Authors ’18 Facebook Party

Summer reading list

If you’re looking for some new books you should check out Authors ’18 We’re 120 authors with debut novels releasing this year in all genres. If you’re looking to win some new books, join us on Facebook June 18th for the Summer Reading List Party!

Find out more here:Authors ’18, here:Website, and here:Facebook page

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Review: The Kiss Quotient

The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1)The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this story. It’s fun, sweet, hot, and sexy in equal measure. Stella is a smart, successful econometrician with a high functioning form of autism. She’s socially awkward and has difficulty with relationships but she also has a mother eager for grandchildren. What’s a sensible, pragmatic woman to do? Hire an escort to help her practice being in a relationship.

Enter Michael, sexy, sensitive, and responsible, struggling with debt and a secret, which is why he takes the job. Did I mention he was sexy?

Their attraction is undeniable and their professional relationship slowly becomes very personal. Each brings out the best in the other. The chemistry is great. The honesty is both humorous and refreshing. A captivating read. I’m ready for the next book–and the movie!

View all my reviews

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Interview with Debra Sennefelder

I recently had an opportunity to talk with author Debra Sennefelder about writing her debut novel, The Uninvited Corpse, the first in The Food Blogger Series. Here’s a little bit about the book:

Leaving behind a failed career as a magazine editor and an embarrassing stint on a reality baking show, newly divorced lifestyle entrepreneur Hope Early thought things were finally on the upswing–until she comes face-to-face with a murderer . . .
TheUninvitedCorpseCoveHope’s schedule is already jam packed with recipe testing and shameless plugs for her food blog as she rushes off to attend a spring garden tour in the charming town of Jefferson, Connecticut. Unfortunately, it isn’t the perfectly arranged potted plants that grab her attention– it’s the bloody body of reviled real estate agent Peaches McCoy . . .
One of the tour guests committed murder, and all eyes are on Hope’s younger sister, Claire Dixon–who, at best, saw Peaches as a professional rival. And suspicions really heat up when another murder occurs the following night. Now, with two messy murders shaking Jefferson and all evidence pointing to Claire, Hope must set aside her burgeoning brand to prove her sister’s innocence. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer intent on making sure her life goes permanently out of style . . .

I enjoyed the heck out of this book. Where did you get the idea?
I was between manuscripts, at the time I was writing a romantic suspense series and I thought about trying to write a cozy again (I’d written one years ago) and thought it would be fun to make the amateur sleuth a food blogger, since I’d been one previously and culinary mysteries were hot. Then the story started to come together over a few weeks and I wrote the first three chapters and sent them off to my critique partner. She loved the pages so I continued.

Are your characters based on real people, or do they come from your imagination?

My characters are not based on real people, but I would say that some of the characters have personality traits or quirks from real people I’ve met.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?

Writing is the top priority of any working day and once that’s done I’ll focus on other tasks such as writing blog posts, promotion or anything else that pops up such as copy edits for another book or page proofs to read for a manuscript just months from being published. Writing full-time sometimes means that I’m working on weekends and holidays. And when I’m writing a first draft I often work beyond the regular work week. I’m finding that each stage of the writing process is handled differently. First drafts are fast and furious and intense while second and third drafts are slower and take longer. I also have to schedule time to develop and test recipes for the books so it’s not unusual to find me baking in the afternoon and me saying “I’m working”.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to cook and bake, of course! I also love to exercise (yes, really) and I enjoy a good shopping expedition. In the evenings I love to read and work on a cross-stitch project.

What are you working on right now?
I’ve just turned in the Murder Wears a Little Black Dress, the first book in the Resale Boutique Mystery series to my editor and I’m now writing the third book in the Food Blogger Mystery series and outlining the second book in the Resale Boutique Mystery Series.

Thanks for stopping by, Debra!CroppedHeadShot

Murder Wears a Little Black Dress releases in January 2019.
The Uninvited Corpse is available now.
If you want to connect with Debra, here’s where you can find her:
Website
Twitter
Instagram
Facebook
Goodreads
Pinterest

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Introducing Frances Wynn

London

Greetings from London, 1899. My name is Frances, Countess of Harleigh and I’m delighted to be sharing a bit about my life with you today.

You may be wondering how I, an American born in Akron, Ohio, became a Countess. The answer, quite simply, is that I owe it to my mother. A decade ago, while my father applied himself to the stock market, my mother, Violet Price set about working her way into New York Society, a daunting task to set oneself.

She failed miserably. The Knickerbocker set simply couldn’t abide the odor of new money. But when my mother heard of the success in London of Lillian Hammersley, Jennie Jerome, and many other girls, she contrived a new plan. She’d launch me onto London Society as the latest American heiress. The soul of efficiency, it took her less than a week to choose my future husband, Reginald Wynn, Earl of Harleigh.

My mother loved Reggie’s title and Reggie loved my money so I suppose one could call it a love match. I went along with the plan. I thought it would be great fun to marry a young, dashing lord. Indeed it was, until just after the wedding when my mother returned to New York, and Reggie returned to his friends and mistresses in town, and left me at the old pile—that’s what they call the ancient manor house.

Through the nine years of our marriage, Reggie remained constant—devoted to my dowry and unfaithful to me right up to the day he died. I never wished him any ill, he was the father of our daughter after all, but I couldn’t help but thrill at the prospect of freedom. Well, I did more than just shiver with excitement. During my mourning period, I made plans to move out on my own and away from my grasping in-laws. Reggie’s brother was the new earl and our arguments over money had become a daily ritual. But in just a few more days, I’ll have my own household.

Well, I won’t be entirely alone. My mother plans a return trip to her old hunting ground to bag another title for the family. After all, she considered my marriage a success, why not marry off my sister, Lily and make some other lord very wealthy.

I mean—happy.

This new stage of my life should be quite busy. I’ll be back in town to visit with my old friends. I must vet Lily’s suitors and at least attempt to keep my mother from matching her with some decrepit duke or marquess. I’ve heard there’ve been some mysterious burglaries in Mayfair and Belgravia but surely a burglar won’t bother with my meager household. And I understand an Inspector Delaney has been asking about me, though I can’t imagine what he wants. Heavens, my life has become so intriguing, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone wrote a book about me.

I’m joking, of course.

Advance Praise For A Lady’s Guide To Etiquette And Murder
“A delightful tale of shenanigans among the British aristocracy. Lady Frances feels very real—not too smart and spunky but no shrinking violet either.” –Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of the Royal Spyness and Molly Murphy mysteries

“Lady Harleigh must rally the support of friends and an attractive neighbor to untangle her affairs in this engrossing tale of aristocratic intrigue. Freeman vividly portrays the opulence of late Victorian life among the British upper crust as Lady Harleigh takes us into the exclusive ballrooms and drawing rooms of London society in 1899. Deception and trickery abound and nothing is exactly as it seems.” –Rosemary Simpson, author of Lies That Comfort and Betray

“Dianne Freeman has penned a mystery that’s witty and fun, with just the right amount of danger and romance to keep you turning pages.” –Alyssa Maxwell, author of A Devious Death

“A fantastic blend of history, mystery and humor. I did not want to put it down. Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer.” –Darcie Wilde, National bestselling author of A Useful Woman and A Purely Private Matter

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Interview with Renee Ann Miller

I recently had an opportunity to talk with author Renee Ann Miller about writing her debut novel, Never Dare a Wicked Earl.
Known as a brazen philanderer, Hayden Milton, Earl of Westfield, is almost done in by a vengeful mNever Dare A Wicked Earl 200 x 300istress who aims a gun at a rather essential part of his anatomy—but ends up wounding his thigh instead. Recuperating in his London townhouse, Hayden is confronted by his new medical attendant. Sophia Camden intrigues him, for behind her starched uniform is an enticing beauty better suited for bedding than dispensing salves and changing bandages.

Unshaken by his arrogance, not to mention impropriety, Sophia offers Hayden a dare: allow her ten days to prove her competency. If she resigns in exasperation like her two predecessors, she will be beholden to this wicked seducer. As a battle of wills begins, Sophia finds herself distracted by the earl’s muscular physique . . . and discovers that the man within longs only for a second chance to love.

I’m a big fan of the Victorian era myself, Renee. How much research did you have to do while writing the book?
The book takes place in 1875, so I had to research everything from the carriages used during this time to the undergarments (unmentionables) people wore. And there are parts of this story where the unmentionable will not only be mentioned, but removed. 😉

Who is your favorite character?
Hmmm, that’s a tough one. I’d say Hayden, Lord Westfield, because he’s the most complex.

If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?
Sophia. We’d go out for Italian ices at Gunter’s Tea Shop and talk about politics, but mostly gossip about the Lord Westfield.

Do you plot heavily when you write, or are you a pantser?
Though I wish I was a plotter, I’m a pantser. When I started this book, I had an idea in my head, but it morphed into something completely different.

What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
Binge snacking! No, in all seriousness, I’d say when my wayward characters cooperate, and the scene comes out the way I envisioned it originally in my head.

Your second book, Never Deceive a Viscount will be out May 29th. What are you working on now?
Editing the third book in my Infamous Lords Series.

Purchase Never Dare A Wicked Earl

If you want to connect with Renee you can find her at the following sites:

Website     Facebook     Twitter     Pinterest     Goodreads

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Interview with Clarissa Goenawan, author of Rainbirds

Clarissa Goenawan’s debut novel, Rainbirds is out today. Happy release day, Clarissa!

Here’s a little bit about the book.

Ren Ishida has nearly completed his graduate degree at Keio University when he receives news of his sister’s violent death. Keiko was stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, failing to understand why she chose to turn her back on the family and TRainbirds-final-cover-198okyo for this desolate place years ago.

But then Ren is offered Keiko’s newly vacant teaching position at a prestigious local cram school and her bizarre former arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician’s mansion in exchange for reading to the man’s ailing wife. He accepts both, abandoning Tokyo and his crumbling relationship there in order to better understand his sister’s life and what took place the night of her death.

As Ren comes to know the eccentric local figures, from the enigmatic politician who’s boarding him to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, captivating young female student, he delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren realizes that Keiko Ishida kept many secrets, even from him.

Sounds intriguing, Clarissa. How did you come up with the idea?
One afternoon, I was just wondering, “What if someone I cared about suddenly passed away, and then, I realized too late that I never actually got to know them?” At first, I wanted to write a short story about a young man who had just lost his older brother, which later on, morphed to an older sister. And then, I realized there were so many things I wanted to explore in their relationship, and that this story has to be a novel.

Can you tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket?
RAINBIRDS is part of a series of interrelated novels. So do keep a lookout at the side characters, because they might be the main characters for the next book.

Who’s your favorite character from the book?
Rio Nakajima, also known as ‘Seven Stars.’ She’s a seventeen-year-old girl who is bright and bold, unafraid to voice her opinion and relentlessly goes after what she wants. She doesn’t care about conforming to public’s expectation, and I really admire her for that.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Surabaya, a city in East Java and also the second most populated city in Indonesia. In my mid-teens, I migrated to Singapore, which I now call home. I live with my husband, three beautiful daughters, and a broken-coated Jack Russell named ‘Hunter.’

How did you get into writing?
It was my childhood dream  I’d loved reading ever since I was a kid and dreamt that one day, I would publish my own book. But I only started to seriously pursuing the profession after I quit my banking job at age twenty-four (probably not the most conventional thing to do, but I never regretted it.)

What’s your next project—what are you working on now?
I’m currently editing my second and third novels, both of them literary mysteries. And just like RAINBIRDS, they’re set in Japan.

You can connect with Clarissa Goenawan here:

Website: http://www.clarissagoenawan.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clarissagoenawan/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClaireClaire05
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/clarissagoenawan/

You can buy a copy of Rainbirds here:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1616958553
Barnes & Nobles: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rainbirds-clarissa-goenawan/1126551443?ean=9781616958558
BookDepository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Rainbirds-Clariss-Goenawan/9781616958558
Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781616958558

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Hey, I’m working here!

I’m talking research again. Historical novels require a lot of it. Fortunately for me, my novels are set in the late 1890s. As history goes, that’s not so long ago and information is boundless. I can get lost in the newspaper archives for hours and yes, I sometimes lose my focus as well. Why am I interested in the cost of leasing a house in a town where none of my characters live? Am I researching or procrastinating? Does it matter? This stuff is fascinating and I’m sure to need it someday.

 

But my favorite research is for the cover image. I’m thrilled my editor actually wants my input. The cover is so much fun—fashions and hairstyles and hats—oh my! I don’t have much of a style of my own, jeans and tee-shirts are fine with me, but there’s something about pouring over vintage fashion plates; the sumptuous fabrics, the draping, the colors, the sheer artistry of design that brings out my inner fashionista.

Florio Summer day dressOne of my favorite places to search is the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum http://collections.vam.ac.uk/search/ . That’s where I found this fabulous confection. Doesn’t it just conjure the image of Eliza Doolittle at Royal Ascot shouting, “Come on, Dover! Move yer bloomin’ arse!”

 

As it happens, my main character, Frances doesn’t attend the races, at least not in this book, so I had to move on to more appropriate attire. Another of my go-to sites for 1890s fashion, is The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s digital collection, which contains fashion plates from the Costume Institute. https://libmma.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15324coll12  Fanchon walking dress for summer

 

Here I don’t have to settle on a typical outfit of the era. I can narrow my search to the year and even the season. Believe it or not, this is a summer walking dress. Significantly more covered than we’d see today.

Again the hat is simply a work of art. Do I wear hats? No, never. I can’t explain my fascination, but I love whiling away many happy hours browsing through these plates.

And I get to call it work.

 

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Thoughts On Saying Yes and Introducing Clarissa Harwood

Many years ago, in a dark, noisy bar, I was standing by the stage listening to a band, when a big burley guy approached and asked if I was Becky. As I said, no, a woman dressed in black leather tapped him on the shoulder and said, “I’m Becky.”

With that, he picked her up, flung her onto the stage, and handed her a microphone. Two spotlights illuminated her and she belted out a song.

I reeled back against the wall where I closed my eyes and gave thanks to my mother, my father, and God that my name wasn’t Becky.

Since that time, I’ve found that while I’ll never be comfortable on a stage under spotlights, it’s good to challenge myself, move outside my comfort zone, and say “yes” to opportunities. Authors 18, the debut author group I belong to, has offered me those opportunities and I’m happy to say this introvert has jumped on them. From small things like organizing a Twitter chat and running the risk that no one would show up, to doing a live radio interview! The fact that others in my group did it and survived, made me believe I could do it too. That’s one of the many benefits this group has given me.

My next challenge? An Authors 18 Facebook launch party! 10 debut authors will introduce you to 10 fabulous books. We’ll have fun, we’ll have contests. You could win books or maybe even fancy author swag. If you read, you won’t want to miss this!

January 17th, 8:00 pm – 10:30 pm (EST)  https://www.facebook.com/authors18/

FB Jan party pic

An Interview with Clarissa Harwood

I had the pleasure of interviewing two of the authors from the launch party. I posted Pamela Kopfler’s interview on my last blog. This week I’m talking with Clarissa Harwood about her debut novel, IMPOSSIBLE SAINTS, which released January 2nd.

Clarissa Harwood

England, 1907. Lilia Brooke bursts into Paul Harris’s orderly life, shattering his belief that women are gentle creatures who need protection. Lilia wants to change women’s lives by advocating for the vote, free unions, and contraception. Paul, an Anglican priest, has a big ambition of his own: to become the youngest dean of St. John’s Cathedral. Lilia doesn’t believe in God, but she’s attracted to Paul’s intellect, ethics, and dazzling smile.
As Lilia finds her calling in the militant Women’s Social and Political Union, Paul is increasingly driven to rise in the church. They can’t deny their attraction, but they know they don’t belong in each other’s worlds. Paul and Lilia must reach their breaking points before they can decide whether their love is worth fighting for.

Where did you get the idea for the book?

The genesis of the novel was a scene that popped into my head about twenty years ago: it was as vivid and detailed as if I were watching a movie. I saw a confrontation in a meadow between a studious boy who didn’t know how to play, and a fiery girl pretending to be Jeanne d’Arc, leading her army of brothers. That scene haunted me for many years before I finally gave in and started writing Paul and Lilia’s story. The scene doesn’t appear in the finished novel, but both Paul and Lilia refer to it and remember it as their first meeting.
No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.

My protagonists’ choice of heroes says a lot about them. Paul’s hero is the Victorian founder of the Oxford Movement (and ultimately Anglo-Catholicism), John Henry Newman. Lilia’s hero is early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?

I’d be happy to spend a day with either Lilia or Paul, but Paul is harder to get to know and I could see myself becoming frustrated with his reserved nature. The two of us might just sit in opposite corners of a room reading books! It would be more interesting to follow Lilia around, hearing her speeches and watching the effect she has on the people around her: she’s very charismatic and passionate about women’s rights. Maybe she’d let me be her personal assistant!

Can you share a teaser from your book?

“How well do you know Whitechapel?” she asked.
He hesitated.
“Have you ever been there?”
“No,” he admitted, “but I don’t need to go to Hell to know I don’t want to spend time there.”
She laughed. “That’s a terrible analogy.”
“Don’t you think you could better achieve your ends by adding a little prudence to your fearlessness?”
“You sound like my mother.” She tapped her foot impatiently. “Why is it that men’s courage is called bravery but women’s courage is called recklessness—or, even worse, foolishness? If I were a man, would you urge me to be prudent?”
“I certainly would,” he said firmly. “Not everything is a question of sex.”
“That’s where you’re wrong. Everything is a question of sex, but because you’re a man, you don’t see it.”

If you’d like to connect with Clarissa you can find her on her website or connect with her on Facebook , Twitter , or Goodreads .  You can order Impossible Saints Here or your favorite retailer.

 

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Authors 18/Introducing Pamela Kopfler

As a debut author, I’m always looking for advice. It felt like I was writing my book forever and I pretty much had the writing part down. Once my book sold, I found myself in unknown territory–publishing. The one piece of advice I received more than any other was to join a debut author group. If I couldn’t find one, I should start one. Well, I couldn’t find one, so I started one. And it’s the best first step I ever took.

Authors 18 banner

All of our members are in the same situation, but at different stages. We’ve learned from each other, shared tips, given and received support. Over the long months building up to our 2018 releases, we’ve become a writing family, and today one of our own is releasing her book! I couldn’t be more excited for Pamela Kopfler and BETTER DEAD.

Since I write historical mystery, one thing I thought I’d do with this blog is introduce some new Mystery and Historical fiction I’ve enjoyed. So with no further ado:

Here’s the book!

Pamela KopflerA feisty B & B owner believes her cheatin’ husband deserves to choke on his divorce papers and spend eternity roasting in hell after nearly bankrupting her Louisiana bed and breakfast. At least, she’s half-right when he turns up dead, but she’s dead wrong when she accidentally calls him back from the grave. Unfortunately, he has unfinished business. Unless she wants to be stuck with her ghostly ex forever, she has to wedge him through the pearly gates by cleaning up the mess he left behind—a smuggling ring he started behind her back at her B&B. Now she has thirty days to solve her not-so-dearly-departed’s murder or she’s stuck with him for life. Or worse, she may be doing life.

Amazon   B & N   BAM

Here’s a short interview with Pamela.

Tell us about yourself. 
PK: My husband and I have a blended family of five, which is sometimes a circus and sometimes wonderful, but always a blessing. I count my days on earth by the lives dogs adopted. My current fur baby is a solid black standard poodle who thinks he’s the sixth child. Between you and me, he is.

How did you get into writing?
PK: I took the scenic route, as I often do. I was hosting a home and garden show on a local TV station, telling Southern anecdotal stories on a local NPR affiliate when I met Mr. Deluxe, my current husband. After a year of our long distance relationship, he popped the big question, but someone had to move. That someone was me. The only marketable skill that survived the move was my ability to write, so write I did.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
PK: Read a good book. Walk my big black poodle. Try a new restaurant or an old favorite. Paint. Cook. Decorate. Garden. Watch the Tigers or the Saints play. Travel. I don’t get to do these things as much as I’d like, but each interest fills the well that spills out stories.

Where did you get the idea?
PK: The inspiration for BETTER DEAD came during a writers’ retreat at Nottoway Plantation in Louisiana. The organizer challenged the authors to write a ghost story in the spirit of Lord Byron’s challenge to Mary Shelly to write a supernatural story at a retreat in 1816. Shelly gave us the classic Frankenstein. Pamela twisted Frankenstein and added a funny bone when she remembered a lament of many women going through divorce. It would have been easier if he’d just died. But what if he did die and he came back as a ghost? That thought sparked the premise for BETTER DEAD.

 

If you want to connect with Pamela, you can visit her website, or find her on Facebook,  Twitter, or Instagram

 

 

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A Piece of History

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I write historical mystery, which takes a great deal of research. Every now and then I come across a little historical gem that stirs my imagination and I have to write about it. One of the most intriguing of those … Continue reading

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