping alive her relationship with Rory, the young man to whom she is engaged.  Each time a survival tactic fails, she’s forced into a new one.  At the same time, she is beset by worry about Rory who’s own survival strategy is gravely dangerous, her mother whose frightening but vague premonitions bode an unknown evil, and the loss of beloved family and friends.

Father Brian O’Malley is the parish priest of Kelegeen and a dear friend of the O’Connor family.  He becomes unlikely allies with an English doctor.  Together they make the rounds of the countryside to offer what spiritual and physical help they can to the villagers.  It is to the two of them that Meg will turn for help with her final, most desperate plan for survival.

Though told from the points of view of both Meg and Father O’Malley, Kelegeen is really Meg’s story, which, in turn, is a story of what led to the Irish diaspora.

 Kelegeen can be found on  Amazon .

Kelegeen can be found on Amazon.

Did you go traditional route (agent/publisher), small press, or self-publish? 

I am published by BWL Publishing, Inc. a small publisher based in Canada.  I was extremely fortunate in that Eileen Charbonneau, who did the editing on Kelegeen, thought it would be a good fit with her publisher.  Eileen’s two most recent books, I’ll Be Seeing You and Watch Over Me, were published by BWL.  So she contacted the publisher, told her about Kelegeen and got her to agree to read it.  Within an amazingly short time, BWL offered me a contract.

Any new projects on the horizon?

Yes.  I am in the research phase for the sequel to Kelegeen.  I also have several other ideas for novels floating around in my head.  In fact, I was planning on writing a novel set in 1830s Vermont, but I’ve had so many requests for a sequel that I decided I’d better do that next so the Vermont novel will have to wait.

Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches:

Once your novel is completed to what you think is the best of your ability, hire a top-notch editor.  I don’t mean someone who will simply look for type-o’s, grammatical errors and the like.  I mean someone who does all that, but more importantly reads for and comments on content, story and character arc, continuity and everything else that makes a novel sing.  Then take that person’s advice to heart.  Put in the time and effort of revising even if it means a complete rewrite.  Most of all, make yourself a student of writing.  Absorb like a sponge everything you can about writing.

I wrote the first few drafts of Kelegeen over a six year period more than twenty years ago.  After making the rounds of agents and, with one brief exception, being turned down by all, I gave up.  It was only a few years ago that I found Eileen Charbonneau, took the novel out of mothballs and sent it to her.  Her editing and advice was invaluable.  I had to do a complete rewrite which took a year to complete but it was well worth it.  I learned a tremendous amount from Eileen including why I garnered so many rejections twenty years ago.  The novel is so much better after her input and I am a much better writer.  Hiring her was the smartest and best move I’ve ever made with my writing.

What was the hardest/most unusual/interesting part of the story to write/research?

For me the hardest part was understanding the workings of the mid-19th century Irish economy, which was firmly wrapped up with the British economy.  Economics and political maneuvering are not my strong suits so I had to work hard to get a handle on them.  Though, I didn’t write about them much in the story, I had to understand them enough for what happens in the story to make sense and be historically accurate.  With historical fiction, learning far more about the subject than will ever make it overtly into the story is always part of the process.

Now for some fun questions! 

Oxford comma, yes or no? (Be careful how you answer this! Ha)

Yes, yes, and yes!

Ice cream: vanilla or chocolate?

Vanilla. I love vanilla!  (also love chocolate, but not in ice cream)

What does your desk look like?

My desk is usually a complete mess, but that’s not where I write.  I write on my laptop which is currently on, well, my lap.

What is your writing vice or must-haves (e.g. for me it's post-its, red pen, and coffee)?

I must have my laptop.  I only write longhand in my writing workshop.  What I must NOT have is vocal noise.  I can write with silence, white noise, or instrumental music, but not with the TV on or music with lyrics.

Describe a perfect writing day.

I’m a night owl, so it would actually be a perfect writing night.  I’d sit at the computer merrily transcribing whatever story was playing itself out in my head well into the wee hours of the morning.  I do my best writing at night.  Often I’ll think I’ve only been writing for about an hour or so, but when I look at the clock I realize it’s 2:00 a.m.  How did that happen?!  Considering I’m still working a M-F 9-5 job, this can be a real problem.  I’m living on a huge sleep debt!

In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job (besides author)?

Rock star guitar goddess!

Since I'm a hiker/travel-lover, what's your favorite place you've visited?

Vermont.  It’s my home away from home.  Since you’re a hiker, you’ve probably already been to Quechee Gorge, but if not, give it a try.  I also fell in love with Bermuda when I went there on a cruise several years ago.

What do you like to do when not writing?

My favorite thing to do is read.  I’m a voracious reader.  Not surprising, is it?  Probably most writers would say the same.  Besides reading, I like to spend time with family and friends, hang out with my two adorable cats, listen to classic rock, make beaded jewelry, shop, and entertain at home.  I also love visiting museums and botanical gardens.

Where can we find your book?

Buy links: 

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo 

Smashwords

Thank you, Eileen! I look forward to reading more from you!

Meet Author Ralph Walker

It’s March, there’s still a foot of hardened icy snow on the ground in New England, and it’s time to shake up my blog! Today I am chatting with Ralph Walker, fellow author, parent, and early morning coffee drinker. The writing community prides itself on perseverance, patience, and pal-making…we love to support each other in our endeavors. So today I’m highlighting one of my talented friends.

Thanks for visiting, Ralph.

Thanks so much for inviting me to be a part of your blog. For readers who don’t know me, I’m Ralph Walker. I am an architect in New Jersey and I write speculative fiction, particularly near future science fiction.

Let’s start out with a hard question. Oxford comma yes or no?

Hard hitting out of the gate! I don’t want to lose readers over the controversy, so I am going to defer to my editor for political statements on punctuation. 

Fair enough. (“Go Oxford!” I say, waving a flag with commas on it). Ahem, tell us about what you write.

I’m really interested in stories about people doing extraordinary things because the world has changed in unexpected ways. Accelerating technologies and climate change both feature heavily in my work, but at their heart all my stories are about relationships and the lengths people go to save their loved ones.

Most of my stories are near future science fiction. I try to peek around the corner to see what might be coming. I’ve always loved techno-thrillers, cyberpunk, and solarpunk. I try to write with optimism and hope even when I explore my character’s darkest hours.

When did your writing journey begin? What drew you to writing?

I am a late bloomer when it comes to writing. I wrote some nonfiction and journaled over the years, but focused on my primary profession, architecture. I started writing more seriously after my daughter was born. I was traveling a lot then and was stuck in hotel rooms by myself. Being away from my family was incredibly stressful and I used storytelling as a way to escape. Early morning writing sessions quickly became a hobby, and now six years later, it is my habit.

That explains #5amwritersclub on Twitter.

What was your inspiration for the Rising Waters series, specifically Grief Protocols?

I see the world changing under our feet, both with technology and nature. Climate change, population growth, the rise of social technology, an evolving utility grid, even the legal constructs of land ownership are all influencing individual wealth, power, and happiness. I am interested in finding the sharp edges of those issues and understanding how they might impact an individual or a family.

One of my first stories, Gators In Kansas, was an exploration about underwater farming through the eyes of a migrant farmer. While that story is part of the UnCommon Lands anthology it set a tone for the stories I have written for Rising Waters.

I also love the anthology form. I am really interested in painting a picture of what the world might become through a series of stories and characters who live in the same world, but may or may not be connected. Grief Protocols, Gators In Kansas, Stealing Air and other stories are all in the same world in my mind.

Grief Protocols is a sibling bond story. I was exploring the distance a family might get stretched and how elastic those relationships may or may not be. That story is more tech-focused, but again, lives in a time and place that is easily within reach today. 

Was any of the story for Grief Protocols inspired by real life events?

Happily no, but the relationships are personal and familiar. I have a younger sister whom I am very close with and we definitely have a “country mouse – city mouse” type relationship. She has always been a rock for me and was an inspiration as I explored characters.

Elaborate upon the theme of your short story series.

Rising waters is a speculative series about what could happen. I love to mess with the question What If? What if invasive crocodiles moved into the great plains? What if we embedded social media into our vision? What if we added growth hormones to the air? There are so many wonderful what if questions that grab my attention and the stories grow out of them.

I’m a fan of Black Mirror, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Ex Machina and so many other great science fiction stories that take an extreme look at how our world is changing under our feet. Rising Waters aims to accomplish that.

Since I am a hiker / traveler, tell me about your favorite place to visit.

I am obsessed with the shoreline. I love to visit the ocean. Every summer I take my family down to the Jersey shore for at least a week at a time. When I lived in Los Angeles I would go to the ocean as often as I could. There is something really special about the edges where water meets land. There is this constant pushing and pulling, the violence of waves, the movement of sand or rock. It is constantly changing. I get lost in it.

Tell us about your next project – Stealing Air

Stealing Air is, as you might imagine, a heist story. It follows a band of thieves as they attempt to covertly steal a very expensive drug that makes it easier to breath. Nora, our heroine, needs the drug not only to make money, but also for her ailing husband. In this adventure she is taken from the woods of Appalachia to a craft air manufacturer in the sky where she discovers a real treasure.

This is a story about unintended consequences of messing with nature. It was inspired by the debate about putting fluoride in drinking water and more recent events in Flint, Michigan. 

I hope you’ll check it out, and if you like it share it with your friends.

 Ralph's latest work can be found on  Amazon .

Ralph's latest work can be found on Amazon.

Describe a perfect writing day:

I’m not sure that there is one. A good writing day for me is when I have the time and space to get lost in a story. Since I work full-time as an architect and am a parent and husband those days never really happen. I am lucky to grab a few hours in the morning and work on something fun and creative. Maybe someday in the future I can achieve a ‘perfect’ writing day.

What does your desk look like?

I work at a converted dining room table that is piled high with books and files. I keep a set of notecards and Post-it notes close by and often scrawl out a few words as reminders for one project or another. It is really a bit of a mess, but those scraps of paper are bits of inspiration.

I also have a litter of mementos scattered on my desk. There is a steel bolt from the first building I designed, shells from my visits to the beach, a bit of petrified wood another writer gave me, and a variety of colored drawings from my kids. Sometimes when I get stuck on a passage I’ll pick one of those objects and turn it over in my hands. They help ground me.

Last tough question: vanilla or chocolate?

Doesn’t matter to me if it’s ice cream or cake. I’ll take vanilla with coffee or chocolate with wine.

Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches:

A writer friend of mine likes to say, “I’m years deep into my process of becoming an overnight success.” Don’t give up on your dream. Keep writing.

Where can we find you or your work?

You can find my stories at Amazon.com.

Or if you are in New Jersey you can pick up the UnCommon Lands Anthology at Watchung Booksellers in Montclair, NJ.

I am very active on Twitter. Come say hi at @RW_Igloo.

My website is www.ralphwalkerauthor.com.