Saturday, May 25, 2013

#AuthorInterview A visit with Alexandra Sellers FIRE IN THE WIND

1.Hi Alexandra Sellers, tell us a bit about your latest book.  
Hi and thank you for inviting me here. FIRE IN THE WIND is one of my earliest books, revised and now available for the first time in eBook: a white-hot revenge story. It's a particularly memorable book for me because of the way Jake Conrad, its hero, entered my life. He just appeared one day, this powerful energy in front of my desk demanding that I tell his story NOW. I hope he's going to be similarly powerful in demanding that you read it!

2. What is the most exciting adventure you've been on?  
Well, you know, I think the most exciting adventure anyone can be on is to fall in love. It has certainly been mine. (The second most exciting was writing a book.)

3. Did you incorporate it into a story? 
I've incorporated it into every story I've written.

4. Who was your most difficult character? 
Jake Conrad in FIRE IN THE WIND was demanding and autocratic, but he wasn't actually difficult so long as I just obeyed him. Johnny Winterhawk, on the other hand, the hero of SEASON OF STORM, was deeply difficult. I didn't understand him and, foolishly, I was afraid to let him have his head. Preparing SEASON OF STORM for ebook release (it's next up), I've realized what mistakes I made with Johnny and now am doing big revisions, because he's still there, waiting to be heard.  

5. You don’t have to tell us, but who in your life did you pattern him/her after? 
I don't think I've ever patterned any major character in my books after a person in my life.  Characters come from some world of their own. Sometimes, like Jake Conrad, they power in from that other world with huge energy.  Other times they may be summoned up by some passing resemblance to a this-world person or by some idea or incident, and slowly take shape. But they are always who they are.  I've heard sculptors say that the shape is in the marble and the artist's task is to find it.  I feel like that about story and character—it pre-exists. My job is to write my way to it.

6. What kind of books do you like to read?   
Stella Cameron, Caitlin Crewe and Sharon Kendrick are always a great read. So's Richard Harris. Sophie Kinsella and John Grisham are two writers with the enviable power to make a 7 hour plane journey compact into one hour.  I've just totally gagged and laughed over Tahir Shah's EYE SPY. I've also recently read and loved THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY and THE HUNDRED-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT OF THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED. Jane Austen is the writer I've re-read most.

I guess the short answer to that was, 'I like a lot of different fiction'!

And non-fiction?

I really, really enjoyed Tom Watson's DIAL M FOR MURDOCH. Jon Ronson is always fascinating. Rupert Sheldrake's THE SCIENCE DELUSION is next on my list.

7. If you could go back and change the ending to any novel you’d like, which would it be and what would be the change?

What a great question! MANSFIELD PARK! I've never liked the idea of Fanny and Edmund turning into a couple of Victorian prigs in a few years, as I think they surely will if married to each other.  I don't get the feeling that they are going to have much of a sex life, for sure, and isn't that the first step towards believing no one else should? And I don't like the way Mary Crawford is just abandoned to her fate.  None of what happens is her fault, but she suffers as much as any of the guilty. I think Mary had a hard childhood with her uncle—harder than is explicitly stated in the text, although it is certainly shadowed in—and she deserved a break. Edmund was the right husband for her.  And I imagine that Fanny disliked Henry Crawford in part because she was physically attracted to him and that disturbed her. If she was not on some level attracted to him, she surely could never have considered the thought of their marriage with anything like pleasure—but with the excuse of what she could do for her sister, she does start to imagine it.

With a writer as brilliantly talented as Jane Austen, how do you think this happened?

I think Jane Austen got seduced by her own characters--that she allowed the Crawfords to be much more engaging people than her original plot idea called for, but then, sadly, forced them to follow her plotline against their wishes.  The strongest evidence I see for this is that Henry Crawford does not appear in person in the latter part of the book, (and even Mary appears only in a reported scene). That, I like to think, is because Henry simply would not have run off with Maria and so he refused to do it on camera, as it were.  It's also a curious fact that, while we do see Henry's proposal to Fanny, we don't actually see Edmund's—which perhaps points to where the author's own real interest lay. And she explicitly states that both alternative marriages were real possibilities, which is really quite extraordinary: I feel that was the 'meant' story breaking through the author's resistance.

Why do you think she resisted what you call the 'meant' story?

I have the feeling that Jane Austen had a horror of repeating herself, and thought that to let Henry have Fanny would mean a kind of repeat of Pride and Prejudice.  I wish she had trusted her characters more, because I don't think it would have been a repeat.  She and Henry together would have forged something very fresh and different.

Thanks for that question, I've been wanting to get it off my chest for a while! And thanks again for having me on your blog.

Well, thank you for the interesting perspective on Jane Austen. Sometimes when we're too concerned about audience reception of our characters or plot lines we end up not being quite true to them. I'm sure Ms. Austen was much more constrained by what is acceptable and not acceptable in her time period than we are these days! Thanks for visiting. I really enjoyed your interview.

Find out more about Alexandra at:

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Friday, May 17, 2013

#AuthorInterview Anne Coates and her New Release - A Tale of Two Sisters

Hi Anne, glad to have you on my blog. Please tell us a bit about your latest book.

My latest is an ebook published by Endeavour Press: A Tale of Two Sisters which is a long short story and two other short stories about issues within families. The two sisters in question are very different, and the story is told from the younger sister’s viewpoint. She has never been invited to her older sister’s home in spite of huge hints and eventually visits unannounced – a major turning point in their relationship.
     The second story, Mirror Image, explores the reactions of two half-sisters ­– one of whom has never known of the other’s existence ­– when they meet at their father’s funeral and Fourth Time Lucky is about a mother who has longed for daughters only to have four sons, the youngest of whom stammers and is made fun of by his siblings until he gets a main part in the school nativity play… 
     I’ve had numerous short stories published in UK magazines but there are fewer outlets now. My previous collection is Cheque-Mate & Other Tales of the Unexpected, also an ebook published by Endeavour Press. All of these stories have a twist and I love endings which take the reader by surprise.

What genres do you like to write in?

Apart from short stories which I love writing, I have also published seven non-fiction books ranging from Women in Sport, for school children, to Applying to University The Essential Guide and latterly two Parenting Without Tears Guides: Living With Teenagers and Loving Discipline. These last two are ebooks linked to Parenting Without Tears, ( a website I founded seven years ago and there will be more to come in the series.
     My work in progress is a crime novel that I wrote some time ago and am now revisiting. It has gone through three drafts and now I’m editing. It would be nice to think my background in editing fiction is helping me here, especially as I am reading the novel afresh. Even better I have the first three chapters on the next one written as well with the same protagonist so I can really get to grips with her character and motivation.

What kind of books do you like to read? Which authors influenced you?

I have always read voraciously, influenced by my mother who often “lost” herself in a book. We both loved Andrew Marvell’s poetry and Shakespeare and I vividly recall her reading Alice in Wonderland to me as a child. At school I had a wonderful English teacher who allowed me to exchange books more frequently as I read so fast and I went on to read for a degree in English and French. Whenever I go to France I love to browse the bookshops and I have stumbled upon some fabulous contemporary authors like Fred Vargas.
     Maupassant and Roald Dahl’s short stories have influenced me greatly. Currently I have been introduced to a whole raft of new-to-me writers on Twitter and have a huge “books to read” list which I am making my way through.

What keeps you up at night?
As a chronic insomniac I am awake several times every night. In some ways this is an advantage as I remember my dreams and they influence me and my writing. If I’m having a problem starting an article or story and go to bed thinking about it, I invariably wake up with the first sentence or paragraph in my head. That said, it would be wonderful to go to bed at night and not wake up until the morning.

Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out?

With the advent of ebooks and self-publishing, it’s a very exciting time for writers and it’s tempting to “go it alone”. However, as a reviewer, I have seen some appalling results in self-publishing. A professional editor should be your best friend, someone who brings out the best in your work and minimizes mistakes. Even with traditionally published books I have been shocked by inaccuracies, like an eleven-month pregnancy because no one was keeping track of the time in the novel!
      And if you want to write you should read. Not just books similar to those you’d like to write or are writing but a range of genres. You can learn so much from other authors. Writing is a craft and you need to hone your talent by writing and rewriting until you think you have the best possible sentence, paragraph, chapter…
     When I worked in publishing we used to groan at having to read the slush pile but there was always that hope that you’d find that special manuscript and once in a while you did. Now, of course that’s usually done by an agent, who will also have a major input into your creativity and career. But finding an agent to accept you is almost as hard as writing the book!

Links to books:

PWT Living with Teenagers (UK)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

#NewRelease OBSESSION by Sharon Buchbinder #paranormal #romance

An Obsession with the Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Rachelle, thank you for having me here today to talk about my new book baby.  When I began researching Chihuahua, Mexico for a setting for my new paranormal romantic suspense, Obsession, my primary intent was to find a location to build my villain's refuge.  Lucky for me, the rugged terrain of the Sierra Madre, and specifically, Copper Canyon, were perfect for a hidden compound for a crazed cult leader. This part of the world is remote, beautiful, and sparsely populated.
Upon further digging, I discovered this is the part of Mexico where the classic Humphrey Bogart movie about greed and addiction to gold, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, took place. By the way, this is the same movie that gave us, "Badges? Badges? We don' need no stinkin' badges!"  However, even before the desperate gold rush portrayed in this 1948 movie, legends of gold buried in them thar hills circulated for centuries. These legends still told over and again, are based in history.
In 1767, King Charles III of Spain worried about the wealth, power, and influence of thousands of Jesuit priests in Mexico. The King sent sealed orders to his military commanders, with a command to keep the orders sealed until a certain time. On that date, the military was to expel the entire order and seize all their assets. However, when the solders carried out the orders at the appointed hour, the Jesuit treasures were gone. Legends say the gold, silver and jewels were buried near the Jesuit missions, leading to recurrent ransacking and digging expeditions around the region (Klein, 2003).
Needless to say, once discovered, I had to weave this legend into Obsession.
A year after a barbaric childbirth, complete with a near-death experience and an encounter with her guardian angel, Angie Edmonds is just happy she and her son, Jake, are alive. She's finally in a good place: clean, sober, and employed as a defense attorney. But at the end of a long work day, she finds herself in a parent's worst nightmare: Jake has been kidnapped and taken across the Mexican border by a cult leader who believes the child is the "Chosen One."

Stymied by the US and Mexican legal systems, Angie is forced to ask the head of a Mexican crime syndicate for help. Much to her chagrin, she must work with Alejandro Torres, a dangerously attractive criminal and the drug lord's right-hand man. Little does she know Alejandro is an undercover federal agent, equally terrified of blowing his cover—and falling in love with her.
ISBN Print:          ISBN 978-1-61217-867-7
Digital:       ISBN 978-1-61217-868-4

“Who are you? Who is that giant? What did you say to him?”
The pony-tailed man flashed a grin, the smile reaching his sky-blue colored eyes, giving him an appealing boyish look. “The big guy’s name is Tio. I told Tio to truss Raul up like the pig he is and to bring him to Isabel Ramirez. She’ll know exactly what to do with him.”
“Who are you?”
The movie-star-handsome man stopped, bent down until he was eye-to-eye with Angie.
“I found your passport tossed onto Raul’s desk, Angela Edmonds from the U.S. of A. I like that name. You look like an angel.”
She shook her head and the street twirled. “I’m no angel.” She steadied herself on his well muscled, naked arm. Rather than creeping her out, the skin on skin contact with her rescuer reassured her that he was a real human and not an angel conjured up in fevered religious delusion and desperation. “You sound like an American. You haven’t answered my question. What’s your name?”
“Torres.” Still holding her ID, he strode to the driver’s side of the car, hopped in and flashed a dazzling grin. “You could call me your hero because I’m taking you to see the woman who can help you find your son. My name is Alejandro Espinosa Santoyo Torres. But most people just call me Alejandro.”

After working in health care delivery for years, Sharon Buchbinder became an association executive, a health care researcher, and an academic in higher education. She had it all--a terrific, supportive husband, an amazing son and a wonderful job. But that itch to write (some call it an obsession) kept beckoning her to "come on back" to writing fiction. Thanks to the kindness of family, friends, critique partners, Romance Writers of America, and Maryland Romance Writers, she is now an award-winning author published in contemporary, erotic, paranormal and romantic suspense. When not attempting to make students, colleagues, and babies laugh, she can be found herding cats, waiting on a large gray dog, fishing, dining with good friends, or writing. You can find her at  

Paranormal Romance Guild Winner Best Mystery/Thriller, 2012
Where Sharon Buchbinder and Obsession can be found on the Internet
Book Trailer for Obsession
Twitter @sbuchbinder

Thursday, May 9, 2013

#NewRelease FLOWER FROM CASTILE by Lilian Gafni #Historical #fiction

Last month, author Lilian Gafni released book 2 of her Historical fiction series “Flower From Castile.” This new book titled “The New World” takes readers to the year 1493 when Columbus is on a voyage to reach the Indies, the Beneluz family is sailing to Morocco to begin a new life, and Queen Isabella & King Ferdinand deal with the backlash of the Alhambra Decree. Here’s the synopsis:

Book Description: The year 1493 ushers in a New World, and Columbus is on a voyage with the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Niña to reach the Indies by sailing west. One of the sailors, João Treves, blackmails Columbus—threatening to reveal a secret that could ruin him—compelling Columbus to stow away Conversos on his next voyage. When the journey stretches longer than their food stores, the crew becomes fearful and rebellious.

Isabella and Miguel, along with the Beneluz family, are now sailing to Morocco where they can begin a new life. Their ship is headed for dangerous waters, infested with pirates bent on extracting hidden gold from unprotected passengers. Although Isabella and Miguel pray for smooth sailing, their voyage is beset by pirates, and they are taken as booty to be sold in Tangier's slave market.

The ill-fated decision that instituted the Alhambra Decree and expelled all their Jewish artisans, farmers and workers leaves Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand vulnerable with depleted ranks of taxpayers. In her heart, the queen yearns for Columbus's return with the gold promised for España.

“The New World” is now available for download on Amazon.

Want to catch up on the Flower From Castile series? Book 1 “The Alahambra Decree” also available on Amazon.

About the Author

Lilian Gafni was born in Cairo, Egypt and attended the all-girls, non-denominational, French Catholic School of St. Vincent de Paul. While growing up, Lilian spoke Ladino (a mixture of Castilian Spanish and Hebrew words), a language spoken by Spanish Jews after their expulsion from Spain in 1492.
Gafni writes with passion about the traumas of displaced Jewish populations because she once was attacked because of her religion. Her family fled to the newly formed country of Israel, where she had to adapt to a new life, country and language. Gafni seeks to give voice to the thousands of victims who have been brutally silenced through the ages due to their religion and personal history.
Lilian's FaceBook Page 

Follow Lilian on Twitter @liliangafni

Thursday, May 2, 2013

#GuestPost: A Regency Era Wedding by Annamaria Bazzi, author of the White Swans Series

Book: White Swans: The New Girl in Town
Author: Annamaria Bazzi

Thank you so much, Rachelle, for hosting my blog tour stop for The New Girl in Town. I must say that I’m having a great deal of fun learning about the Regency Period.

As a history lover, one of the most exciting parts of writing the White Swans series is all the research needed for creating an accurate setting with precise details.

It is unknown how common the white wedding dress was during the Regency Era, but some think it might have been more popular than we believe. Back in 1814, even Jane Austen’s nice, Anna, married in a white muslin wedding dress. Although some did wear a white gown, the actual veil did not become popular until later in the century. Usually a bride wore flowers in her hair or a bonnet trimmed with lace. Flowers at weddings date back to ancient Greece when the women wove flowers into wreaths and placed them on the brides head, a token of good luck from Mother Nature.

Princes Charlotte wedding gown

It was customary for royalty to wear silver on their wedding day. Princess Charlotta in 1816 conformed to the practice. Queen Victoria, on the other hand, established the new tradition of wearing white, stepping out of the usual convention. When she married her beloved Prince Albert, she decided not to wear the royal silver. Instead, the queen wore a simple white satin dress trimmed with Honiton lace, with a Honiton long veil, and an orange blossom wreath on her head to symbolize purity.

White became the fashion, and it was made easy and inexpensive with the introduction of machine made lace and dresses.

In the Regency Period, even more important than the wedding was the announcement printed in the newspapers. If a wedding was not announced properly in the paper it would almost be like the matrimony never took place as Jane Austin wrote:

“The latter writes me word that Miss Blackford is married, but I have never seen it in the papers, and one may as well be single if the wedding is not to be in print.”
During this period, ordinary folks celebrated weddings in the morning. The reception would consist of eggs, ham, a roll or buttered toast and wedding cake. The more well to do had a more elaborate menu to feast on like white soup, chips and dip, celery stalks and possibly spiced wine.

The wealthy and royals had fancy, formal dinner parties with famous chefs preparing the meals, which might have consisted of at least fifteen different courses, including, perhaps, roasted chicken, rabbit, quail, steamed vegetables and gooseberry tart.

Indeed, the research revealed many little details I knew nothing about. I hope you have enjoyed discovering some of these facts with me.

Again, thank you so much for hosting, and I hope your readers will enjoy learning a little bit about weddings in the early 19th century.

Some of the sources I used for this research:

About the Author :
Although born in the United States, Annamaria Bazzi spent a great deal of her childhood in Sicily, Italy, in a town called Sciacca. Italian was the language spoken at home. Therefore, she had no problems when she found herself growing up in a strange country.
Upon returning to the states, she promised herself she would speak without an accent. 
She attended Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Computers with a minor in Spanish.
Annamaria spent twenty years programming systems for large corporations, creating innovative solution, and addressing customer problems. During those years, she raised four daughters and one husband. Annamaria lives in Richmond Virginia with her small family where she now dedicates a good part of her day writing.
You can visit Annamaria at:
Twitter : @AMBazzi

Please visit Annamaria's Amazon Author's PageSmashwords Author's Page or Barnes & Noble Author's Page for a list of her books!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

#NewRelease FLY AWAY by Jennifer Donohoe #fantasy

Author: Jennifer Donohoe
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Release Date: April 17, 2013

Synopsis: Robin Sullivan is given a magical book where she can experience a better life in a new world called Tearmann. She can finally escape the terrible reality of life with an abusive, alcoholic father, her mother's schizophrenia, and her best friend's Leukemia. Robin must choose between deserting her real life or living in a world promising a better one. Events come into play forcing Robin to make a decision. Will she be able to save those she loves and still save herself?

Note from the author concerning Fly Away: Fly Away is the mixture of Dante's Inferno meets The Neverending Story. Robin is a normal teen raised in an unpredictable situation which catapults into a lesson of facing your demons and not running away, or this case flying away. I hope you enjoy the story.

About The Author: Jennifer Donohoe grew up in Northeast Ohio until she moved away at the age of 23 to the panhandle of Florida. She stayed there for 14 years and after completing her masters degree at Troy University for Mental Health Counseling she moved back home to her beloved state of Ohio where she now works as a Clinical Therapist with Felony Juvenile Offenders.

Her passion for never wanting a life to be wasted has amassed itself into her writing. Writing Fantasy has allowed Ms. Donohoe to add elements of morals, values, and taking responsibility for ones choices into her stories. Her other love is photography where she uses the photos as a means of helping describe certain scenes or as inspirations for a story itself.

Ebook link: Amazon      Paperback link: Amazon

Twitter: @donohoejennifer