Author Q&A: Colleen Coble – THREE MISSING DAYS

Good day, book people. I hope everyone has had a great week and been able to get in some reading time. I hope you’ll take a few minutes out of your day and help me welcome Colleen Coble, author of Three Missing Days, book three in the Pelican Harbor series to the blog for a little Q&A. Thank you, Ms. Coble for taking time out of your busy writing and reading schedule to join us today. (By the way, I wish you a speedy recovery from your recent knee replacement surgery.)

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1. Why do you write the kind of books you do?

People ask that all the time. They say, “You’re so friendly and outgoing. Why do you write about murder and mayhem?” ☺ It’s the way I’m wired. I grew up on Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. I think it’s my way of dealing with injustice. I can’t do anything about the bad things in the world, but I can make sure justice prevails in my imaginary world.

2. Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

On Valentine’s Day 2008 my son and daughter-in-law brought me a newspaper article they thought I might be interested in. It read: Bestselling author Colleen Coble realizes lifelong dream of being a grandmother! It was their way of letting me know we had a little one on the way. I’d waited YEARS to be a grandma! That baby was my darling granddaughter Alexa who is now 12, and we have 2 adorable grandsons, Elijah (4) and Silas (2) who all make life perfect. The hardest part is splitting our time because Alexa is in Indiana where we live and the boys are in Arizona. So we have been spending the winter there and making trips to see the little guys.

3. How has being published changed your life?

Oh I love writing! It’s such a fulfilling career. I love all aspects of it—writing, the promotion, the editing (especially the editing!), and everything else. It’s given me more confidence and more purpose in my life. It’s brought wonderful friends into my life.

4. What are you reading right now?

Last Day by Luanne Rice

5. What is your current work in progress?

A Stranger’s Game is set on Jekyll Island, GA. The place is steeped in history and I fell in love with it after a visit. Torie’s family owns the big, historic hotel on the island, though she hasn’t been there in years. When her best friend supposedly drowns there, Torie knows it’s murder because Lisbeth was terrified of the water. Torie goes to Jekyll Island incognito to find out what really happened. But a stranger knows about her quest and is determined to stop her.

6. What would be your dream vacation?

I’ve been lucky enough to actually live some dream vacations. The best ones are with the whole family together. We have gone to Hawaii several times to research the Aloha Reef books (I research while the kids play) and it landed us a new son which led to two little grandsons! Our daughter fell for her divemaster/boat captain, and they were married in 2008.

7. How do you choose your settings for each book?

I pick a place that interests me and that has the atmosphere I’m looking to get in the book. A Stranger’s Game on Jekyll Island had that atmosphere I love, and I was able to weave in some great history.

8. If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

Stephen King. No one can write characters like the King. I’d love to pick his brain. It might be scary but oh so fun!

9. What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

Hobbies? What are those? Who has time for hobbies? ☺ I used to crochet and quilt. Now whatever free time I have is spent on promotion, research, or just thinking about the next book. I do love to read though and I always make time for that!

10. What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

The hardest thing for me is actually relaxing and not thinking about a book or the next book. Or the next. ☺ I love it so much that it can become an obsession. This time when I turned in my book, I had no choice but to rest because I was having knee replacement surgery. We are about four weeks out now, and the pain is abating which means I’m starting to think about the next book!

11. What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Read extensively in the genre you want to write. Attend at least one good conference a year. And never, never give up.

12. What’s your new book about?

Three Missing Days is the 3rd novel in the Pelican Harbor series. Jane’s teenage son is arrested for murder, and she has to find the real killer. As she plunges into the investigation, she finds a crucial piece of the plot to frame Will can only be found if she remembers three missing days from when she was a teenager.

Three Missing Days

by Colleen Coble

April 5 – 30, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

THREE MISSING DAYS - CCoble

Book Three in the gripping romantic suspense series from USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble.

A chilling murder.

Chief of Police Jane Hardy plunges into the investigation of a house fire that claimed the life of a local woman as well as one of the firefighters. It’s clear the woman was murdered. But why? The unraveling of Jane’s personal life only makes the answers in the case more difficult to find.

Her son’s arrest.

Then Jane’s fifteen-year-old son is accused of a horrific crime, and she has to decide whether or not she can trust her ex, Reid, in the attempt to prove Will’s innocence—and whether she can trust Reid with her heart.

Her stolen memories.

Three days of Jane’s past are missing from her memory, and that’s not all that has been stolen from her. As she works to find the woman’s murderer and clear her son’s name, finding out what happened in those three days could change everything. It all started with one little lie. But the gripping truth is finally coming out.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: April 6th 2021
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 0785228543 (ISBN13: 9780785228547)
Series: Pelican Harbor #3 || These books are Stand Alone Mysteries but are better if read as a series!
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook.com | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Author - Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.

Connect with Colleen online at:
colleencoble.com
Goodreads
BookBub: @ColleenCoble
Instagram: @colleencoble
Twitter: @colleencoble
Facebook: @colleencoblebooks

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

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Giveaway!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Colleen Coble and Thomas Nelson. ONE (1) winner will receive ONE (1) physical set of the first three books in the Pelican Harbor series. (U.S. addresses only). The giveaway begins on April 5, 2021 and runs through May 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Book Showcase: DON’T F*** THIS UP! by Fred Stuvek Jr.



Don’t F*** This Up!: A Guide for Students and Graduates or Anyone Making A Fresh Start by Fred Stuvek Jr.
ISBN: 9781732306042 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781732306059 (ebook)
ASIN: B08C5MQVSV   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Triumvirate Press
Publication Date: July 7, 2020



The margin of error is shrinking…



Has the new normal just f***ed up the future for young adults? 

Thanks to a global pandemic, they’re entering adulthood, their college career, or the workforce during record unemployment, a terrifying economy, and social guidelines that have all but eliminated life as we knew it. 

And what about the millions of newly unemployed workers in America? As they look for a fresh start, how will they overcome the challenges of an economy decimated by COVID-19?

If having a strategy for the future was important before, now it’s critical. The choices new grads, young adults, or the newly unemployed make and the practices they adopt right now are going to shape not only their career but every other aspect of their life as well. 

Fred Stuvek, Jr. has some hard-earned life lessons to share with them. As a former athlete who served in the military and successfully started his own business, he has advice for those looking to thrive in this battered economy. 

In Don’t F*** This Up!, he explains how harnessing certain proven success principles will help guide those looking for a new start in a world where the margin of error is narrower than ever. He can explain the following in more detail:


  • Adopt high standards and become disciplined
  • Learn how to focus on goal setting from a Hall of Fame athlete turned soldier
  • Develop and improve essential relationships from someone who has built successful businesses
  • Establish a high level of personal integrity through the right actions and attitude 
  • Develop the resilience and grit to overcome adversity







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Author Q&A



Don’t F*** This Up!: A Guide for Students and Graduates
or Anyone Making a Fresh Start



1.  Your book is titled, Don’t F*** This Up!. That is pretty direct. What exactly do you mean by it and how did you decide on it?

Due to this pandemic students and graduates will be facing one of the bleakest employment environments in generations. Opportunities will be limited, and the margin of error is much less than in former times. While the title is visceral, I wanted to emphasize the importance to my target audience that now, more than ever, it is critical to be prepared and get it right the first time.


2.  You have excelled in sports, the military, and in business. What is the key piece of advice you have gained from this trifecta of experience that you want to give to those making a fresh start in this bad economy?

Nothing gets accomplished without discipline, commitment, and a team working together. Your discipline will ensure you follow through on your plan; that firm commitment in your mission will ensure you have the resiliency to stay the course when adversity strikes; and everyone has each other’s back.  


3.  How is your book unique from other self-help books out there?

Success is not one dimensional, it entails a number of issues that must converge. The absence or weakness in one area of more will impact your ability to reach your full potential. To the best of my knowledge, there isn’t a book out there that comprehensively and specifically addresses the entire range of issues for someone to be successful by telling them WHAT is important, WHY it is important, and HOW you do something about it. 


4.  You say that your advice may be hard for people to hear. Why is that?

You are responsible for you and accountable for yourself. You are not a victim of circumstances. The life you are living is based on the habits you have formed, the decisions you made, and the people you associate with. If you want a better life, develop better habits, make better decisions, and re-evaluate who you are hanging out with.


5.  Can you go over a couple of the core ideas for success that you outline in the book?

In order to be motivated and fulfilled there are two issues that are important – alignment and filling in the gaps. When I say alignment you have to understand what motivates you and match those beliefs with your personality, skillset, interests, and values. The other issue is the gaps – you need to understand what areas you fall short in and work on improving your skills in those areas. You also have to be honest with yourself and don’t try to be something you are not. Otherwise, you have a mismatch which ultimately will result in dissatisfaction, stress, burn-out, and spill over into your personal life.  


6.  You say that the margin for error is narrowing for people starting out in the workforce. What do you mean by that?

Many companies are streamlining, cutting costs, or putting plans on hold until they are better able to gauge the impact COVID19 will have on the economy and their business. As a result, there will be fewer jobs available which will translate into fewer opportunities for them. This may also translate to new business models where companies revert to a hybrid version of their former self from both an expense and staffing standpoint. They say “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” The same holds true here.  


7.  COVID-19 has decimated the economy. For those who have been laid off, what is your biggest piece of advice as they look for a fresh start?

Your mindset, preparation, and commitment will carry you through. Be prepared, be positive, and persevere. Understand there will be rejection and frustration, don’t take it personally, it is part of the process, so put it behind you. Learn from it and move on. Your determination and zeal will ultimately resonate with someone, so never give up, never surrender, and always move forward, even if it is one small step at a time. 


8.  Ultimately, what do you hope readers take away from your book?

Your achievement in life will be determined by the belief and confidence you have in yourself and what you do. You need to develop the right mindset, develop good habits, and make good decisions. To make those decisions you need to know what questions to ask, how to get the answers, and a process to follow. This book is a roadmap to do exactly that and will be a valuable ongoing reference. 


9.  How/where can readers purchase Don’t F*** This Up!?#

It is available in hard copy and eBook through a number of sources such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple. You can also go to my website https://fredstuvek.com, where the purchase tab on my home page will direct you to a number of sources where you can purchase either version. 
(#NOTE: Purchase Links are also provided at the top of this post.)

10.  Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about the book?

What is laid out in my book is not based on theory. What I recommend is proven, it works. 




Meet The Author


FRED STUVEK JR. has achieved extraordinary success in diverse realms. He has been inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame for achievements in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy, after lettering three years as quarterback for the Midshipmen. After serving as a Naval Officer, he transitioned to the business world where he has held senior leadership positions in private and public companies, both domestically and internationally. Key successes include an international medical imaging start-up that led to a successful IPO and forming a private medical services company, which he subsequently sold. From the playing field to the war room, to the board room, his leadership and accomplishments have given him a distinct perspective and a results-oriented mindset.



Connect to the author via his Website, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, or YouTube.




Giveaway

Enter to win a print copy of Don’t F*** This Up! by Fred Stuvek Jr. This giveaway is limited to US residents only; non-US residents will be disqualified. Giveaway begins at 12:01 AM ET on 08/25/2020 and runs through 11:59 PM ET on 09/01/2020. The winner will be announced by 10:00 AM ET on 09/02/2020. Book will be provided by PR by the Book at the conclusion of the tour. Void where prohibited by law.


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This Q&A, giveaway, and tour brought to you by PR By The Book

Book Showcase: LEGENDS FROM MOM’S CLOSET by Sasha Olsen

Legends from Mom’s Closet by Sasha Olsen
ISBN: 9780578620091 (hardcover)
Publisher: BCH
Publication Date: May 19, 2020


10-year-old Sasha Olsen documents how she spent a rainy summer indoors using her creativity and imagination. After reading a stack of books about women like Frida Kahlo, Audrey Hepburn and Billie Holiday, Sasha’s imagination ran wild and she ended up in her mom’s closet picking through her clothes and her grandmother’s vintage pieces to dress up like all the female legends she had been reading about. Complete with photos of the looks she created and tips for other young girls on how they, too, can emulate these iconic women, Legends from Mom’s Closet will inspire readers to delve into the lives of truly remarkable women from the past to learn a thing or two about what it means to be legendary in today’s world. 







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Author Q&A

1.  In your book, Legends from Mom’s Closet, you share tidbits about and dress up like legendary women you read about during a rainy summer spent indoors. A lot of kids your age would spend a rainy summer watching TV or playing video games. What made you decide to start reading books about famous women?

Well, I actually love to read, especially biographies. I don’t usually spend a lot of time using any devices. I didn’t specifically start reading books about famous women, but I started looking around for books to learn more about legendary people. I just happened to meet these iconic women through their amazing stories and spending a day in their shoes! 



2. Who was your favorite female legend to read about?

My favorite legend to read about was probably Frida Kahlo! I felt like she had a very inspiring story. She had a lot of difficult times in her life, but no matter what, she worked hard to achieve her dreams and become an artist. 



3. What is the biggest lesson you learned from getting to know all of these female legends?

I learned many lessons! Most of all though, I learned that women are super strong. Women work very hard and can get through anything that might stand in their way of achieving their goals. Women are so inspiring!



4. What inspired you to use your mom’s clothes and your grandmother’s vintage pieces to recreate all of their iconic looks?

Actually, I just went into my mom’s closet and started trying on her shoes and dresses. This was after I read about Frida Kahlo. So, I just got the idea to try and dress up as her! I thought my mom might be really upset with me for playing with her things, but she loved the idea. If the legend was wearing something like I really couldn’t figure out where to get, I would call my grandma for advice. Most of the time, she had exactly what I needed!



5. Who was your favorite legend to dress up as and why?

My favorite legend to dress up as was definitely Yayoi Kusama. I love her bright artwork, and I was able to get even more creative to dress up as her!



6. How did you decide which legends to include in Legends from Mom’s Closet?

I didn’t choose them before. I just started to read about people who I didn’t know much about yet and it ended up being all women! After, I just decided to share them in this book.



7. Your other passion is the environment. Tell us what you learned about vintage fashion versus fast fashion.

When I started my movement “I Want My Ocean Back” and this project, I was doing a lot of research during that time. I wanted to know more about what are the biggest things that pollute our oceans and cause problems for our planet. I found out like clothing is one of the biggest ocean pollutants and some fabrics, like polyester, have plastic in them so it breaks down and hurts our sea animals. After finding this out, I realized that it’s very harmful to buy fast fashion because people just buy the clothes and throw them away soon after. It inspired me to learn more about vintage and how we can buy secondhand instead, and just reuse clothing! 



8. Ultimately, what do you hope your readers take away from your book?

I hope readers learn how important it is to let your creativity run wild! I want other kids to know that we can get inspired and have fun while also learning new things and growing our knowledge. It’s also very important that we learn more about how fast fashion affects our oceans and that we stop it! We need to win the war against fast fashion to help save the planet.



9. How/where can readers purchase Legends from Mom’s Closet?

Readers can purchase Legends from Mom’s Closet on our website www.legendsfrommomscloset.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble… and most platforms! 



10. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about the book or what you learned while writing it?

I just want to share that this book project is super special to me! It means a lot to me, and I worked very hard on it. I hope that everyone enjoys my stories and experiences dressing up as these legendary women. Most of all, I hope readers try it themselves and that it inspires them to think outside the box! I learned a lot from reading and getting to know these women, especially that we can do anything if we believe in ourselves.


Legends From Mom’s Closet Back Cover





Meet The Author


Sasha Olsen is a 10-year-old author, environmental activist, ballroom dancer, bookworm, pianist, and enjoys anything artistic. She always finds new hobbies and things to do, which usually ends up in her trying to juggle everything. She lives with her family in Bal Harbour, Florida, where she also spearheads the conservation movement “I Want My Ocean Back.” Legends From Mom’s Closet is her first book. 



Connect to the author via her website, Facebook, and Instagram.




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Book Spotlight: CHILDREN OF A GOOD WAR by Jack Woodville London

French Letters: Children of a Good War by Jack Woodville London
ISBN: 9780990612186 (paperback)
ASIN: B07H9KF9Q5 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Vire Press
Release Date: November 8, 2018


Four decades after World War II, 1986 is a year of terrorist hijackings, of personal computers and CD players, of AIDS and Miami Vice. It also is a year in which a beloved doctor falls to his death, a Pan Am pilot is shot while trying to foil the takeover of Pan Am flight 73, and when four bitter French widows use their medicines as bets to play poker in their retirement home while a lonely nun observes her vows of silence in an Irish convent. And it is the year when a cache of faded letters is discovered in a cellar, causing Frank Hastings to realize that he is not who he believed he is, and to go in search of his mother. 



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Author Q & A

1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Or what first inspired you to write? 

8th grade. I was enrolled in a ‘Ready Writing’ competition and won a prize of some kind for a story about someone very like me who somehow fixed up a wrecked sports car, then had lots of adventures in places whose names I misspelled. I was taken by the craft of writing when I read a number of books in which the word choices the authors made were extraordinary. Examples were the romance poem ‘The Eve of St. Agnes’ and ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ (“The hound? The hound did nothing.” “Exactly.”)


2.  Where/When do you best like to write?  

In my study. I write best in the mornings when I’m alone.  


3.  Do you have any interesting writing habits or superstitions?  

Probably not. I believe that when working on fiction, you should attempt 1000 words a day. I also believe that you should begin by reading what you wrote yesterday, edit and revise it, then move on to a fresh 1000  words. Repeat tomorrow.  


4.  When you are struggling to write/have writer’s block, what are some ways that help you find your creative muse again?  

I dig out one of several novels that just light my fires. Larry McMurtry teaches creative writing with every sentence. I read almost anything by Evelyn Waugh or Anthony Powell. John Lanchester and Hilary Mantel are creative and inspiring.      


5.  What do you think makes a good story?

A flawed protagonist, a conflict, a solution, then disaster. 



6. What inspired your story?  

a.  I thought that there should be a story that reflects three conditions of the cycle (cyclone?) of life: being taken for granted (and attempting revenge); being utterly alone in the world, no matter how many people are around you; and, learning that you really don’t know who you are, then setting out to find out.

b.  I found the meanness of the Biblical story of the brothers Jacob and Esau and the things they did to their father to also be timeless. I build a family saga around parents who were not always completely blameless, their friends, their enemies, and their children, creating a story in which there are individual bits that all of us will recognize from our family, friends, or, shudder, ourselves. And, as Jacob and Esau feuded and lied, so do brothers feud and lie today, with lasting consequences. Finally, one of the great narratives of sibling rivalries is the accusation that one of them is not really a sibling at all, but a foundling, a child dug up under a cabbage patch, or a bastard that someone brought home to raise.


7.  How does a new story idea come to you? Is it an event that sparks the plot or a character speaking to you?

Characters are wonderful devices. You can create them, then drop them into nearly any period or event and they will act as such characters would act at any time in history, whether it is ancient Greece, Tudor England, baby boomers in the 1980s, or Trump America. 


8.  Is there a message/theme in your novel that you want readers to grasp?  

I hope that the notion comes through that finding out who we are is something each of us must find out for himself or herself; while we may or may not know who our parents are, we almost never know who they were.  


9.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?  

How little we really know about our parents.  


10.  What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?  

When drawing complex characters with richly detailed individual lives, it takes a great deal of focus to keep their individual storylines arranged so that they become a part of the real story. There are clues buried in most of the characters’ roles that readers often breeze through as minor details of daily life, then realize some time downstream that they are important pieces of the story. 





Meet the Author


Jack Woodville London studied the craft of fiction at the Academy of Fiction, St. Céré, France and at Oxford University. He was the first Author of the Year of the Military Writers Society of America. His French Letters novels are widely praised for their portrayal of America in the 1940s, both at home and in the Second World War, and as Americans evolved from the experience of that war into the consumer society of the baby boom generation. Children of a Good War is the third book in that series. The first book, Virginia’s War, was a Finalist for Best Novel of the South and the Dear Author ‘Novel with a Romantic Element’ contest. The second volume, Engaged in War, won the silver medal for general fiction at the London Book Festival, among other awards. His craft book, A Novel Approach, a short and light-hearted work on the conventions of writing, is designed to help writers who are setting out on the path to write their first book. A Novel Approach won the E-Lit Gold Medal for non-fiction in 2015. Jack also is the author of several published articles on the craft of writing and on early 20th-century history. His work in progress is Shades of the Deep Blue Sea, a mystery-adventure novel about two sailors and a girl, set on a Pacific island World War II. Jack lives in Austin, Texas. 


Connect with the author via Facebook, his Website,  or YouTube.



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French Letters: Children of a Good War


Book Spotlight: SAVING EACH OTHER by Stacy Mitchell

Saving Each Other (Saving Series, Book 1) by Stacy Mitchell 
ISBN: 9781974591718 (paperback)
ASIN: B07CLDKKQG (Kindle edition)
Publication Date: May 15, 2018 (re-release date)


Two hearts, two souls. Devastated by loss, united through destiny. 

The rules: Communicate only through text messages and never reveal our real names or other personal details.

My name is Ean Montgomery. After the drunk-driving accident that killed my wife, son, and unborn daughter, I was forced to see a grief counselor. In an unconventional move, she gave me a private cell phone and the first initial of the name of a woman who had been widowed by the same accident. I had no intention of ever texting her but with all hope and the will to live gone, I found myself quickly slipping down the rabbit hole. Desperate, lonely, and unbelievably sad, I reached out to her and she became my everything.

Everything is excruciating! Everything is broken!

My name is Dani Adams. I was married to my college sweetheart, the love of my life. Together we were raising our four-year-old daughter and running a successful business. Then the accident happened and life as I knew it ended in the blink of an eye. I didn’t want to answer his text but I was barely hanging on by a thread and he was in tremendous pain, so I replied. And once again, my world was forever changed.

I can’t lose you, I won’t survive…

Over the course of a year, through texting alone, we bond. Friendship blossoms into something deeper. We were never supposed to meet, but fate had other plans, and into this world of loss and despair, something amazing began to grow… But can the passion we’ve found sustain itself with the deep, soul-twisting pain that never seems to fade?   



AUTHOR FAQ


Where did you grow up/live now?  I was born and raised in Los Angeles,  moved to the South Bay when I met my husband, and then relocated to the  Conejo Valley when my oldest son, Jason, started middle school.  

Do you have kids and/or pets?  I have two sons. Jason graduated from Rutgers, and stayed there, while my youngest, Brian, is about to start design school. I’ve never owned a cat but may get one. I lost my Goldendoodle, Norman, last year, and my labradoodle, Maddie, is lonely. Look for my tribute to Norman in the back of my book.  


Who are some of your favorite authors?  My son Brian is gay and I wanted to be there for him, to guide him. So I turned to gay romance novels. I’m now completely addicted to them. People who live in the LGBTQ+ community have much higher hurdles they have to scale, so the love they share is much deeper than straight couples. Most of the time they’re better than mainstream books. NR  Walker is my favorite M/M author. I also love Riley Hart, Lucy Lennox, Alexa Land, and Pandora Pine to name a few. When I read “straight” romance novels, I tend to lean toward Contemporary and romantic comedy. My favorite M/F author is Sandi Lynn. Other one-click authors are Adrianna Locke, Corinne Michaels, BN Toler, and Kristen Callahan.  

What do you like to do when you are not writing? When I’m not writing, I’m reading. I  could spend the day writing, and still, want to read. My goal with  Goodreads is 200 books. And, when I’m not reading, I can be found being creative in other ways. Brian designs fashion, and I love sewing with him. I also love designing jewelry, scrapbooking, and making gift baskets. Look for some of the fun giveaways, coming in the near future, many of them will be handmade.  


What are some things unique to your books?  Aside from adding details that make it seem like you’re watching a movie, I love quotes, or as my husband calls them, Squotes. It’s something you’ll see throughout my book. You also don’t find many books on the market where the main characters share chapters. Originally, I had five, but, over time, I narrowed it down to two. In the scene where Ean quotes Dani, mimicking her slurring her words, I actually slurred into my phone and let autocorrect do its thing. Also, in my second book, Josh talks with his mouth full. I shoved a bunch of crackers in my mouth and repeated his words. It was both messy, and effective.  


Where/When do you best like to write?  I have a small deck off my bedroom. I bought an oversized chair from Costco, and spend my days writing with my laptop on a polka dot, pillowed LapDesk. I’m a night-owl and find I write the best when the moon’s miling in the night sky.


What do you think makes a good story?  I’m a very visual person, I was an interior decorator in my last life, so I love books with a ton of imagery. I also love books with real places in them. It’s so much fun to stumble across one when I’m reading, and I always Google and bookmark them. It’s also why I only include real places in my books.  


When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Or what first inspired you to write?  Let’s start with the first question. Until three years ago,  I  never read a book that I wasn’t required to read. Eleven years ago, my son Brian went away to summer camp. My husband and I decided to take advantage of our time off, hopped in my car and took a road trip up the West coast, from California to Washington. We were in Oregon, nine hours away, when the call came in that  Brian had had a seizure. It was the hardest drive of my life. Thankfully, we got in touch with my mother, so I knew he wasn’t alone. When I got there, I was a  basket-case, and that’s where the double-edged sword of having my mother there came into play. She handed me a little blue pill, to calm me. She then gave me a  few more. She also gave me the name of a “dirty” doctor and told me what to say.  The little blue pill was Xanax. By the time I ended my addiction, which was eight years later, I was, not only taking twelve to fourteen milligrams a day, I was also hooked on over a dozen prescription drugs. In 2014, I traveled to Ireland and ran out of most of them. The withdrawal was so bad, I spent the entire time there in the hotel room. When I got home, I was in the doctor’s office bright and early the very next day. Six months later, I was back in the same boat. The only difference was, this time I was still in California. That was when I said, “Enough is enough,” and flushed every other pill I had. In hindsight, it was completely the wrong way to quit. Three years later, I still feel the effects, especially when I’m stressed. So this brings me to the second question. Dani and Ean inspired me to write. Six months after I stopped the pills, I was in bed in that space between consciousness and subconsciousness when Dani and Ean came to me. The best way I can describe it is…like watching a movie. I felt their pain with such intensity it took my breath away. I got up, opened notes on my iPhone, since I didn’t own a laptop, and my thumbs got to work.  


What are some of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?  Keep your ears open and your mouth closed. Ideas can come from anywhere. And it really does take a village. I originally published my book August of last year. When the reviews came in, I not only read them, I got in touch with the people who wrote them. Best. Move. Ever! I got great advice and made a ton of new friends. It’s because of them that I re-opened Saving Each Other and spent the last four months revising it. Look for their names on the acknowledgment page. And, don’t even get me started on the amazing women who helped me make my book what it is today, Stacey Blake, Judy Zweifel, Francine LaSala, and Sara Kocek.  


When you are struggling to write/have writer’s block, what are some ways that help you find your creative muse again?  Writer’s block isn’t an issue for me. Saving Each Other is the first in a series of five books. I wrote my second book, Saving Them, a month after my first, and I also wrote it in a month. The last three in the series, Saving Ourselves, Saving Christmas, and Saving  Maybe, are partially written and completely mapped out. Going back to “ideas can come from anywhere,” I was in San Francisco last year and met an amazing man,  who sadly was homeless. While talking to him, a sequel series, The Finding Series, played out in my mind. It’s all their kids. Even though I haven’t experienced “Writer’s Block,” I have times when I’m uninspired. My words come from my characters, their voices roll through me. So, for the times I can’t hear them, I found that stepping back usually does the trick. By the time I start writing again, the words are much easier to find. Brian helps too. He’s my official “name” man. Other than the main characters, he named everyone. Talking it out helps too. I bounce ideas off my best friend, Leslie, and after a half an hour, I’m good to go.  

What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?  You won’t see it,  because I’m surrounded by such amazing women, but I suck at grammar! Like legitimately suck!    


What is the one book no writer should be without?  One word…Thesaurus!



Meet the author



Stacy Mitchell was born and raised in Los Angeles and lived in the South Bay for 20 years before moving to the Conejo Valley. She lives with her husband of 29 years and is the mom of two grown sons. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading, hiking in the Santa Monica mountains or enjoying a glass of cabernet.





Connect with Stacy
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/savingeachother/ 
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sixmitchells/saving-each-other/ 



Giveaway

Enter to win a print copy of Saving Each Other by Stacy Mitchell courtesy of PR By the Book. This giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada only, anyone not residing in these two countries will be disqualified. This giveaway will run from 12:01 AM ET on Thursday, May 17, 2018, through 11:59 PM ET on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. The winner will be announced by 10:00 AM ET on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. All entrants must use the Rafflecopter form below.


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Saving Each Other


Saving Each Other



Saving Each Other

Q&A with Jane Marlow, author of HOW DID I GET HERE?

How Did I Get Here? by Jane Marlow 
ISBN: 9781632991645 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781632991652 (ebook)
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: River Grove Books


In the 1800s, two events altered the course of Russia’s future— the emancipation of the serfs and the Crimean War. Author Jane Marlow takes readers back to this significant time in Russian history, journeying  800 miles south of Moscow to the frontlines of the Crimean War, in her second novel, How Did I Get Here? 

Andrey Rozhdestvensky enters his final year of medical studies in 1854 with an empty belly, empty pockets, and secondhand clothes held together by wishful thinking. When Russia blunders into the misbegotten Crimean War,  Tsar Nicholas recruits medical students to the front. Andrey grabs at what he believes to be free passage out of his vapid life—a portal to a new identity.  

Volunteering as a surgeon for the Russian army, Andrey travels to the frontlines in Sevastopol and Simferopol on Russia’s Crimean Peninsula,  where he discovers the atrocities of war, and fights to keep death and disease—scurvy, typhoid, typhus, cholera, gangrene and frostbite— from decimating the troops. As the war progresses, Andrey fears his mind is becoming unhinged as he witnesses the most senseless disregard for human life imaginable.  

But even after the ink dries on the peace treaty, the madness of the war doesn’t end for Andrey. He scours city and countryside in search of a place where his soul can heal. Emotionally hamstrung, can he learn to trust the woman who longs to walk beside him on his journey?  


Author Q & A



What inspired you to write How Did I Get Here?

While I was conducting research for the first novel in the Petrovo series, Who Is to Blame, I kept bumping into this thing called the Crimean War. Eventually, I realized it simply had to be the backdrop of my next novel for two reasons. First, the Crimean War was the guinea pig for a myriad of innovations that forever changed the face of warfare. The second factor that grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go was the War’s magnitude as a gruesomely ugly historical reality.  Not only was the carnage on the battlefield hideous, but an even greater number of fatalities were attributable to disease, malnutrition, winter exposure, and lack of competent leadership. Not until World War I would more people die as victims of war.  


What led to your fascination with Russia in the 1800s?

I trace my interest back to 6th grade when mother dragged me kicking and screaming to a professional stage performance of Fiddler on the Roof. But as my feet began tapping with the music, I experienced the proverbial smack-to-the-forehead. I was just at the right age to gain an inkling of understanding about prejudice, suppression, rural culture, and the deep-seated role of religion. 


You researched the book thoroughly. Did you know when you started how extensive your research would become?

Research turned out to be a little more problematic than I expected. Although I located a modest number of books and articles, the Crimean War doesn’t play a prominent role in US history, and I was left with many uncertainties. I attempted to locate a graduate student in the US who would proofread my manuscript for historical accuracy but found no takers. I ended up consulting with the Crimean War Research Society in the U.K. I’m particularly grateful for their expertise for the chapter that took place at the Malakov bastion.


What is one of your favorite stories or details about life in 19th century Russia?

While conducting research, I was taken aback by the fact that prostitution was a regulated business in Russia during the 1800s. For example, in order to control syphilis and other venereal diseases, prostitutes were required to be examined periodically. Their customers, however, had no such obligation. The policy seems akin to placing a dam half-way across the river, doesn’t it? My third book in the Petrovo series offers readers an insider’s view of a Russian brothel.


Where did you begin your research and where did it lead you? Any advice for other authors writing historical fiction?

My research began way back in the late 1980s. Because the Internet wasn’t an option in those days, I scoured the library for books and articles. Thank goodness for the Interlibrary Loan program! I also took a sightseeing trip to Russia which included spending time in the rural farmland that serves as the setting for my fictional village of Petrovo. Nowadays, I’d urge any historical fiction writer to befriend their local librarians. They know the ins and outs of the various online databases.



What was it like writing from the perspective of a male character? Any challenges?

Such a daunting undertaking for a senior-citizen woman to plunge herself into the mindset of a young, virile male! One tool I used was to read and reread Jonathan Tropper’s novels. His flawed, lustful protagonists crack me up!


What distinguishes How Did I Get Here? from other narratives about the Crimean War?

American authors have produced very little in the way of fiction set in the Crimean War; therefore, it’s a wide-open canvas. Second, my novel doesn’t end with the war. It shows a veteran’s struggle with the then unnamed consequence of war, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Third, as a veterinarian, I felt compelled to demonstrate the agony war inflicts on animals. My eyes tear up every time I read my own passage in which the protagonist has to kill a horse that was injured in battle.


As a writer, how do you weave fact and fiction into a novel?

Conceptually, it’s easy if your mind is prone to flights of fancy. However, meticulous research and double-checking is required if the characters are well-known persons or if the setting is a well-documented event.  

This particular book presented an additional challenge. During the 1800s, Russia used what is known as the Old Style calendar (O.S.), which is 12 days behind the Western New Style (N.S.) calendar. Hence, historical Russian events are often dated along the lines of “Oct 24 O.S. (Nov 5 N.S.).”

Imagine being an author (i.e., me) doing research on a war in which one of the military forces used Old Style while the opponents used New Style. Additionally, some authors mark their books, articles, and online resources with either N.S. or O.S., but other authors don’t deem it necessary to specify which calendar style they use. Then try to coordinate actual events (some N.S., some O.S.) into a fictional narrative in which timing was crucial to the story. My sanity underwent a notable decline in during this period of writing.


Were there any unexpected obstacles you encountered when you began writing How Did I Get Here?

The same aspect that I hope will attract readers—a story about a little known but ghastly war—was also a hurdle—finding detailed depictions from the Russians’ point of view.


What do you hope your readers will get out of the novel?

My desire is that readers find several take-home messages:

First, the old adage, “Beauty is only skin deep.”  

Second, malevolence and injustice can mold a child, but fortitude plus a helping hand can remake the man.  

Third, every person is obligated to give back to society. And not just according to what he received from it, but at a higher level. 

Fourth, a better understanding of the demons of war as manifested in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Who’s a character from the book you wish you could meet?

I relish 10-year-old Platon’s inquisitiveness, boundless energy, and joie de vivre. In fact, I’d adopt him if I could. But since I can’t, I’m entertaining the possibility of writing a book with him as the protagonist so I can watch him mature into a man.


What was your favorite novel growing up?

By the time I reached junior high, I was ready to put the Nancy Drew series behind me. Being a typical girlie-girl, I was forever enamored by the first adult, mainstream novel I read, Gone with the Wind


What authors/books do you draw inspiration from?

If only I could be as talented a writer as Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Russo! During a seminar on writing fiction, the instructor told us that taking pen in hand and writing and re-writing good passages from favorite books would promote brain neuron connections that would improve our own writing. I must have copied the same passage from Nobody’s Fool at least 200 times!


Can we expect more books in the Petrovo series?

You bet! The third novel in the series will offer an insider’s view of the seamier side of 1870s Moscow.


Where can readers find your books and learn more about you?

Both novels are available in paper, Kindle, and Audible formats on Amazon. If your local bookstore doesn’t stock the book, request that it be ordered.


For more about me as an author, plus a few chuckles from Slavic Slapstick, as well as jaw-dropping tidbits about historic Russia, visit my blog at www.janemarlowbooks.com, and subscribe to my free, no sales gimmicks, no obligation e-newsletter with quarterly in-box delivery.



Watch the book trailer




Meet the author

Jane Marlow was 11 years old when her mother hauled her to a stage performance of Fiddler on the Roof—a night that began her lifelong fascination with the grayness and grandeur of 19th century Russia. After a 30-year career as a veterinarian, Jane began writing full-time. She spent years researching 1800s  Russia, the setting for her first two novels, Who Is to Blame? and How Did I Get  Here?, the first and second books in the Petrovo series. Jane holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Texas A&M University and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Illinois. A longtime resident of the Austin, Texas area, she now lives in Bozeman, Montana.


Follow the author:  https://www.facebook.com/JaneMarlowBooks


Giveaway

Enter to win a print copy of How Did I Get Here? by Jane Marlow courtesy of PR By the Book. This giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada only, any entrants not residing in these two countries will be disqualified. This giveaway will run from 12:01 AM ET on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, through 11:59 PM ET on Sunday, May 13, 2018. The winner will be announced by 10:00 AM ET on Monday, May 14, 2018. All entrants must use the Rafflecopter form below.


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How Did I Get Here?


How Did I Get Here?

Book Showcase: THE RIVER AT NIGHT by Erica Ferencik

The River at Night by Erica Ferencik 
ISBN: 9781501143199 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781501143212 (ebook)
ASIN: B01CO345G0 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press 

A high-stakes drama set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, charting the journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident, The River at Night is a nonstop and unforgettable thriller by a stunning new voice in fiction.

Winifred Allen needs a vacation.

Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.

What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare: A freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test. To survive, Wini must reach beyond the world she knows to harness an inner strength she never knew she possessed.

With intimately observed characters, visceral prose, and pacing as ruthless as the river itself, The River at Night is a dark exploration of creatures—both friend and foe—that you won’t soon forget.



Read an excerpt:

1

Early one morning in late March, Pia forced my hand.

A slapping spring wind ushered me through the heavy doors of the YMCA lobby as the minute hand of the yellowing 1950s-era clock over the check-in desk snapped to 7:09. Head down and on task to be in my preferred lane by precisely 7:15, I rushed along the glass corridor next to the pool. The chemical stink leaked from the ancient windows, as did the muffled shrieks of children and the lifeguard’s whistle. I felt cosseted by the shabby walls, by my self-righteous routine, by the fact that I’d ousted myself from my warm bed to face another tedious day head-on. Small victories.

I’d just squeezed myself into my old-lady swimsuit when the phone in my bag began to bleat. I dug it out. The screen pulsed with the image of Pia Zanderlee ski-racing down a double black diamond slope somewhere in Banff.

My choices? Answer it now or play phone tag for another week. Pia was that friend you love with a twinge of resentment. The sparkly one who never has time for you unless it’s on her schedule, but you like her too much to flush her down the friendship toilet.

“Wow, a phone call—from you!” I said as I mercilessly assessed my middle-aged pudge in the greasy mirror. “To what do I owe the honor?”

Of course I knew the reason. Five unanswered texts.

Pia laughed. “Hey, Win, listen. We need to make our reservations. Like, by tomorrow.”

I fished around in my swim bag for my goggles. “Yeah, I haven’t—”

“I get it. Nature’s not your thing, but you’re going to love it once you’re out there. Rachel and Sandra are chomping at the bit to go, but they have to make their travel plans. We all do.”

With a shudder, I recalled my frantic Google search the night before for Winnegosset River Rafting, Maine.

No results.

“Just wondering why this place doesn’t have some kind of website. I mean, is it legit?” I asked, my voice coming out all high and tinny. Already I was ashamed of my wussiness. “I’d hate to get all the way up there and find out this is some sort of shady operation—”

I could feel her roll her eyes. “Wini, just because some place or something or someone doesn’t have a website doesn’t mean they don’t exist.” She sounded windblown, breathless. I pictured her power walking through her Cambridge neighborhood, wrist weights flashing neon. “It’s a big old world out there. One of the reasons this place is so awesome is because no one knows about it yet, so it’s not booked solid before the snow’s even melted. That’s why there’s space for the weekend we all want, get it? This year, it’s the world’s best-kept secret—next year, forget it!”

“I don’t know, Pia . . .” I glanced at the time: 7:14.

She laughed, softening to me now. “Look, the guy who runs the white-water tours is a good friend of my dad—he’s my dad’s friend’s son, I mean, so it’s cool.”

“Can’t believe Rachel would want to—”

“Are you crazy? She’s dying to go. And Sandra? Please. She’d get on a plane right now if she could.”

With a wave of affection I pictured my last Skype with Sandra: kids running around screaming in the background, papers to correct stacked next to her. When I brought up the trip, she’d groaned, Hell, yes, I’m game for anything—just get me out of Dodge!

“Wini, listen up: Next year—I promise, we’ll go to a beach somewhere. Cancún, Key West, you choose. Do nothing and just bake.

“Look, Pia, I’m at the pool and I’m going to lose my lane—”

“Okay. Swim. Then call me.”

I tucked my flyaway dirty-blond bob—the compromise cut for all hopelessly shitty hair—under my bathing cap, then hustled my stuff into a locker and slammed it shut. Do nothing and just bake. Did she really think that was all I was interested in? Who was the one who rented the bike the last time we went to the Cape? Just me, as I recalled, while all of them sat around the rental pouring more and more tequila into the blender each day. And my God—we were all pushing forty—shouldn’t awesome and cool be in the rearview mirror by now?

I crossed the slimy tiles of the dressing room and pushed open the swinging doors to the pool. The air hit me, muggy and warm, dense with chlorine that barely masked an underwhiff of urine and sweat. Children laughed and punched at the blue water in the shallow end as I padded over to my favorite lane, which was . . .occupied.

It was 7:16 and frog man had beat me to it. Fuck.

For close to a year, this nonagenarian ear, nose, and throat doctor and I had been locked in a mostly silent daily battle over the best lane—far left-hand side, under the skylights—from 7:15 to 8:00 each weekday morning. Usually I was the victor, something about which I’d felt ridiculous glee. We’d only ever exchanged the briefest of greetings; both of us getting to the Y a notch earlier each day. I imagined we both craved this mindless exercise, thoughts freed by the calming boredom of swimming and near weightlessness.

But today I’d lost the battle. I plopped down on a hard plastic seat, pouting inside but feigning serenity as I watched him slap through his slow-motion crawl. He appeared to lose steam near the end of a lap, then climbed the ladder out of the pool as only a ninety-year-old can: with careful deliberation in every step. As I watched the water drip off his flat ass and down his pencil legs, I realized that he was making his way to me, or rather to a stack of towels next to me, and in a few seconds I’d pretty much have to talk to him. He uncorked his goggles with a soft sucking sound. I noticed his eyes seemed a bit wearier than usual, even for a man his age who had just worked his daily laps.

“How are you?” I shifted in my seat, conscious of my bathing cap squeezing my head and distorting my face as I stole the odd glance at the deliciously empty lane.

“I’m well, thank you. Though very sad today.”

I studied him more closely now, caught off guard by his intimate tone. “Why?”

Though his expression was grim, I wasn’t prepared for what he said.

“I just lost my daughter to cancer.”

“I’m sorry,” I choked out. I felt socked in the soft fleshy parts; smacked off the rails of my deeply grooved routine and whipped around to face something I didn’t want to see.

He took a towel and poked at his ears with it. A gold cross hung from a glimmering chain around his thin neck, the skin white and rubbery looking. “It was a long struggle. Part of me is glad it’s over.” He squinted at me as if seeing me for the first time. “She was about your age,” he added, turning to walk away before I could utter a word of comfort. I watched him travel in his flap step the length of the pool to the men’s lockers, his head held down so low I could barely see the top of it.

My hands trembled as I gripped the steel ladder and made my way down into the antiseptic blue. I pushed off. Eyes shut tight and heart pumping, I watched the words She was about your age hover in my brain until the letters dissolved into nothingness. The horror of his offhand observation numbed me as I turned and floated on my back, breathing heavily in the oppressive air. As I slogged joylessly through my laps, I thought of my own father rolling his eyes when I said I was afraid of sleepaway camp, of third grade, of walking on grass barefoot “because of worms.” As cold as he could be to my brother and me, not a thing on earth seemed to frighten him.

I had barely toweled myself off when my phone lit up with a text from Pia. A question mark, that was it. Followed by three more. Methodically I removed my work clothes from my locker, arranging them neatly on the bench behind me. I pulled off my bathing cap, sat down, and picked up the phone.

My thumbs hovered over the keys as I shivered in the over-heated locker room. I took a deep breath—shampoo, rubber, mold, a sting of disinfectant—and slowly let it out, a sharp pain lodging in my gut. I couldn’t tell which was worse, the fear of being left behind by my friends as they dashed away on some überbonding, unforgettable adventure, or the inevitable self-loathing if I stayed behind like some gutless wimp—safe, always safe—half-fucking-dead with safety. Why couldn’t I just say yes to a camping trip with three of my best friends? What was I so afraid of?

Pool water dripped from my hair, beading on the phone as I commanded myself to text something. Anything.

I watched my fingers as they typed, Okay, I’m in, and pressedsend.

Copyright © Erica Ferencik 2017. 
Excerpt printed with permission of the publisher.




Meet the author:

Photo by Kate Hannon


Erica Ferencik is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Boston University. Her work has appeared in Salon and The Boston Globe, as well as on National Public Radio. 

Find out more on her website EricaFerencik.com and follow her on Twitter @EricaFerencik.





Author Q&A:

1) What intrigued you about writing about female friendship?

Everything intrigues me about female friendship. Its very intensity can turn things inside out very quickly.

I especially love stories of female friendship gone wrong, such as in the 1992 film, Single White Female.

The stakes in female friendship are just as high or higher than in romantic ones. We trust our women friends with so much intimate knowledge – why is that?

Our hairdressers know for sure…isn’t that the truth. Why do I still share things with my women friends that I don’t with my husband of twenty-two years? (Sorry, honey ☺)

The stakes are even higher for long term friendships. It’s such a delicate balance to keep these relationships alive, as well as intensely difficult to determine when or whether it may be time to end them, or to come to grips with the fact that – since everything changes – these cherished friendships must change as well.

2) The ending of this book leaves readers feeling unsettled. How did you come up with the ending? Did it change as you went through the writing process?

I’m glad to hear it makes readers feel unsettled!

I had maybe three different endings over time. I didn’t want to sew it up too neatly, but there had to be some ominous things lurking, as well as some light at the end of the tunnel. Even though it’s a pretty wild tale, it’s plausible as well, which is one reason I think it’s so scary.

In terms of how I came up with the ending – without giving it away – I wanted to play with aspects of bringing the “wild” world back into so-called civilization.

One hard part about writing novels – and there are lots of hard parts! – is knowing when you are done. Where does a story really end? Why there and not someplace else? What is enough for the reader, leaving them satisfied but perhaps wondering a bit, keeping them in the spell of your story – but not in a frustrating way – and what is just too much sewing up or sweeping up for them? It can be a fine line, a really delicate balance.

3) What part was the most fun for you to write?

Let me say it this way: writing is like childbirth: in the end, you fall so in love with your baby you forget all the pain that came before…

But honestly, I had a blast with the whole thing, from first word to last.

I especially loved writing about white water rafting. For me, it’s this combination of exhilarating and terrifying, like a roller coaster only worse because it’s nature, and (most of us) know better than to mess with that. For me, the moment-to-moment experience of white water rafting can tip from ecstatic joy to oh-my-God I’m going to die.

I loved doing the research, both online and especially in person, interviewing rafting guides and all the off-the-gridders I was fortunate enough to interview.

4) Do you have a favorite character or one that you identify with the most?

There is the old (writing) saw that every character we create comes from some aspect of ourselves, and I think there’s a lot to that.

I think I am one-part Pia – because I’m quite physical and love adventure and used to be very idealistic and clueless like her – now I’m just clueless – and one part Wini, because I’m full of terror and shame. But then I like to think I have a tough Rachel side as well as a sweet Sandra side. Basically, I’m nuts.






Enter to win one print copy of The River at Night by Erica Ferencik courtesy of Wunderkind-PR. This giveaway ends at 11:59 PM ET on 1/18/2017. The winner will be announced on 1/19/2017. This giveaway is limited to residents of the United States (sorry). Any entrant not a resident of the US will be disqualified and a new winner chosen at random. The book will be sent to the winner via Wunderkind-PR. Enter using the form below.


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The River at Night

 The River at Night

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Author Q&A: Dean Economos and Alyssa Machinis – A NORTH SHORE STORY

A North Shore Story by Dean Economos and Alyssa Machinis
ISBN: 9780996978002 (ebook)
ASIN: B017N3U6UK (Kindle version)
Publication Date: January 19, 2016


For the teenagers of Chicago’s North Shore, everyone has something to hide.

In a daring attempt to impress the elusive Sophia, Michael makes the biggest decision of his life, stealing over a hundred thousand dollars from St. Theodore Community Church.

That same night, Nichole’s insecurities are finally forgotten with a drug she soon won’t be able to control.

When Michael makes his getaway, he sees his friend Joseph cheat on his girlfriend with the priest’s daughter and knock over a candle that sets the church ablaze.

As the consequences of that night unfold, Joseph is blamed for the fire and the missing money. Can the teenagers of the North Shore confess their vices to help their friend? Or will their greed, infidelity, and jealousy change all their lives forever?



   
Q&A with the authors:

Dean Economos

Give us some background, what did you do before writing this book?

I went to college at Loyola University Chicago and received my undergrad in Biology and a minor in Biostatistics. I then went on to receive my M.B.A. from Loyola’s Quinlan School of Business with a concentration in Entrepreneurship.


What were the events that inspired the book?

The book was inspired by different experiences growing up. Those key events and experiences were then intertwined with the more current events of our church’s media coverage.


Some parts of your book are things you actually experienced, they must have stuck with you for you to want to write about them years later. Did you always know you wanted to tell these stories?

I kind of had a premonition growing up that these events would be shared. My friends and I would always say we should’ve had a show like Laguna Beach or something of that nature. So, in a way, I did think these stories would be told in one way or another, I just didn’t think I’d be the one to tell them.


Like other stories of turmoil, we are drawn to A North Shore Story because we can relate to the characters. Can you elaborate on what is relatable about the internal struggles of the book’s characters?

What makes these characters extremely relatable to readers are the confidence and relationship problems each one of them goes through, whether it be friendship or romantic. Some characters go through other internal struggles such as underage drinking, drug use, and sexual peer pressure. I think that everyone at one time or another has been in one of these circumstances.


What was your favorite part of writing this book?

Since this was my first book, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I was supposed to have a template or well-thought out plan before writing anything. Instead, I jumped into it head-first and developed the story as I wrote. I feel that doing it this way allowed myself to be more creative and not stick to a “script” per se. I was even surprised at what I was able to create.


What inspired you to write this story so many years later?

What originally got my gears turning was the media’s coverage of our former priest and his embezzlement of church funds. I then started to think about our time growing up at our church and the events that our friends and I experienced. After pinpointing key events, I began formulating the plotline which now makes up A North Shore Story.


You know some of these characters in your waking life. Who was the most exciting to write? How have they changed because of what happened?

The most exciting character to write about was definitely Kate. Kate, and the girl who she’s based off of, has a very exciting personality and a distinct attitude. When our friend read the story, she loved how she was portrayed in the storyline. I think that she, along with the rest of our friends, have changed in that we’ve learned how to tackle the problems that Kate and the rest of the group are dealing with right now.


Tell us more about your personal part in the stories. Are you in the book? How did you change your story for the fiction rendition?

I am in the book. With my character, and with all the characters, I left elements of real life in the story and in the personality, but overall the fundamental qualities of each character are unique from their real life counterparts.


What strengths did you and Alyssa bring to the table to help one another write the book?

I felt more connected to writing the actual story. I was able to figure out and connect the different subplots of the book, while Alyssa is very familiar with novels and creative writing. With those skills, she helped make the book come alive.


Do you anticipate a sequel?

I’ve thrown ideas around in my head and I’ve talked about it with Alyssa. We’re open to it but haven’t started writing anything yet.



Alyssa Machinis

Tell us about your background, what have you done since the events that occurred that inspired A North Shore Story?

Well, I went to college at the University of Illinois and graduated with a degree in Advertising and minors in both Business and Communications. Now I work at an advertising-technology company as a Digital Strategist.


Is your side of the story depicted in the book? If so, did you change the reality for the fiction version?

My side of the story is depicted in the book, but it’s pretty separated from reality. The biggest and only consistency between my character and I are our driven personalities.


What was the most difficult part about writing this book?

The most difficult part of writing the book was helping it come alive. The content was there, and the story was strong, but fostering the story from a passive standpoint into an active point of view was a challenge.

What do you think the most important lesson from the book is?

The most important lesson from the book is to be confident in who you are. Don’t worry about what other people think because the fear of judgment can turn you into a person you don’t want to be.


What part of this story do you think appeals to young adult readers most?

I think what appeals to young adults about A North Shore Story are the pop culture references mixed with struggles that I think a majority of teens have experienced or encountered at some point in their lives.


What clique or group you were in while in high school? Can you tell us an event that happened to you and your friends that almost made it into A North Shore Story but isn’t included?

I was definitely in the choir group throughout high school. There weren’t many events that didn’t make it into A North Shore Story, but we almost wrote in a choir sub-plot. However, we switched it to fashion as the story developed.


What were some of your favorite books in high school, when the story takes place?

I loved the Harry Potter series and the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben. He writes excellent mystery novels, and J.K. Rowling is a genius.

Who is your favorite author? What were a few books that inspired your writing?

I don’t necessarily have a favorite author (I read a lot). However, I do think that J.K. Rowling’s writing style was very influential on my own. It’s also comforting to know that she had humble beginnings just like Dean and I have now.


Do you think you’ll write another book?

Like Dean mentioned, we’ve talked about it a little bit. However, as of now we have not made any strides toward writing another book.



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A North Shore Story

Q&A with Hilary Scharper, author of PERDITA

The Book Diva’s Reads is pleased to host a visit by Hilary Scharper, author of Perdita. Ms. Scharper will be answering a few questions about the novel Perdita.






Author Hilary Scharper at Georgian Bay.
What is the role of mythology in the novel “Perdita”?
For many in North America—especially those trying to connect with nature—we often think that we have to look outside of our “western” traditions for inspiration. What I decided was to do was to look inside and found not only the gothic tradition, but also ancient Greek mythology as a deeply fascinating wellspring for thinking about nature in new ways.

That’s why I creatively developed Perdita as a mythological figure. Perdita means the lost one; and as a character in my story, not only is Perdita the lost child, but her story is also lost. Somehow Perdita’s role in Greek mythology has dropped out of the western canon.

As Perdita’s story is rediscovered and reclaimed, there is a recalling of a deep love of nature (biophilia), a love that has always been there deep in us (westerners) but has been forgotten in our mainstream traditions. Therefore Perdita’s story—as a recovered story—still has something to say to contemporary readers.

For more on mythology and “Perdita,” visit http://perditanovel.com/mythology-and-perdita/

The setting for the novel comes from your time as an assistant lighthouse-keeper on Georgian Bay. How did you find living in such a remote location?
I loved it!

 

When we first arrived at the lighthouse there was no internet (in other words, cell phones were useless). In addition, the phone (a landline) frequently took “naps.” We occasionally lost power and we often had nightly visits from various critters.  Also there was no TV and the only visual entertainment was the stars, the Bay and the sky—and their shifting colors and moods.

 

It was particularly refreshing not to be surrounded by advertisements: billboards, computer ads, jingles, etc.

 

We found that we had a different mindscape as a result—and dreamed different dreams while there….


:Blog Tours Sourcebooks:Extra Photos etc:Moon 1 .JPG 

A full moon at Cabot Head lighthouse. (Photo taken by author)

What is your writing routine like? How did you get the idea for your characters?

Walking and listening.
 I would take long walks along the rocky shores of Georgian Bay, listening to the waves and the wind and sounds of the birds in this wilderness area. Sometimes I would sit in at a special spot and just gaze out at the Bay, letting the story take shape in my mind. Bits and pieces of it came at different times. One time, I was in the water taking swim, reflecting on a particular scene in the novel and I felt the story begin to move through me, as the waves were shaping the novel. It was a physical feeling—as if the writing wasn’t all going on in my head but in conversation with Georgian Bay.

Meet the author:
Hilary Scharper, who lives in Toronto, spent a decade as a lighthouse keeper on the Bruce Peninsula with her husband. She also is the author of a story collection, Dream Dresses, and God and Caesar at the Rio Grande (University of Minnesota Press) which won the Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award. She received her Ph.D. from Yale and is currently Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Toronto.





About the book

Perdita by Hilary Scharper
ISBN: 9781492602446 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781492602453 (ebook)
ASIN: B00M1UM7N0 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark


Marged Brice is 134 years old.

She’d be ready to go, if it wasn’t for Perdita . . .

The Georgian Bay lighthouse’s single eye keeps watch over storm and calm, and Marged grew up in its shadow, learning the language of the wind and the trees. There’s blustery beauty there, where sea and sky incite each other to mischief… or worse…

Garth Hellyer of the Longevity Project doesn’t believe Marged was a girl coming of age in the 1890s, but reading her diaries in the same wild and unpredictable location where she wrote them might be enough to cast doubt on his common sense.

Everyone knows about death.

It’s life that’s much more mysterious…


Read an Excerpt:
MARGED BRICE
Cape Prius—1897
July 3
Seven hours passed, and the waves were—Mr. Thompson said they were fifteen feet or more in front of the Lodge. The rain had not ceased, but the sky had turned an evil gray, and we heard thunder far off in the distance….
“The storm is moving fast,” said Mr. Thompson, and he shook his head glumly.
I began to pray fervently. It was but three o’clock in the afternoon, but the entire sky had turned a livid gray, and it seemed as if night had dropped upon us like a curtain falling. Now we could see lightning blaze across the horizon….
The rain came down in sheets, and the waves took on an even more ominous and angry aspect. My heart sank as I thought of the boats in that water.
Then—“There,” shouted Mr. Thompson, gesturing toward the eastern skyline.
And appearing suddenly from around the Point, we could see the outline of a large boat. Its foremast was rolling horribly—up and down, back and forth—and we could see, as it neared, that the first jib sheet was ripped to pieces. The mainsail was shredding rapidly in the wind, and the waves were pushing it toward the shore, where it would surely be smashed into pieces against the rocks. We saw the men lowering the lifeboats and then push off, desperately making for shore.
“Allan,” I cried. He had run out into the storm without warning toward the boats, and I leaped out after him.




The publisher is giving away three signed copies of Perdita. To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway ends February 7, 2015.
rel=”nofollow”>a Rafflecopter giveaway



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