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Pump Up Your Book! Announces September 2013 Authors on Virtual Book Tours

Jump into fall with a great book. In the month of September, Pump Up Your Book features dozens of authors with books in a variety of genres. New adult novels, paranormal thrillers, horror novels, young adult fiction, self-help books, true crime stories and more are making their way around the blogosphere.

Kristin Kuhns Alexandre continues her tour for her new adult novel, “Gem City Gypsy,” while Pamela Fagan Hutchins returns to talk about her mystery romantic thriller, “Leaving Annalese.” Romance novels come to you from Elaine Cantrell, Mike Hartner, and Deborah Hawkins. L.T. Getty talks about her historical fantasy/mythological novel, “Tower of Obsidian,” and Chuck Waldron shares his dystopian fiction book, “Lion’s Head Deception.”

Thrillers in a variety of subgenres come to you from Becky Komant, Danu Maurer, Joseph Spencer, Andy Straka, Marty Weiss, Vincent Zandri, while Marta Tandori tours with her suspense family saga, “Continuance.”

Younger readers will enjoy learning about “The Funny Adventures of Little Nani” by Cinta Garcia de la Rosa and “The Sign of the Elven Queen” by Mark J. Grant, and young adult books are being promoted by Joe Sergi and Mike Thomas.

Michael Phillip Cash is promoting two books and giving away great prizes during his book blasts, and we finally reveal the cover for “Romancing the Million $$$ Ghost,” by Heide AW Kaminski, Pam Ryan, and Pump Up’s founder, Dorothy Thompson. Also on tour are: Dora Machado and Mike Phillips.

For non-fiction, you’ll find Tim and Debbie Bishop talking about their inspirational travel adventure memoir, “Two Are Better,” Lakeysha Green and her fashion/self-help book, “The Seeds of Beauty,” the memoir/autobiography, “The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen” by Julia Helene Ibbotson, “Superior Vocal Health” by David Aaron Katz, Alan Power’s true crime royalty book, “The Princess Diana Conspiracy,” “Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers” by Deborah Serani, and Dee Simon’s comedy book, :Play Something Dancy.”

Visit YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGN2iFR1CT4  to view a video trailer introducing our clients on tour in September.

Pump Up Your Book! is a virtual book tour agency for authors who want quality service at an affordable price.  More information can be found on our website at www.pumpupyourbook.com.

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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Talking Books with Cynthia Gail, author of WINTER’S MAGIC

Please welcome my special guest, contemporary romance author, Cynthia Gail. Cynthia is here today to talk about her latest release just in time for Christmas, Winter’s Magic (Book 1 in the Music City Hearts series).
My husband and I live in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee with our teenage son and three dogs. Life is busy, but when I have free time, I love to read. A math/science girl at heart and a retail analyst by trade, I never thought I’d be writing romance. But one day, a story popped into my head and I had to write it down. The fantasy, escape, and wonder of just reading multiplied by ten-fold and I couldn’t stop my fingers from typing my own fairy tales.

I hope you enjoy my stories. Each one touches on modern day issues, fears, and challenges that women face every day. And each one illustrates that love is within reach if you let down those walls and allow your heart to open. Our lives and experiences are so much more meaningful when we have someone to share them with.

Cynthia’s latest book is the contemporary romance, Winter’s Magic (Book 1 in the Music City Hearts series).

Visit her website at www.Cynthiagail.com.

Why was writing Winter’s Magic so important to you?

Spring’s Surprise, now book #2 in the Music City Hearts series, was actually the first book I wrote. At the first draft stage, I hired an editor to give me feedback and direction. She suggested I take Beth’s character from book #2, create her own story, and plan a full series. I’d already fallen in love with writing, but the guidance and validation from a professional, award-winning author, stirred a deeper passion and I jumped right in.

What was the experience like writing Winter’s Magic?

It was so exciting to write with a purpose. I’m a planner at heart and I felt like I was finally on a path that I had confidence in. Beth is probably my favorite heroine in the series. She’s a strong woman, she’s worked hard to get where she is, and as a result, runs a successful, elite day spa. But even strong women have vulnerabilities. It’s how we face our weaknesses that counts and I think Beth handles adversity with a lot of grace and fortitude.

Can you tell us more about Beth Sergeant and Nick Chester?

Beth’s parents were middle-class, but found a way to send her to the most prestigious, private high school in Nashville, Tennessee. While the invaluable experience prepared her for college, she never felt as if she fit in.

After losing his parents to a car accident at a young age, Nick Chester was raised by his grandfather, the wealthiest man in Nashville. At the age of thirty, he’s built his own business and experienced enough of life to realize everyone has an agenda.

Despite her deep-seated insecurities, Beth can’t resist Nick’s charm and finally accepts an invitation to dinner. She proves she’s nothing like other women Nick’s dated and she slowly learns to trust him in return. But just as the last of their resistance crumbles and true love is within reach, challenges from Nick’s past threaten to destroy everything and force Beth to reveal her most guarded secret.

Are there any supporting characters we need to know about?

Sara and Jenny are Beth’s two best friends. Spring’s Surprise is Sara’s story and Summer’s Family Affair is Jenny’s.

Can you open to page 25 and tell us what’s happening?

This is the end of a scene where Nick realizes how different Beth is from other women in his circle. Due to his family’s status, he’s constantly pursued by women looking for prestige and money. But Beth isn’t pursuing him and he can tell by her genuine interaction with his grandfather that she’s someone special he simply has to know more about.

What about page 65?

In a previous scene, Beth’s bank calls a surprise audit of her day spa’s construction expenses, based on allegations from an anonymous source. Nick offers to use his grandfather’s influence to get the audit dismissed, but Beth won’t let him. She has nothing to hide and doesn’t want to ‘use’ his connections. In the scene on page 65, Nick’s ex-girlfriend makes a surprise visit to his office. During the conversation, he realizes she’s the anonymous source. Though he’d promised Beth that he wouldn’t interfere, he can’t stop himself, and calls his grandfather.

Now that Winter’s Magic has been published, what’s your next project?

Spring’s Surprise is under contract and expected to release in March or April 2013. I’m just starting to work with the first draft of Summer’s Family Affair and I’m outlining Fall’s Redeeming Grace.

Do you have anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It’s no surprise that my first book had to celebrate the season. I hope you enjoy Winter’s Magic as part of your holiday collection.

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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.

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Interview with J.B. Miller, author of NO TIME FOR LOVE

00J.B. Miller is a published author of fiction, non-fiction, award-winning poetry, music, and numerous articles and blogs. No Time For Love is her first novel. She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children.

Visit her blog at http://notimeforlovebyjbmiller.wordpress.com.

Welcome to As the Pages Turn, J.B.!  Can you tell us more about your heroine, Chatham?

No Time for LoveJB: Chatham is the type of heroine that all women can relate to. She does her best to keep up with the demands of her family, her work and unfortunately, does not have enough time for herself. So many readers I talk to can relate to Chatham as though they are reading about themselves. She is today’s every day heroine.

The first chapter sets the tone for the whole book. Why did you decide to start it in the kitchen over waffles?

JB: I want the reader to identify with the heroine right away. I want her to be within reach. Every mother in the world lives a secret life of chaos that many will not even admit to, but when they read about Chatham’s life, they can settle right in alongside her.

The kids seem to be Chatham’s top priority and rightly so. What are her thoughts on dating?

JB: Dating is not even on the burner. She has fleeting wistful thoughts of love, but her everyday demands steal all of her time. I believe in love finding us when we least expect it and even in Chatham’s family centered world, love sneaks up on her.

Does Chatham believe in soul mates?

JB: Her husband was her soul mate and sadly, Chatham does not think that she will ever find another. She is wrong.

What does Chatham do for a living?

JB: Chatham works in advertising. In particular, she writes catchy slogans and jingles for advertising campaigns. She is quirky but relatable. There are a few creations she has come up with that I think should be real companies like Vatican Air – get there on angels wings.

What is Chatham’s favorite pastime?

JB: Sleeping is high on the list, but she doesn’t get much.

What do you believe is Chatham’s biggest obstacle?

JB: Chatham’s biggest obstacle is letting herself follow her heart when love finds her. If she can’t decide which love is for her, then how will she finally find true happiness? The reader will have to see where it all ends up.

That is such a fun cover. Who designed it?

JB:I enlisted a top graphic designer to create my vision. I wanted love and time to jump off the page. I think they do.

Is chick lit a new genre for you?

JB:I have written short stories in the genre and many award winning poems. One of my favorite poems is I Don’t Do Socks.

Thank you so much for this interview, JB. Do you have any final words?

JB:I wrote No Time For Love so that women everywhere can feel that the real person they are is understood. I want mothers to know that it’s OK to not always keep it all together. When the reader finishes the book, I want them to believe in true love.

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Interview with Scott Lerner, author of ‘Cocaine Zombies’

Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of Criminal law and Family Law. Mr. Lerner lives with his wife, their two children, and their cat Fern. Lerner collects unusual antiques and enjoys gardening, traveling, reading fiction and going to the movies. Cocaine Zombies is his first published novel. Coming soon, the sequel: Ruler of Demons.

You can find Scott online at scottlerner.camelpress.com.

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

 

A small town lawyer gets involved in a criminal case only to discover there is a whole lot more going on—such as a conspiracy to enslave the world. It combines voodoo, black magic and an evil multi-national corporation. It also involves a new derivative of cocaine that is more addictive and potentially dangerous than any drug that has existed to date.

 

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

 

Samuel Roberts—Sam—is a small town lawyer who is practical but flawed in many respects. At the same time he has a strong sense of right and wrong. Although far from virtuous he does fight for what he believes, even if it means putting his life on the line.

 

Sam teams up with his friend Robert Sizemore. Bob is a loyal friend and sticks by Sam in situations where most people would hide under their beds. Bob is part hippie, part technology geek. He also does not trust the government or big business. Bob believes in the right to bear arms. He thinks our forefathers insisted on the second amendment to protect ordinary citizens against the government overstepping their authority.

 

Sam meets the beautiful femme fatale Chloe because she is the one who is paying him to represent a client—a client whose head ends up in Sam’s fridge early in the story. When she starts visiting his dreams—or rather, nightmares—he suspects that she has supernatural powers. Chloe believes mankind has become evil and indifferent to the suffering of others.

 

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

 

Mainly on my imagination. Like me, Sam is a lawyer and lives in Champaign County. He also has my sense of humor. Other than those obvious similarities, we are quite different—at least I like to think so. Some of the characters were inspired by real people but everyone is really a hodgepodge of characteristics I have observed in friends and strangers. Aside from not wishing to get sued, I would feel bad if I had to kill off someone who too closely resembled someone I knew in real life.

 

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

 

I have a pretty good idea of where I want to go when I start writing. Yet as I write I do end up going in unexpected directions. In Cocaine Zombies, as I got to know my characters, they led me along some twists and turns I hadn’t anticipated. From what I’ve read, most novelists seem to experience this phenomenon. The story did end differently than I originally planned. I would say it evolved rather than changed.

 

Q: Your book is set in ChampaignUrbana (Twin Cities).  Can you tell us why you chose these cities in particular?

 

I grew up in Champaign, Illinois, so frankly it was easier to have the book take place there. However, I had other reasons for choosing that location. The antagonists needed an educated work force of chemists and researchers, and the University of Illinois could fulfill those needs. They needed to transport their product all around the world, and Champaign has good access to highways, trains and airports. Also, Central Illinois is a good place to avoid drawing attention to an evil plot. People tend to mind their own business in small town Illinois. In this day and age drugs are no longer a big city phenomenon so why not Champaign? Lastly, I thought it was about time someone portrayed Champaign as a place where exciting things can happen.

 

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

 

It does. Champaign-Urbana is a University town, so in some ways it feels like a bigger city than it is. We have big city problems as well as advantages. However, if you go out into the country at night, you could be in the middle of nowhere. The Midwest is so flat and isolated in parts that a person can feel almost invisible. There are scenes in the book where it plays on this sense of isolation to make the characters—and hopefully the reader—feel alone and hopeless. At the same time the book relies on more crowded locations. Sam spend some time in Chicago. It is just too hard to find a voodoo priest in Champaign.

 

Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

 

I am looking at an Advanced Reading Copy so this may change in the final version.

 

Sam realizes he is in deep trouble and is wondering when the authorities are going to arrest him. One of his clients has been found decapitated in the middle of nowhere and Sam is a suspect. On top of it all Sam has just learned that an inmate he recently visited at the county jail has been found dead in his cell. Sam arrives home to find Bob sitting at his kitchen table. Sam had planned to go with Bob to look at an empty apartment complex for sale. This building has something to do with a much bigger plan.

 

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

 

I looked over at Frank. He was pointing at the ceiling of the bedroom. In large bloody letters were written; “Join me Sam.”  No wonder they wanted me here. I was a suspect.

“Can you come down to the station and talk with me?” Frank asked.

“Do I need a lawyer?”

“You tell me.”

“Look you just scared the shit out of me. If I’m not under arrest I’m going home. I need a drink and a good night’s sleep.”

“I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye but I’m just doing my job.” Frank said, trying to seem sympathetic.

“Can I go home?”

“Go ahead; if it means anything, I can’t picture you as the ritual murderer type.”

“Gee, thanks.” I responded.

“By the way, did you find his head?” I asked.

“No, still looking. It’s like trying to find a bowling ball in a compost heap with all that long, dry grass out there.”

When I got home the first thing I did was pull a bottle of Makers Mark out of the liquor cabinet. This can’t be good for business, I thought. A dead client writing my name in blood at the murder scene is not going to attract clients.

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

 

So far that has not been much of a problem. I am lucky and have not been under time pressure to complete a manuscript. If I can’t think of anything to write I just stop and come back to it later.

 

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

 

I would like to say I would be resting in a hot tub while eating KFC and sushi. If I were single, rich and better looking I might invite a movie star over. In truth I would probably end up wasting my hour by watching television or doing something on the computer.

 

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

 

That is tough because my taste in books depends so much on my mood and what I was going through when I read them. The Damnation Game by Clive Barker or anything by Kurt Vonnegut. I have not read those books in years, yet I remember the intense impact they had on me.

 

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

 

Cocaine Zombies is my first published novel. So my spouting wisdom is like a nun providing guidance on sexual positions. I guess the best advice I can come up with is, be persistent and believe in your work no matter how much rejection you receive.

 

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

 

Thanks, I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.

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