Contest Author Interview – Julie Coulter Bellon

(NOTE: If you haven’t yet heard about the contest I’m running through September 24th, go here to see the 50 different prizes and entry details and please think about entering. After all, there’s no limit on number of entries and there are many ways to enter. If you’ve already entered, remember that leaving a comment about this interview earns you yet another entry!)

I came to know Julie while working under her on the board of directors of LDStorymakers. She was chair that first year I was a member of the group and very open and supportive of  my ideas for the new website. Both of us share an expatriate kind of background and appreciation, therefore, for international thrillers. All of her novels are now available as ebooks.

Me:  Let’s see . . . Eight books, eight children. Which was harder? And do you get any rewrites on your parenting?

Julie:  Well, since my children are so unpredictable and my characters generally do what I tell them to, I’d say that raising children is harder. Parenting is so rewarding, though, and I get to laugh a lot, so I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I wish you all could be at our dinner table each night. It’s so fun to have a big family. As for rewrites on my parenting, thankfully my children are pretty forgiving and give me lots of chances when I mess up.

Me:  Personally, I have a thing for the number 9, but why do you prefer 8? Does it have any significance beyond your children and books?

Julie:  Eight has been my lucky number my entire life. Good things always happen to me when I’m having an “8” birthday like 8, 18, 28, etc. I can always count on my lucky number eight.

(Hmmm. As it just so happens, I only prepared eight questions to ask you, so I guess this is your lucky interview!)

Me:  What is the biggest difference between a Canadian and an American? Please tell us about where you grew up and whether you return to Canada often to visit.

Julie:  For me, there’s subtle differences between being Canadian and American. My critique group tells me all the time that my Canadian comes through in my writing because I’m too polite. Canadians are pretty laid-back, but that’s probably because they have the best food in the world to eat. Canadian chocolate and cereal are to die-for. Thankfully my mom sends me care packages in the mail so I don’t have to go too long without them. Our family also gets to have two Thanksgivings because I celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with them in October and we also celebrate American Thanksgiving with my husband and his family. I’d say we’re pretty lucky!

I grew up in Alberta and I don’t get home as often as I’d like. My entire family still lives there and I miss them terribly.

(Now I’ve heard of–and tasted–Swiss chocolate, and I’ve even heard of the wonders of New Zealand chocolate…but Canadian chocolate? Who knew?)

Me:  Are you still practicing the bagpipes and why?

Julie:  Sadly, I haven’t practiced them recently. I only know one song (Amazing Grace) and so I obviously need to expand my repertoire and practice a little more. I plan to start up again as soon as the baby’s a little older and I can explain to him why he needs to wear earplugs. Ha!

Me:  How did you get acquainted with Ms. Shreditor? Please tell my readers what they can do to avail themselves of her services.

Julie:  I have this wonderful feature on my blog called First Page Friday where I have my national editor friends, Ms. Shreditor and Angela Eschler (president of Eschler Editing), critique aspiring authors/published authors’ first pages. Two years ago when I was listening to a panel of agents and editors talk about the fact that if the first page doesn’t grab them, they usually reject it, I thought I would use editing contacts I had to help authors polish those important first pages. It has been such a learning experience both for me and my readers. I’m so grateful for Ms. Shreditor and to Angela who put in so much work to give back to the writing community.

(Here’s an example of what she’s talking about.)

Me:  What exotic locale are you planning on taking your readers to next, and what’s the basic storyline (if you’re that far into it)?

Julie:  Well, I have a book coming out in a few weeks, ALL FALL DOWN, that is set in Connecticut and Afghanistan. It’s about a hostage negotiator, Claire Michaels, who ends up in the middle of an international incident with a Navy SEAL and his brother. I loved writing this story!

(Let’s interrupt the interview for a moment to share the cover of Julie’s new novel, as well as the back cover copy. After all, it comes out at the end of September!)

Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies,

ashes, ashes we all fall down . . .

That simple rhyme turns negotiator Claire Michaels’ current hostage situation into an international incident. Claire just wants to help get everyone out safely, but as the crisis escalates she realizes she’s dealing with an al-Qaeda operative who has the means to become another bin Laden–with the potential to attack America. Claire has her own personal reasons for wanting to stop al-Qaeda, but time is slipping away as negotiations break down. Can she overcome her scars of the past in order to get the hostage out alive and possibly stop an assault on U.S. national security?

Navy SEAL Rafe Kelly is on leave to recover from a knee injury he suffered during his tour in Afghanistan and he doesn’t expect to be fighting terrorists on his home turf. But when he is taken hostage and his brother is kidnapped, Rafe teams up with a hostage negotiator in order to stay alive and get his brother back. The terrorist is always one step ahead of them, however, and the situation quickly turns from desperate to deadly. Will Rafe be able to save himself and his country without anyone he loves getting caught in the crossfire?

(Okay, back to the interview)

I’m working on a sequel to my novel, RIBBON OF DARKNESS, and it will be set in Greece. I loved visiting Athens and the island of Crete and I can’t wait to make the setting come alive for my readers. Basically, it’s Kennedy’s story (from RIBBON OF DARKNESS), and she’s still trying to solve her sister’s murder, but as an international journalist, she’s also covering some of the chaos going on in Greece. She gets caught up in a volatile situation with a Greek terrorist group and it will take everything she has to come out of it alive. That one should be released next spring.

Me:  As a former chair of LDStorymakers, can you tell us how that position impacted your writing, if at all?

Julie:  Being the chairman of LDStorymakers gave me the opportunity to work closely with a committee of incredible authors I admire and I loved getting to know them better. I’m glad we have organizations that support writers and help inspire us to become better at out craft. It was a lot of hard work because in addition to my responsibilities to the board, I also had a baby during my tenure, and released a book. But it was an experience that I wouldn’t trade because of the friendships I made.

Me:  Finally, would you please describe your office or workspace in the point of view of a spy who has broken into your home to find an important document.

Julie:  Well, my workspace is in between my family room and kitchen, so if they were looking for a document, they could expect to find it fairly easily (well, they’d have to go through my pile of permission slips, emergency contact forms, and disclosure documents from the schools that I got this week). Since I have so many kids it would probably have a food stain of some sort or be wrinkly from a drink spilled on it, though. (Okay, okay, it’s not all the kids’ fault. I do like to eat at my desk. So, the spy would probably be able to see some clues as to what I ate for lunch.)

Thank you so much for interviewing me. This was one of the most fun interviews I’ve ever done.

Me:  My pleasure. (Blush)

You can find out more about Julie and her books on her blog or her website, and you can follow her on Twitter (@juliebellon). Feel free to “like” her on Facebook, as well.

Originally posted 2012-09-03 02:05:36.

Contest Author Interview – Janette Rallison

(NOTE: If you haven’t yet heard about the contest I’m running through September 24th, go here to see all the prizes and details and please think about entering. After all, there’s no limit on number of entries and there are many ways to enter. If you’ve already entered, remember that leaving a comment about this interview earns you another entry!)

I first got to know Janette when she was the keynote speaker at the 2010 ANWA Northwest Writer’s Retreat. Two years ago, she seemed a bit concerned that she might never break out of the mid list as an author. Since then, she has taken on a second identity (C.J. Hill) and seems to be really expanding her reach among YA readers. Not only that, but she is the current president of ANWA (American Night Writers Association). Through it all, she retains that sense of humor we all love about her–author and reader, alike.

Me:  Are you writing these days more as C.J. Hill or as Janette Rallison, and how do you keep it all straight? Do you wear two different, actual hats . . . or play different kinds of music for each kind of writing? In other words, what is the great secret to multi-task writing? (If you haven’t heard that term before, then I made it up.)

Janette:  I never play any sorts of music, as I would concentrate on that instead of writing. The secret to my multi-task writing is that I eat lots of chocolate while I try to get things done. At least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

(Ah, but then how does she stay so thin? I should have had a follow-up question. Darn it!)

I’ve been writing more as CJ Hill lately (action-adventure with some romance, of course) because I sold two of those books and this year I’ve been writing sequels to both. It’s harder for me to write action than romantic comedies so this has been a challenge for me. I prefer witty banter. In action books, you’ve got to think of creative ways to do fight scenes. It’s hard to come up with a shootout that hasn’t already been done a jillion times. (And yes, there actually have been a jillion shootouts.)

Me:  As a fellow cat person, I’d like to know how you cats influence your writing (beyond blocking the screen, which my cat, Peach, is a pro at? Or does the dog steal the show there?

Janette:  The dog is good (unless I’m driving somewhere in the car, and then she wants to be my co-pilot). I have a cat, though, who thinks her place in life is to sit on my lap. It’s hard to write one-handed while petting a cat, but it can be done.

I have a scene in ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE, WAR, AND HIGH SCHOOL where my main character is in a car with a freaked-out cat. That scene was inspired by a trip to the vet with one of my cats. For some reason, she thought she should spend the ride sitting atop my head. So yeah, I guess you can say my cats have influenced my writing.

Me:  I know you think you are old, but I have it on good authority (your own website and Wikipedia) that I’m a good bit older than you. (And I’m not the one who’s on Wikipedia, by the way.) That being the case, you are obviously young, at least in my eyes. Still, do you foresee writing YA fiction for the rest of your life? Or do you itch to write for a different audience?

Janette:  I actually have no idea. I still have a lot of book ideas that are young adult, but I also have ideas for romances and fantasies. So who knows? That’s one of the nice things about writing. You can reinvent yourself. I never thought I would write four action books in a row (five, if you count the one that’s still with my agent) and that’s what I’ve spent the last couple of years doing.

Me:  Do any of your children aspire to write, and if so, do you encourage it or not?

Janette:  My oldest two daughters both love to read and tinker with the idea of writing a novel someday. I encourage them–but I also tell them they need another career skill. Very few writers can support themselves right off, if ever. One of my sons wants to do a comic strip. He’s the most serious about it. He has a drawer full of comic strips he’s done (while he’s supposed to be paying attention in church) and just started putting some of them up on a blog. You can see them here.

Me:  Which, of all the characters you’ve ever written, was most reflective of you? And which was most reflective of your husband?

Janette:  Hmmm. There’s a little bit of me in all of my characters. Ellie from WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED is pretty much me (well, you know, me if I was younger, thinner, and prettier) and Jessica from FAME, GLORY, AND OTHER THINGS ON MY TO DO LIST was a lot like me as a teen.

I tried to make my husband the male lead in WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED since I’d put myself in as the heroine. It was supposed to be this really sweet gesture on my part. Unfortunately, I had to fire him after about two pages. My husband is really laid back and he would never argue with the heroine.

Notice yet another Nom de Plume?

Ironically, in my paranormal romance HUNTERS AND HUNTED (this is the book that’s still with my agent, because publishers think paranormal romance is dead) the heroine has two love interests. One of them, Jack, is probably the most like my husband of any male lead I’ve ever written. After my husband read the manuscript, I asked him what he thought of Jack.

“He’s a jerk,” my husband said. “He kills people.”

Well, yeah, there is that. Jack isn’t at all like my husband in that way.

(Good thing!)

Me:  What are you working on right now?

Janette:  Revisions for the ERASING TIME sequel (ECHO IN TIME) and then I’ll be working on revising the SLAYERS sequel. But never worry, Janette Rallison fans. I’ll be starting a new fairy godmother book in a couple of months.

(Talk about multi-tasking!!! But while we’re on the subject of ERASING TIME, check out her terrific trailer here.)

Me:  With all the writing you do, I am most curious about your workspace or office. Please describe it in a YA voice.

Janette:  Imagine a teen girl blinking up at you from an office chair. “What do you mean my feet aren’t supposed to go on the desk? Where else am I supposed to put them?” She sighs in exasperation and grabs a half-eaten brownie. “Never mind, I’ll just take my laptop to my bed.” Another dramatic sigh, because that’s what teens are good at. “Now, like, everybody leave me alone. I’ve got stuff to do.”

(I think we get the picture…no space on the floor…half-eaten brownie. Sound familiar, anyone?)

Me:  And finally, could you please describe (in your mother’s voice) your bedroom as a teenager.

Janette:  Imagine an older woman shaking her head with something akin to despair. “Have you ever thought about hanging up your clothes instead of leaving them in piles everywhere? You’re going to step on those books and those records, and whatever else is under that pile of clothes. And will you please take down those posters of Richard Hatch? It’s creepy the way his eyes always watch me when I walk in here.”

A lack of floor space. Some things apparently never change.

Seriously, if you want to know more about Janette, you can try the Wikipedia article (which doesn’t have nearly enough, by the way) or, even better, her website . . . or her other website!

Originally posted 2012-08-31 04:00:34.

Off to the Big Apple!

Just a quick note here to say that those of you who have signed up for my newsletter will have to be patient a little while longer. I figured I’d wait until mid-month to send it out, so that you can be the first to see pictures from NYC…and hear how the book launch is shaping up.

We promised our son, Jason, a trip to New York to see some Broadway shows after he graduated from high school, since he did so well. Besides, it’s our 25th wedding anniversary on September 1st, so we figured we’d combine the celebrations.

I know, you’re thinking, “What? You’re taking your son with you on a wedding anniversary trip?”…But, hey, when you’ve got an Aspie in the family, such considerations are moot. Besides, Jason’s a ton of fun, AND I want him to see the sites Daphne visits in A NIGHT ON MOON HILL. (I want to see them, too. I only researched them from afar.)

I promise to get all the relevant (and some irrelevant) pictures, some of which I’ll only share in my newsletter.

The real questions are: Will Jason survive the crowds? And will he stubbornly survive on bananas, Cheerios, and cinnamon cookies for 5 days straight (with maybe a grilled cheese sandwich here and there), or will he finally succumb to a more varied diet? (Keeping my fingers crossed.)

We’re going to see “Wicked,” “Phantom of the Opera,” and “The Lion King,” as well as the 9/11 Memorial, Central Park, and a few MOON HILL sites.

If you’ve been to New York City, what must we absolutely not miss?

Originally posted 2012-08-30 06:00:13.

Contest Author Interview – Jewel Adams

(NOTE: If you haven’t yet heard about the contest I’m running through September 24th, go here to see all the prizes and details and please think about entering. After all, there’s no limit on number of entries and there are many ways to enter. If you’ve already entered, remember that leaving a comment about this interview earns you another entry!)

Jewel Adams has been writing for about 20 years and though she’s tackled different genres, her heart keeps leading her back to romance–clean romance, that is. It’s no wonder that she’s the president-elect of Utah Romance Writers of America. Let’s get straight to the nitty gritty, shall we? And by that, I mean snack food. Any writer worth his/her salt needs regular supplies of snackage. Jewel’s snack of choice is a bit different.

Me:  Okay, when and why did you get hooked on orange Tic Tacs? Usually, female writers have a thing for chocolate? Why doesn’t chocolate do it for you?

Jewel:  Well, I’ve always enjoyed popping a Tic Tac or two, but a few years ago, I decided to save money and buy the big 4-packs of orange Tic Tacs. I found I enjoyed them so much, I started popping ten at a time, and though I still enjoy chocolate, there is just something about the burst of flavor that comes with a small handful of those little orange jewels. My thought process speeds up, I type faster, jump higher, all kinds of things. My family calls it my drug of choice:-)

(I see…Excuse me while I unwrap another Hershey’s Miniature.)

Me:  You’re mainly known as a romance writer. What sets your romances apart from the usual romance?

Jewel:  I do interracial inspirational romance. At first, I wrote it because that is what I know (my husband is white), but I discovered there was an untapped market for BW/WM romance novels. My stories are clean but passionate and I’ve been really blessed to gain the die-hard fans I have.

Me:  How long have you been writing, and how did you manage to fit it in while having and raising 8 children?

Jewel:  Oh, a long time. My first book was traditionally published in 1998. It was an interracial YA romance that I’ve since pulled apart and integrated parts of the story in other novels because the writing was so terrible. Since I’ve always home-schooled my kids, I used to do a lot of noon-time and late-night writing. I only have two left that I am still teaching, but since they are older, I basically fit it in anywhere I can. But I’m still a night owl because that’s when my thoughts really flow.

Me:  I’m not a romance reader, so I may be displaying my ignorance here, but have you ever written a romance in which the hero was less than handsome, or is that just not allowed? If not, why not?

Jewel:  For the most part my heroes are pretty smashing in the looks department, but I did write a novelette about a woman who falls for a disfigured man. He was once a firefighter until he was injured on duty, and half his face was badly scarred, like Phantom of the Opera scarred. But the woman fell in love with his heart, and to her, he was beautiful. It’s one of my favorites.

(In case, you’re doubting the “pretty smashing” phrase, have a look at her latest)

Me:  What other genres have you tried and are you still writing other genres?

Jewel:  I have a couple of chapter books that have gotten great responses from both kids and adults. It’s an adventure series that was a blast to write. I also do romantic fantasy, which I thought would be pretty challenging, but in both series I was pleased with the finished product.

Me:  Okay, let’s say it’s time to start drafting yet another romance. What do you do to get yourself in the mood to write about love? And is there a particular location, either inside your house or outside, that is more conducive to penning such stories?

Jewel:  I always tell people my husband is the reason I’m such a romantic because he is. So I’m always in the mood . . . to write, that is:-)  Every time I get done with a story and tell myself I am going to take a break, my brain doesn’t listen, so I usually end up having an idea pop into my head just as I am about to turn off the lamp and go to sleep. I just have to jot it down before I can sleep.

(I think it may have something to do with all those Tic Tacs . . .)

Me:  Please describe your writing process at least up to the point before which your brain feels fried.

Jewel:  When I get a new idea for a story, I begin and just let it take me wherever. Sometimes I begin, and then skip to the end before coming back to the beginning. As long as I know where the story will start and how it will end, it’s easier to fill in the rest, especially with novellas and novelettes. I don’t really have a set amount of time I write. I just do it until I need to stop to do other things, like clean the house, cook, do laundry, and other things I try to avoid:-)

(I hear you. Laundry? What’s that?)

Me:  Finally, which writers inspire you the most?

Jewel:  Wow, there are so many, but some of my favorites are Dorothy Keddington, Phillipa Gregory, Carol Warburton, Marcia Lynn McClure, Richard Paul Evans, Melissa de la Cruz, and so many more.

(Carol, are your ears burning?)

If you’d like to learn more about Jewel and her writing, check her website or her blog.

Originally posted 2012-08-29 06:00:45.

Contest Author Interview – Liz Adair

(NOTE: If you haven’t yet heard about the contest I’m running through September 24th, go here to see all the prizes and details and please think about entering. After all, there’s no limit on number of entries and there are many ways to enter. If you’ve already entered, remember that leaving a comment about this interview earns you another entry!)

Full disclosure: Liz and I have become very good friends since we got together to form a small critique group a couple of years ago, so if I come off as a bit irreverent during this interview, please understand that I can’t help myself. That’s why I’m grateful to have Liz in my life. She is always a lady and sets the example I try to follow. She has led a varied and interesting life, as you will learn below.

Liz has been writing seriously since 1989–mostly mysteries and romantic suspense–but we’re all grateful that she heeded the inner call to pursue a story from her own family history and penned COUNTING THE COST (more about that later). Not only did it win her the 2009 Whitney Award for Romance, but it was a finalist for the Willa Award and Arizona Publisher Association’s Glyph Award! She recently became chair of the board of directors for LDStorymakers. Her latest novel, COLD RIVER, is on our prize list.

Me:  Of all the places you’ve lived–New Mexico, Wyoming, Alaska, Utah, Arizona, Washington, etc.–which do you return to most in your dreams? Or are your dreams in entirely different places? Or do you even remember your dreams?

Liz:  I don’t remember my dreams, much. I dream in narrative, though, and sometimes I’ll wake up after a particularly riveting story and think, “Dang, I’m good.”

Me:  I happen to know you’ve held a variety of jobs throughout your life. Could you give us a quick rundown? And which provided the best fodder for your writing?

Liz:  My first job was in Alaska when I was 14. I worked at the Knik Drive In, Home of the Huskyburger. Later, I did the clerk-typist thing for the Bureau of Reclamation and kept books at an auto parts store during college, and then taught school for several years. I had a small wholesale bakery that the kids and I ran, and I’ve worked in construction management for the last fifteen years. It’s all fodder. I used my teaching experience for COLD RIVER, but my construction experience informed Spider Latham’s character. He was a man who worked with his hands.

Me:  Tell us about your writing process in the voice of either Heck Benham, the handsome cowhand, or Ruth Reynolds, beautiful city girl, in your Whitney Award-winning novel COUNTING THE COST. (I’m just trying to help you along in your current writing…consider this a writing prompt.)

Liz:  Well, my writin’ process is kinda like punchin’ cows. You gotta stick in that saddle, and rope and hog tie those phrases that come trottin’ outa your imagination. It’s long, lonely, dusty work, and sometimes at the end of the day you’ve just got a hole in your jeans where your backside hit the chair to show for your work. But you keep on, ’cause that’s what you do.

(Well done, Heck!)

Me:  Tell us which moniker you prefer privately–Just Liz, Mother Earth, Business Mogul, or Literary Lady–and why. (I’m not making this easy for you, am I? But hey, I left out Storymakers Queen Bee, so you should feel fortunate.)

Liz:  I guess ‘Just Tudy’ would suit me fine. It’s a nickname, the name I grew up with and preferred. (Elizabeth was soooo stuffy.) But in college we had 2 Judys in our apartment, and adding a Tudy made for more confusion. My roommates declared that I MUST become Liz. So I did. I have to admit that once I finally grew up, I kinda liked my given name.

Me:  Of all the characters in your books, which most closely resembles the love of your life, your husband, Derrill? Details please. (You may never want to do an interview with me again. LOL.)

Liz:  Oh, I freely admit that Spider Latham is Derrill. I’ve had men that read the book wonder how I could write so convincingly from the male point of view, and I can’t count the women who have said to me, “I just love Spider latham.” I had one say so just the other night. How are they alike? Hmmm. Derrill is a problem solver. So is Spider. Spider’s a deep thinker–so is Derrill, but both can poke fun at themselves. Growing up in a small town where generations of family have been reared has grounded them both. They know who they are, and it gives them an inner strength.

Me:  I’d ask about your writing space, but that wouldn’t be fair since you’ve only just moved into a new house in Southern Utah. So, instead, please describe your car and how well it might serve (or not) as a temporary office. (Also, please provide a picture, because if you don’t, I’ll post the one of you on the ATV.)

Liz:  My car is hugely impractical, I know. I drive a Mazda Miata and love it. It keeps my life interesting and helps on the budget because my Costco trips are limited to what I can carry home. As far as using it as an office–I do carry my Alphasmart with me in my purse in case I find time to write.

Liz, or “Tudy,” in her bright red Miata

Me:  What are you working on now in terms of your writing (whether in the house, your car, an internet café, or on the ATV)?

Liz:  I’m rewriting COUNTING THE COST. Christine Thackeray worked with me on a screenplay for it and said that it wasn’t really Heck’s story, it was Ruth’s, and it needed to start with Ruth, before she came to New Mexico. So that’s what I’ve been doing lately. I’m also working on a romantic suspense that has illegal aliens, flying cars, dynamite, and a terrific car chase.

(Hmmm. No doubt she’s conducting some actual research on the car chase in her Miata. I wonder how tough the cops are there in Kanab?)

Me:  Finally, as the new chair of LDStorymakers, how would you describe the organization and your vision for its future?

Liz:  I am so excited about LDStorymakers and what is happening there. The organization is peopled with writers dedicated to helping those who have a literary bent learn the craft. I believe that as we help good writers become better, more and more LDS writers will find themselves in the national–and world–market. My vision is that LDS writers will tip the scales towards good in the eternal ‘good vs evil’ scenario.

I tend to agree. If you want to learn more about Liz and her books, please check out her blog. And if you’re down around Kanab, Utah, watch out for a bright red Mazda Miata. ZOOM, ZOOM!

Originally posted 2012-08-27 06:00:29.

Contest Author Interview – Margaret Turley

(NOTE: If you haven’t yet heard about the contest I’m running through September 24th, go here to see all the prizes and details and please think about entering. After all, there’s no limit on number of entries and there are many ways to enter. If you’ve already entered, remember that leaving a comment about this interview earns you another entry!)

Along with writing and nursing, Margaret Turley is an activist of the best kind–always trying to find ways to serve and help–and in that role she helped to co-found Writers Unite to Fight Cancer two years ago. This is a cause that certainly touches every family in some way, and I was excited to give her an opportunity to tell a little more about the organization during my interview.

ALSO: As a special offer from Margaret, starting today for five days, readers may download a free Kindle version of SAVE THE CHILD. After August 28th, the ebook will revert to its normal price of $2.99 per copy.

Me:  Tell us about your first experiences with nursing, and whether or not you wrote a story about it.

Margaret:  I grew up on a farm and so I had the opportunity to nurse many animals. One of the more memorable experiences was when our mother sow had 13 piglets, and 4 runts were too tiny and weak to get the food they needed. I lined a cardboard box and put it in my bedroom and fed them with a doll bottle every hour around the clock. Only one made it out of the four. What helped the most was after he was a week old my dad encouraged me to take him outside and introduce him to Betsy, our old Holstein cow. Her udder was so low that her teats dragged the ground and were very tough. She stood very still and let the piglet suckle from her teat until he had his fill, and then he would trot behind her like a calf. It was delightful to watch. I’ve written down many stories about my pets and farm animals in the past. Some have been lost between moves. Others are lost due to change in technology — with irretrievable data bases. Some of my favorite books to read are the James Herriot series.

Me:  What made you choose nursing as a career, and do you see any similarities between being a nurse and being a writer?

Margaret:  I’ve always loved helping others and caring for people and animals and plants since I was a small child. Science fascinated me in school. If I had endless time and resources, I would be an eternal student and do research. In that way, nursing (a scientifically based art of healing) and writing (a creative art) share the common need for research in order to produce the best outcome. One of my favorite parts of nursing is educating patients about what to do to take care of themselves to enjoy a healthy and happy life. As a writer, I continue to practice that educational part of my nursing with my blog on the Save the Child website. There, I share information about cancer, healthcare, children’s health, parents’ rights and other related issues.

Me:  What made you write SAVE THE CHILD?


While I was traveling to work one day, the news broadcast a story about a mother who was refusing chemotherapy treatment for her son. Because I am a nurse, I asked myself, “Why would a mother decide against the best that medicine could offer for her offspring?” The story unfolded over the next few weeks. The doctors insisted the boy had a virulent cancer that needed immediate attention. Even when threatened with jail and loss of custody, the parents were unrelenting in their premise that they felt their child did not have cancer, and they did not want him to receive chemotherapy. After they were charged with kidnapping their own child because they crossed state lines, a judge listened to the parents and halted the medical community and government forces.

What the parents wanted was an independent, out-of-state medical work-up for their son. The judge allowed them to seek this consultation. The child was discovered to be free of cancer! I sighed with relief. The judge saved this boy from the horrible side-effects of chemotherapy, which include nausea, pain, sores, compromised immune systems, sterility, major organ damage, secondary cancers, and even death.

One of the most important roles of a nurse is to be a patient advocate. During my thirty-four-year career, I have observed more than one situation where a patient and/or their family were not listened to. This can cause grave problems and errors, not the least of which is that patients and families must endure procedures they don’t understand or agree with. It’s my hope that the medical community and the law can come together to serve the best interest of the child and family.

In the U.S., parents do not have the right to make medical decisions for their children from the time they are born until they reach the age of majority. Doctors and hospitals need to respect the different backgrounds, cultures, religious beliefs, and preferred approaches to healthcare that individuals and families have. In SAVE THE CHILD I have explored a few of these options.

Me:  Tell us about your organization Writers Unite to Fight Cancer and how other authors can join the cause.


WUFC was founded in June of 2010. Our mission is to raise community awareness about cancer and raise money for cancer research, while supporting authors with venues and encouragement. The money we raise supports the American Association for Cancer Research, because we believe in their comprehensive and innovative approach.

Today’s cancer researchers are on the verge of life-saving discoveries. But what scientists desperately need are the funds required to mount an all-out assault against cancer. One in three people will develop cancer during their life. This year, 1,529,560 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer, and more than 7.6 million people around the world will die from it.

Authors who would like to join our efforts should contact me, Margaret L. Turley, Administrator, using the link on this web page. Writers may participate in local events, and they can help by listing a link on their website to generate contributions to the AACR.

Me:  I understand the submission period just closed for the WUFC First Annual Charity Writing Contest. When do you expect the anthology of winning stories to be published, and will there be a contest again next year?

Margaret:  People can start ordering copies of the anthology at the Awards Ceremony that will be held in Changing Hands Book Store on Thursday, September 27th, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. We hope it will be ready by the first of the year. We have received some great submissions that are in the process of being judged at this time. We will hold the annual contest every year and choose a beneficiary that promotes community awareness, assistance and cancer research.

Me:  What are you working on now in terms of writing?

Margaret:  I’m working on a mystery suspense thriller that also involves a heart transplant (can’t leave out the medical/nursing side of my brain).

Me:  Describe your writing process.

Margaret:  I write down ideas as they come to me. I keep notebooks with me everywhere–purse, car, by the bed, in the living room. I will use paper towels and napkins, if necessary. I’ll let them mull around for a while. Then I’ll write out a page or so of narrative outline. Then I start researching and writing scenes. Then more scenes to connect the other scenes and set up other scenes and resolve other scenes and so forth until we reach the end (we, meaning the characters and I together).

Me:  Finally, how important, in your view, is the role of a writer in today’s society?

Margaret:  No matter what genre the writer chooses to direct their pen or stroke their keys, they reflect the mores of the society they are in–their hopes, dreams, and desires, as well as their fears and dark thoughts. I feel it is our honor and duty to leave a legacy for future generations that they can learn from, be entertained by, and find inspiration in.

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely going to take advantage of her free SAVE THE CHILD Kindle offer…and I can’t wait for her medical thriller. After all, I’m very taken with thrillers these days (I’m currently reading Truman Capote’s IN COLD BLOOD as part of my “Thriller Thursday” challenge) and I can count on hers being well researched! 

Originally posted 2012-08-24 06:00:54.

Contest Author Interview – Tristi Pinkston

(NOTE: If you haven’t yet heard about the contest I’m running through September 24th, go here to see all the prizes and details and enter. If you’ve already entered, remember that leaving a comment about this interview earns you another entry!)

Tristi Pinkston has written historical fiction, nonfiction, even a cookbook…but lately she’s best known for her mystery series involving an older group of female sleuths led by Ida Mae Babbitt. Think Miss Marple with more than a dash of humor. In fact, it’s the first book in this series that she’s offering as a prize in my contest. She’s also a terrific editor and it shows in her clean writing style.

Me:  Tell us about your first masterpiece, “Sue the Dog.” And please feel free to embellish, since writers can never quite seem to stop editing.

Tristi:  Sue was a little doggie with big dreams – she wanted to be a ballerina on the big stage. That’s actually all I remember about the plot. My inspiration? My sister drew these really cute mice in ballerina outfits, and I blatantly stole her idea, stuck a dog in a tutu instead, and went from there. She wasn’t very happy with me.

Me:  What happened in your teens to cause your poetry to turn dark?

Tristi:  My poetry wasn’t so much dark as it was depressing–even at my lowest, I don’t go too dark. But there were two causes. First, my parents divorced when I was in my early teens. Second, I thought all good poetry had to be depressing. It’s the whole teenage angst/suffering for one’s art thing.

Me:  How do you think being home schooled affected you as a writer?

Tristi:  Being home schooled allowed me a lot of freedom to explore who I was and what I wanted to pursue. I can’t say that it did that more so than a public school education – I can’t compare, because I’ve never attended public school. I can say that I’m the kind of person who likes to figure things out for herself, and I appreciate my homeschool background for giving me that personal space.

Me:  Where does Ida Mae Babbitt’s voice in the Secret Sisters series come from? In other words, is it based, loosely or not, on any particular woman in your life?

Tristi:  Ida Mae (and Tansy, and Arlette) popped into my head fully formed and started talking. I never had to “create” them or construct a back story for them or anything – they showed up, they started talking, and I just wrote down what they said. They frequently surprised me with their revelations – I didn’t know Ida Mae’s husband was an alcoholic until she told me.

Me:  What does it take to get a story going in your brain, and which story took you most by surprise?

Tristi:  It takes no provocation whatsoever to get a story going in my brain. I’ve got one percolating in there almost all the time, whether I want one or not. I would have to say that Secret Sisters took me most by surprise because I hadn’t been thinking about writing cozy mysteries, and the characters were so fully formed when they showed up in my brain. It has been a delightful journey with those three little ladies.

Me:  What are you working on at present in terms of your writing?

Tristi:  Right now, I’m writing the first novel in a series that will spin off Secret Sisters. It’s about two FBI agents who come to my fictional town of Omni, Utah, and need to pose as Mormons in order to blend in. They don’t know how to act like Mormons, so they call in the Secret Sisters to give them Mormon lessons. This series still has the comedy I’ve become known for, but the peril and the mystery are a little edgier. The book is called Tulips and Treason.

(Sounds fun, doesn’t it?)

Me:  I’m into writers’ offices. Please describe yours as it looks right now as if you were describing it for a novel.


My office consists of a nightstand right now. There’s a story behind this.

The corner of my bedroom is set up with a desk and chair, with a computer, printer/scanner, pen cup–the whole bit. But last fall, I broke my foot and had to spend a month in bed. At that time, I moved my operations over to my bed and worked from there. My papers and books became stacked on my nightstand. After the foot got better, I had the gall to leave my house, and I was in a car accident with a semi. I spent another few months mostly in bed. I had the whole nightstand thing kind of down to a science by this point. Then, in March, I had even more gall and broke my foot again, this time getting a cast. So, yeah . . . I have a little office in the corner of my room, but I do most everything from my bed while my back is still healing enough to return to a desk chair.

It’s pretty cool, though – I have all my editing clients and writing projects up on Post-It Notes over my nightstand so I can track everything at a glance, and I have my papers on a clipboard, and I basically rock the whole “office in a bed” thing.

I’ll say! In fact, I think someone ought to suggest that Tristi give a presentation at the next LDStorymakers Conference. She could call it “Office in a Bed: Making Your Disability Work for Your Writing.”

Tristi’s latest release, by the way, is Turning Pages, available for order from Amazon here. For more fun details about her life and writing, please visit her website.

And be sure to leave a comment here to earn another entry in my contest. 

(On Friday, I’ll be interviewing Margaret Turley and she’s promised a special deal to go along with her interview, so don’t forget to check back!)

Originally posted 2012-08-22 06:00:14.

“Moleskine Monday” – A Contest!

Since this is my “N” for “Networking” day, let’s test the power of social networking in a contest to spread the word on my soon-to-be-released novel, A NIGHT ON MOON HILL.

Back Cover Copy:

Swimming is Daphne’s one refuge–until the night she finds a body in her pool.

University professor and renowned author Daphne Lessing has never felt at ease in society. But a disturbing occurrence in her once calm and controlled existence suddenly unearths events from her past and thrusts an unusual child into her life.

Ten-year-old Eric has Asperger’s syndrome and is obsessed with fishing and angels. Soon, Daphne finds herself attached to him–and faced with a choice: Does she leave him and return to her solitary, ordered life, trusting others to do right by him, or does she allow this bright child to draw her into the world she has tried to shun? And what about the man that came into Daphne’s life with Eric? Will she be able to shut him out as well?

Details: (Note: Entry details are at the bottom of the post)

The contest will run from August 20th to September 24th (the day before my launch party). This being “Moleskine Monday,” prizes have to include Moleskine products, right? What writer doesn’t love Moleskine notebooks? What reader doesn’t love Moleskine journals in which to jot their favorite passages? And what artist doesn’t love Moleskine sketch notebooks?

Also, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I will feature an interview with an author who has donated his/her own fiction as a prize.

Prizes Include:

  •  1 Sony 7″ Digital Photo Frame (Again, only those who’ve subscribed to my newsletter AND “liked” my new FB page for A NIGHT ON MOON HILL are eligible for this prize)
  • 1 Moleskine Writing Gift Set

  • 1 Moleskine Rechargeable USB Book Light

  • 3 Moleskine Passions Book Journals (I have one…they’re great!)

  • 4 Moleskine Classic Ruled Extra-Small Notebooks (like the kind Daphne has in the story…only hers is black…these are green, violet, orange yellow, and magenta)

And books…lots of books!

  • A free copy of Margaret Turley’s SAVE THE CHILD, a fictional story of one family’s struggle to save a child from cancer

  • A free PDF of Tristi Pinkston’s amusing mystery, SECRET SISTERS
  • A free copy of Liz Adair’s latest mystery, COLD RIVER, her Whitney Winner, COUNTING THE COST, or a set of her SPIDER LATHAM mysteries


  • 2 paperback copies and 3 ebooks of my first book, THE RECKONING

  • A copy of Julie Coulter Bellon’s soon-to-be released (in September) novel, ALL FALL DOWN

  • 3 ebooks of THE SECRET SISTERS CLUB: A GINNIE WEST ADVENTURE by Monique Bucheger
  • A paperback copy of H.B. Moore’s DAUGHTERS OF JARED
  • Three different ebooks from medieval romance author Joyce DiPastena: LOYALTY’S WEB (for Kindle), ILLUMINATIONS OF THE HEART (for Kindle), and DANGEROUS FAVOR (for Kindle or Nook)
  • One paperback (U.S. only) and 2 ebooks of Cindy M. Hogan’s suspense thriller, WATCHED

  • One copy of Adam Glendon Sidwell’s popular MG novel, EVERTASTER

  • Two of Ali Cross’s YA Paranormals, BECOME (3 ebooks and 1 print) and DESOLATE (3 ebooks and 1 print)
  • One copy (either print or ebook) of Danyelle Ferguson’s and Lynn Parson’s award-winning (dis)ABILITIES AND THE GOSPEL
  • One copy each of Patricia G. Stevenson’s Professor Del Channing’s murder mystery series: THE DILAPIDATED MAN, THE JEZEBEL BRIDE, and THE SHAMROCK CONSPIRACY

  • One copy of THE UNWILLING, the first volume in C. David Belt’s “The Children of Lilith” trilogy

  • And last, but not least, 2 ebooks from Annette Lyon: LOST WITHOUT YOU and AT THE WATER’S EDGE

Other Details:

  • No limit on number of entries
  • No limit on how many prizes can be won by any one person
  • Winners will be drawn using on September 26th
  • Prizes will be shipped (or emailed) anywhere in the U.S. and Canada (where possible, books will be signed)


How to Enter:

  • Join my new newsletter list here on my home page (look for it in the sidebar on the home page) for three entries and a shot at the top two prizes (as long as you also “like” my new book’s FB page)
  • Leave a comment here for another entry (be sure and include your full name) and you get an entry for each comment you make on my author interviews during the contest period (one per author)
  • Blog about the contest and coming book release, including the book cover image and back cover copy posted above in italics (email with the blog link) for two more entries
  • Read the First Chapter here and tell me what clued Daphne in to the body’s identity (email for three entries
  • “Like” my new Facebook page for A NIGHT ON MOON HILL for another entry and a shot at the top two prizes (as long as you also subscribe to the newsletter)
  • Facebook about the contest and release (email–one FB entry per person)
  • Tweet about the contest and release (email–one Twitter entry per person)

I hope all of this is clear, but if you have any questions, please ask.

Originally posted 2012-08-20 05:00:04.

Check out the Contest for Josi Kilpack’s Latest Book!

Josi Kilpack’s Tres Leches Cupcakes is being released the first week of September and to kick it all off, she’s announced a contest.

In conjunction with the release of Tres Leches Cupcakes the author, Josi S. Kilpack, and the publisher, Shadow Mountain, are sponsoring a contest for free books. To enter, leave a comment in the comment section of this blog before September 16th, 2012. Winners will be announced and notified September 17th 2012.

For additional ways to enter, go to, or keep reading below.

Josi’s a terrific writer and if you haven’t yet tasted her culinary mystery series (or Daisy, her contribution to the Newport Ladies Book Club series), you’ve been skipping more than dessert!


For Sadie Hoffmiller, going undercover as an informant for the Bureau of Land Management on an archeological site in Santa Fe, New Mexico, seems like the perfect way to stay safe and busy while a threat against her life remains unresolved. Sadie’s days are spent digging up artifacts in the middle of nowhere while also digging up information on her fellow “dirt geeks.” With the help of her baking prowess—no one can resist those amazing dulce de leche bars—and Pete’s cousin, Caro, who takes to the detective work wholeheartedly, Sadie is finding herself again.

But the bright Southwestern sunshine only serves to illuminate the danger that lurks in the shadows. When recent burials are found on an ancient site, Sadie finds herself in the middle of an unexpected—and unwanted—investigation. The more she digs for the truth, the more secrets she uncovers—secrets that people would kill to keep hidden.

Before Sadie knows it, she’s arrested for starting a bar fight (which was totally not her fault), her new friend is missing, and she’s worn out her welcome in Santa Fe in more ways than one. A trip to the annual hot air balloon fiesta in Albuquerque is supposed to give her a break, but before long, she learns that when you’re dealing with the black market antiquity trade, you’re not really safe anywhere you go.

Contest Details

  • Three books are up for grabs to start the contest.
  • For every 50 entries (not including existing newsletter recipients) another book will be added to the pot.
  • No limit on number of entries.
  • No limit on how many books can be won by any one person.
  • The winner can choose any book in the Sadie Hoffmiller series, including Tres Leches Cupcakes.
  • Winners will be drawn via on September 17th.
  • Books will be signed and shipped anywhere in the US and Canada.

How to Enter (multiple entries encouraged!)

I’m too far away to attend a live event (unless she happens to come up here…hint, hint), but the rest should be a piece of cake…that is to say…cupcake!

Originally posted 2012-08-17 13:36:38.

Cover Reveal!

Amy Orton at Walnut Springs has bent over backward and I’m now pleased to announce my cover for “A Night on Moon Hill”:

What do you think?

I’m happy and excited, and to celebrate I’m going to announce a special contest beginning on “Moleskine Monday” in which many of the prizes are…you guessed it…Moleskine products! (Any of my writer friends who would like to donate copies of their own books for the contest are also more than welcome!)

I was supposed to blog about networking this past Monday, but I just didn’t get around to it because I was so stressed about the cover. So this next Monday, I’m launching this contest to test the powers of social networking in spreading the word about my book.

Check back Monday for more details about the book and all the prizes.

Originally posted 2012-08-16 17:20:12.