Tag Archives: book publicity

‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’ – Paperback available now for pre-order!

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As the Hispanic American population of the U.S. increases, with influences ranging from Mexico to Central America and the Caribbean, so does interest in literature inspired by those cultures.

Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has now edited a collection of interviews with 40 Latina authors living in the U.S. and writing in English. Latina Authors and Their Muses is an inspirational and informative book focusing on the craft of writing and the business of publishing, one that provides aspiring writers with the nuts and bolts of the business.

Purchase the ebook NOW on Amazon or B&N

Pre-order the paperback NOW on Amazon or B&N

Official paperback release date: December 15, 2015

ramses and I

About the Editor

Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has penned more than ten books for children and adults in genres ranging from picture books to nonfiction to paranormal fantasy novels. She’s had over 300 articles, short stories, interviews and reviews published in magazines such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal and Bloomsbury Review, among others. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she now resides in Brussels, Belgium

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Rebuilding Civilization on the Bible Book Blitz – Win $25 Amazon Gift Card

Rebuilding Civilization on the Bible coverTitle:  Rebuilding Civilization on the Bible: Proclaiming the Truth on 24 Controversial Issues
Author: Jay Grimstead
Genre: Religion/Theology/Instruction
Publisher: Nordskog Publishing, Inc.
ISBN:  978-0-9882976-5-4

Purchase at: http://www.nordskogpublishing.com/book-rebuilding-civilization.shtml

About the book:

False teachings threatening to corrupt the Church forced the leaders to join in councils, where they codified the orthodox teaching of the Bible into creeds received by the Church as faithful distillations of Scriptural truth and as a bulwark against future corruption. Error, heresy, and outright paganism are today common in churches that were once sound. Even many “better” churches have little depth to their teaching and are silent on critical issues of the day, and even in some paganism masquerades as Christianity.

This book is the fruit of the work of hundreds of theologians and Christian leaders working throughout a 37-year period to define and defend the key Biblical points on 24 controversial issues — which would not even be controversial if all believed like Jesus and Paul in the inerrancy of the Bible.

This book states the Bible’s position on 24 controversial issues and explains why each document needed to be written. It offers the global Body of Christ tools for reforming the Church and motivating Christians to live in obedience to Christ and to all commands in the Bible intended for us.

Excerpt:

“We heartily invite all Christians on this planet who desire to live in obedience to the Bible in all areas of life at all times, to form themselves and their local churches into “United Spiritual Armies” at the city and county levels, and to establish a network with other such churches and “spiritual armies” at their state and national levels with the goal of making Christ King of their cities and nation. We invite you to join with us in applying these 24 DOCUMENTS to the life of the Church and in making 2 Cor. 10:5 a reality. By that we mean that together we are called by God to destroy “speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

Grimstead photo color

About the author:

Dr. Jay Grimstead was born in Bismarck, ND. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in 1957 from Sterling College in Sterling, KS. He graduated from Fuller Seminary in 1961 with a Masters in Theology (ThM) and later received a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree. He spent 20 years on staff with Young Life Campaign, a ministry of clubs and camping to evangelize and disciple non-church teenagers.

In 1984 he founded the Coalition on Revival which created the 17 World-view Documents which state the biblical principles for the various spheres of life and the “blueprints for how the Bible applies to the fields of: Law, Government, Economics, Education, Science, the Media & Arts, Medicine, etc.” Under his leadership, COR organized the International Church Council Project in 1992.

In 2004 and 2005 he organized theological committees in Guatemala, San Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama to discuss and defend certain of the 22 Theological Documents of the Church Council Project which had been translated into Spanish. A year later, Dr. Grimstead gathered national leaders from various fields to create the “24 Year Plan to Rebuild America upon the principles of the Bible.”

Dr. Grimstead now lives with his wife, Donna, a registered pharmacist, in Murphys, CA. They have two grown children, Julie and Guy.  Dr. Grimstead’s favorite hobbies are mountain climbing and playing jazz and blues on his trumpet.

To learn more about Dr. Grimstead and his work, please visit http://www.nordskogpublishing.com/book-rebuilding-civilization.shtml

Pump Up Your Book and Dr. Jay are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • This giveaway begins June 2 and ends on June 27, 2014.
  • Winner will be contacted via email by July 2, 2014.
  • Winner has 72 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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Rebuilding Civilization on the Bible Book Blitz Schedule

 

June 2

Cheryl’s Christian Book Connection

June 3

Rebecca’s Writing Services

June 4

The Book Connection

June 5

Cheryl’s Book Nook

June 6

Christian Children’s Authors

June 9

Review from Here

June 10

As the Pages Turn

June 11

Beyond the Books

June 12

Writing and other ways into the heart…

June 13

The Busy Mom’s Daily

June 16

Between the Covers

June 18

My Devotional Thoughts

June 19

Literarily Speaking

June 20

Plug Your Book

June 23

The Writer’s Life

June 24

The Book Rack

June 25

Lori’s Reading Corner

June 26

Little Shepherd

June 27

Maureen’s Musings

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Interview & Giveaway with Donna McDine, Author of ‘A Sandy Grave’

Donna McDine Headshot

Donna McDine is an award-winning children’s author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions, Literary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval Recipient Picture Book Early Reader, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book Fiction, and Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Books ~ The Golden Pathway.

Her stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna’s 2013 releases of Powder Monkey and Hockey Agony and the 2014 release of A Sandy Grave will be joined by an additional book to be published by Guardian Angel Publishing, Dee and Deb, Off They Go. She writes, moms and is a personal assistant from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network, and Family Reading Partnership.

Visit Donna online at www.donnamcdine.com or her blog at www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com

Connect & Socialize with Donna!

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About the Book:A Sandy Grave cover

Title: A Sandy Grave
Author: Donna M. McDine
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Pages: 24
Language: English
Genre: Tween chapterbook
Format: Paperback, hardcover & eBook

The anticipation of summer vacation can put anyone in a great mood with the excitement of adventures to be had–especially at the beach. But what is a group of friends to do when they discover mysterious men poaching whale teeth at the beach?

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Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

Can you tell us what your book is about?

While three young girlfriends are vacationing with their families they discover a dead washed up whale on the beach. The realization that poachers often times attempt to steal whales’ teeth, sets a mystery into motion.

Why did you write your book?

While reading the newspaper I came across a story about a dead washed up whale on a California beach and what the authorities had to do to protect the whale before being able to bury it.

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

The trio of girlfriends is a curious bunch and enjoy their friendship immensely. They often times tease each other, but respect and love is apparent in their friendships.

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

I typically start with a story outline and character profiles and then the plot evolves during my writing process.

Your book is set at the beach. Can you tell us why you chose this setting in particular?

The topic of poachers and the Endangered Species Act and the Mammal Protection Act are directly related to the beach and ocean.

Open the book to any page.  What is happening?

After discovering the washed up whale and hearing what the authorities were doing to protect the whale, the main character, Leah, immediately gets a creepy feeling about two filthy men, looking on from a sand dune.

Is it hard to get a children’s book published?

In my experience, the road to publication with any genre is not an easy path. We often hear write what you love, but it’s important to study the markets to learn what publishers are interested in and make your best attempt in creating a manuscript that adheres to their guidelines.

Is it hard to promote a children’s book and where do you start?

An author wears many hats and promoter is one of them. Even before one’s book is published it is imperative you market yourself and your writing on at least a weekly if not daily basis. I’m not saying, you should be jumping up and down and saying hey look at me. I feel it’s more important to become involved with online and in-person writer’s groups and become an active member of discussions and not just tooting your own horn. Visit libraries and schools through author visits, with a combination of volunteer opportunities and select events profiling you and your books.

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

If I feel a block I often times go out for a walk, meditate, or make a hot cup of tea and read the paper or the book I’m currently reading.

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

Visit with my parents and father-in-law and have a nice leisurely chat without having the world intrude.

Which holiday is your favorite and why?

Memorial Day. It’s a time of renewal of our gardens and everything green. The weather is usually at a terrific temperature for getting that first barbeque off to a great start with friends and family.

If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?

The Barnes and Noble café at our local mall or Panera.

What do you like the most about being an author?

Engaging with students in lively conversation during school or library visits. Since children are becoming more and more visual with all the technology around them, I find that starting off with a brief introduction and then the showing of my latest book video trailer gets the conversation going faster.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

Fiction writers need to conduct their research so that their stories are accurate. For instance, if your story is based around a particular sport, you need to make sure anything involving the sport is accurate.

Donna McDine is giving you a chance to win a $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card.

Terms & Conditions:
• By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
• One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card
• This giveaway begins March 3 and ends on April 25, 2014.
• Winner will be contacted via email.
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Interview with Tim and Debbie Bishop, Authors of Two Are Better

Two Are Better new cover

About Two Are Better

From an engagement to a cross-country trip in just ten weeks? And with no experience in bicycle touring—or marriage? While Tim left behind a 26-year corporate career and familiar surroundings, Debbie was about to enter a “classroom” she hadn’t seen in her 24 years of teaching. Was it a grand getaway or a big mistake?

Purchase from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Two-Are-Better-Midlife-Newlyweds/dp/0985624825/

Purchase from Open Road Press: http://www.openroadpress.com/store/

Q: Thank you for this interview, Tim and Debbie. Can you tell us what your latest book, Two Are Better, is all about?

A: Two Are Better: Midlife Newlyweds Bicycle Coast to Coast is the true story of two lifelong singles who come together in marriage at age 52, and then cross America on a self-supported bicycle tour on their honeymoon. Issues surrounding midlife courtship, marriage, and other life changes—and the lessons learned along the way—make Two Are Better more than just a travelogue.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

A: We decided to share our unique story of finding true love in our fifties and celebrating with a bicycling odyssey to beat all because we believe our testimony is a gift that can benefit others. We waited many years for companionship and intimate love, and had become entrenched in the grind of daily living. We think our story of breaking free will encourage, motivate, and bless people who are struggling with unfulfilled dreams and desires. And most people have them at some level. Sharing deep personal matters in the context of an adventure that others may fantasize about provides a perfect setting to engage readers with powerful and lasting impact. A dual narrative from the seat of a bicycle, as well as some captivating photography along the way, will also provide a fresh perspective on the beauty of America, and an entertaining read.

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

A: We had the benefit of writing a memoir, so much of the content is based on our own personal experience. We learned how to blog during our trip, which became a valuable aid in the writing process. Our photography, trip log, and payment receipts helped to stir the memory and fill in the gaps. Since we shared this adventure together, each of us remembered unique aspects and reminded the other. And a GPS, along with downloadable capabilities and the power of the Internet, allowed us to retrace our steps when necessary.

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

A: The strongest underlying message of Two Are Better is that it is NEVER too late to realize your dreams—and to fulfill your desires. There is always hope!

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

A: “There they were: three big ones. I could see them from afar as they began barking and sprinting down their owner’s driveway, launched like a triad of missiles at the prospect of fresh meat. The driveway was about the size of a football field, so I had some time to gather my thoughts. They seemed on pace to intercept me when I arrived at the end of what had become their racetrack. And Debbie was several feet behind me. Surely, no one on this isolated stretch of road would be investing in invisible fence technology, but I could hold out hope. Since Debbie had our only can of pepper spray, it would do me little good. And another troubling thought occurred to me: If I get through this pack in one piece, what about Debbie? She’s lagging behind and sure to encounter these snarling canines. Nevertheless, I wasn’t inclined to stop and serve up lunch on a silver platter to these mutts.”

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

A: We had a choice to make going into this project. Would we seek a traditional publishing solution, or venture out on our own? Swayed by the primary motivation to share the story, we decided to start our own publishing company, Open Road Press. In effect, we traded in one set of challenges for another, but we remained in control of our message and our destiny, at least until readers were to weigh in.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

A: Our days no longer seem typical. Since “retirement” from long-term jobs, we are both feeling our way along as we discover our new life together, and our new work models. Each day comes with its own unique challenges. Such is the nature of adventure in life!

Q: What’s next for you?

A: We’re in an exploratory stage and we have several options. Tim is considering a few ideas for another book. He also consults for two small businesses, and may seek to build upon that. Debbie wants to write a program on learning to read, using the Bible. She also has a few part-time teaching opportunities. Both of us continue to serve as volunteer hope coaches for TheHopeLine, an organization spotlighted in Two Are Better. TheHopeLine has made a difference in the lives of many young people, aged 13-29, who came to them in crisis. We count it a privilege to be involved with that organization.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Tim and Debbie. We wish you much success!

A: Thank you for this opportunity to share our thoughts with your readers. We hope that our words have encouraged them to pursue their dreams anew.

About Tim and Debbie Bishop

Tim BishopTim Bishop

Originally from Maine, Tim Bishop has over thirty years of experience in business, first as a CPA, then for many years in various roles in the corporate world. In addition to consulting for small businesses, Tim serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reach, rescue, and restore hurting teens and young adults.

Debbie BishopDebbie Bishop

Debbie Bishop has taught for over twenty-five years, for the past ten years as a literacy specialist in Framingham, Massachusetts. She has a passion for reading and seeing that young people do it well. She also has high interest in recovery issues and encouraging others with her own triumphs over struggles earlier in her life. Debbie also serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine.

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Was there a conspiracy behind JFK’s death? Interview with Jack Duffy, author of ‘The Man From 2063’

Jack DuffyJack Duffy is an attorney from Fort Worth, Texas.  The Man from 2063 is his first book.  On November 22, 1963 he was in school at Bruce Shulkey Elementary when he heard the news about President Kennedy’s assassination.  His parents were at the breakfast in Fort Worth, Texas, that morning when President Kennedy gave his last speech.  In 1970 he saw the Zapruder film for the first time.  He has been researching the JFK assassination since then.  He has interviewed many eyewitnesses including Marina Oswald and several Parkland physicians who treated JFK.  He has met many researchers who have written books on the assassination.  He came up with the idea for a time travel novel in 1998.  He has one of the largest private collections of materials on the JFK assassination.  He graduated from Texas Tech University with a B.A. in Political Science.  He then earned an M.B.A from Baylor University.  He then graduated from South Texas School of Law with a J.D.  He is an Eagle Scout.

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The Man From 2063Who are some of the key people connected with the JFK assassination who died suspiciously?

William Pitzer is one of the most important strange deaths. Pitzer was a naval commander who took the photos and X-rays of JFK’s autopsy.  Pitzer told his family he was going to go public with the photos after he retired from the Navy.  He was threatened with court martial if he talked about the autopsy. He was visited by CIA agents and warned not to reveal what he had observed at the autopsy. Pitzer made a 16 mm film of the autopsy.  In the mid 1960’s a Green Beret was asked to kill Pitzer for the CIA. He refused to kill him.  Later Pitzer was found dead in his lab at Bethesda naval hospital. His death was ruled a suicide. His 16mm film disappeared.   Dorothy Kilgallen was a reporter for the NY times. She was the only person to ever have a private interview with Jack Ruby.  She later told people she was going to blow the JFK assassination story wide open.  She was found dead in her NY apartment. Her death was ruled a suicide from a drug overdose.  Albert Bogard was a used car salesman who met a man who claimed he was Oswald at his car lot.  He later said the man was not the real Oswald. Bogard passed a lie detector and recieved death threats. He was found dead in his garage. A hose had been connected to his cars exhaust pipe and put in the window. His death was ruled a suicide. George DeMohrenschildt was a close friend of Oswald’s. DeMorenschildt worked for the CIA.  In March 1977, he committed suicide with a shotgun at his home in Florida hours before he was to be interviewed by an investigator from the HSCA.  Several high ranking mobsters were murdered before they could be brought to Washington D.C. to testify before the HSCA.   

What is the single bullet theory?

The single bullet theory was developed by Arlen Specter who was a junior lawyer on the Warren Commission.  The theory is that one of the bullets fired by Oswald from the School Book Depository hit JFK in the back of the neck, exited his throat, hit Gov. Connally in the back, struck one of his ribs, exited his chest, entered his wrist shattering it and then ended up in his thigh.  The bullet was later recovered from a stretcher in Parkland hospital.  The bullet was Commission exhibit 399 and had very little damage to it. It has been called ‘The Magic Bullet” by critiics of the Warren Commission. 

What are some of the problems with the single bullet theory?

First, Gov. Connally never agreed with it. Connally was an experienced hunter and testified that one bullet did not hit him and JFK.  Connally said he was hit by a separate bullet.  The surgeons who operated on Connally disagreed with the theory.  They said the trajectory of the bullet that wounded Connally proved it could not have hit JFK first. JFK’s shirt and coat prove the bullet entered his back several inches below his neck and could not possibly have exited from his throat.  Autopsy photos show the location of the back wound on JFK.  One of the pathologists at the autopsy stuck his finger in JFK’s back wound and could not feel any point of exit.  An Admiral present at the autopsy ordered the pathologists not to track the back wound. Tests done at firearms labs with the same ammunition that Oswald allegedly used show bullets that are flattened out completely after being fired into cadavers wrists.  More bullet fragments are present in Connally’s wrist X-rays than are missing from CE 399.

Is there evidence that JFK’s head wound was caused by a different type of ammunition than Oswald allegedly used?

Yes. X-rays of JFK’s skull reveal a snowflake pattern of small bullet fragments scattered throughout JFK’s brain. This is indicative of a hollow point or dum dum bullet that explodes on impact and fragments into dozens of pieces. This is the type of bullet often used by the Mafia and CIA because it is almost impossible to trace and causes massive damage to the victim. Oswald was allegedly using military jacketed ammunition which does does not explode into dozens of fragments like a hollow point bullet.

Were gunmen observed on the Grassy Knoll several days before JFK was killed?

Yes. On Wednesday, November 20, 1963 two Dallas police officers were driving down Elm Street through Dealey Plaza when they saw two men dressed in suits and ties standing behind the picket fence with high powered rifles. The policemen ran up the knoll however the men drove away in a car before the officers could catch them.  The police officers made a report about the incident. The report was buried by the FBI until the HSCA discovered it during their investigation of the assassination in the 1970’s.

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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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