Tag Archives: Author Interviews

Interview with J. Boyce Gleason, author of ‘Anvil of God’

J. Boyce GleasonWith an AB degree in history from Dartmouth College, J. Boyce Gleason brings a strong understanding of what events shaped the past and when, but writes historical-fiction to discover why. Gleason lives in Virginia with his wife Mary Margaret. They have three sons.

His latest book is the historical fiction, Anvil of God, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles.

Visit his website at www.jboycegleason.com.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Joe. Can you tell us what your latest book, Anvil of God, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles is all about?

Anvil of God 2Anvil of God is about a family in crisis. It chronicles the power struggle that befalls the family of Charles the Hammer in the wake of his death in 741. Despite Charles’s best laid plans, son battles son, Christianity battles paganism and his young daughter must choose between love and her family’s ambition.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Oddly enough for this genre, Anvil’s two main characters are women. Charles’s daughter Trudi flees his court in the dead of night to pursue love halfway across the continent in the camp of his enemies. Along the way she must grapple with the reality of her father’s violent history conquering a continent with what she has been raised to believe.

Charles’s widow Sunni moves to protect her 14 year-old son, Gripho from his older and more battle worn, half-brothers Carloman and Pippin. They suspect (rightly) that she is pagan and refuse to sanction the potential for a pagan state.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

They are as close to real as I could get for the 8th century. Most of the main characters are real people and I shaped their personalities based on what is known about them. There are two exceptions (which I note in the author’s note at the end) where a hole in the history appeared and I felt a need to fill it.

For me, it is like a putting together a puzzle. I catalogue what I know about the person, what actions they took, and then begin to list a series of questions. Why did they do what they did? Was it well thought out, or impulsive? How difficult was it? What help would she have to have? How long would it take?

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

I researched the period thoroughly and know what happened in history; the trick for me is to figure out why. So, I have an outline of where the story ends up, but I often let the characters (once they are fully fleshed out) drive the plot. In one case, the character-driven plot opened up a whole new perspective for the novel and made it a much richer reading experience.

Q: Your book is set in Quierzy, France and Laon, France. Can you tell us why you chose these cities in particular?

The history took me there. Quierzy today is a small farming community northeast of Paris. In the eighth century it was the primary home of Charles the Hammer and his court. (Back then, the court often used to travel with the army so others could also lay claim to that honor). Queirzy is where Charles the Hammer died, and so is the primary location of much of the early action. Laon was site of a siege led by Charles’s son Carloman against his stepmother and his half-brother Gripho. The siege frames much of the second half of the book.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

I think the time period does. It was a very unforgiving time. Violence was pervasive and religion (whether Christian, Pagan or Muslim) was a central tenant of their lives

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

Charles’s unwilling daughter Trudi is expected at a fête to announce her engagement to Prince Aistulf of the Lombards. Her stepmother is trying to excuse Trudi’s absence due to a fictitious stomach ailment only to have Trudi arrive unexpectedly behind her.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

My favorite line is: “In the breadth of that moment, she finally understood the desire to be desired.”

Here’s a short excerpt:

No one saw the second beast charge. It, too, followed the path of the V, although this time no shields were banged and no spears were thrown. The large animal crashed through the wood unchecked, heading directly for Odilo and Trudi. They, like everyone else, had been watching the fallen knight and remained unaware of the danger until the boar lunged at them.

Without a word, Odilo stepped to the right. Trudi spun away to her left. Then, in a fluid motion, their arms lifted and fell together, impaling the beast between them. It twisted under their spears, thrashing wildly as neither blow was a killing stroke. Odilo leaned down on the shaft of his spear, trying to drive its point further into the animal’s shoulder. As he pushed into the animal, it surged forward in an attempt to gore his leg. Trudi, having lost hold of her spear, drew her sword. The blade flashed above her head. She brought it down on the beast’s neck with both hands, severing its head in one stroke.

The hunters were stunned into silence. Blood spewed over Trudi’s legs and pooled at her feet. With a visceral shout Odilo swept Trudi into his arms and raised her high above his head. The knights cheered and banged their spears against their shields. Odilo put Trudi down and bowed theatrically to her. The cheers only grew louder.

He had never seen a woman wield a sword like that. Her strength and speed surprised him.   She laughed, embarrassed at the applause, and he found it oddly compelling that she could be both strong and vulnerable.   He studied the lines of her face and the curl of her hair. He took in the fullness of her lips and the light in her eyes. She was powerful, he realized unexpectedly, and quite beautiful.

One of the hunters stepped forward and put his foot on the animal’s carcass to remove Odilo’s spear. Liberating it, he shoved the tip into the base of the boar’s neck. With a shout of defiance he lifted the boar’s head high above Odilo and Trudi in celebration.   Blood rained down over both of them.

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

It’s rare that I have a full-blown case of writer’s block. With me, it is just keeping the discipline of writing every day (at the same time, for the same period). I’ve always got something else to do (like answering these questions). Unfortunately, I’m easily distracted.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

I’d sit outside the Café Lippe in Paris with my wife and have a glass of good red French wine and watch the world stroll by us.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

I wish I had written Tai-Pan by James Clavell. Long live Dirk Straun!

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

Start writing. It forces the mind to sort out what is important and what is not. Really research your characters. Know who they are, why they are the way they are, what their dreams and ambitions look like, how they behave, how they talk. Let their interactions with other drive the story. They tell the story more than you do. Finally, edit and edit and edit and edit. It always helps.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Joe. We wish you much success!

Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Interview with Occult Crime Thriller Author Joseph Spencer

Joseph SpencerAs a boy, Joseph Spencer immersed himself in the deductive logic of Sherlock Holmes, the heroic crime fighting of Batman and Spider-Man, and a taste for the tragic with dramas from poets like Shakespeare and Homer.

Before Joseph took to spinning his own tales, he pursued a career in print sports journalism, graduating summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He covered such events as NASCAR’s Subway 500 race in Martinsville, the NBA Draft Camp in Chicago, the Junior College World Series, and Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League All-Star Game during a ten-year career throughout the Midwest. Now, he works as an emergency telecommunications specialist with an Illinois police department. The combination of years of writing experience with a background working with law enforcement professionals gave rise to his writing aspirations.

Joseph was married to Dr. Amy (Waggoner) Spencer, an accomplished veterinary doctor, on March 14, 2012. He received word his debut novel was accepted by his publisher, Damnation Books, the next day. Joseph is hard at work on the rest of the series. Book 2 – Wrage – was released June 1, 2013.  The Spencer family enjoys reading Charlaine Harris, George R.R. Martin, Mary Janice Davidson, and most paranormal stories. The Spencers also enjoy quoting movie lines from “The Princess Bride”, “Rain Man”, “Bridesmaids”, and “Office Space.”

Visit his website at www.JosephBSpencer.com.

Connect & Socialize with Joe!

TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

WrageAbout the Book:

Sometimes the toughest fight lies within yourself.

As more dark secrets come to light, the battle for souls pushes Prairieville to the brink of war in the living and supernatural realms.

Jeff Wrage swears a blood oath to Abaddon, the supernatural avenger of murder victims, to hunt the crooked cop who butchered his wife. Jeff wonders whether he can be the executioner Abaddon requires. Their pact throws the supernatural realm in chaos and threatens to trigger an apocalyptic fight for control of the afterlife between the Sons of Darkness and Sons of Light foretold in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Orlando Marino sees the death of Cyrus Black as his opportunity to restore the Marino family’s stronghold in Prairieville’s organized crime scene and become a mob kingpin. He unleashes a plague, turning its victims into mindless followers. Cyrus’ heir is busy rooting out a traitor and is unable to stop the coming turf war in the realm of man.

The fate of all rests with Homicide Detective Anna Duke, who steps into the shoes of her mentor while coming to terms with unrequited love. As she tries to clear the fallen hero’s name, she takes on a case where corpses go missing. Her new partner is reported dead. She learns the truth about her true identity and uncovers a trail of secrets questioning her tragic past. She journeys to avert the destruction of all creation.

Purchase your copy:

AMAZON | DAMNATION BOOKS

Q: Thank you for this interview, Joseph. Can you tell us what your latest book, Wrage, is all about?

When I decided to expand Grim into the Sons of Darkness series with Wrage, I incorporated many references from religion and historical lore. The “War Scroll” from the Dead Sea Scrolls foretells of an apocalyptic fight between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness in which Light will earn eternal peace by destroying Darkness. Each son in the Sons of Darkness series will represent a deadly sin, and each son in my future Sons of Light series will symbolize a cardinal virtue. Wrage introduces the coming struggle between these two forces in both the supernatural and mortal realms.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

The title character Jeff Wrage, devastated by his wife’s brutal murder in Grim, seeks vengeance by bartering his soul to a demon named Abaddon who is building an army for his Sons of Darkness to rise in an apocalyptic fight against the Sons of Light. The Archangel Michael appeals to Jeff’s conscience to turn back from his path to damnation.

Anna Duke, heartbroken from the death of her mentor in Grim, gets promoted from patrol to the detective bureau in the Prairieville Police Department and her first case presents her with a chance of busting the bad cop responsible for her teacher’s fall from grace.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Every character is either a part of me or of people I’ve known. I work at a 9-1-1 emergency communications center so many of the police characters are an amalgamation of police officers I work alongside on a daily basis.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

I start with a loose organization of where the novel will take the continuing story arc I have for the series, but I’m flexible with where the characters take me on the path to getting there. I believe in writing compelling characters because I feel readers are sucked in by investing their time into their favorite characters. I want readers to want to know what’s going to happen next so they keep turning pages.

Q: Your book is set in Prairieville.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

I’ve lived most of my life in central Illinois. I wanted to create a fictional copy of the type of city I’ve lived in. I didn’t want the rigidity of having to stay faithful to a real place. I wanted the freedom to mold the setting around the story.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

The setting underscores the dark nature of the novel. Prairieville is a corrupt, violent city sort of from the mold of Gotham City in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Jeff Wrage receives a visit from the Archangel Michael and has a crisis of conscience. He wants desperately to enact a personal form of vengeance against the man who took his wife from him, but he’s unsure if he can actually go through with killing another man. He’s not a violent person by nature.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

“Dad! Is that you?” Anna recoiled with her hands rushing up to her mouth as if to snatch up each word of her inexplicable outburst and bury them deep inside of her. Her whole body tensed and hunched backward like a frightened cat waiting to dart away to safety. The frigid bite of the air gnashing against her skin transformed her caramel complexion into a cherry shade of irritated skin.

“Seek The Way, The Truth and The Life. The Way leads to death. Death stalks you now. You can’t escape Death. You must face death to find The Life.”

The sea of officers scrubbed prim and proper in their dress blue uniforms, the tartan-clad bagpipe players, the somber clergy, and the black-suited politicians all washed away into an indistinguishable herd being driven somewhere in the distance. The wind swept Anna to a whole other world, one where it was just her and the smoke man.

“Keep your head, Rube.”

“What?” Anna heard herself cry out her question. She’d heard the smoke man’s words echo inside her head. They were familiar words from long ago, but she couldn’t believe she heard them from whatever this thing was.

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

While working on Wrage, I suffered a fatal hardware failure on my laptop and I lost 40-50 pages of work. I thought I’d backed up that part of the manuscript, but I hadn’t. I wondered for a few weeks if I could ever finish this book because I kept trying to write everything exactly how I had it, and it gave me writer’s block. At that point, I opened myself up to new ideas and powered through that difficult time. I don’t have any tricks. It was all about determination for me.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

I would either read another few chapters in the James Rollins novel I’m currently reading or I’d hack away at my keyboard and compose of few more pages of my third book in the Sons of Darkness series which will be titled Malice.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

I wish I’d written the Count of Monte Cristo. I love that book. It introduced me to antiheroes. That sort of revolutionized my reading experience for the rest of my life after I read that in junior high school.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

Just don’t ever give up on yourself. In this life, there’s always going to be someone standing in your way, telling you that what you’ve done isn’t good enough. It’s your responsibility to yourself to keep pushing to make your dreams come true.

 

 

 

 

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Interview with Kristin Alexandre, author of GEM CITY GYPSY

Kristin Kuhns Alexandre 2Kristin Alexandre was raised in Dayton, Ohio where she worked as a feature columnist for The Dayton Journal Herald and the Kettering Oakwood Times. She has written two previous books: Nuncio and the Gypsy Girl in the Gilded Age a graphic novel that was featured at the 2011 NY City Comic Con; and Find a Great Guy: Now and Forever.

Alexandre was a co-founder of Earth Day 1970 and worked on staff with House Beautiful Magazine and as a contributor to Town & Country Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor and The Daily News. Her celebrity luncheon series for the Chairman of Ammirati & Puris Advertising at The New York Yacht Club was acclaimed, and she has also worked as a co-host and producer of Enough Is Enough a syndicated talk show for WLIW-TV, a PBS affiliate in NYC. Alexandre has worked as a publicist for The Economic Development Association of Puerto Rico and Champion International U.S. Plywood. She is a NJ Board Member of The Humane Society of America and resides in Delray Beach, Fl. and Nantucket , Ma. with her husband DeWitt.

Her latest book is the new adult fiction, Gem City Gypsy.

You can visit Kristin’s website at:

http://www.gemcitygypsy.com/

Gem City GypsyQ: Thank you for this interview, Kristin. Can you tell us what your latest book, (Gem City Gypsy), is all about? 

“Gem City Gypsy” tells the story of Neci Stans, a beautiful, ambitious gypsy teenager who survives the sinking of the Lusitania, the murder of her mentor and makes her way home to the U.S. to face a war and the KKK. It is a story of redemption and personal discovery with romance and suspense as well.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Neci Stans is a teenager but she believes that she can rise above her station and her circumstances and live the “beautiful” life. She is gifted and beautiful and endowed with the gift of knowing how to “read” animals.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Neci is based on real people and real history.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

First I create my characters and then they start writing their own stories.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Yes. My setting is Dayton, Ohio- my hometown and also the home of great inventors and innovators like Charles Kettering (the self starter) and The Wright Brothers (the inventor of the airplane.) Dayton was a beautiful, bustling and powerful industrial town in 1917.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

On Page 69 Neci is falsely arrested for murder. Her new friends have her released from prison.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

“Marlene Schiller fumed the rest of the way home. She knew why Ezra didn’t want to come over, and it was all about the beautiful girl he’d met on the train. Neci Star. Right, It was that dirty little Gypsy girl, Neci Stans. She could put on the finest of dresses, and paint her nails with 24-karat gold, and she would still be nothing more than Gypsy trash.”

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

No. I write every day.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

Bike.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

Twilight!

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

Keep writing every day.

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Interview with Lindsey Fairleigh and Lindsey Pogue, Authors of After the Ending

Lindsey and Lindsey Headshot OFFICIAL!!!

Lindsey Fairleigh lives her life with one foot in a book—as long as that book transports her to a magical world or bends the rules of science. Her novels, from post-apocalyptic to time travel and historical fantasy, always offer up a hearty dose of unreality, along with plenty of adventure and romance. When she’s not working on her next novel, Lindsey spends her time reading and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She lives in the Napa Valley with her loving husband and confused cats. You can visit Lindsey’s blog at lindseyfairleigh.blogspot.com.

Lindsey Pogue has always been a little creative. As a child she established a bug hospital on her elementary school soccer field, compiled books of collages as a teenager, and as an adult, expresses herself through writing. Her novels are inspired by her observations of the world around her—whether she’s traveling, people watching, or hiking. When not plotting her next storyline or dreaming up new, brooding characters, Lindsey’s wrapped in blankets watching her favorite action flicks or going on road trips with her own leading man. You can visit Lindsey’s blog at lindseypogue.wordpress.com.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Team Lindsey. Can you tell us what your latest book, After The Ending, is all about?

Lindsey Pogue (LP): With pleasure, and thank you for having us! There are a few non-conventional aspects to our book that we feel make it not only unique, but enjoyable to a wide variety of people. For starters, After The Ending is a post-apocalyptic story told in first person, but from two different perspectives–Zoe’s and Dani’s. I write for Zoe and Lindsey Fairleigh (LF) writes for Dani. The story begins with a deadly virus that infects everyone, including our characters and their loved ones. After the virus wipes out most of the human population, Dani and Zoe (best friends, mid-twenties) learn they are among the few who survived the pandemic. Although adult life has sent Zoe to the East Coast and Dani’s life is on the West Coast, their friendship is one of the few remaining things they have in the virus-ravaged world, so they embark on separate journeys to meet up with each other at a supposed safe haven, the Colony. It’s through their individual journeys that the reader can experience what our heroines see and feel as they discover what the world after The Ending is like and, in turn, discover more about themselves as survivors.

LF: From the get-go, we aimed to make sure the focus of After The Ending wasn’t entirely on the hardcore survival aspects of the post-apocalypse, but on the characters, specifically their personal struggles and relationships. The story highlights the undeniable power of friendship, love, and hope, and how they can make life worth living even when everything else is lost. There is romance, but there are also some definite science fiction elements, such as the spontaneous genetic mutations caused by the virus, leading to extraordinary abilities in survivors…or to insanity. We’ll be the first to admit that After The Ending was written with a female audience in mind–it’s very character-driven and the romance storylines aren’t negligible–but we have heard from male readers who enjoyed the book as well.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

LP: Our two leading ladies are very different in both appearance and mannerisms. Zoe is the more serious of the two friends–a determined, independent artist. She grew up in a dysfunctional family, which has made her closed off and generally bitter about life. Zoe is twenty-six years old, tall, has long black hair and teal eyes, both of which end up being important character traits as the story progresses. She has a good grasp on reality that helps her remain level-headed in most situations, but she’s also melodramatic, and that makes her seem a bit younger at times. One thing she is is determined. It both aids and hinders her throughout the story. Dani is the only constant thing in Zoe’s life, so she’s grown to love her more like a sister than a friend. She relies on Dani’s vibrance and quirkiness to help coax her out of her hardened shell.

LF: Dani is petite, with curly red hair, green eyes, and a fierce intellect that she tends to hide. She is quite a bit girlier and more emotional than Zoe, and sees Zoe as the embodiment of personal strength and determination. She often draws on her perception of Zoe to help her get through tough times throughout the story. By far, I would say the most defining characteristic about Dani’s personality is that she’ll do almost anything to keep the people she cares about safe. Unfortunately, that tends to get her into slightly sticky situations in the world of The Ending.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

LP: I’ve actually had a number of people ask me if Zoe is an extension of myself, if I see myself the way I portray her. The answer is no, not at all, and she’s not really like anyone I know either. I definitely don’t look like Zoe or act like her. I mean, she’s pessimistic, or “realistic” I like to call it, like me, but I think the similarities between us stop there. She has a lot of the qualities I admire in other people though. She’s super determined, whether she juggling two jobs, trying desperately to get to Dani when the world seems to be against her, or even just trying to understand her brother and every other man in her life.

LF: Dani is entirely from my imagination. So much so that it’s really difficult for me to picture any real people–actresses, models, or otherwise–as her. I think the problem is that she exists so vividly in my mind that nobody else quite looks or acts like her. I’m not sure where she came from, and she’s certainly nothing like me, but I love her all the same.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

LP: Because this project was a team effort, we definitely had to draw out a skeletal outline so we knew which direction we were going with our characters. Once we determined the major subplots, character arcs, and where we wanted to end the book, each of our stories took off on their own, changing even from what we’d individually planned to write about. Characters have a way of doing that to you.

LF: Yeah, our characters definitely have a talent for commandeering the story. I have one character in particular, Jason, who has such a strong personality–I guess you would call him an Alpha–that I pretty much expect him to steal the reins whenever he’s present in a scene. I suppose I should apologize to LP because she’s had to deal with him a lot in the second book, Into The Fire. Sorry LP! I have to say that when the characters take over and the story starts writing itself is when I have the most fun.

LP: I guess you’re forgiven :)

 Q: Your book has many different settings. Can you tell us why you chose the cities you did in particular?

LP: I know for Zoe’s team, it was more of a question of “what’s practical”. Although our story is science fiction, we tried to make it as realistic as possible–using a logical route to move the characters from point A to point B across the US was one of the ways we did that. I had to figure out realistically how far a group of people could drive or walk in X amount of days and in the snow. That helped me narrow down my settings in Ohio, Kentucky, and St. Louis before finally getting to Colorado. Once I knew which areas I needed to have them settle in, I searched for locations that would work well with my evolving storyline.

LF: Like LP, I mapped out Dani’s route throughout the entire book, first by car, then by horseback, before I wrote the majority of it. I couldn’t just pick a town willy-nilly, but had to keep in mind how far a horse could travel in a day, or where there might still be unscavenged fuel or food left after X amount of time had passed. There are a few locations we chose purposely, like stationing the Colony, our heroine’s destination and meet-up point, at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs based on the military branches stationed there and its central-ish location. We chose Bodega Bay as Dani and Zoe’s hometown because it was near enough to where we live that we could conduct setting research with relative ease.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

LP: I think it definitely does. Our characters are just as new to The Ending as our readers are, so we needed Zoe and Dani to experience what was going on around the entire country. Not only does moving them around get them closer together and progress the story, but through their eyes we see the types of Crazies (those survivors driven mad by the virus)  they come across and how quickly and how much the world is changing.

LP: On a more technical note, the setting actually directed portions of the story because we had to be mindful of weather patterns. For example, Dani’s group of survivors spends some time near Lake Tahoe in the heart of winter, and it slowed down their travel pace quite a bit. I had planned for them to move faster than they did, but there was no working around it–snow slows travel plans, even in our own post-apocalyptic, fictional world.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?After the Ending cover art

LP: That’s sort of a funny and difficult question to answer. If you’re looking at the hardcover version, it’s a pretty intense Zoe chapter. She’s discovering how unnerving her developing Ability is, she thinks she’s losing her mind since she has no clue what’s happening to her yet, and she’s also starting to really process the fact that the world has ended and that her father is most likely dead.

LF: In the paperback version, Dani and her travel companions are just arriving at a swanky hotel in Portland…to squat. That is one thing to note about surviving in a post-apocalyptic world–the characters get to bunk down in some pretty interesting places, from mansions to wineries to barns. Let’s see, on this page Dani is also dealing with some tangled emotions regarding a certain man in her group–Zoe’s brother, Jason.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

LP: This is one of the scenes I enjoyed writing the most. It’s a huge turning point in the Zoe chapters and her life is about to change more than she ever thought possible:

“Feeling alright?” Clara asked, batting her eyelashes and smiling innocently.

I hunched over as my stomach gurgled and churned, tangling into knots. Once again I reached for the water, but she yanked it away, dumping it out on the floor beside her.

Her grin lingered. “Sorry, I can’t let you do that.”

My stomach cramps worsened, and I broke out into a cold sweat–I knew I didn’t have much time. I needed to find help. Trying to run for the door I doubled over in pain and cried out. Fire seemed to be scorching my insides. Bile rose in my throat, and I began salivating profusely, unable to swallow. I spat desperately.

“I really hate you, Zoe. I’m not completely sure why, but I have to admit, this is a very good day for me.” Her cheerful voice was like a hammer in my head as I twisted and spasmed on the mess hall floor.

I prayed someone would find me before it was too late.

LF: I considered several different passages, some more dramatic and some more romantic, but I settled on this one because it shows the special relationship Dani has with one of my favorite characters, Jack, her faithful German Shepherd.

I tore open a peanut butter and chocolate chip protein bar as I exited the bedroom, tripping over my dog on the way out.

Jack wagged his tail happily while I righted myself. “Good morning, Sweet Boy,” I said between bites.

He yawned dramatically and bowed, earning the last nugget of the tasteless bar.

As I lumbered down the stairs, a plan of revenge formed in my mind. I waved at Chris and Ky, apparently the only other people awake at such an ungodly hour, as I neared the front room’s largest window. I peeked around the heavy tan and green-striped curtain and spotted Jason standing on the lawn—he was staring off into the woods. Smiling, I led Jack to the back door, and we silently slipped out into the damp morning chill.

Pausing on the back porch, I clicked my tongue, and my dog watched me intently. “Okay Jack,” I whispered, kneeling down in front of him. “You’re going to go that way.” I pointed to the left side of the house, and his eyes followed. “Find Jason. You need to be happy and loud.” I scratched his neck with both hands. He licked my cheek in return.

“Go find Jason,” I commanded quietly and stood. Jack instantly trotted away, barking every few steps.

Stalking in the opposite direction, I made my way around the house and found Jason watching Jack frolic like a month-old puppy. The grass muffled my steps as I snuck up behind him. I crouched, gliding the last few steps, and held my breath. Revenge is so sweet!

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Team Lindsey. We wish you much success!

LF: Thank you for having us and for the wonderful questions!

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PUYB Blog Tour: A Conversation with Robert Henry, author of ‘Age Re-Defined’

Robert F. HenryRobert Henry, age 56, is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, a Certified Personal Trainer, a Certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, and a Certified Wellness Coach. His awareness of fitness and nutrition began at the age of 29. When Robert first started to exercise, it was mostly for the purpose of increasing body weight through the addition of lean muscle mass. However, more than 20 years later, at the age of 52, after years of being lean and enjoying good health, Robert’s experienced an undesired increase in body fat and his health profile changed in the wrong direction The loss of that body fat and the reversal of new and undesirable trends in his health profile became Robert’s new exercise goals. By re-booting his exercise regimen and further “tweaking” his nutrition, he successfully accomplished his new goals and, as he likes to say, discovered his “inner athlete”.

Although he had worked out for more than two decades, the journey he experienced in his early fifties ignited something within Robert and he voraciously sought to increase his knowledge and his credentials. It was then that he earned his numerous certifications and set about to share his passion for health and fitness with others.

Robert’s background extends beyond fitness. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from Southern Methodist University and worked for many years as an attorney. He also discovered a love of aviation early in his life and, while still a teenager, became a Commercial Pilot and a Certified Flight Instructor. After law school, he went on to become an Airline Transport Pilot and eventually earned three jet ratings. Now in his fifties, he values his health, fitness, and wellness very highly, and seeks to inform and inspire others.

Robert’s latest book is the health/fitness/ motivational book, Age Re-Defined.

Visit his website at www.RobertHenryFitness.com.

Connect with Robert:

TWITTER | FACEBOOK

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Age Re-DefinedQ: Thank you for this interview, Robert. Can you tell us what your latest book, AGE RE-DEFINED, is all about?

It’s about getting “younger”, not “older”. It’s about rejecting negative stereotypes for ages 40+ and 50+, especially in the areas of health and fitness, although readers of all ages can benefit. A premise of the book is that your state of health, how you feel, and how you look are more within your control than you think. The subjects include exercise, fitness, nutrition, and the mind-body connection. I share parts of my own journey and the positive results I have achieved through my own commitment to exercise and nutrition.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

People over the years – over decades, really – have repeatedly told me that I look much younger than my chronological age, which will be 57 on April 30, 2013. At ages 51 and 52, I put on some unwanted body fat – not that noticeable to the casual observer, but I knew it was there. At 52, negative changes in my usually good health profile caused me to re-boot my commitment to exercise and nutrition. A doctor said to me, “You’re not getting any younger”, as if that was an explanation of or a justification for the health changes. I refused to accept that. Within a matter of months, I emerged healthier and with higher levels of fitness than before. I detail this in the book, but that’s a synopsis of the causal events.

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Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

My research included studying for four fitness and wellness certifications in the three year period immediately preceding the period of writing the book, taking a Sport and Exercise Psychology course during the writing of the book, working with my own trainer, my personal experiences – including more than 20 years as a fitness enthusiast – and my own journey, consulting with an amazing Registered Dietician, sports nutritionist, and nutrition author during the writing  (we even have a few of her recipes in the book, along with many other contributions from her), many hours of online research, and reading some additional books, as well. 

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

Be proactive about your health, your fitness, and your wellness. The results are priceless.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

Okay, so a new me emerged in my 30s and 40s and was still there on my 50th birthday (in 2006). I had a lean, toned physique and good general health, and I looked and felt younger than what someone my age was “supposed” to look or feel like. In my 30s, my weight slowly increased (from the addition of muscle mass) from 148 to 153 to 158 and into the 160s. I weighed about 170 when I turned 40 and remained in the 170s throughout my 40s.

Fast forward to 2007 and 2008: A combination of factors led to what was for me an unprecedented gain in body fat (and weight, but from fat, not muscle) at the ages of 51 and 52. (I don’t have any pictures, but, trust me, the extra pounds were there.) I believe this was due to the long-distance commute to my job at the time (which, in L.A. traffic, often took hours a day away from my free time), the staleness of my exercise regimen (which some weeks had gotten down to twice a week of not-so-high-intensity weights and no cardio), and paying less attention than I should have been to my late-night carb intake. In addition to my work as an attorney (which involved the long commute), I was also on call part-time as a co-pilot on jet charter flights. My passion for flying aside, this further disrupted my workout schedule at times.

Eventually, my weight reached about 194. My waist was inches larger than it had been two years before, and in fact bigger than it had ever been.

So, in October 2008 when I visited the doctor for a routine blood workup, I expressed my concern about my unprecedented body fat.

The blood workup showed some adverse changes in my health profile. The doctor said, “You’re not getting any younger.” My reply: “I refuse to accept that.”

The doctor went on to recommend more Omega 3 in my diet (no argument from me there) and said, “Lose five to ten pounds. Your numbers (triglycerides, blood pressure) should go back to normal after that.”

That alarm, that wake-up call, that unprecedented need to lose body fat

and the statement “You’re not getting any younger” (to someone who had always looked and felt younger than he was “supposed” to, and who always had a lower body fat than the general population) ignited something within me.

I had engaged the services of a personal trainer during my first year of working out, and again for six months during my eighth year of working out in 1994. Both of these trainers were great, but we lifted weights (free weights or machines) inside the gym and did not cross-train.

In January, 2009, I hired another personal trainer, who I had met months earlier at the gym. I said to her, “Take me outside. Make me climb stairs. Make me run. And show me some new stuff in the gym. The doctor said to lose five to ten pounds; I want to lose at least fifteen and be more fit than ever.”

And so, at age 52, I began this leg of my journey: the discovery of my inner athlete, my renewed and greater-than-ever commitment to my health and fitness. I reminded myself that I had flown a plane as a teenager, that I had always done well in school, that I had drawn upon my inner strength when my parents died less than four months apart when I was 21, and that I had gone on to complete law school and pass the California Bar. This was my health, dammit. This mattered more than anything.

My trainer and I started working together in January 2009. I climbed stairs. I ran track. I sprinted and performed various outdoor drills. We tweaked my diet and added to my gym regimen. By April, the weight was off.

In terms of waist size, I had been buying waist size 33 for several years before the weight gain. Fifteen to 20 years before, in my early to mid-30s, I bought size 31 and 32. In late 2008, my waist size was approaching 35. In April 2009, I bought some 33s as I had before the weight gain, only to find that they were too big. I began buying waist size 32, which fit comfortably. So, in terms of waist size, we had turned the clock back fifteen to 20 years in less than four months.

But this wasn’t just about waist size. I was more fit than ever, and more committed to and passionate about fitness (and nutrition) than ever. Mission accomplished. (For my 53rd birthday on April 30, 2009, I did a strong outdoor stair session by myself in the afternoon, adding push-ups as well, and then I lifted weights in the gym that evening. Celebrating fitness was the best way to celebrate my birthday that year. The more standard dinner celebration had already taken place a couple of weeks ahead of time.)

As I write this is September, 2012, I have just received blood test results which indicate a very significant decrease in “bad” cholesterol, a very significant increase in “good” cholesterol, and a very significant decrease in triglycerides when compared to my blood workup of October 2008. The 2012 numbers are as follows: HDL (“good” cholesterol): 52; LDL (“bad” cholesterol): 75; total cholesterol: 138; triglycerides: 57 (the 2008 number was 270). These numbers are reportedly very good for a 56-year-old male, and were achieved through diet and exercise, without any medications. These numbers are not the only measurements of interest. Body weight, waist size, body-fat percentage, blood pressure, and other data are relevant, too. However, these numbers are one group of data to look at, and they have shown dramatic improvement since that doctor’s appointment in October 2008. (My 2012 results also indicated the lowest possible results for the C-Reactive Protein test, which was not performed in 2008.)

This book is for people who have never exercised but would like to start; for people who would like to know more about good nutrition; for people who exercise but have not seen results; for people whose fitness level has declined and who want to re-ignite their fitness quest; for people who choose to be proactive about their own health, fitness and wellness; for people interested in the mind-body connection; and for people who reject negative self-talk and self-limiting stereotypes about life after the age of 50.

Because I’m well into my 50s, and because of my own recent history, in writing this book we have focused on persons over the age of 40. However, my own fitness awareness began at age 29 and continued to evolve throughout my 30s, 40s and 50s, and is still evolving. Fitness, good nutrition, and wellness benefit people of all ages. So, even if you’re in your 20s or 30s, you’re welcome to come aboard and to keep reading.

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

My book is self-published through a publishing company. This is my first book (or eBook, to be more precise), so I have no basis for comparison. However, I notice that most reviewers and most blogs and such seem to be preoccupied with fiction. I’m biased, but in my opinion, good fiction provides transient entertainment. Good non-fiction can effectuate positive and long-lasting changes in readers’ lives. My category certainly has that potential.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

Atypical. I mean, my recent past includes employment or self-employment as an attorney, a jet pilot, a personal trainer, and an author. But I can say this: I make it a priority to eat right every day and I exercise most days.

Q: What’s next for you?

I would love to do more writing, more communicating in all forms including video, and do more in health and fitness, including working with individual clients. Flying jets remains a simmering passion, so that could re-surface to some extent, as well. But health and fitness is the sine qua non.

 

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Interview with Morrie Richfield, author of ‘Revelation’

Morrie Richfield 3Morrie Richfield lives in Pennsylvania with his two sons, his dogs and his cat. He is working on his next novel, and he still dreams that someday the world will be a better place for all of us to live.

His latest book is the inspirational fantasy novel, Revelation: The Return of Mr. Breeze.

Visit his website at www.mrbreezethenovel.com.

Thank you for this interview, Morrie. Your new book, Revelation, is packed with twists and turns. What was the first kernel of inspiration for this story?

Morrie: It was a dream I had actually, a dream that started me to write novels that could hopefully help change the world.

Revelation 2Revelation is the sequel to your first book, Mr. Breeze. How has your main character, Michael Ryan, changed from one book to the other?

Morrie: In Revelation Michael has taken on the task of trying to save all mankind from the wraith of our maker.

I’ve heard that you write from your head and don’t really map out the plot before you write. How are you able to do this so creatively? Were you always so creative and books just seemed to be a natural release?

Morrie: I have been writing for 42 years, it just comes out of me. I wish I could explain it better than that but that is the way it happens.

Did you have as much fun writing Revelation as you did writing Mr. Breeze?

Morrie: I think I was more determined with Revelation it 50 pages longer and took four months less to write.

Will there be a third book about the infamous Mr. Breeze?

Morrie: No, I think the next chapter for Mr. Breeze is up to all of us to write.

What do you do for a living when you’re not writing books?

Morrie: I own a company that supplies telecommunications equipment.

Would you consider yourself to be a perfectionist or are you a laid back kind of guy?

Morrie: I am a very laid back kind of guy.

What kind of books do you like to read in your spare time?

Morrie: with 8 year old twins a company to run and an amazing women in the life, I do not have a lot of free time.

Can you describe a typical writing day? Do you have any unusual writing habits?

Morrie: I wake up at 4am feed and walk my dogs make some coffee, write till 6am then workout and then get ready for work.

What writers, books, or ideas have most influenced you?

Morrie: This may sound bad, but none.

What’s next for you, Morrie?

Morrie: A series of Children’s books and in 2014 my next novel “Priest” will be coming out

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A Conversation with Brandt Dodson, author of ‘The Sons of Jude’

Brandt DodsonBrandt Dodson was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, which he would later choose as the setting for his Colton Parker Mystery series. Although he discovered in grade school that he wanted to be a writer, it would be another twenty-one years before he would put pen to paper.“I knew in fifth grade that I wanted to be a writer. Our teacher had given each of us a photograph which we were to use as inspiration for a short story. The particular photo I was given was of several young men playing handball in New York City. I don’t remember all of the particulars of the story now, but I do remember the thrill that writing it gave me.”

Later, while in college, one of Brandt’s professors would echo that teacher’s comment.

“But life intervened and I found myself working at a variety of jobs. I worked in the toy department of a local department store and fried chicken for a local fast food outlet. Over the course of the next several years I finished my college degree and worked for the Indianapolis office of the FBI, and served for eight years as a Naval Officer in the United States Naval Reserve. I also obtained my doctorate in Podiatric Medicine, and after completion of my surgical residency, opened my own practice. But I never forgot my first love. I wanted to write.”

During his early years in practice, Brandt began reading the work of Dean Koontz.

“I discovered Dean’s book, The Bad Place, and was completely blown away by his craftsmanship. I read something like 13 or 14 of his back list over the following two weeks. It wasn’t long after that I began to write and submit in earnest.”

Still, it would be another twelve years before Brandt was able to secure the publishing contract he so desperately desired.

“I began by writing the type of fiction that I enjoyed; I wrote edgy crime thrillers that were laced with liberal amounts of suspense. Over the years, I’ve begun to write increasingly more complex work by using broader canvases and themes.

Since securing his first contract, Brandt has continued to pen the type of stories that inspired him to write when he was a boy, and that have entertained his legions of readers.

“I love to write, and as long as others love to read, I plan on being around for a long time to come.”

Brandt Dodson’s latest book is the crime thriller The Sons of Jude.

Visit Brandt Dodson’s website at www.brandtdodson.com.

Pick up your copy of The Sons of Jude at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Sons-Jude-Series/dp/0857212052

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B7C8YX Chiffon Scarf on white backgroundQ: Thank you for this interview, Brandt . Can you tell us what your latest book, The Sons of Jude, is all about? 

At its core, The Sons of Jude is about standing true in a corrosive environment. Having come from a long, multi-generational line of police officers on both side of my family, and having served with the FBI, I can tell you there are few environments more corrosive than law enforcement.

But the story is also about two people who must find common ground if they are to do the job required of them; if they are to serve the people of Chicago. Today, in a country that appears to be as deeply divided as ours is,and with a government that is as dysfunctional as ours is, the story is uniquely relevant.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

The great conflict of the novel comes from the gasoline and matches combination of detectives Frank Campello and Andy Polanski.

Campello has been with the Chicago Police department for the better part of 20 years and is engrained in the system. He is a cop’s cop. A man who sees things as they are and does what needs to be done. Sometimes he bends the rules. At other times, he breaks them. There is good and bad to his methods.

Polanski is Campello’s polar opposite. He isa man who believes in the rules and who lives fastidiously by them. He bends them for no one, even when the public’s greater good would best be served by doing it. Like Campello’s approach, there is good and bad to Polanski’s methods.

Addreporter Christy Lee, who has issues with Campello and Polanski, and we have a recipe for the kind of tension that’s needed to drive a story of this magnitude.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A novelist has to be observant. After all, story is about character and a novel’s characters must be real to the people who read about them. I don’t write about anyone I know, but I do tend to draw on my experience and people I have either known or met. Few of us are the angels we think we are, but most of us are not possessed by the demons we sometimes display. The old adage that there is good and evil in all of us is very accurate. I try very hard to show both sides of the same coin.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

Although I’ve tried to write by outlining in advance, I must admit it doesn’t work well for me. A great deal of the fire – the passion that comes with the birth of a new idea – tends to burn off when I make an effort to develop the story before I write it. I need the discovery process as much as the reader and have found that my best reviews tend to come with the novels on which I’ve done the least amount of pre-planning. Writers who do outline, and there are many, will often marvel at how the rest of us can write a story when we have no idea where it’s going. I’m not sure that criticism if fair. After all, even the most ardent outliner has no idea where the story is going until they begin writing, even if their writing is initially in outline form. I’m not alone when it comes to writing by the seat of my pants. Lee Child has said he’s a dedicated pantser too, so I figure I’m in good company.

Q: Your book is set in Chicago.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

I once lived in Chicago and know the city well. I used to take the train from Union Station to my apartment in Elk Grove, but often worked late and had to stay for the next commuter. One evening, in the fall of 1986, I missed my train and ended up staying late which gave me an opportunity to meet Kevin Costner. He was filming the climactic shootout scene for Brian DePalma’s The Untouchables and was very pleasant, indulging my many questions on the making of the film. Later, when the movie was released, I saw a scene where Sean Connery’s character refers to St. Jude as the patron saint of lost causes and policemen. Coming from a long, multi-generational line of police officers and having worked for the FBI, I tucked the tidbit away in the deep recesses of my brain. Later, when developing the idea for The Sons of Jude, I knew I wanted to tell the story of police officers who continue to go into the streets everyday knowing that while they may return from the battle victorious, the war is unwinnable. I recalled the line from The Untouchables and did some research. I learned that St. Jude is not only the patron saint of police officers, but of the Chicago Police department in particular. I knewimmediately I would have to set the book in Chicago and hence The Sons of Jude was born.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

To the uninitiated, Chicago means Al Capone, political corruption, and high-stakes crime. There is a great deal of that to be sure, but the Windy City has so much more to offer. Its neighborhoods, which play a large role in the book, are home to multiple generations of the same families who live, work, and worship there. I wanted to capture that sense of community and show how it drives people to stand up to corruption and take ownership of their own turf. Gangs and other forms of violent crime can’t stand against an engaged populace. There is no better place to see that kind of spirit than in Chicago. Despite the current upswing in violent crime, I’m confident that the people of Chicago will gain the upper hand. They’ve done it before and they’ll do it again. I’m convinced their commitment comes from their sense of community.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Andy Polanski has arrived home to a late dinner with his wife. The children are already in bed and Andy tells his wife about the kind of day he’s had. Since he’s a by-the-book kind of cop, he’s become the victim of daily attacks – some vicious; some juvenile – and his wife is trying to get him to resign from the CPD so they can start over in another city.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

This excerpt occurs during the discussion between Andy Polanski and his wife, Jenny.

Her eyes searched his. “You’re a good man, Andy. Don’t let them use you.”

     “No one’s using me.” He pulled her arms from around his neck.

     “Ever since that kid was shot there’s been unrest and the department is letting you take the fall for it.”

     He leaned against the counter and crossed his arms. It was a defensive posture; a position he was getting used to taking.

     “I know what I’m doing.”

     “Andy,” she said, her eyes searching his, “they moved you to the 28th to make themselves look good. They’re politicians, Andy. They’re politicians first and police officers second.”

     “But I’m not a politician, Jenny. I’m a cop. And a good one.”

     A wistful look crossed her face. “I know you are,” she said in a subdued voice. “But the good ones either leave or get changed. They don’t last.”

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I think it was the late Robert B. Parker who once said that writer’s block was another term for laziness. I can’t recall a time when I’ve felt truly blocked, but there are times when I can’t seem to get the power to start the day. The words, if they come at all, come hard and the writing feels like an underwater game of basketball. When those times occur, I follow the lead of Dean Koontz. He once said that when he faced times of difficulty he’d pick up a favored book by an author he admired and read a few lines just to enjoy the use of the language. I’ve found that Dean’s method for starting the engine works well for me too.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

I’d spend more time with my family. Both of my boys are grown men now, and we have a great relationship, but I don’t get to spend as much time with them as I’d like. They’re working and leading their lives, and I’m doing the same. But I miss them nonetheless. Time is fleeting. There is nothing as important as family.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

There are so many it’s difficult to choose. I truly enjoyed Koontz’ Watchers and Lightning. I love Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man and I’ve read Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle so much the cover is worn down. But I must admit I’m a big fan of Dickens. I would like to have written GreatExpectations. I thoroughly enjoyed that book. Dickens had a way of keeping us focused on the important things of life.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

I’ve been told that the great Sinclair Lewis once walked onto the stage of a writer’s conference to lecture to a room full of want-to-be writers. Allegedly, he said: “Why aren’t you home writing?” before strolling off.

Most people I meet who want to write never get past the wanting stage. The best advice I can offer to anyone who desires to write is to do it. Nothing gets written on its own. But I would also strongly suggest reading as well. Read widely and deeply. If someone wants to write mysteries, they should read Agatha Christie. But they should also read Robert Crais. Both are mystery writers in the larger sense, but they are very, very different. Learning what has been done, as well as learning the craft is important. But all of that is for naught if you don’t sit down to write.

 

 

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