Tag Archives: book marketing

A Conversation with ‘Saving Grace’ Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Pamela Fagan HutchinsPamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning mysterious women’s fiction and relationship humor books, and holds nothing back.  She is known for “having it all” which really means she has a little too much of everything, but loves it: writer, mediocre endurance athlete (triathlon, marathons), wife, mom of an ADHD & Asperger’s son, five kids/step-kids, business owner, recovering employment attorney and human resources executive, investigator, consultant, and musician.  Pamela lives with her husband Eric and two high school-aged kids, plus 200 pounds of pets in Houston. Their hearts are still in St. Croix, USVI, along with those of their three oldest offspring.

Her latest book is the mystery/women’s fiction, Saving Grace.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOOGLE+ |GOODREADS | LINKEDIN | SKIPJACK PUBLISHING

Saving GraceQ: Thank you for this interview, Pamela. Can you tell us what your latest book, Saving Grace, is all about?

Thank you! Saving Grace is the story of Katie Connell, a Texas attorney whose life is one train wreck after another: too many Bloody Marys, a client who’s the Vanilla Ice of the NBA, and a thing for a Heathcliff-like co-worker. She takes refuge from it all on the island of St. Marcos, where she plans to investigate the suspicious deaths of her parents. But she trades one set of problems for another when she is bewitched by the voodoo spirit Annalise in an abandoned rainforest house and, as worlds collide, finds herself reluctantly donning her lawyer clothes again to defend her new friend Ava, who is accused of stabbing her very married Senator-boyfriend.

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

First, there’s Katie. Oh, Katie, Katie, Katie. She’s the main character, a 30-something lawyer who vacuums her rugs backwards and is as much a danger to herself as the bad guys.

Nick is the object of her unreturned affections, an investigator in Dallas with a penchant for surf boards and bass guitars.

Ava is an island seductress who convinces Katie to become her new best friend and a second for her vocal duo.

Rashidi John befriends Katie when he introduces her to the jumbie house Annalise on one of his popular-with-the-ladies rainforest botany tours.

And then there’s Annalise, a giant abandoned house in the rainforest who shows her magical side to a chosen few, and, boy does she ever choose Katie.

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

I steal most of my characters from people whose big imprints on life inspire my creativity. But if fiction is life without the boring parts, my fictional characters are those people without them either. Their fictional bads are badder and their crazies are crazier.

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

I am a planner and a plotter, but the novel takes me wherever it ultimately wants to go. Kind of like my kids do, in real life. In Saving Grace, a character named Zane McMillan shows up who wreaked havoc on my carefully constructed outline. I had a heck of a time keeping him from hijacking the whole book. I love it when that happens.

Q: Your book is set in the Virgin Islands.  Can you tell us why you chose this area in particular?

The islands are magical. I lived on St. Croix for six years, and the people and the places just burned into my brain and my heart. I had no choice in the matter: Saving Grace set itself there.

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

The island setting, and the rainforest jumbie house Annalise in particular, are pivotal to the story. In the islands, Katie can embrace the magic in herself and the world around her, whereas she is much too pragmatic for that kind of nonsense back in Texas.

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

Katie is throwing caution and common sense to the wind and is about to make an offer to purchase a half-finished abandoned house in the rainforest because she believes she and the jumbie spirit offer each other a chance at mutual salvation.

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

Sure, here’s one I really like:

We had hiked for nearly two hours when Rashidi gave us a hydration break and announced that we were nearing the turnaround point, which would be a special treat: a modern ruin. As we leaned on smooth kapok trees and sucked on our Lululemon water bottles, Rashidi explained that a bad man, a thief, had built a beautiful mansion in paradise ten years before, named her Annalise, and then left her forsaken and half-complete. No one had ever finished her and the rainforest had moved fast to claim her. Wild horses roamed her halls, colonies of bats filled her eaves, and who knows what lived below her in the depths of her cisterns. We would eat our lunch there, then turn back for the hike down.

When the forest parted to reveal Annalise, we all drew in a breath. She was amazing: tall, austere, and a bit frightening. Our group tensed with anticipation. It was like the first day of the annual Parade of Homes, where people stood in lines for the chance to tour the crème de la crème of Dallas real estate, except way better. We were visiting a mysterious mansion with a romantic history in a tropical rainforest. Ooh là là.

Graceful flamboyant trees, fragrant white-flowered frangipanis, and grand pillars marked the entrance to her gateless drive. On each side of the overgrown road, Rashidi pointed out papaya stalks, soursop, and mahogany trees. The fragrance was pungent, the air drunk with fermenting mangos and ripening guava, all subtly undercut by the aroma of bay leaves. It was a surreal orchard, its orphaned fruit unpicked, the air heavy and still, bees and insects the only thing stirring besides our band of turistas. Overhead, the branches met in the middle of the road and were covered in the trailing pink flowers I’d admired the day before, which Rashidi called pink trumpet vines. The sun shone through the canopy in narrow beams and lit our dim path.

A young woman in historic slave garb was standing on the front steps, peering at us from under the hand that shaded her eyes, her gingham skirt whipping in the breeze. She looked familiar. As we came closer, she turned and walked back inside. I turned to ask Rashidi if we were going to tour the inside of the house, but he was talking to a skeletally thin New Yorker who wanted details on the mileage and elevation gain of our hike for her Garmin.

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

I’m in a perpetual state of writer’s block, or recovery from it. The first thing I do when I feel it coming on is change locations or go outside. If I can’t nip it in the bud, I talk it out with my husband/muse. If it persists, I force myself to write something else — anything to keep me writing. I am a big believer that creativity happens when you’re putting in the work. I had a huge episode of block while writing the sequel to Saving Grace. It took me two months of other writing before the block broke and I could get back to the islands.

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

I’d love to say I’d run six miles or snuggle in the front of the fire with my husband, but it’s a lie. If I had an extra hour, I’d keep writing, but I’d at least play footsie (very vigorously) with him on the couch while I did it.

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

I wish I had written Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, because of the characters: unforgettable, flawed, and larger than life. Gus and Woodrow, oh, how I love thee.

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

More than ever, a fiction author must be fearless and relentless. The number of books published a year is growing exponentially, and you can’t just write yours and hope someone else will sell it for you. You need a marketing plan and an entrepreneurial spirit. It doesn’t hurt if you have a lot of support, too.

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under Author Interviews

Read-a-Chapter: Saving Grace by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the mystery, women’s fiction, Saving Grace by Pamela Fagan Hutchins. Enjoy!

______________________________________

Saving Grace

Click on cover to purchase at Amazon!

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Skipjack Publishing (September 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0988234807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0988234802

If you’re at all inclined to be swept away to the islands to fall in love with a rainforest jumbie house and a Texas attorney who is as much a danger to herself as the island bad guys, then dive headfirst with Katie Connell into Saving Grace.

Katie escapes professional humiliation, a broken heart, and her Bloody Mary-habit when she runs to the island of St. Marcos to investigate the suspicious deaths of her parents. But she trades one set of problems for another when she is bewitched by the voodoo spirit Annalise in an abandoned rainforest house and, as worlds collide, finds herself reluctantly donning her lawyer clothes again to defend her new friend Ava, who is accused of stabbing her very married Senator-boyfriend.

______________________________________

Chapter One

Last year sucked, and this one was already worse.

Last year, when my parents died in an “accident” on their Caribbean vacation, I’d been working too hard to listen to my instincts, which were screaming “bullshit” so loud I almost went deaf in my third ear. I was preparing for the biggest case of my career, so I sort of had an excuse that worked for me as long as I showed up for happy hour, but the truth was, I was obsessed with the private investigator assigned to my case.

Nick. Almost-divorced Nick. My new co-worker Nick who sometimes sent out vibes that he wanted to rip my Ann Taylor blouse off with his teeth, when he wasn’t busy ignoring me.

But things had changed.

I’d just gotten the verdict back in my mega-trial, the Burnside wrongful termination case. My firm rarely took plaintiff cases, so I’d taken a big risk with this one—and won Mr. Burnside three million dollars, of which the firm got a third. That was the total opposite of suck.

After my coup at the Dallas courthouse, my paralegal Emily and I headed straight down I-20 to the hotel where our firm was on retreat in Shreveport, Louisiana. Shreveport is not on the top ten list for most company getaways, but our senior partner fancied himself a poker player, and loved Cajun food, jazz, and riverboat casinos. The retreat was a great excuse for Gino to indulge in a little Texas Hold ’Em between teambuilding and sensitivity sessions and still come off looking like a helluva guy, but it meant a three and a half hour drive each way. This wasn’t a problem for Emily and me. We bridged both the paralegal-to-attorney gap and the co-worker-to-friend gap with ease, largely because neither of us did Dallas-fancy very well. Or at all.

Emily and I hustled inside for check-in at the Eldorado.

“Do you want a map of the ghost tours?” the front desk clerk asked us, her polyglot Texan-Cajun-Southern accent making tours sound like “turs.”

“Why, thank you kindly, but no thanks,” Emily drawled. In the ten years since she’d left, she still hadn’t shaken Amarillo from her voice or given up barrel-racing horses.

I didn’t believe in hocus pocus, either, but I wasn’t a fan of casinos, which reeked of cigarette smoke and desperation. “Do y’all have karaoke or anything else but casinos onsite?”

“Yes, ma’am, we have a rooftop bar with karaoke, pool tables, and that kind of thing.” The girl swiped at her bangs, then swung her head to put them back in the same place they’d been.

“That sounds more like it,” I said to Emily.

“Karaoke,” she said. “Again.” She rolled her eyes. “Only if we can do tradesies halfway. I want to play blackjack.”

After we deposited our bags in our rooms and freshened up, talking to each other on our cell phones the whole time we were apart, we joined our group. All of our co-workers broke into applause as we entered the conference room. News of our victory had preceded us. We curtsied, and I used both arms to do a Vanna White toward Emily. She returned the favor.

“Where’s Nick?” I called out. “Come on up here.”

Nick had left the courtroom when the jury went out to deliberate, so he’d beaten us here. He stood up from a table on the far side of the room, but didn’t join us in front. I gave him a long distance Vanna White anyway.

The applause died down and some of my partners motioned for me to sit with them at a table near the entrance. I joined them and we all got to work writing a mission statement for the firm for the next fifteen minutes. Emily and I had arrived just in time for the first day’s sessions to end.

When we broke, the group stampeded from the hotel to the docked barge that housed the casino. In Louisiana, gambling is only legal “on the water” or on tribal land. On impulse, I walked to the elevator instead of the casino. Just before the doors closed, a hand jammed between them and they bounced apart, and I found myself headed up to the hotel rooms with none other than Nick Kovacs.

“So, Helen, you’re not a gambler either,” he said as the elevator doors closed.

My stomach flipped. Cheesy, yes, but when he was in a good mood, Nick called me Helen—as in Helen of Troy.

I had promised to meet Emily for early blackjack before late karaoke, but he didn’t need to know that. “I have the luck of the Irish,” I said. “Gambling is dangerous for me.”

He responded with dead silence. Each of us looked up, down, sideways, and anywhere but at each other, which was hard, since the elevator was mirrored above a gold handrail and wood paneling. There was a wee bit of tension in the air.

“I heard there’s a pool table at the hotel bar, though, and I’d be up for that,” I offered, throwing myself headlong into the void and holding my breath on the way down.

Dead silence again. Long, dead silence. The ground was going to hurt when I hit it.

Without making eye contact, Nick said, “OK, I’ll meet you there in a few minutes.”

Did he really say he’d meet me there? Just the two of us? Out together? Oh my God, Katie, what have you done?

The elevator doors dinged, and we headed in opposite directions to our rooms. It was too late to back out now.

I moved in a daze. Hyperventilating. Pits sweating. Heart pounding. My outfit was all wrong, so I ditched the Ann Taylor for some jeans, a structured white blouse, and, yes, I admit it, a multi-colored Jessica Simpson handbag and her coordinating orange platform sandals. White works well against my long, wavy red hair, which I unclipped and finger-combed over my shoulders. Not very attorney-like, but that was the point. Besides, I didn’t even like being an attorney, so why would I want to look like one now?

Normally I am Katie Clean, but I settled on a quick brush of my teeth, a French shower, and lipstick. I considered calling Emily to tell her I was no-showing, but I knew she would understand when I explained later. I race-walked to the elevators and cursed them as they stopped on every other floor before the Rooftop Grotto.

Ding. Finally. I stopped to catch my breath. I counted to ten, took one last gulp for courage, and stepped under the dim lights above the stone-topped bar. I stood near a man whose masculinity I could feel pulsing from several feet away. Heat flamed in my cheeks. My engine raced. Just the man I’d come to see.

Nick was of Hungarian descent, and he had his gypsy ancestors to thank for his all-over darkness—eyes, hair, and skin—and sharp cheekbones. He had a muscular ranginess that I loved, but he wasn’t traditionally handsome. His nose was large-ish and crooked from being broken too many times. He’d once told me that a surfboard to the mouth had given him his snaggled front tooth. But he was gorgeous in an undefined way, and I often saw from the quick glances of other women that I wasn’t the only one in the room who noticed.

Now he noticed me. “Hi, Helen.”

“Hi, Paris,” I replied.

He snorted. “Oh, I am definitely not your Paris. Paris was a wimp.”

“Hmmmmm. Menelaus, then?”

“Um, beer.”

“I’m pretty sure there was no one named Beer in the story of Helen of Troy,” I said, sniffing in a faux-superior way.

Nick spoke to the bartender. “St. Pauli Girl.” He finally gave me the Nick grin, and the tension left over from our elevator ride disappeared. “Want one?”

I needed to gulp more than air for courage. “Amstel Light.”

Nick placed the order. The bartender handed Nick two beers beaded with moisture, then shook water from his hands. Nick handed mine to me and I wrapped a napkin around it, lining up the edges with the military precision I adored. Nick sang under his breath, his head bobbing side to side. Honky-tonk Woman.

“I think I like you better in Shreveport than Dallas,” I said.

“Thanks, I think. And I like seeing you happy. I guess it’s been a tough year for you, losing your parents and all. Here’s to that smile,” he said, holding his beer aloft toward me.

The toast almost stopped my heart. He was spot-on about the tough part, but I did better when I kept the subject of my parents buried with them. I clinked his bottle but couldn’t look at him while I did it. “Thanks, Nick, very much.”

“Want to play pool?” he asked.

“Let’s do it.”

I was giddy, the sophomore girl out with the senior quarterback. We both loved music, so we talked about genres, bands (his old band, Stingray, and “real” bands), my minor in music at Baylor, and LSD, AKA lead-singer disease. Over a bucket of beers, we swapped stories about high school, and he told me he’d once rescued an injured booby.

“An injured booby?” I asked. “Implants or natural? Eight ball in corner pocket.” I sank it.

He gathered the balls out of the pockets and positioned them in the rack while I ground my cue tip in blue chalk and blew off the excess. “You’re so land-locked. A booby is a bird, Katie.”

I rolled his use of my real name back and forth in my brain, enjoying how it felt.

“I was out surfing, and I found a booby that couldn’t fly. I carried it back home and took care of it until I could set it free.”

“Oh, my gosh! How bad did it smell? Did it peck you? I’ll bet your Mom was thrilled!” I talked fast, in endless exclamation points. Embarrassing. I was a Valley Girl on acid, like Oh-My-Gawd. “It was in shock, so it was calm, but every day it got wilder. I was fourteen, and my mom was happy I wasn’t in my room holding some girl’s real booby, so she was fine with it. It smelled really bad after a few days, though.”

I broke. Balls clacked and ricocheted in every direction, and a striped one tumbled into a side pocket. “Stripes,” I called. “So, your mom had caught you before holding a girl’s booby, huh?”

“Um, I didn’t say that . . .” he said, and stuttered to a stop.

I was more smitten than ever.

“Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” was playing in the background. I hadn’t heard that song in years. It got me thinking. For months, I had been fighting off the urge to slip my arms around Nick’s neck and bite the back of it, but I was aware that most people would consider that inappropriate at work. Pretty small-minded of them, if you asked me. I eyed the large balcony outside the bar and thought that if I could just maneuver Nick out there, maybe I could make it happen.

My chances seemed good enough until one of our colleagues walked in. Tim was of counsel at the firm. “Of counsel” meant he was too old to be called an associate, but he wasn’t a rainmaker. Plus, he wore his pants pulled up an inch too high in the waist. The firm would never make him a partner. Nick and I locked eyes. Until now, we’d been two shortwave radios on the same channel, the signal crackling between us. But now the dial had turned to static and his eyes clouded over. He stiffened and moved subtly away from me.

He hailed Tim up. “Hey, Tim, over here.”

Tim waved to us and walked across the smoky bar. Everything moved in slow motion as he came closer, step by ponderous step. His feet echoed as they hit the floor, reverberating no . . . no . . . no . . . Or maybe I was saying it aloud. I couldn’t tell, but it made no difference.

“Hey, Tim, this is great. Grab a beer; let’s play some pool.”

Oh, please tell me Nick didn’t just invite Tim to hang out with us. He could have given him a short “hey how ya doing have a nice night I was just leaving” shpiel, or anything else for that matter, but no, he had asked Tim to join us.

Tim and Nick looked at me for affirmation.

I entertained a fleeting fantasy in which I executed a perfect side kick to Tim’s gut and he started rolling around on the floor with the dry heaves. What good were the thirteen years of karate my father had insisted on if I couldn’t use it at times like these? “Every woman should be able to defend herself, Katie,” Dad would say as he dropped me off at the dojo.

Maybe this wasn’t technically a physical self-defense moment, but Tim’s arrival had dashed my hopes for the whole neck-bite thing, and all that could have come after it. Wasn’t that reason enough?

I cast out the image. “Actually, Tim, why don’t you take over for me? I was in trial all week, and I’m exhausted. We have an early start tomorrow. It’s the last day of our retreat, the grande finale for the Hailey & Hart team.” I handed my pool cue to Tim.

Tim thought this was a fine idea. It was clear women scared him. If I had hoped for an argument from Nick, though, I didn’t get one. He reverted to his outside-of-work “Katie who?” act.

All I got from him was “Goodnight,” with neither a Helen nor a Katie tacked on.

I grabbed another Amstel Light from the bar for the plod back to my room.

Reprinted with permission from Saving Grace by Pamela Fagan Hutchins. © 2012 by Skipjack Publishing

5 Comments

Filed under Read a Chapter

A Conversation with Mark Spivak, author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History

Please welcome my special guest, Mark Spivak. Mark is here today to talk about his latest release, Iconic Spirits: An Mark Spivak smIntoxicating History.  Mark is an award-winning writer specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and since 2001 has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, as well as the restaurant critic for Palm Beach Illustrated. His work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Ritz-Carlton, Continental, Art & Antiques, Newsmax, Dream of Italy and Arizona Highways. From 1999-2011 he hosted Uncorked! Radio, a highly successful wine talk show on the Palm Beach affiliate of National Public Radio.

Mark began writing Iconic Spirits after becoming fascinated with the untold stories behind the world’s greatest liquors. As a writer, he’s always searching for the unknown details that make his subjects compelling and unique.

Visit Mark’s website at http://www.iconicspirits.net.

Iconic SpiritsQ: Thank you for this interview, Mark. Can you tell us what your latest book, Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, is all about?

I chronicle the untold tales of twelve spirits that changed the world and forged the cocktail culture. Some are categories and others are specific brands, but they’re all amazing stories—and stories that are unknown to the average reader.

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

One day I was think about Campari, about how bitter it is and how unpleasant it is to some consumers (myself included), despite the fact that millions of cases are sold each year. I did some reading about the physiology of taste, and realized that the taste receptors on our tongues function as an early-warning system that we’re about to drink something toxic or poisonous. Your brain is telling you, “Don’t drink this—it might kill you,” and yet Campari is considered to be one of the sexiest things on earth. The more I looked into other spirits, I found the same kinds of compelling stories.

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

There were a number of cases where I visited the distillery and spent two or three days with the producers. Not everyone wanted to give me that level of access, but fortunately there were other cases where I didn’t need it—for some spirits, I could accomplish the research by a combination of reading and telephone interviews.

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

The most important message concerns entrepreneurship, the creation of something out of nothing. Many of the most famous and profitable spirits in the world sprang from the flash of an idea.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

The Triumph of the Bootleggers: Moonshine, Rumrunning and the Founding of NASCAR

Drive out of Winston-Salem, and the landscape turns rural very quickly. By the time you reach Wilkes County the soft, rippling hills have become higher and steeper, and the valleys are dotted with frame houses, farmland and working tractors.

Joe Michalek, the energetic and genial president of Piedmont Distillers, is at the wheel. It’s 6:30 a.m. and we’re driving out to have breakfast with Junior Johnson–driving on Junior Johnson Highway, in fact, an eight-mile stretch of U.S. Route 421 named for the famous race car driver. We ease off onto old 421, which used to be known as Bootlegger’s Highway. Sixty years ago there were nearly 400 stills in Wilkes County, and the roads here were dirt–“nothin’ more than cow pastures,” according to Junior. Bootleggers turned off their headlights at night to avoid detection, and navigated by the light of the moon.

Tom Wolfe called him “The Last American Hero.” The nickname stuck, and it became the title of a 1973 movie about his life, a Hollywood extravaganza starring Jeff Bridges. Robert Glenn Johnson Jr., known as Junior, was born in Wilkes County in 1931. He began running moonshine out of the hills at 14, using his dad’s rebuilt 1940 Ford. He became the fastest man on the dirt roads, the one bootlegger the law couldn’t catch. In time, he took his cars, his speed and his nerve onto the racetrack, and became one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history.

Wolfe wrote at length about the legend of Junior Johnson in his breakout 1965 Esquire piece, but he also helped create it. Junior was already an idol throughout the South at that time, but was relatively unknown outside the region. The story captured him at the height of his racing career, and it also took the legend and burnished it so brightly that it became visible around the country.

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

I had a great agent, which helped enormously. Even so, I think you need to have a subject which is timely and resonates with a large segment of the public. It helps to persevere, and luck also doesn’t hurt.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

I write at all hours of the day, but I find the early hours are best because there are no interruptions. If I can get up by 4 a.m., I’m likely to have nearly an entire day’s work done before people start calling or emailing.

Q: What’s next for you?

I’m sworn to secrecy, but the next project will undoubtedly be focused on spirits and the enjoyment of life.

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

Many thanks.

1 Comment

Filed under Author Interviews

Erotica romance author Susan DiPlacido announces ‘Shuffle Up and Deal Blog Tour’

Pump Up Your Book is pleased to announce Susan DiPlacido’s Shuffle Up and Deal Virtual Book Publicity Tour beginning December 3, 2012 and ending on March 15, 2013. Susan will be on hand during her nationwide tour talking about her book in candid interviews and guest Shuffle Up and Deal long bannerposts! As an added bonus, Susan’s tour is also part of a Kindle Fire HD Giveaway! To find out more details visit her official tour page here.

Susan DiPlacido is the author of 24/7, Trattoria, Mutual Holdings, House Money, Lady Luck, Shuffle Up and Deal, and American Cool. Trattoria was nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Small Press Romance 2005, and her short story, “I, Candy,” won the Spirit Award at the 2005 Moondance International Film Festival. American Cool won the bronze medal in the 2008 IPPY awards and was a finalist in the 2008 Indie Book Awards. Shuffle Up and Deal was nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Small Press Erotic Fiction 2010. Her fiction has appeared in Susie Bright’s Best American Erotica 2007, Maxim Jakubowski’s Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica vol. 6 and 7, Zane’s Caramel Flava, and Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction.

Please visit her online at www.susandiplacido.com or www.susandiplacido.blogspot.com.

Pump Up Your Book handles all the aspects of virtual book touring from pre-buzzing your book before the tour starts to making sure buyers will find your book long after the tour is over. If you are the author of a newly published book, have an upcoming release or just want to give a previously published book new life, a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book is the answer. We welcome traditionally published, electronically published and self-published authors. Our esteem list of clients include Claire Cook, Caridad Pineiro, C.W. Gortner, Barbara Bretton, Cody McFayden, James Hayman, Karen White, Kathleen Willey, Lisa Daily, Lisa Jackson, Mary Burton, Nancy Thayer, Randy Sue Coburn, Ray Comfort, Sandi Kahn Shelton, Sheila Roberts, Therese Fowler, Hope Edelman, Wendy Wax, Jon Meacham, Shobhan Bantwal, Pat Williams, Jane Green, Judge Glenda Hatchett and cook show personality Paula Deen. We also represent Random House, Abingdon Press, Zumaya Publications, WND Books, Sheaf House Publishers, New Hope Publishers, Guardian Angel Publishers, Genesis Press, and Moody Publishing. Contact us to find out what we can do for you and your book!

 

If you’d like host Susan with an interview, book review or guest post opportunity and be a part of her Kindle Fire HD promotional tour, contact Dorothy Thompson at thewriterslife(at)gmail.com. Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion for authors. Visit us at www.pumpupyourbook.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Announcements

Read a Chapter: Women’s Fiction ‘The Third Grace’ by Deb Elkink

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the women’s fiction, The Third Grace, by Deb Elkink. Enjoy!

______________________________________

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Greenbrier Book Company, LLC (December 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1937573001
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937573003

WINNER OF 2012 BOOK OF YEAR AWARD
The past casts a long shadow — especially when it points to a woman’s first love.
Her name was Mary Grace until she fell in love with the French exchange student visiting her family’s Nebraska farm. François renamed her “Aglaia” — after the beautiful Third Grace of Greek mythology — and set the seventeen-year-old girl longing for something more than her parents’ simplistic life and faith. Now, fifteen years later, Aglaia works as a costume designer in Denver. Her budding success in the city’s posh arts scene convinces her that she’s left the country bumpkin far behind. But “Mary Grace” has deep roots, as Aglaia learns during a business trip to Paris. Her discovery of sensual notes François jotted into a Bible during that long-ago fling, a silly errand imposed by her mother, and the scheming of her sophisticated mentor conspire to create a thirst in her soul that neither evocative daydreams nor professional success can quench. The Third Grace is a captivating debut novel that will take you on a dual journey across oceans and time — in the footsteps of a woman torn between her rural upbringing and her search for self.

______________________________________

Chapter One

Light from the floor lamp winked at Aglaia through the garnet wine as her guest swirled the glass upward—winked as though it shared Aglaia’s secret, just waiting for her to ask her question again. But she held back. She was pacing herself . . .

She studied the profile of Dr. Lou Chapman, the critical eye and the nose thrust aggressively into the bouquet of the vintage. She shifted on the sofa and reached for her goblet to mimic Lou’s actions, careful not to slosh her own wine over the rim. She didn’t want to appear gauche; it was awkward enough trying to draw outfrom Lou the information she needed to prevail in her search.

Maybe she shouldn’t have asked the professor up following the theater tonight after all, she thought. Work had beendemanding of late, and this afternoon’s traffic brutal in the drenching rain. She’d arrived back at her apartment with no time to slouch into relaxation—just a few minutes to pin her hair into a messy nest and slip on the sapphire chemise that now lay against her skin, silky as a French boy’swhisper.

“Nice legs,” Lou said.

Aglaia crossed them instinctively but caught herself before saying thanks, realizing just in time that the compliment was intended for the wine. Feeling foolish, she straightened her back and feigned a worldly, knowing air.

Lou picked up the bottle, tilted it towards the light, and read the label through the bottom half of trendy spectacles. “Where did you purchase it?”

“At Santé on East Sixth Avenue,” Aglaia said with a shrug, as though she stopped in at the posh Denver cellar regularly on her way home from work rather than just the once—last week for a tasting with her wine appreciation class. But Aglaia wondered if she’d ever truly appreciate wine. This bottle of imported pinot noir had cost her dearly but it was worth the money to gain Lou’s confidence and, besides, Aglaia’s growing collection of corks in the green bowl on the coffee table proved she was recovering from her habit of temperance.

With eyes closed Lou sampled the wine, swished, sucked air in past pursed lips. “Subdued, earthy with a subtle berry, long finish. Excellent choice.”

Aglaia couldn’t detect earth or berry, but she was glad now she hadn’t caved in to her first impulse to grab a domestic merlot at half the price.

“A toast to your enduring success in the arts,” Lou said, wine stem raised, “even if it is in the private sector instead of the university, where talent like yours belongs.”

Glasses clinked; the two women sipped.

Aglaia swallowed the astringent and watched Lou’s eyebrows, the most animated part of her face. They signaled her mood, usually dipping downward at the outer edges in world-weariness but arched now in approval. Lou’s slate-cold eyes themselves were flat, two dimensional, and gave nothing away.

Aglaia angled her glass and looked into its blood-red interior. Wine was a symbol of communion, she thought, and she was using it with carnal deliberation to seal this relationship that had so much to offer her. As she lifted the glass to her lips again, she hoped her own silhouette projected an image of glamor. Alcohol had been taboo in the home of her youth. In her current lapsed state, the mere thought of consuming it was intoxicatingin itself—and emboldening. She was about to pose her question again when Lou spoke up.

“The costumes in tonight’s performance were remarkable, but your Phantom stole the show.”

“Not myPhantomexactly,” Aglaia said.

“Don’t be coy. You’re obviously an accomplished artisan and you deserve to be discovered.”

Heat rushed to Aglaia’s cheeks but she knew she’d earned the praise. Her boss at Incognito Costume Shop wouldn’t let another employee touch the feature pieces contracted for the production, and they’d shown well on stage tonight.

Earlier this evening the curtains had closed to robust applause, but Aglaia waited until the last scalloped hem and tip of a feathered cap disappeared into the wings before joining in with the rest of the audience. When she recognized a critic from the Denver Post dashing backstage for an interview with the cast, she knew for certain that the name of Aglaia Klassen, up-and-coming costume designer, would appear again in the weekend reviews; her creations had worked their usual opening night magic. Indeed, Aglaia herself had been transported in her imagination to the play’s setting of the world-famous opera house in Paris.

Paris! It was the city of her dreams where, in just three days’ time, she’d finally be walking in the flesh. Aglaia took another sip to sober her elation over the imminent business trip, particularly regarding her plans for how she’d spend her free time there. Of course this would include a whirlwind tour of the city sights but other, admittedly idealistic, aspirations were at the forefront of her mind and had been all evening.

After the play, as Lou had driven through the city to take her home, Aglaia barely heard her scholarly assessment of the musical score because she was caught up in her thoughts of international travel. When Aglaia did speak, it was to articulate the undercurrent running though her subconscious for most of the performance—for most of her life, it seemed. That was when she’d casually brought the subject up with Lou.

“I wonder how someone can just disappear in Paris.”

Lou, slowing to make the turn onto Aglaia’s street, had said, “I suppose you’re talking about the masked villain spiriting the fair maiden away to his lair beneath the OpéraGarnier.”

“No, I mean nowadays, in real life. How would someone find a missing person in Paris?”

“That’s hardly the first question that comes to mind in critiquingThe Phantom of the Opera,” Lou had said, and she coughed out a laugh as if expecting an analysis of the play’s Faustian implications or something as cerebral. Aglaia’s own interests were much more intuitive, and she’d let the matter drop as Lou pulled into the space facing the apartment block, armed the car lock, and followed her up the steps while pontificating on the literary elements of the script.

Lou had remarked on Aglaia’s use of the Greek mask of tragedy as a pattern for the Phantom’s own disguise—a clever adaptation—and her mirroring of Hellenistic fashion in the simplicity of the heroine’s robe, guessing correctly that Aglaia’s inspiration had come from the Greek style of the Opéra’s architecture.

But all the while, right up to the time Lou had opened the wine, Aglaia was reviewing and reframing her question—her quest—regarding Paris. Lou, a sociologist at Platte River University and a jetsetter, was versed in things European, and Aglaia could use an expert at this point. Her Internet surveillance over the past month had turned up nothing very helpful.

Now Lou plucked a cat hair from the arm of the loveseat and Aglaia regretted not having vacuumed more thoroughly—Lou probably had a cleaning lady. Before the other woman could resume her intellectualized thread of the discussion on the evening’s entertainment, and at the risk of sounding fixated, Aglaia ventured a third query.

“So, Lou, if you were looking for someone in Paris, where would you start?”

This time Lou heard her, though she frowned. It clearly wasn’t her topic of choice. “Well, maybe I’d launch an investigation through the préfecture or contact the American embassy. Sightseers must go missing now and then. Or,” she gibed, “are you afraid of getting lost yourself when you’re over there, all alone in the big, bad city?”

Aglaia ignored her sarcasm. “It’s not a tourist issue.”

“You’re referring to a resident?” Lou asked with her eyebrow cocked. “The telephone book then, I suppose.”

The local phone book, of course. Aglaia would start with that notion as soon as she got to Paris. It might be a long shot, but she had this one chance for disclosure and she wasn’t going to let it slip away. She knew now how she would begin her on-site manhunt and felt herself unwinding for the first time all night.

But then the apartment buzzer rasped.

She didn’t expect anyone. Before she could answer it, the door was bumped open by her elderly mother. Tina Klassen, cheeks perpetually rouged by prairie wind and high blood pressure, was caught midsentence as though continuing an interrupted dialogue, her Low German accent still discernible.

“. . . and your father is in such a hurry to get home, Mary Grace. When harvest is wet like this and so late, you know how tense he is.”

She pronounced it “tanse” and, more out of habit than necessity, threw a Plautdietsch word into her ramble here and there—about the rain rotting the crops on the Laundt and about how Henry was waiting in the Trock outside. The tongue of the Klassen heritage was still spoken in many rural Mennonite households, but it was just partially understood and strictly avoided by Aglaia herself. She hoped Lou didn’t catch Tina’s flat, sticky words and the use of her old name, which Mom still hadn’t given up after all these years—or wouldn’t give up.

Maybe it was just as well. Tina wasn’t able to pronounce “Aglaia” correctly either, no matter how many times she was reminded that it rhymed with “I’ll pay ya.”

Tina pushed farther into the apartment. “Your father needed to pick up a tractor part none of the local dealerships had, and I don’t like it when he drives alone so long and so far. I only have a minute, dear. I brought you some fresh-baked Zwieback.

Aglaia was trying to lose a few pounds before the trip but—oh!—those rolls smelled delicious. The aroma disarmed her; she knew she should be hustling Tina out the door but couldn’t find her words.

“Did you get my parcel?” her mother asked, not yet noticing Lou sitting on Aglaia’s couch. “I didn’t know I was coming to town or I would have waited to bring it along and saved the postage. But I wanted to be sure it got to you before you left on your trip.”

In fact, when Aglaia received the package yesterday after work, she immediately began to tear at the brown paper, piqued about what her mother might be sending, until she saw the two-word title on the spine glaring through torn edges: Holy Bible. Annoyance at her mother’s intrusiveness soured her then and rose again now like acid in the back of her throat. Tina knew Aglaia was disinterested in religion—and that was an understatement.

Before Aglaia could shut the closet door, her mother spotted the packet amongst the shoes in the shadow of the coats and reached down for it. “Why, it’s right here,” she said. “Didn’t you read the note to call me?” Aglaia hadn’t gotten that far in her unwrapping, and she recoiled as Tina shoved the bundle at her. Then her mother glanced up, for the first time seeing Lou in the living room. “Oh, my,” Tina said, tightening the knot on her kerchief, “I didn’t know you had company.”

Tina seemed to have shriveled even since the last time she and Henry made the two-hundred-mile pilgrimage to Denver—a city, a state, a lifetime away from their Nebraska farm. Aglaia looked down on her though she wasn’t tall herself. She looked as far down on Mom as she looked up at Lou. Tina’s jacket didn’t hide the dowdy housedress and her shoes were muddy. Aglaia was sorry again that she ever gave her mother a key to the apartment. Resigned she made introductions.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Lou arose and offered a manicured hand. “Do come in,” she said, as if she were the hostess. Aglaia didn’t blame Lou for wanting to compensate for her own uncomfortable silence.

But Tina, a teetotaler, now eyed up the wine glasses and Aglaia could almost hear her judgmental thoughts about her daughter’s rejection of long-held Klassen values. Aglaia couldn’t risk letting Tina make further comment in Lou’s presence and took hold of her mother’s arm to steer her towards the outer hallway.

“Isn’t that Dad honking outside? You have a long drive home tonight.” That was true; they wouldn’t get back until well after midnight. “I’ll walk you down.”

“No, no. I need to explain.” Tina, flustered, ripped the butcher’s paper fully off the cumbersome black leather book, exposing it to Lou’s purview. “I found this when I was digging around under the basement stairs. I haven’t opened that trunk since the summer the French boy came to stay with us. You remember?”

Did she remember? It was all Aglaia could do to keep her memories under wraps.

Tina was opening the Bible now to the dedication page. “It says, ‘Presented to François Vivier from the Klassens.’ I thought to myself, that boy must have meant to take this home with him, since he carried it to church every Sunday he was with us, and to every Wednesday prayer meeting.”

Horrified, Aglaia opened her mouth to protest, but no sound emerged. This was worse than she first imagined—worse than her mother simply sending her a Bible for reasons of maternal concern over her spiritual state. Tina was trotting out the one aspect of Aglaia’s life she’d been trying to hide, especially from Lou. Not only was this a Bible that linked her to a personal religion, but it was the very Bible owned by the person who’d totally reformed her religion.

“He wrote notes into the margins, starting right here in Genesis,” Tina said. She pointed to a finely penciled script but, thankfully, didn’t read the misquotation aloud: In the beginning, the gods created.Tina went on, “It was too small for me to make out without my reading glasses there in the basement, and Henry was about to leave for town so I had to rush if I wanted to get it into the mail. Can you see what it says?” Tina held the book out at arm’s length for a moment before giving up. “Anyway, I decided that, since you were going to Paris, you should pack it into your suitcase and take it to him.”

Aglaia bit down hard to stop herself from exclaiming and kept her face turned towards her mom so that the other woman wouldn’t discern her mortification. She heard Lou say under her breath, “Ah, hence the questions,” and was immobilized by her mother’s proposition—in fact, by her own resolution—to find François, which sounded completely ridiculous when spoken aloud.

“Mom, I have no idea where he lives,” she said, but in her heart she wanted to shout, If only I knew where he lived!

Tina responded, “He said he was going back to that famous school. What was it called?”

“The Sorbonne, but that was years ago.” Aglaia kept her voice curt, not wanting to give Lou—who was openly eavesdropping—any reason to suppose she’d put up with the nonsense of taking a Bible along to France. “Who knows what’s happened to him since? It’d be impossible to find him.”

Aglaia doubted her mother would yield to the argument. Once she got a bone in her teeth, she was stubborn. Aglaia wouldn’t mention that looking for François had been her daydream all along. Hoping her own voice didn’t reveal her desire, she quickly added, “Besides, I’m in Paris for only a few days.” Only a few days allotted to explore the world’s most elegant city, an impossible few days to run an old heartthrob to ground.

Tina’s wrinkles deepened as her forehead puckered. True to her nature, she persisted, “I just know he’d want this precious Büak.”

As if François would care about that Bible, Aglaia thought.

Tina fiddled with the cover, thumbing the gilded edges that on her Bible had long ago lost their shine. A museum postcard slipped from between the pages to the floor, image facing up, immediately recognizable to Aglaia. She hadn’t seen the postcard for fifteen years and she stared at it, transfixed all over again by the sculpture of the three nude women. Helpless, she plummeted into the memory of that first viewing like a pebble into the pond behind the barn, once again sitting with her family around the table with François on the warm May night he came to them—seated close to him, touched by his breath.

Tarrying together, the three marble nudes stand silken in the light, immortal young sisters polished with the ages—arm encircling waist, head on shoulder. Mary Grace is intoxicated with them, captured on one of the many glossy cards he brought to show off Paris to his American host family. She doesn’t pay attention to his descriptions of the Eiffel Tower or the bridges, but only to the timbre of his voice, the poetry weaving through his hesitant English.

He turns to her for a moment and says, “They have your name, non? Les TroisGrâces—Mary Grace.”

Her brother grins and kicks her under the table but she ignores him. She’s consumed with the statues and with François’s fingertips tracing the two-dimensional outline, caressing the nymphen forms as though they’re warm and living flesh. She’s disconcerted because her own womanhood is so new. Does he mean to excite her? 

Lou stepped forward to pick up the card before Aglaia shook her reverie.

Tina squinted at it. “I hope that French Jung didn’t take such a picture into church with him.”

“Perhaps he was using it as a bookmark,” Lou said. She turned the card over and Aglaia saw it was blank except for the museum information printed on the back. “Pradier, 1790-1852. Les TroisGrâces—the Three Graces,” Lou read aloud. “Your François appreciated the female form, I see—good taste.”

Aglaia attempted to change the course of conversation. “Mom, it’s too bad I didn’t know you were coming tonight or I’d have gotten you and Dad tickets for the play.” Not that they ever attended the stage.

But Lou, looking at the photo again, continued in spite of Aglaia’s red herring. “Pradier sculpted in the neo-classical style and used the ancient Greek mythsas subject material. The Three Graces, companions of Aphrodite, were very popular, and you can see that Pradier included their signature themes of fertility, beauty, and hospitality in this work. Note the way he utilized plants and jewels to get his idea across.” She stretched her arm out so that mother and daughter could see what she meant, but Aglaia knew Lou’s point would be lost on Tina. “The mythology of Greece made its imprint throughout history along many avenues,” Lou said. “For example, the plot of The Phantom of the Opera may well have had its origins in the story of Europa, the beautiful maiden who was stolen away by Zeus disguised as a bull.”

Tina scrunched her face in confusion.

As for Aglaia, she’d first heard the Greek tale whispered into her eager young ear by François’s impassioned young lips, and then read it again in Bulfinch’s Mythology, a text she discovered in twelfth grade on the shelves of the school library after her curiosity about the gods had been aroused. Her reading matter since her childhood days might surprise and even disturb Tina if she understood its content; it wasn’t quite the holy pap Aglaia was brought up on. But Tina’s disapproval wasn’t her concern at the moment, for Lou—satisfied with her examination of the postcard—was now craning towards the Bible as though she wanted to get a good close look at it next.

“Mom, I’ll take that,” Aglaia said. She reached for the book.

Tina handed it off to her readily. “Then you will return it to the boy? I knew you’d agree that it’s just meant to be.”

Aglaia intended only to get it out of sight—out of Lou’s sight, especially. The thought of delivering it was preposterous. But she zipped it into the front pouch of hersuitcase, packed and ready on the entry table. There was time enough to deal with it later, after she got rid of her mother and recouped her image with Lou, who probably thought she was totally incompetent about now.

Reprinted from The Third Grace by Deb Elkink. © 2012 by Greenbriar Book Company.

Leave a comment

Filed under Read a Chapter

‘Sleep Magic’ is a tool that can be used effectively throughout life says author Victoria Pendragon

Victoria Pendragon was born and raised in the vicinity of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is the oldest of eleven. Her life has been defined, as are most of ours perhaps, by conditions that would seem to have been beyond her control. Eighteen years of various sorts of abuse and two diseases that should have killed her rank among the most outstanding of those.

Her study of metaphysics began in early childhood as an attempt to validate the lessons she’d been learning from the earth and the trees whenever she left her body. She has been working as a professional in the field of spirituality since 1995, has read tarot since 1964 and created in 2007, Sacred Earth Seven Element Tarot, a tarot deck designed to bring the world community together.

Victoria began training in art when still a child, eventually acquiring a BFA from The Philadelphia College of Art. Her work hangs in numerous corporate and personal collections, among them The Children’s Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Moss Rehab and Bryn Mawr Hospital Rehab.

She has two children by her first marriage, a son and a daughter, both of whom amaze her. She is currently married to her third husband, a man whose kind soul has created for her an atmosphere of clarity and creativity in which she dances, writes, creates art and helps when asked.

Her latest book is Sleep Magic: Surrendering to Success.

The author may be contacted through her website: http://site.heavenisinyourheart.com.

Blog: http://blog.heavenisinyourheart.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/victoria.pendragon

________________

Q: Thank you for this interview, Victoria. Can you tell us what your latest book, Sleep Magic, Surrender to Success, is all about?

Sure. Sleep Magic is a technique that allows your body to let go of old emotional attachments and information, attachments and information that could very well lie behind recurrent issues and problems in your life.

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

I didn’t, actually…my body did, when I was dying from an incurable disease in the late 80’s. It took me almost 15 years after I’d healed from the disease to begin to comprehend what had gone on. I knew that something had been going on, because despite the fact that I was in a massive amount of pain, crippled and wasting away, I’d arise after what little sleep I could manage, feeling…well…joyful. Hopeful. And my hope flew in the face of what my doctors were predicting for me, namely, death.

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

Well, the first thing I had to do, after codifying what I thought I knew into a sort of formula, was to seek out folks who were willing to try it along with me. So I spent 3 years refining the technique and 8 years working with – oh, my – a lot of people as they used the technique. The average person got through the main learning curve in about 14 months and most were thrilled with the results they achieved, everything from pain reduction to finding peace.

Sleep Magic is so flexible and programmable that it is a tool that can be used effectively throughout life.

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

That your body knows a whole lot more about you than you do. Because it’s the cellular intelligence of the body that the Sleep Magic formula addresses. Your body remembers everything – everything! – that you have ever seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

Some years ago, a movie called The Secret—See the movie!  Buy the book!  Own the DVD!—ushered into the spotlight that which had not been a secret for at least a thousand years, maybe more.  But to many Americans, limited by a society which has gloried in itself and in its own achievements, much like the metaphorical 2-year-old it is in global terms, this so-called secret was something wonderful and new.  Books on the Laws of Attraction, such as The Secret, have long been on the self-help shelves of bookstores, but now, post-Secret, they entertain an even larger audience and the proliferation of their genre.  Workshops on making dreams come true, once attended only by more alternative types, are springing up in adult night schools.

It was bound to happen.  We live in the land of anything-can-happen-if-you-work-hard-enough, but there is a huge discrepancy here.  We are raised, in America, to believe that we can have it all.  Are we supposed to “have it all?” Does that not smack seriously of greed?

The fact is that most of us live modest lives filled with everyday achievements, joys, distractions, and distresses.  Most of us do not own billion-dollar businesses.  Most of us are not celebrities.  Most of us do not own four houses, a private jet, and a garage full of antique cars.  Yet this is what we, as Americans, tend to equate with success.  Consequently, most of us think of ourselves as not being successful; The Secret that was not really a secret fell on fertile ground—promising, promising, promising.

There is no information in The Secret that cannot be found in Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich written about a hundred years before or for that matter in the works of James Allen, author of As a Man Thinketh and many other older, less flashy tomes.  The bottom line in all these books is always persistence and a positive, focused attitude, and if that worked for everyone as well as it worked for the people about whom these books have been written, then a whole lot more of us should be perfect pictures of the American success story.  There is a reason that there are countless books on achieving success in this quintessentially American way, and that is because the same type of people keep buying the books—well-meaning people hoping for the bigger and better life.  These books are all variations on a theme and the theme itself is, for the most part, a myth.  This myth is handed down from generation to generation.

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

Yes, it is difficult. But it is difficult to get almost anything published. I just finished listening to Janet Evanovitch talking about how it took her 10 years of writing and submitting, writing and submitting to get anything published. Persistence is the key. Always.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

I’m a very regimented person by nature so this is easy to describe. After waking and preparing the cards for my daily tarot blog, I do either yoga or Pilates, depending on the day; check Email and post the tarot blog while sipping a warm beverage; have breakfast part 1 while reading whatever book I’m enjoying. After that I alternate between creating art – I’m also a professional, exhibiting artist – marketing myself and The Little Chakra Shop, writing, and eating small meals. I do this until I simply cannot think anymore after which I prepare for bed, sit down with my beloved husband and watch whatever movie he wants until one of the two of us can’t keep our eyes open anymore.

I love it.

Q: What’s next for you?

I’m playing around with death. For many, many years I was a spiritual counselor and sat with folks who were dying…and, of course, I’d come perilously close to doing the same myself. But people in the final stages of life are amazingly open…you can communicate without saying a word. It’s quite wonderful…and I feel strongly that most people have very negative feelings around the idea of death, certainly many people I sat with did. It – death – shouldn’t be a scary thing. It’s natural. And there’s no avoiding it, after all, so I’d like to explore that.

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

And I wish the same for you…thank you so much!

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Interviews

Interview with Kaylin McFarren, author of ‘Severed Threads’

As many people know, Kaylin McFarren wasn’t born with a pen in hand like so many of her talented fellow authors. However, she has been involved with business and personal writing projects for many years. Her careers have taken her in all directions, ranging from fashion modeling and interior design to office manager and art gallery director. Yet her love of reading and interest in creative writing has remained ever present. As a result of her tapping into her imagination and utilizing her own life experiences, she has earned more than a dozen literary awards. Her first novel, Flaherty’s Crossing was a 2008 finalist in the prestigious RWA® Golden Heart contest and her second book, Severed Threads, has already garnered two first place awards.

Kaylin is a member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers. She received her AA in Literature at Highline Community College, which originally sparked her passion for writing. In her free time, she also enjoys giving back to the community through participation and support of various educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest, and is currently the president of the Soulful Giving Foundation – a non-profit she and her husband formed to fund expanded research, and the care and treatment of cancer patients and their families.

Her latest book is a romantic suspense titled Severed Threads.

You can visit Kaylin online at www.KaylinMcFarren.com.

Twitter: www.twitter.com/4kaylin

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kaylin.mcfarren

Blog: http://kaylinmcfarren.wordpress.com/

_______________________

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

Believing herself responsible for her father’s fatal diving accident, Rachel Lyons has withdrawn from the world and assumed a safe position at a foundation office. When called upon by a museum director to assist her former love interest with the recovery of a cursed relic from a sunken Chinese merchant ship, she has no intention of cooperating – until her brother is kidnapped by a drug-dealing gangster. In order to save him and gain control over her life, Rachel must not only overcome her greatest fears, but also relive the circumstances that lead to her father’s death.

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

Rachel is an attractive thirty-two year old, brown-haired, hazel-eyed former marine biologist who’s lost everyone she’s loved for one reason or another and is simply going through the motions after giving up her passion for diving. Four years earlier, her arguments with her father ultimately lead to his accidental drowning. As a result, she’s buried her emotions, taken a job in a foundation office and experiences reoccurring nightmares.

Chase Cohen, Rachel’s ex-lover, is a charismatic thirty-four year old, blond-haired, blue-eyed treasure seeker who’s fun loving, brave and caring, but he’s also hiding a world of secrets that caused him to leave town four years ago. He’s become obsessed with finding the mother lode and although he blames himself for his part in Sam Lyon’s death, the success of his latest endeavor depends on Rachel’s generosity and willingness to forget their damaged past.

Devon Lyons, an ambitious high-powered stockbroker, is Rachel’s younger brother. His preoccupation with money and blind love for Selena, the sister of a notorious drug-dealing mobster, has resulted in his involvement with an unsavory group of characters.

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

My characters originally come from my imagination as a transitory illusion and over time become more concrete and defined. Eventually they are chiseled into complex, interesting individuals, aided by my interactions with memorable people from my travels to various places around the world.

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

I tend to start with a story idea and know pretty much where it begins and where I want it to end. As I grow my characters, I turn them loose and let their personalities help shape the story, often detouring it in all directions. Oddly, it’s not unusual to see the solution to a painted corner buried within the developing story.

Q: Your book is set in San Palo, California.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

Actually, I invented this city to mirror communities similar to San Diego and Port Angeles, where I’ve spent a great deal of time. I find it’s often easier and more fun to create unique places than worry about accurate details of a thriving, well-known community.

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

Yes. This is a struggling mid-size town that depends on fishing, charter boats and tourism for its economic survival. The discovery of an ancient shipwreck with a valuable cargo onboard affects everyone living and working there.

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

Devon Lyons is tied up in an abandoned warehouse and being forced to watch a gangster beat his financial partner and best friend to death.

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

“Rachel, I’m not going to lie to you. I heard you’d given up diving, that you were working for the Warren Nash Foundation. But I honestly had no idea you’d be here.”

Her spine stiffened.

“And as for your dad,” he continued, “not a day goes by that I don’t feel responsible for what happened. Sam was a good man. Like a father to me.”

She bristled. Her gaze burned with emotion. “Oh, really? Then why didn’t you have the decency to show up at his funeral?”

Chase’s gaze slid from her face. His brows met when he looked up again. “Look, I really wanted to come. It’s just that after the investigation and everything – ”

Her anger ripened. “Yea, right.” His scrawled note had left her brooding for weeks. Something urgent came up…have to leave town. After professing her love, he turned out to be the scoundrel her brother Devon had painted him out to be. Her teeth clenched at the memory. “You were a complete asshole. Now, get out of my way.”

Using both hands, she shoved hard against his taut chest, but he rocked right back in place. He grabbed hold of her wrists and pulled her in close. “You have every right to be angry,” he said quietly. “But there was a good reason why I stayed away. Why I never called you.”

An involuntary shiver ran up her spine. She averted her gaze toward the marina, wishing the drifting fog could shield her from his soul-searching gaze. She didn’t want him to see how broken she’d become. Or how much, deep inside, she had never stopped yearning for his touch.

“It had nothing to do with you and me,” he insisted.

She stepped back, breaking his grip. “It still doesn’t.” Venom dripped from her words.

Chase nodded slowly. “Maybe not. But right now, I need this job. More than you know.” His blue eyes intensified. “What will it take for us to get past everything? An apology? You have it. My promise to stay clear of you? Done.”

His words reminded her how easy it was for him to dismiss her. She’d been such a fool in allowing his charm to blind her. He obviously cared about no one but himself. And deep down inside, no matter how hard she had tried to dismiss it, they both shared the blame in her father’s death. Nothing would change that.

She drew in a deep breath. “There is one thing that will make me feel better.”

His face relaxed. “You name it. Anything you want.”

She pulled back her arm and swung with all her might. Her palm connected with his cheek so hard it stung her hand to the bone.

“Damn!” He grabbed his face, wincing from the blow.

She pressed her palms together, nursing her own pain, and addressed him again. “I’ve wanted to do that for a long time. If you think you can just show up and expect me to – ”

Before she could finish, he pulled her into his arms. His lips found hers, launching a current through her veins. The parking lot was spinning out of control and he was the driving force. Her legs quivered, leaving her unsteady on her feet. When he finally lifted his head, she leaned against him, breathless, betrayed by her body’s weakened state.

His warm breath brushed her cheek, lifting tiny hairs on her skin. “And I’ve wanted to do that,” he whispered raggedly, “from the first moment I saw you in Doc’s office.”

Of course. His agenda. Her senses sobered. She distanced herself and firmed her tone. “Nice try. But you’re still not getting a dime from me.”

Chase bent his head and seemed to be strategizing his next move. When he looked up, his crystal eyes chipped away at her soul. “For what it’s worth, Rachel, I really am sorry…for everything. Should’ve said that a long time ago.” He rubbed the back of his neck. An emotion resembling disappointment crossed his face. “Believe me, I would’ve stuck around if I could have.”

She was surprised by his show of sincerity. But nothing he could say would lessen the pain she still felt from him abandoning her when she needed him most.

She jutted out her chin. “It was just a summer fling. A mistake from beginning to end. We should have ended it like adults, is all.”

Her final words hung in the air. A nerve jumped at his temple. “I didn’t know you felt that way,” he said.

Chase’s kiss still simmered on her lips. His nearness threatened her reserve. It wasn’t in her to be cruel, but she’d been hurt far too long to back down now.

“So…now you do.” The lie tasted bitter in her mouth.

Chase’s eyes darkened. He gave a rueful nod. “Good thing we got that cleared up. Wouldn’t want to make any more mistakes.”

As he strutted toward his truck, anger gathered in Rachel’s chest. Anger over his words, his deeds, his presumptuous kiss. Over the fact that for a split second, he had made her feel like the bad guy. Her mind threw daggers at his back. “Damn you, Chase Cohen.”

She slid inside her silver Kia and slammed the car door grateful the museum’s security guard was now watching from a distance. If he hadn’t been, she might have acted on a homicidal impulse and run Chase over, the manipulating jerk.

In fact, it made her feel better just to imagine it.

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

Oddly, I haven’t had this problem. My issue is that I have too many ideas and not enough time to write them all down.

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

I’d love to have an hour to pamper myself and simply relax, since my life seems to be going a hundred miles an hours most of the time. J

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

The Help. I love this book! The characters and their voices are real and their stories incredibly compelling. Plus I really enjoyed the dark humor tucked inside.

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

There are so many options available to authors with everything ranging from traditional queries and submissions to well-known literary agencies to self-publishing and working with print on demand companies. My only piece of advice to a new author would be no matter which route you elect to take, be sure you’re representing quality work that you’ve spent time polishing and that you’ll be proud to see in print. Become familiar with market trends and public demand while having realistic expectations for your potential sales.

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

Thank you!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Interviews