Category Archives: Author Interview

Author Interview & Giveaway: Making It Home by Teddy Jones

MAKING IT HOME
By Teddy Jones
Publisher: MidTown Publishing
Pub Date: July 26, 2021
Series: Jackson’s Pond, Texas Series
Stand Alone: YES
Pages: 275
Categories: Family Fiction / Racism / Ku Klux Klan / Texas Women’s Fiction / Rural Fiction
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In this third novel in the Jackson’s Pond, Texas series, fifty-five-year-old Melanie Jackson Banks encounters racism, intolerance, and violence both in her family’s distant past and in current day Jackson’s Pond. She leads family and community efforts to create reconciliation for past wrongs and also to demonstrate strength and defiance in the face of vandalism, cross-burning, domestic violence, threats to Jackson Ranch’s operation, and kidnapping. In the midst of this stormy period, she finds allies in her mother’s long-time companion, Robert Stanley; her mother, Willa Jackson; her daughter Claire Havlicek; and many others.
Praise for Making It Home

“Making It Home could not be a more timely book… We live in an imperfect world, but it is still possible to think, imagine and make things better. The cast of characters in this strong family affirms this through their hope, decency, and tenacity!” —Eleanor Morse, author of Margreete’s Harbor

“Jones’ talent for creating indelible characters endures, as does her way with a compelling plot. … This is a timely page-turner.”  Robin Lippincott, author of Blue Territory: A Meditation on the Life and Art of Joan Mitchell

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Author Interview

Interview with Teddy Jones

 

What kind of writing do you do?

I write realist fiction, both novels and short stories. I do not confine myself to present day material but have never written about times earlier than the nineteenth century.

Has Texas influenced your writing in any way?

Yes. I respond deeply to places, not only the scenery and typical weather of a spot, but also the sights of life in that place, what’s present and what’s not. I also respond to the language of places and the idiom particular to people in those places. Because I have lived a large portion of my life in Texas, it’s the place (the mixture of the many places that Texas is) that I am drawn to have my characters respond to and reflect.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

I strive to create memorable characters, not through detailed description of their appearances, but by putting them in situations that affect them and then showing from their points of view their reactions and actions, dialogue, and silences. Readers’ comments suggest that this depth of character is a quality they appreciate in my writing.

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

I am fortunate to have writing as my full-time occupation. By that I mean that I have no paid job waiting for my attention. As a result, I either work on an existing project (short story or novel) each day or when I don’t have a defined project underway, I write “bits.” Those bits may be thoughts prompted by reflection on some reading or they might be pieces of conversations overheard, or descriptions of a situation or a character. Those bits end up in notebooks that I keep and return to when I choose a project to begin. I may find something there for the new project. Then I write straight ahead on the chosen project until I’ve told myself the story of that full story. After that comes revision after revision. Being a full-time writer means I have the time to indulge that process. And it means I have no excuse not to.

What was the hardest part of writing Making It Home?

The initial conflict in this story began in the past before the present-day characters were born. Learning of the racial tensions that created that early stain on the family’s history is now reflected in and worsened by present day bigotry and escalating violence that threatens the Jackson family and the town of Jackson’s Pond. I labored because I set myself the challenge of ‘getting it right.” I didn’t want to deal in stereotypes; the characters with the most detestable of behavior had to be real people, not stereotypes. In real life, I want people to be happy and live in harmony. So, for me, dwelling in the lives of characters in conflict is difficult, but necessary to telling the story well. And I had to live there throughout almost this entire novel.

Teddy Jones is the author of three published novels, Halfwide, Jackson’s Pond, Texas, and Well Tended, as well as a collection of short stories, Nowhere Near. Her short fiction received the Gold Medal First Prize in the Faulkner-Wisdom competition in 2015. Jackson’s Pond, Texas was a finalist for the 2014 Willa Award in contemporary fiction from Women Writing the West. Her as yet unpublished novel, Making It Home, was a finalist in the Faulkner-Wisdom competition in 2017 and A Good Family was named finalist in that contest in 2018.
Although her fiction tends to be set in West Texas, her characters’ lives embody issues not bounded by geography of any particular region. Families and loners; communities in flux; people struggling, others successful; some folks satisfied in solitude and others yearning for connection populate her work. And they all have in common that they are more human than otherwise.
Jones grew up in a small Texas town, Iowa Park. Earlier she worked as a nurse, a nurse educator, a nursing college administrator, and as a nurse practitioner in Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico. For the past twenty years, she and her husband have lived in the rural West Texas Panhandle where he farms and she writes.

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Character Interview & Giveaway: The Chinese Murder of Edward Watts by Shelton L. Williams


THE CHINESE MURDER
OF EDWARD WATTS
Covey Jencks Mystery, #3
By Shelton L. Williams


Publish Date: December 8th, 2020
Pages: 233 pages
Categories: Mystery / Humor

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Covey and JayJay travel to China and then return home to deal with shady characters, spies, gangsters, and other tough customers. In an exciting last act, they solve a murder most foul.
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Character Interview

Maggie Mae interviews JayJay Qualls from

THE CHINESE MURDER OF EDWARD WATTS

by Shelton L. Williams

Maggie: JayJay, you had lots of questions for me in The Chinese Murder of Edward Watts I am glad you’re allowing me to ask you some.

JayJay: Sure, but at the end, I have one more question for you. Deal?

Maggie: If I can answer, I will. Deal?

JayJay: Okay, fire away.

Maggie: Are you and Covey still sympatico? The FBI calls you the Love Birds, but you don’t ever seem to get jealous, and Covey calls you distant at one point in the book. Is there trouble in paradise?

JayJay: I don’t think of any relationship as paradise. I live in the moment and I am always ready to take care of myself. I have seen too many women fall into dependency on a man. That said, Covey and I very much a couple and I have made decisions to keep us a couple. Yes, we love each other.

Maggie: Can you tell us what decisions?

JayJay: Sure, Covey Jencks readers know that I did not move to Dallas or Ft. Worth to advance my acting career, and more than one old flame has tried to rekindle, especially now that I have got my own money. But I am stickin’ with Covey, at least for now.

Maggie: You like the detective business, don’t you?

JayJay: I do like it, but truth be told, I like solving mysteries with Covey. When we are working a case, we are equal partners. He includes me and listens to me. I push him to be bold and to think beyond the obvious. It’s pretty damned exciting. Besides, when he is working on oil and gas leases, you think he’s ever distant with me?

Maggie: That’s a good point. The books are more from his point of view and not yours even though you get your own chapters. After all, the series is called Covey Jencks Mysteries. Don’t you deserve your own book?

JayJay: My creative work occurs on the stage. I don’t need to sit alone at 6:00 a.m. trying to figure out what to say next before my real work starts. That sounds miserable. Maybe someday I’ll write my memoirs.

Maggie: You seemed to really be fascinated with Betty Williams and the Ghost of OHS story. Maybe you could write about that?

JayJay: Well, not long after the Chinese mystery ended, a book on the event called Washed in the Blood came out. Like many people out there, I have heard about the book but haven’t had time to read it. Maybe I will wait for the movie.

Maggie: What been your favorite adventure with Covey?

JayJay: By far, solving the mystery of the triple murder case on a college campus in Covey and JayJay Get Educated, but it was also fun to hook up with Covey to find out who killed Freddie in Covey Jencks.

Maggie: I have heard that lots of folks like Chinese Murder best. Comments?

JayJay: It’s a good story, for sure, but did I enjoy only being marginally involved and then — that ending. Who saw that coming? My role wasn’t exactly heroic, no?

Maggie: I hear ya, but I loved the book. I loved being the international woman of mystery in it.

JayJay: And you are a good one. West Texans would call you a sexy mama. I admit I was jealous of that first dress you wore in Odessa. I may go back to China to get me one of them. Time for my question.

Maggie: Okay, but I got that dress in New York. What’s your question?

JayJay: Will Covey and I ever see you again?

Maggie: I see what you are doing there. Sneaky. Will there be another Covey Jencks mystery?

Silence from JayJay. Maggie continues:

I think it depends on whether you guys stay stuck in West Texas or if you ever come back my way.

JayJay: To China?

Maggie: Hmm, no, the East Coast.

JayJay: Oh, that reminds me of my favorite part of The Chinese Murder of Edward Watts. The visit to Washington, D.C.  That was just as exciting for me as the mystery, and it was a stone cold turn-on as well. I’ll talk to the old man about that idea.

Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced
International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on four occasions, and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are 
Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now the three books in the Covey Jencks series. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.


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Review & Giveaway: Yeah, But I Didn’t by Ann Swann

YEAH, BUT I DIDN’T
by
ANN SWANN
Genre: Young Adult / Coming of Age / Bullying
Publisher: Wordcrafts Press
Publication Date: November 12, 2019
Number of Pages: 274 pages

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The first rung: the betrayal

The second rung: the assault

The third rung: the rumors

The fourth rung: the painting

The final rung: no other way out



Betrayed, bullied, and battered emotionally, physically, and spiritually, Benji’s life spirals out of control. She is certain there is nowhere to turn and nothing to live for. Yet in the midst of the darkness there appears a ray of hope in the Yeah, But I Didn’t therapy group.
 
 

Ann Swann delivers a harrowing emotional tale that offers messages of hope and renewal of spirit despite some of the darkest times that life can throw at us.  — 5 STARS, Readers’ Favorite

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One out of 2 marriages end in divorce. You probably already knew that statistic. Did you know that 1 out of every 3 girls is sexually abused in her life? One out of every 5 boys? If you don’t want to hear any more about this, then this book is not for you. Yeah, But I Didn’t by Ann Swann is a book that stares the ugliest side of growing up right in the face. If you were lucky enough to grow up without being bullied by your peers, physically abused by someone bigger or older than you, or had to deal with survivor’s guilt, then maybe you think the sequence of events in this story are farfetched or melodramatic. As someone who has had firsthand experience of more than half of it, I can tell you that you are wrong.

Once I got over the fact that Benji was a young girl and not a cute dog from the ‘80s, I was able to appreciate Swann’s ability to write from the perspective of a hurting and humiliated 14-year-old. Already feeling rejected by her father’s desertion years ago, you can really feel the pain of having to live in a household that is completely opposite of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Maybe that’s the reality of present times when you cast aside Pollyanna’s glasses. Single mothers often don’t have time to be there for their children. And children don’t know how to sort through their feelings because of lack of parental guidance and too much reliance on communicating through technology. I had a hard enough time alternating between defending myself from or ignoring rumors in high school. I can only imagine what it would have been like if social media existed at the time.

The draw and danger of social media is portrayed so well in this book. I could tell that Swann is very familiar with how young people use the various platforms and doesn’t just use the references as a means to validate this story as one for young adults. It’s hard to explain, but you can tell when a writer talks about a subject they know very little about.

The only part I found problematic was one of the therapy sessions. The therapist hugs Benji and says something like, “You poor thing. Thank God…” Hospital therapists normally do not hug their patients or mention anything religious. Normally, they would ask for permission to touch the patient. I would think that is particularly important when someone has suffered assault.

I thought that the chapter titles were an interesting choice and it all becomes clear when you reach the end. The allegory of the ladder can be interpreted in several different ways, both positive and negative. It can be used as a tool to get somewhere or to accomplish something good or necessary, or it can be the tool to one’s self-destruction. Ultimately, Benji’s climb up the ladder wasn’t so straightforward and I liked where Swann had her end up. Let’s just say that it takes real balance to accomplish that feat.

I received an advanced copy of this book, so I hope that the various typos were corrected before the final press. There was also an error about Benji being the first grandchild when her sister Janie is four years older than her. I really liked how the epilogue really buttoned things up and gives the reader closure. I would have liked to see resources listed at the end for teens who need someone to talk to, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. I think that this would be a great book to initiate difficult conversations with teens.

Ann has been a writer since junior high school, but to pay the bills she has waited tables, delivered newspapers, cleaned other people’s houses, taught school, and had a short stint as a secretary in a rock-n-roll radio station. She also worked as a 911 operator and a police dispatcher. 
 
Her fiction began to win awards during her college days. Since then she’s published quite a few short stories, novels, and novellas. But even if no one ever bought another book, Ann would not stop writing. She says it’s a necessity, like breathing. Most of the time, it even keeps her sane.


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Author Interview & Giveaway: The Gryphon Heist by James R. Hannibal

THE GRYPHON HEIST
(Talia Inger, Book One)
by
JAMES R. HANNIBAL
Genre: Contemporary Christian / Thriller / Suspense
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: September 3, 2019
Number of Pages: 400

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Talia Inger is a rookie CIA case officer assigned not to the Moscow desk as she had hoped but to the forgotten backwaters of Eastern Europe–a department only known as “Other.” When she is tasked with helping a young, charming Moldovan executive secure his designs for a revolutionary defense technology, she figures she’ll be back in DC within a few days. But that’s before she knows where the designs are stored–and who’s after them.

With her shady civilian partner, Adam Tyler, Talia takes a deep dive into a world where criminal minds and unlikely strategies compete for access to the Gryphon, a high-altitude data vault that hovers in the mesosphere. But is Tyler actually helping her? Or is he using her for his own dark purposes?

PRAISE FOR THE GRYPHON HEIST
“A movie-worthy tale of espionage and intrigue. Hannibal has done it again.”–Steven James, national bestselling author of Every Wicked Man


“James Hannibal has crafted a story slam full of mystery, danger, twists, and turns. I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough–or bother to stop to breathe. You don’t want to miss this one!”–Lynette Eason, bestselling, award-winning author of the Blue Justice series

The Gryphon Heist plunges readers into a world where no one can be trusted, nothing is as it seems, and choosing the wrong side could be catastrophic.”–Lynn H. Blackburn, award-winning and bestselling author of the Dive Team Investigations series

“Leap on board The Gryphon Heist and ride the whirlwind of suspense. Don’t let go!”–DiAnn Mills, bestselling author of Burden of Proof

Author Interview

INTERVIEW WITH JAMES R. HANNIBAL

As a former tactical deception officer and stealth pilot, you bring a wealth of knowledge to your high-action suspense stories. Can you relay how your knowledge helped you write The Gryphon Heist?

In the intelligence world, we have a saying: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” That means an operative or analyst must work not only to find specific answers but also to discover what information or questions he or she didn’t even know to look for. Experience gives me an advantage in writing spy thrillers, because I know to look for information where others may not. I still do heavy research, but I have a head start. Additionally, you can’t truly know that world unless you’ve lived as a part of it. I’d like to caveat that statement by adding that fiction, in my opinion, should be escapist and enjoyable. So I expand on certain realities and create new ones over what real intelligence work is like in order to take the adventure to the next level for the reader.

What was your inspiration behind your book?

I had two inspirations: thieves and millennials, not necessarily in that order. I wanted to start a series of spy thrillers for the up-and-coming generation. So many thrillers these days are based on the older guy who has been around for a while. Instead, I wanted to see this world fresh, through the eyes of a rookie— and I wanted to make that today’s rookie, not me as a rookie. By the way, that took as much research as the technical stuff. While mulling my rookie over, I also got into thievery—not in any illegal sense. In a section of my last kids’ mystery series, I went deep into the pickpockets and thieves of a London thieves’ guild. That got me thinking about an elite team of thieves working for the CIA. From there, the story ran away with me.

You have several key characters in your new series. Among the thieves, spies, and assassins, do you have any favorites?

I love all my characters the same. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to say? Honestly, Tyler is at the top. No spoilers, but this guy has a shady past with layer after layer I can peel back through the story. Exploring this world with him at my side is a lot of fun. Finn, the daredevil cat burglar, and Darcy, the chemist-slash-explosives expert come up as close seconds. Darcy’s a bit off, so I never know what she’ll do next. Finn has a subconscious death wish combined with great skillsets, both aerial and criminal, so he is fun as well. I also liked playing him off our hero Talia, although he’ll have to get over himself if there’s going to be any real romance there.

In addition to offering a gripping tale, you also include an underlying theme of forgiveness in The Gryphon Heist. Can you elaborate on that?

Forgiveness emerged as a natural theme in this story amid the overall exploration of morality. God, as creator, is the author of morality, and he calls us to forgive. Most people don’t realize that a directive to forgive immediately follows the Lord’s Prayer in the Bible. As a former foster child who has endured a hard youth, Talia must overcome a great deal of anger if she is to grow as the hero and return to her faith. She must even learn to forgive the man responsible for her father’s death.

Former stealth pilot James R. Hannibal is a two-time Silver Falchion Award winner for his Section 13 mysteries for kids and a Thriller Award nominee for his Nick Baron covert ops series for adults. James is a rare multi-sense synesthete, meaning all of his senses intersect. He sees and feels sounds and smells and hears flashes of light. He lives in Houston, Texas.

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Author Video II & Giveaway: Tangible Spirits by Becki Willis

 
TANGIBLE SPIRITS 
by
BECKI WILLIS
Genre: Paranormal / Thriller / Suspense 
Publisher: Clear Creek Publishing
Date of Publication: May 13, 2017
Number of Pages: 316Scroll down for giveaway!

Reporter Gera Stapleton has a difficult choice to make: write the story of a lifetime or save the legacy of a town—and a man—she has come to love. Assigned to a piece in Jerome, Arizona about a once-friendly ghost gone on a crime spree, Gera stumbles upon an amazing tale of greed, deception, and family honor—and murder. When the killer targets her as the next victim, an unlikely savior comes to her rescue. Smart dialogue, plenty of action, and a touch of the supernatural make this a must-read novel.
“Becki Willis blends bits of history with bits of fancy and weaves a tantalizing tale you won’t soon forget.”

 

 

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Author Becki Willis discusses her book, Tangible Spirits, with Rob Brown, host of For Book Lovers Only Live Radio. Click to watch part one of the interview on Lone Star Book Blog Tours 7/2/18 tour stop!

2018 Best Paranormal Fiction
by The Association of Texas Authors 
2018 RONE Award Finalist for Paranormal Long
Crowned Heart Recipient from InD’Tale Magazine


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To the delight of readers around the world, Becki Willis writes memorable characters in believable situations. Best known for Forgotten Boxes and The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series, Becki has won numerous awards, but says her biggest achievement is her family and her loyal reader base.

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Author Video & Giveaway: High Treason by DiAnn Mills

HIGH TREASON
An FBI Task Force Novel, #3
by
DiANN MILLS
  
Genre: Inspirational /Mystery / Suspense / Romance
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Date of Publication: February 6, 2018
Number of Pages: 416

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When Saudi Prince Omar bin Talal visits Houston to seek cancer treatment for his mother, an attempt on his life puts all agencies on high alert. FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson is the lead on the prince’s protective detail because of their long-standing friendship, but he’s surprised—and none too happy—when the CIA brings one of their operatives, Monica Alden, in on the task force after the assassination attempt.
Kord and Monica must quickly put aside interagency squabbles, however, when they learn the prince has additional motives for his visit—plans to promote stronger ties with the US and encourage economic growth and westernization in his own country. Plans that could easily incite a number of suspects both in the US and in countries hostile to Saudi Arabia. Worse yet, the would-be assassin always seems to be one step ahead of them, implicating someone close to the prince—or the investigation. But who would be willing to commit high treason, and can Kord and Monica stop them in time?  

“Compelling characters and a riveting plot that fits seamlessly with current events make this novel impossible to put down. Readers can count on being glued to the pages late into the night – as “just one more chapter” turns into “can’t stop now.”” – RT Book Reviews


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DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne du Maurier, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian fiction category for Firewall.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed.

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Playlist & Giveaway: An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter

AN INCONVENIENT BEAUTY
Hawthorne House, Book 4

by
KRISTI ANN HUNTER
  Genre: Regency Romance 
Publisher: Bethany House
Date of Publication: September 5, 2017
Number of Pages: 384
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Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, so he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. While he’s certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, she is strangely elusive, and he can’t seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge.

Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, she has no choice but to agree to a bargain that puts her at odds with all her romantic hopes—as well as her conscience. And the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she regrets the unpleasant obligation that prevents her from any dream of a future with him.
As all Griffith’s and Isabella’s long-held expectations are shaken to the core, can they set aside their pride and fear long enough to claim a happily-ever-after?

══════════║║║══════════

Praise for An Inconvenient Beauty:

“With the latest superbly written installment in her Hawthorne House series, RITA award-winning Hunter once again proves she has the key to inspirational-romance and traditional-Regency readers’ hearts as she gifts them with another gracefully executed love story that delivers all of the richly nuanced characters, impeccably researched historical plotting, and sweet romance they could ever crave.”
Booklist
“The final book in the Hawthorne House series brings Hunter’s saga to a sigh-worthy conclusion. These family members have become like real people, and although readers will celebrate that the characters have found love, it is bittersweet to say goodbye. The plot moves briskly, yet the romance never feels forced. The period details are, as always, charming, and entrench the reader in the culture and traditions of the era.”RT Book Reviews

 

“Hunter’s final installment in the Hawthorne House series will delight those already invested in the series as well as any reader who enjoys stories set in Regency-era England. . . . As the London Season plays out, secrets are revealed, past loves return, and hearts align—despite a fair amount of underhanded conniving–to create a fitting finale to the series and a lovely addition to the Regency genre.”Publishers Weekly starred review
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Playlist

Stories have the ability to touch our souls and inspire our minds, no matter what form they come in. Books, movies, songs all of them can transport us into another person’s world for just a little while.

When I work on a story idea, I frequently look to music to inspire the story I’m constructing. I’ve found nothing else that can encapsulate a theme or emotional arc in a nutshell better than music. Today, I’m sharing with you the inspiration playlist for my most recent novel, An Inconvenient Beauty. Apparently when I was plotting this book, I was going through a phase of listening to country music from my high school days. Hopefully that means you’ll find some old favorites in this list as well as a few new-to-you songs you can add to your own music library.

  1. Must Have Done Something Right by Relient K
  2. I Don’t Dance by Lee Brice
  3. Heart Don’t Fall Now by Sawyer Brown
  4. Haven’t Even Kissed by Moriah Peters
  5. Remind Me Who I Am by Jason Gray
  6. Forever by Third Day
  7. Get Back Up by tobyMac
  8. You’re Beginning to Get to Me by Clay Walker

For me, playing these songs together paints the story of love sneaking up on a man who had other plans and a woman who thought she’d given up her chance. In the end, they both learn that God has had a better plan in mind for them all along and that love can change their lives in ways they never imagined.

Click to listen on Spotify

Click to listen on YouTube

Kristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in computer science but always knew she wanted to write. Kristi is the author of the Hawthorne House series and a 2016 RITA Award winner and Christy Award finalist. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.

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September 25-October 4, 2017
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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
25-Sep
Video Interview
26-Sep
Excerpt 1
27-Sep
Review
28-Sep
Playlist
29-Sep
Review
30-Sep
Guest Post
1-Oct
Excerpt 2
2-Oct
Review
3-Oct
Promo
4-Oct
Review
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Character Interview: The Eldridge Conspiracy by Don M. Winn

THE ELDRIDGE CONSPIRACY

Sir Kaye the Boy Knight, Book 4

by

Don M. Winn

  Genre: Children’s Chapter Book / Adventure / Medieval

Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press

Date of Publication: June 16, 2017

Number of Pages: 166, B&W illustrations

Scroll down for Giveaway!

   

Kaye’s father is in danger! The young knight, Kaye, and his friends Reggie and Beau enter Eldridge in search of the only man who can save Kaye’s father. During their journey, they encounter and make a powerful enemy of Baron Thomas—the self-proclaimed heir to the throne of Eldridge—who also has his sights set on ruling the country of Knox. Together, the boys dodge the baron’s henchmen and race against time to stop an assassination that would plunge the two kingdoms into war in this exciting conclusion to the series.

PRAISE FOR THE ELDRIDGE CONSPIRACY:

“This set of books just gets better and better. Yes, it’s a non-stop adventure, packed full of nasty barons and battling knights. But it’s also a story which is strongly-themed and where the bond between the characters is highly prized.” —The Wishing Shelf Awards Book Review

“Books of adventure and challenge that still offer an emotional component are hard to come by for middle-grade readers—and even more so for middle-grade boys—yet Don M. Winn hits the mark dead center with The Eldridge Conspiracy.” —Patricia Reding, 5-Star Readers’ Favorite Book Review

“This is more than just a fictional story; it teaches children about life, about friendship, making decisions, and about not putting too much stock in pride all the time – sometimes pride gets in the way of making the right decision. Great story. I would recommend that the whole series be read in order to get the most out of it and I think all kids will enjoy this tale.” —Ann-Marie Reynolds, 5-Star Readers’ Favorite Book Review

“The Eldridge Conspiracy was a rewarding read due to a wonderful writing style of incorporating dynamic characters, humor, relevancy, and the thought that even without superpowers, children can be heroes.” —Stacey Waltzer, Urban Mommies 

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GuestPost

Author Don Winn Interviews Reggie Stork: A Dyslexic Hero of Self-reference

from the Sir Kaye Children’s Book Series

Although Dyslexia was first documented about 130 years ago, the condition has probably been around for as long as the written word. In my Sir Kaye the Boy Knight medieval adventure series, Reggie—Sir Kaye’s best friend and the narrator of the stories—is most definitely dyslexic. Despite Reggie’s struggles with the complications associated with dyslexia, he also has many strengths, and eventually becomes one of the greatest storytellers in the land of Knox as well as one of its official Royal Chroniclers.  But Reggie’s journey is not an easy one: it takes grit and determination. He constantly works at developing a strong sense of self—that is, believing in himself regardless of what others say, think, or expect of him.

In the following fictional interview with Reggie, we get a glimpse into his personal journey of discovery.

Don: Would you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?

Reggie: My name is Reggie. Well, actually it’s Reginald Stork, but only my parents call me that, and only when I’m in trouble. My friends call me Reggie. I love to explore, solve mysteries, have adventures with my friends Kaye and Beau, ride horses, and eat! My favorite room in the house is the kitchen, but I like being outside best. I’m also a Royal Chronicler of Knox now. That still surprises me when I think about it.

Don: Why is your appointment as Royal Chronicler a surprise?

Reggie: Because writing is really hard for me. I like to talk—people tell me I talk a lot! But even though I can think and say all kinds of things, it’s really hard for me to write it down. It takes too long, and my writing is bad, and I can’t tell even half of the things I want to. It’s frustrating! Reading is hard for me too. I guess at words a lot and use pictures as clues so I can pretend to other people that I can read as well as them.

Don: Reggie, when did you first suspect that you learned differently than other children?

Reggie: I had trouble memorizing the alphabet—big trouble. And numbers are hard for me too. My father is a wool merchant and he used to ask me to help him count the fleeces in his warehouse. I kept losing track of the numbers, and even after counting them, in the space of time between counting and writing the number down, I’d get confused and have to start all over again. My father would get so angry with me!

And I get lost easily. If a friend gives me directions with more than a turn or two, I can’t remember the order or all of the steps. That’s one reason why I love being with my friends—they never get lost!

Don: How have you managed these challenges to do your job as Royal Chronicler?

Reggie: During all our adventures, I realized that, while reading and writing are always really hard for me, I love stories. I love telling them, hearing them, being part of them. And the only way to keep stories safe and share them with others in a way they won’t change over time, is to write them down. Some of my favorite stories are from before I was born—even from hundreds of years ago–and I would never know them if they hadn’t been written down.

If I take my time, and don’t try to rush, I can write down the truth about my adventures with Kaye and Beau. And that’s important! People need to know that Kaye never deserved to be called Sir Donkey, and that Beau is more than just the queen’s nephew, and that I am not stupid! Writing these things down will always be hard work for me, but remembering how important stories are makes me willing to do the work. Also the queen pays me five gold coins a month to write these things down. That helps a lot!

Don: How do you feel about the fact that you have to work harder than your friends to read and write, or that they don’t struggle with getting lost?

Reggie: Sometimes I’m angry or sad. It’s not fair! But thinking about it makes me unhappy. I like to be happy. So now, when I start getting impatient with my slow writing and reading, I tell myself that I’m good at a lot of things too. I am very observant. I like helping people. And sometimes I can be very brave, although I usually don’t know it until after I’ve been brave. I could keep thinking about the things that frustrate me, or I can choose to say, “What’s next?” and get on with life’s adventures. And I like having adventures better than feeling sad about myself.

Don: What’s been the hardest thing in your life so far?

Reggie: Feeling stupid, and feeling like I am always disappointing people because I don’t do things well or fast enough. My father hired tutor after tutor for me, and every one of them quit, telling my father I was stupid and couldn’t learn. My father wants me to become a wool merchant like him and he is always disappointed in me because I’m no good at it—and because I’m no good at anything that matters to him. Sometimes I’ve wondered if I’ll ever be good enough for anything, or anyone! Thinking that way makes me feel alone and sad.

But in a way, I’m glad I’ve had those thoughts about myself because it’s helped me see the things I do well, which helps me feel good about who I am. When I have new adventures and new experiences, I learn new things about myself, and sometimes I learn that I’m good at something I didn’t expect to be good at. It’s always a surprise, but they are happy surprises.

Don: What are you proudest of?

Reggie: Being a good friend. I’ve learned a lot from being friends with Kaye and Beau. It’s taught me that even when I don’t understand what someone else is thinking or feeling, I need to be patient and not take things personally. I’ve learned that friends always look out for each other. Everyone has different things they’re good at, so even if you’re not good at something, probably one of your friends can help you with it. And it’s helped me be a better friend to myself, because learning to see the good in my friends helps me practice seeing the good in myself. Being a good friend has meant learning to make good choices, and to do what’s right for the group. And we have lots of fun and adventures together. My friends are the best!

Don M. Winn is a multiple award-winning children’s author of eleven picture books and four children’s novels. His Sir Kaye the Boy Knight® series of novels for independent readers include The Knighting of Sir Kaye, The Lost Castle Treasure, Legend of the Forest Beast, and The Eldridge Conspiracy. Don’s picture books include The Higgledy-Piggledy Pigeon; Superhero; Twitch the Squirrel and the Forbidden Bridge; Shelby the Cat; Space Cop Zack, Protector of the Galaxy; and many others. 

Don has been writing for over 20 years. After beginning with poetry, Winn moved on to writing children’s picture books. Almost immediately, his growing young readers begged for chapter books, which led to the creation of the Sir Kaye series. As a dyslexic, who well knows the challenge of learning to love to read, Winn’s goal is to write books that are so engaging they will entice even the most reluctant or struggling reader. Winn lives in Round Rock, Texas.

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Three Sir Kaye #4 ARCs + 1 Sir Kaye Series Study Guide!

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  June 14-June 28, 2017

CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

6/14

Book Trailer

6/15

Review

6/16

Guest Post 1

6/17

Review

6/18

Author Interview

6/19

Excerpt

6/20

Review

6/21

Scrapbook Page 1

6/22

Guest Post 2

6/23

Review

6/24

Character Interview

6/25

Educators’ Special

6/26

Review

6/27

Scrapbook Page 2

6/28

Review

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Author Interview: Bending Angels by Jack H. Emmott

BENDING ANGELS
Living Messengers of God’s Love
by
By Jack H. Emmott
  Genre: Memoir / Inspirational / Faith
Publisher: Carpenter’s Son Publishing
Date of Publication: January 1, 2017
Number of Pages: 176

Struck by polio at age six, Jack H. Emmott began learning the difficult spiritual lessons embodied in paralysis, shivering loneliness, and dark despair. Fortunately, Jack had help― people of all ages he calls his “Bending Angels,” those who have spread their wings of love and inspiration to walk the journey of faith as the devastated little boy became one of Houston’s celebrated attorneys, a loyal husband, and a devoted dad. Each chapter of this book will relate the story of a Bending Angel―from Brownie, the pup, to Mr. Ochoa, the baseball coach who understood how much of a heart it takes to win and how much of a soul it takes to lose your most precious dream. This book will inspire and uplift you as Jack H. Emmott, a life-long Christian, shares his spiritual wisdom and lessons learned.




CLICK TO RECEIVE A WEEKLY PRAYER EMAIL FROM JACK EMMOTT
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PRAISE FOR BENDING ANGELS:
“The power of ‘Let go and let God’ is personified in this inspiring story. Also, that we are given guidance in the most unsuspected forms when we but look, and that a flood of grace is behind every surrender. What a joy.”
Lindsay Wagner, actress, author
“With gentle humor and no small amount of faith, Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love tells the story of Jack Emmott’s life and of the angels who have appeared in his life, just when he needed them the most. 
Do I believe in angels? Absolutely.
Was Jack himself an angel to me during the darkest period of my life?  Absolutely.”
Debbie Adams, Past President, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Houston/Galveston;
Chair, Advisory Council UTHealth School
of NursingTrustee, St. Edward’s University
Bending Angel is a beautiful inspiring book about faith and prayer and the angels that surround us. Jack shared his life journey of trusting in God and drawing strength that was needed to help him. I learned a great deal from this book and have thought about it over and over again since I read it.” 
Amazon reviewer
“If only I could get through a chapter without crying…very moving and touching stories.”
Amazon reviewer

PURCHASE LINKS
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AuthorInterview

Jack Emmott is interviewed about Bending Angels on radio station KSBJ. (3 minutes)

Radio Interview Image

Click to listen to the radio interview.

Author Jack H. Emmott contracted polio at the age of six.  Before polio, he knelt at his bedside with his mother Lucile and said evening prayers.  With paralysis, Jack could no longer kneel.  But he could still pray to God for guidance, comfort and healing.  The grace and love of God transformed all the bad from polio and paralysis into good.  Jack is a life-long Christian and successful family lawyer in Houston, Texas.  He is married to his wife of over forty years, Dorothy, who works alongside him in his calling.  Jack is father to two children and grandfather to three grandchildren.
Jack is the author of Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love by (Carpenter’s Son Publishing, 2016) a memoir of the living angels that touched his life.  He wrote Prayerful Passages:  Asking God’s Help in Reconciliation, Separation and Divorce (Outskirts Press, 2016) to help couples in struggling marriages ask God’s help through prayer for the same guidance, comfort and healing he has received from our Almighty Father for over sixty years following polio.


CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
5-May
Radio Interview
6-May
Review
7-May
Excerpt
8-May
Review
9-May
Author Interview
10-May
Character Interview
11-May
Review
12-May
Guest Post
13-May
Sneak Peek
14-May
Review
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Author Interview & Giveaway: Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane


EVIDENCE
OF THINGS NOT SEEN
by
By Lindsey Lane
  Genre: YA /  Mystery / Suspense
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Date of Publication: December 16, 2015
Number of Pages: 240
Scroll down for Giveaway!
  
Tommy Smythe is missing.
Fact: Tommy was good at physics and less good at basic human interactions.
Fact: Tommy recorded his thoughts and observations in a notebook.
Fact: Tommy believed in the existence of parallel universes.

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

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

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

* * *

PRAISE FOR EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN:

“In her first novel for teens, Lane offers a gripping and genre bending mosaic.” – Publishers Weekly
“Complex and Rich” – Horn Book
“This is the kind of book you tuck in with and escape into, and it will stay with you long after you finish the last lines.  Haunting and beautiful.” – Jennifer Mathieu, author of The Truth About AliceDevoted, and Afterward
“The narrative jiggers between unexpected opposites—joy and fear, love and violence, grief and hope—all the while holding forth the constant idea that the world offers us credible evidence of what seems impossible if we only know where to look.”  J.L. Powers, author of Amina, This Thing Called The Future, and the forthcoming Broken Circle
“Ever look at a pearl and notice that its one color is, in fact, many colors? That’s the beauty of EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN, the stunning debut novel by Lindsey Lane.” – Conrad Wesselhoeft, author of Adios Nirvana, Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways To Fly
Check out the book trailer!
PURCHASE LINKS

* * *

AuthorInterview

Author Interview: Lindsey Lane
This book on the surface is about a boy who disappears; but at closer look it is about the people around him and how their lives are entangled. What kind of research did you have to do to prepare yourself to write Evidence of Things Not Seen?

Hmmm, research is tricky for me. Because I write fiction, I usually do a lot of fact checking after I’ve drafted the story. If I wander off into too much research, I can get really bogged down in it and it takes me away from the character development. For instance with Evidence, I did do research about physics’ principles but I used secondary sources. I needed to stay with the voice of a sixteen year old totally tripped out by physics. I didn’t want him to sound like a professor. So I understood the theories pretty well but I treated them somewhat simply through a journal. When I was satisfied, I had readers’ who were savvy about physics check my facts to make sure I had conveyed the ideas correctly.
How did your studies and experiences in life help shape who you are as a writer?

I used to think my writing career was a bit haphazard but now I can see how writing plays gave me an ear for dialogue and pacing a story so that action and exposition move together seamlessly. Later my work as a journalist was critical to my ability for developing characters. I loved interviewing people and finding out their stories. I got very good at getting them to reveal themselves to me. Even when they didn’t want to. From those interviews, I became aware of the lies that certain characters told. Often times, when I uncover a character’s lie, I will find their emotional arc. Finally, picture books pared down my writing a lot and gave me a new respect for verbs. I like leaving space for the reader to enter in and make connections within the story.
Okay, so I always like to see what authors read. What are your favorite books and why?

Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty because it tells the truth about love and cruelty in the human heart.

Neil Gaiman’s The GraveYard Book I love Gaiman’s storytelling voice. Haunting and masterful.

Sherman Alexie’s True Story of a Part time Indian -The honesty of the voice. Also, when I finished this book, I thought, “Man, this is what books are meant to do: open up worlds.”

Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn Dixie. Again, India Opal’s voice and honesty and her clear beautiful emotional want makes you turn the page.

Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terebithia-Someday I may write a paper about how that book always makes me cry no matter how many times I read it.

Three books inspired the form of Evidence of Things Not Seen: Kathi Appelt’s Kissing Tennesee; An Na’s A Step Toward Heaven and Sandra Cisneros’ House on Mango Street. Kathi’s book is linked short stories around a middle school dance and gives you a glimpse into each character going to the prom. Both Na’s and Sandra’s books stunned me in their spare writing. So much is told with so little. Good writing that breaks form allows us to pad along behind and write the best stories we possible can with greater freedom.
Night owl or early bird? How does it help with your writing process?

Most reliably, the early morning hours are the most spacious and quietest times to write. I will often do a lot of drafting then because my critical mind is still snoozing. But you know what? I’ve discovered a little trick to create morning writing at all hours. I do a reset with a little nap or a shower. I find that those two things can recreate quiet and I can sit down for another couple of hours and work. Even late a night.
Did you always know you wanted to be an author?

I knew I always wanted to be a writer. I thought writers were the smartest most magical people in the world. I could create whole worlds and explain how everything works. Yup. That seemed way better than being President of the United States.
If you could live in one ‘book world’ which one would it be and why?

I’m going to have to go middle grade. Polly Horvath’s Everything on a Waffle. I love that town where everyone watches over you and no one calls the police. I love being by the ocean. I love the freedom and the safety of that world.
And finally, what other projects, if any, are you working on?

I’m close to finishing a pretty good draft of a young adult novel. The working title is Truth Inside. It is about a girl who murders someone and then redeems herself by turning herself in. How do you redeem yourself when you have done the worst possible thing in the world? Here is a haiku I wrote to hone the focus of the novel:

She must trade her life

For the girl she killed one night

No win redemption

 

Lindsey Lane is the author of the young adult novel Evidence of Things Not Seen (Farrar Straus Giroux) and the award-winning picture book and iTunes app Snuggle Mountain (Clarion/PicPocket Books). She is represented by Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Before she received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2010, Lindsey was a features journalist (Austin Chronicle and Austin American Statesman) and an award-winning playwright (The Miracle of Washing Dishes). Lindsey is a featured presenter at schools and conferences and universities and also teaches writing at Austin Community College, Writers League of Texas, and the Writing Barn. She lives in Austin, Texas but loves to travel, especially to the ocean. She loves books, films, good food and her cadre of dear friends. Her idea of a perfect evening is having a dinner party at her home with friends from around the world and discussing everything under the sun while eating, drinking, and laughing. 
WEBSITE     FACEBOOK    TWITTER    INSTAGRAM
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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
4/12
Video Guest Post
4/13
Playlist
4/14
Review
4/15
Excerpt
4/16
Author Interview
4/17
Review
4/18
Scrapbook
4/19
Review
4/20
Guest Post
4/21
Review


 

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