Thursday, December 3, 2015

"Angels and Ghosts" - guest post for E.C. Moore's blog

I began working as an editor and a proofreader for Booktrope Publishing back in February. I was encouraged to do so by a fellow indie author whom I actually don't know very well, but am friendly with on social media. I'd read two of this author's books and liked them a great deal, and wondered if this might be a worthwhile opportunity for me ... not only as an editor, but as a writer. I am so glad that I applied to Booktrope and was welcomed by the company. I have now been a part of thirteen novels in the past ten months. I have met a huge group of talented authors, and made many friends along the way. 

E. C. Moore is one such friend. I acted as editor for her beautiful YA book titled Every Big and Little Wish. It's an amazing thing, being allowed to be a part of a creative endeavor. It's an honor to be handed someone's manuscript and to be asked to give feedback. I enjoyed E.C.'s book very much, and was excited when she was looking for writers to participate in her continuing blog series An Honest to God True Story. When I saw it, I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of it - and I knew exactly what I wanted to write about.

Sometimes I find that I have ideas lingering in my head ... okay, about a million of them to be honest, but they don't always wind up being verbalized on the page. This story has been in the back of my mind for a couple of years. I'm so glad I was able to put form to Angels and Ghosts via From One Bird to Another. I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Gannon Family Series on sale for Cyber Monday!

I'm proud to announce that I am participating in a huge book sale event taking place on Facebook today, November 29, and tomorrow, November 30th.
Click photo to visit the official FB page for the event

There are many authors taking part, and it promises to be a spectacular sale. I will be posting live at the event tonight from 10 to 11 EST, but both books are available right now through midnight on Monday on Smashwords for $0.99!!!!

Alabama Skye is sporting a brand new cover and has been reformatted, (but the story has not been changed.) Eventually it will be republished on Amazon as well, and the paperback price will drop significantly. I am about to celebrate 40 reviews for this first book in the Gannon Family Series!

There has been so much positive feedback on A Skye Full of Stars. Don't miss this chance to get this series for less than $2.00!

There is something for everyone on your Christmas list here; women's literature, erotica, thrillers and horror ... and all at discounted prices. Best thing about it is, you can do all your shopping from your couch in your pajamas!

Happy holidays, everyone!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Author Spotlight: S.L. Shelton

S.L. Shelton is a passionate, fact spouting former techie and soldier who is constantly at odds with his need to kick the legs out from under those who abuse their power (Political, Economic or Super). He lives on a tiny little farm on the banks of a tiny little river in the northwestern part of Virginia, where his semi-secret identity is somewhat protected on three sides. Despite deep misgivings about writing on subjects close to his own life, he has penned a series of books about a similarly broken, similarly gifted young man who similarly doesn't have a clue when to stop and re-evaluate life decisions.

Before building his career in the computer field for nearly two decades as a developer, designer, trainer, and a CEO, he had the honor of serving in the US Armed Forces in several roles, most involving explosives of some sort. After selling his successful micro empire in 2011, Shelton retired to his study which he hasn't left since. On most days he writes, but when left alone and to his own devices, breaks his troll like existence long enough to sneak into the sunlight and fire a weapon or two, snap a few pictures or pick some vegetables from his wife's prized organic garden beds.

Though his climbing days are behind him due to injuries (several to the head), he was an avid rock climber, having climbed for decades since his teen years. His three children are grown and living very adventurous lives of their own.

Predator's Game, the sixth book in S.L. Shelton's action thriller Scott Wolfe Series will be released on November 17th on Amazon. Pre-order it here.

Author Interview

1. Predator’s Game is the sixth book in your Scott Wolfe Series. Can you give us an overview of the story so far?

Scott Wolfe starts the series as a seemingly normal twenty-something. There are hints he is different, but those hints don't start forming a cohesive image until midway through the series. Then it becomes clear he's very different. His personality is one that won't let things go, even if those things are a danger to him. That allows the CIA to pull him in, entangling him in a conspiracy he helps uncover. Each novel builds on the last, showing more of the real Scott and hinting at his potential. In the 4th novel, there is a major setback for Scott that begins a slow degrading of his talents, leaving him more and more with only what he has learned through the CIA. It's a tense situation and frankly, it has been hard to write. I've found my own mood in the same downward spiral, as if I'm linked to Scott emotionally. Wow.

2. Without giving anything away, what can your readers expect from Predator’s Game?

Scott comes away from his last trauma feeling more confident and cocky than he should. He doesn't know what's waiting for him. Nothing he has learned and none of his training have prepared him for what will happen. Answers to old mysteries will clarify his past to a larger degree and he will have to face, unprepared, something that could only be described as a sociopathic force of nature.

3. What does your writing process look like? Do you have any strange writing habits?

I write at odd times, sometimes running to my study at 2 a.m. to pound out a scene. When the draft is cooking, there is nothing else in the world for me. I ignore everything including food and sleep. I usually get a good ways into a story before I look up and start picking it apart. At that point, I will walk away, pacing, sometimes for days, until I can get my head around the story flow. When it finally pops, it doesn't matter what time it is, day or night, I will sit back down and pound it out.
4. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

I've thought a lot about this and only have a few answers. I haven't a clue who would play Scott. He's the hardest.
Kathrin: Katheryn Winnick, or Evan Rachel Wood for their pure fighting/acting skill combo. I don't know if Kelley Alice Jakle (Pitch Perfect) can fight, but if she can, she would make a great Kathrin.
John Temple: Michael Biehn (Terminator, Navy SEALs, Aliens) or Don Johnson
Nick Horiatis: Whoever plays Nick is going to have to know how to fight. But comedian, actor (and friend) Kirk Fox looks the way I imagine Nick to look. I think if Scott is made into a movie, we're going to have to get Kirk into some Krav Maga classes and drop him in that role.
Storc: Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland, The Social Network, 30 minutes or less)
Heinrich Braun: Gary Oldman (Every movie ever made)
Mark Gaines: Chris Hemsworth (Thor)

5. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I do read my reviews. All authors do even the ones who don't, do. I don't respond to them, good or bad and I think that's the hardest part of reading them. The best thing an author can do is to read objective reviews as a painting rather than individual comments. If one or two people really rake you over the coals, you may just be reading a review from a real asshole. If 90% of your reviews say the same thing, or allude to a problem, then you might want to consider making alterations to the story. I have. If the review is just nasty for the sake of being nasty (sometimes happens when readers disagree with your character's politics or social stances), you might consider those reviewers names when you are thinking of names for disposable bad guys. :)

6. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write? What is your favorite kind of scene to write?

I like the belligerent back and forth between a pair of people, male or female. It's also the hardest to write for me because I have to embody two personalities simultaneously. The conversations often get deep and show hidden personality traits of the participants, so keeping that separated while having them go at it is hard. I dislike writing love scenes. Not because I'm not good at it, but because my name is on these books and my family reads them leaving me self-conscious as I write. Don't be surprised if in a decade or so, when I no longer have to worry about my image as a new writer, someone discovers I've penned a series of erotica as well...not saying I have, though. Only that I could.

7. Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

My early go-to authors are my biggest inspirations. Clancy, Cussler, Frank Herbert, Ann McCaffery, Arthur C. Clark. Bigger than life, and written to draw you in, these are my "comfort" authors and the ones I will reread over and over again. I aim to be as prolific as Stephen King but would be happy with any number of books I write as long as my readers are happy as well. 

8. What is your least favorite part of the publishing/writing process?

Self-promotion.  Uhg. That sucks big sweaty... eh hem. Nothing makes a bestselling author feel like a fraud faster than having to go on social media and convince everyone he/she is a bestseller because they are so super fantastic great. I know there's better ways around this, but honestly, I'd rather be writing than trying to figure out the magic formula of social media. Sadly, when you stop the self-promotion, the sales suffer, and let's be honest; if you can't support yourself writing, you can't be sitting around all day need to get a real job. So I do both and try to navigate that narrow way between ego and artist.
9. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring writers?

Keep writing. Write as often as you can and if your story isn't giving you chills as you reread it to yourself, slice that sucker up and write some more. You will get the thrill as your reader does. Too many writers think they are too close to the work to feel anything when they reread it...not true. If you aren't feeling it, neither will your reader. Punch that sucker up....feel it.

10. Your main character, Scott Wolfe, appears to be a pretty normal guy at first, but he does some extraordinary, heroic things throughout this series. If you were a superhero, what would your name be? What super power might you possess?

My Super Hero Name: uhhh. hmmmmm. The Orator. My Super Power: To sway the masses with only my voice. I doubt I'd have a costume. If I had this power, I'd probably dress in a suit and tie, and run for office. :)

11.   What are you working on now? Can we expect to see Scott return for a seventh book?

I'm working on Splinter Self; the 7th and final book in the Scott Wolfe Series. And yes, you can expect to see Scott in it (it's still called the Scott Wolfe Series). As for what comes next, it would be impossible to describe without giving away a massive number of spoilers. I suspect readers will see more of at least some of the cast from Scott Wolfe, though I couldn't say who without also giving away spoilers.

To learn more about S.L. Shelton and the Scott Wolfe Series, visit his author page on Amazon and his website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Author Spotlight: Beau Hall

Beau Hall is a Booktrope author. His novel, Snapshot was released in October. Here's what he has to say about himself:

Beau Hall is an authority on procrastination. With over a million unfinished projects to his name, it’s a wonder that he remembers to tie his shoelaces. Or at least the second one. A 7th-generation Atlantan, Beau juggles writing with the finer things in life; his family, friends and cheap guitars.

You can find out more about him on his website

Author Interview

1. Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower?)

When I'm writing, I need total quiet; I'm not one of those who can kick some jams on the radio to get me going. Since I've got a chaotic family, I use earplugs to cut everything out. The pros to this is that I can get going in peace. The con is that I've got no clue what's happening around me… house on fire, visitors, maybe a home invasion, I have no clue. Now that I think about it, maybe that should go over on the pros column.

2. Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of, and what did you do?

When I think about "a situation that was hard to get out of", I think of jail for some completely random reason that has nothing whatsoever to do with my own personal history. Without giving too many details, I found myself, eh, well, in that very situation. I called my daddy to save me. He reminded me (again) that if I was going to do stupid things as a teenager, there would be consequences. Indignant and shocked, I hung up on him. Sometime after 2 AM, the police released me from the situation-I-could-not-get-out-of. I called my father again, very very apologetic, and begged him to come pick me up. As I climbed into his Honda an hour later, he suggested that I think twice before hanging up on somebody. I'm sure I've been stuck in other situations since my teen years, but that one stands out.
NOTE: I want to point out I was never convicted, I have no criminal record, it was all just a misunderstanding. My agent told me to say this.

3. What literary character is most like you?

The character David Wong from David Wong's book titled, "This Book Is Filled With Spiders, Seriously Dude, Don't Touch It." He captures the essence of the 90's beta male: Sarcastic, defeated, determined. Or maybe it's because the guy is a jackass.

4. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

To keep my character's voice consistent, I'll use the name of the person who reminds me of my character, for the first draft at least. Once I'm done with the draft, I'll change the names, but never too much. For instance, in my book Snapshot, the grumpy old lady, (Mary Frances) was influenced by the story of Vivien Maier, a photographer whose photos became headline news a few years ago. As I wrote, it was easier to visualize my character's actions if I used Vivian as the name. When the first draft was complete, I picked a name similar to Vivien Maier, something that hinted at mid-20th-century, plain-jane, wasp, possibly European but maybe not. Mary was the plain jane part. I chose Frances because, (I think) it had "France" in the name. I'm not even kidding. I try to avoid picking a name to match the character; that's not how it works in real life. I pick the names based on when and where they came from. Maybe in this next novel it'll be different because most of the characters are circus clowns.

5. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I'll plot as much as I can, but allow for constant detours. I'll try to map out the landmarks, (Guy starts here, ends there, stops off mid-way to sell cow for magic beans) and I'll sprinkle some character's secrets and motivations to keep them multi-dimensional; (bean merchant hates kids, cow loves cigars but has cancer). And THEN I'll start writing, trying to get my herd of players from scene to scene. Quite often - TOO often - the characters become something else entirely. Sometimes it's good, but more often, I end up writing aimless conversations, trying to find the pony under all the horse poop. Last night for instance, (day one of NanoWrimo) I wrote 4,000 words that I KNOW I'm going to have to go back and re-do. The characters were just finger puppets, shoving the story to the next point. But, to be fair, I'm rusty with this writing thing; I've been too busy hyping my published novel, and haven't spent enough time out in the story-telling playground.

6.  Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others?

I stop dead in my tracks when writing single-character action scenes, where one person does stuff, but there's little or no dialog. On the one hand, it's easier because directing one actor is easier than four, but after awhile I worry that both of my fans will get bored, wanting to hear more about the rest of the story. Kind of like those Walking Dead episodes that give you a very in-depth one-person episode, and you're all "I DO NOT CARE ABOUT CARL EATING PUDDING; WHAT HAPPENED TO CAROL AND DARYL?" Now, I realize that my A.D.D. runs at full speed, and most people probably enjoy a little quiet time before Jason jumps out with the axe. But me? Just get to the guitar solo, man! I don't care how Johnny became a shooting star.
(And yes, I just mixed The Walking Dead, Friday the 13th and Bad Co's Shooting Star to make my point. Did I mention the A.D.D.?)

7. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I love a review that gets what I was trying to do, whether they liked it or not. What matters is that I was able to convey what I was trying to say. If they didn't like it, then it's because they didn't like the story or the characters. If they didn't get it though, (or didn't finish it), it's because I didn't write it well enough. Bad reviews sting, but it's pointless to respond to them. That person took the time to write about my work; the best thing I can do is learn from what they had to say, and decide to improve, or maybe just google their address and swing by with two dozen eggs and a few rolls of toilet paper.

8. What book do you wish you could have written?

NOS4A2. Holy hell it's the best book Stephen King never wrote. For a while I wondered if Joe Hill was just another Richard Bachman. The story is massive, the characters are deep, the good and the bad ones, the action, the pacing, the descriptions - it's just so much what I hope to be like one day.

9. What do you want your tombstone to say?

Oh, it's going to say a lot. My tombstone will have a hand-cranked record player, with the words WIND ME UP somewhere on there. Upon turning the crank, Lynyrd Skynyrd's Freebird will play. But not the entire song, just that part where he says "Won't ya flyyyyyy-a-hyyyyyy my freeee-heee-bird yeah" and then the solos kick in. (You DID read question 6, right? Get to the good part?) At that moment, flames will shoot out the sides of the tombstone, and my skeleton hand will rise up, spring loaded, with the devil horns. I'm not a redneck, but I love the hell out of Freebird.

10.   What are you working on now? What is your next project.

It's 11/2, day two of NanoWrimo, and my next story is tentatively titled Killer Clown / Clown Killers. It explores people's irrational fears of clowns, and has a lot of clown tomfoolery and beheadings. A water-squirting flower in the lapel, a voodoo doll made from rubber noses and fright wigs.

Intrigued? You should be! You can pick up your own copy of Snapshot here.

You can visit Beau's blog Write Wrong, or catch up with him on Facebook

Friday, October 30, 2015

Ten Five-Star Reviews for A Skye Full of Stars!!!

Man, getting reviews is hard work! A Skye Full of Stars was released almost exactly three months ago, and today the book received its tenth review. I'm somewhat stunned that they are all five-star, but I'm very, very happy about it!

The Gannon Family Series is really Women's Fiction...although I didn't really plan it that way. I always just assumed I was writing fiction...possible Southern Fiction, which is my most favorite genre to read, but now, looking back, I definitely see that it's more chick lit than straight fiction. That is why getting such great reviews from male readers is such a triumph to me. I love all my reviews...but this last one made me grin from ear to ear. Take a look:

Click to enlarge

Gathering reviews is a difficult task...and authors are grateful for each and every one of them that a reader writes. Thanks to the readers out there that take the time to leave reviews. They really do mean a lot.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review of Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

Here is the five star review I left of this remarkable book on both Goodreads and Amazon:

What an extraordinary novel Letters from Skye is! It is romantic and beautiful. It is sad, sweet and lyrical. I am so glad that I ran across it, and from the second I opened the cover, I fell deep inside the pages and didn’t come up for air until I’d read the very last word.

I have a deep love for Scotland, particularly the Isle of Skye, so I was interested upon first hearing about Brockmole's novel. When I began reading, I wasn't sure how she would be able to tell an entire tale through letters, but tell a tale she that was breathtaking and so beautifully written. What an accomplishment, and what and extraordinary book.

It's shorter than the reviews I tend to leave, but, even as a writer, I found it very difficult to come up with the right words to describe how I felt about this book. Here is the trailer:

I've done a huge amount of research on the Isle of Skye. It's a central locale for my Gannon Family Series, and, as I mentioned in my review, I hold a deep fondness for it in my heart. I was particularly interested in reading more about World War II from Elspeth's point of view. Letters from Skye was a most satisfying read, and I'm so glad that I came across it.

The author with her captivating novel.
I was happy to find out that Jessica Brockmole has a new book coming out in May, 2016 called At the Edge of Summer. I was only able to find a small blurb about this upcoming novel: Young love blossoms in the French countryside but must stand up to the challenges of distance and WWI in the sweeping second novel from the author of Letters from Skye. Enter the Goodreads giveaway to win one of fifty available copies. You'd best hurry, though, as today, (October 21) is the last day you can enter.

You can find out more about this author on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, or her official website

I've definitely added Jessica Brockmole to my list of favorite authors. I look forward to reading her follow up to Letters from Skye this spring, and wish her continued success in her writing career.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

I'm down a wing...but I'm not out!

Hello, all

It's been two months since I posted last. I hate to have to make excuses, but take a look at this:

September 26, 2015
I have had issues with this wrist since I broke it at the age of 16 ice skating. I wasn't just fooling around...I was an honest to god skater, I swear. See?

Then in February, 2012, I broke it again. I wasn't skating this time, but I did perform some unintentional turns and flips before I fell down.

My family and I were in Germany at the time. We'd just moved there about six weeks before. My husband isn't miltary, but he works on military contracts. He's an IT guy. Smarty pants. Smarter than me. You don't hear about him falling in the shower and breaking his wrist, do you? This is what it looked like after my first trip to the ER. The first doctor said she didn't think it was broken, and wrapped me up in this contraption. This is sort of a cast...but temporary. Turns out they put it on waaaaay too tight, and I wound up going back the next day.

The second physician that saw me just shook her head when she looked at my chart. Then she ordered more x-rays and decided that yes, it was indeed broken.

Don't ask me to point it out. I haven't got the first idea what I'm looking at here.
Although she saw a break, she told me that because I was over the age of 35, it was inadvisable to put me in a cast.  She wrapped it up in a ACE bandage, then put it in another brace. I was told to wear it for six weeks, (except while showering) and that it would be healed after that time. 

I don't look all that upset by it. I was in Heidelberg, Germany. I can't imagine being upset about anything while in Heidelberg, Germany.
I did as I was told. I wore it for six weeks, and then babied it for a long time afterward. If I lifted things that were too heavy, or wrenched it any way, it bothered me for a while, but for the most part, I was just fine.

Fast forward a few years...

At the beginning of June, 2015, my kids and I decided to move a rather big, incredibly heavy couch from the lower level of our house to the upper. Did I mention that this couch is big? Oh, and did I tell you how heavy it is? It forms a big 'C', and comes apart into three sections. Three very big, very heavy sections. wrist had been giving me a hard time again, so I was wearing a brace that I'd bought at the pharmacy in the hopes that I could protect it a little. My kids did the lion's share of the moving, but it really did take all three of us. Unfortunately, I hurt myself again...but this time it wasn't just my wrist; it was my elbow, too. I'd done something inside my arm that caused my pinky and ring fingers to tingle, so I called my general practitioner, and went to have it checked.

My doctor said there was something definitely off about my x-rays, but was not able to tell me exactly what it was. She referred me to an orthopedic surgeon...

...and on June 11th, I came back from his office looking like this:

This, by the way, is said big and heavy couch. At least a small section of it.
The surgeon I went to see happened to be a hand specialist. Right away he said that when I broke it in Germany it should have been casted. It healed incorrectly, and the frailty of it was a direct result. He told me that I'd pinched a nerve when I helped move the couch, and gave me this stunning looking padded sleeve to wear for three weeks. His physical therapist made me a brace specifically fit to my wrist and arm out of fiberglass cast material, and I was given a cortisone shot. I was very uncomfortable for several days, but the cortisone kicked in and helped some. He thought it worked so well that when I went back in July, he gave me a second shot...and a different brace. It was summer time; I was out hiking and enjoying our Jeep...hanging out with my daughter during soccer camp, and the first cast was beginning to smell...well, not so sweet.

I was also sporting some interesting looking tan lines.
The second shot hurt a lot worse than the first, and after a sleepless night, I was prescribed some painkillers. I was still using my hand. As a matter of fact, I finished writing A Skye Full of Stars with the second brace on. I even managed a wonderfully eventful fifteen hour long release party for the novel on Facebook. I did well...but although the pinched nerve had healed, my wrist was still a painful mess.

The surgeon says that the two big bones in my arm have come together at the top. There is no space between them, and they're grinding. That is causing me a great deal of pain. There is also a very large tendon on the outside of my wrist that should be sitting in a groove in the outer bone. Because that bone isn't where it should be, the tendon is no longer in that groove. Basically, it's just hanging out, loose and unprotected. It's healthy, but according to the MRI I had done, it's inflamed and very, very irritated. That is also causing me a lot of discomfort. There's another tendon up at the base of my index finger that's swollen...and, according to my MRI report, there's a handful (pun intended) of other things wrong in there...but damned if I can understand the medical jargon.

I was given a third shot...this time where the bones meet beneath my wrist. This one was the worst one yet.

Thank goodness for warm blankets and cat cuddles.
Not even codeine helped much with this one.

I called and got another appointment a week before I was supposed to go back to the doctor. It hurt too much, and I needed it fixed. He says that there are three different surgical procedures that can be done...but he's not excited about any of them. He says that they've proven in the past to do more harm than good...and he's worried about limiting some of my movement.

He decided to conduct a bit of an experiment. It really hurts when my wrist is twisted. (I haven't been able to take the top off a jar in years without pain.) He wanted to see if he could lessen my discomfort by immobilizing my wrist...making it impossible for me to turn it, twist it, or move it all. This is how he did it:

Yep. On September 29th, he put me in a cast.

It's Tinkerbell green. It's cumbersome. It's difficult. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I hate it because...well, it's a cast. It's hard to sleep in, and it's really thick at the elbow so that I can't twist the lower part of my arm. I have to do everything left-handed. And showering?


I went and had more than a foot of length cut off my hair because it was nearly impossible to wash it one handed.

I haven't driven myself anywhere or tied my own shoes in three weeks, and it's taken me days to type this blog post one handed.

But...I also love it. Why? Because my wrist doesn't hurt.

Oh my goodness.

My wrist doesn't hurt. It's the first time since 2012 that my wrist doesn't hurt.

I go back the orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday. He said that one of the procedures he could do was to fuse the heads of the two bones together. Then he could make another groove into the outer bone and place the tendon inside of it so it would be protected. I would lose some movement. If he does this, I won't be able to twist my wrist. I would be able to type, though. I could get used to doing everything else differently. We'll have to see what he says in a couple of days. If he does decide to do surgery, I kind of hope he lets me keep the cast until then. My wrist is protected in this bright green cocoon. It feels safe. There is no pain.

I have certainly been slowed down by this injury...but not at all stopped. I just started another 12-week round with a new Goodreads review group. I'm working hard to get some more reviews for A Skye Full of Stars! I've just recently gotten the chance to beta read the sixth book in S.L. Shelton's Scott Wolfe Series, (insanely good!) and I'm still editing and proofreading for Booktrope. I've been working with author Jennifer Sivec on two different is finished, one I'm still in the process of editing. I've begun writing Under a Southern Skye; the third book in The Gannon Family Series, although what I'm doing most right now is a whole lot of research. I'm also crafting a guest post for author E.C. Moore's "Honest to God True Stories" series on her blog, From One Bird to Another, which will be featured on November 8th. And I'm teaching. Homeschooling is still my biggest priority, and fortunately we have a pair of incredibly awesome kids who have done everything they can to make these last several months as easy as possible for me. Both of them, as well as my husband, have been as patient as can be...and scold me when I need it for trying to do too much. (I'll admit...I'm going a little nuts.)

I'm going to try to start blogging at least once a week. We'll see what happens. I may be facing surgery soon, so I'll take it as it comes...I will be doing some author spotlights, posting some reviews Alabama Skye and A Skye Full of Stars have recently received, and I'll be putting some reviews up I've written for some of the amazing books I've had a chance to read lately. Of course I'll be including any personal author news...and keeping you updated on what's happening with my wrist. Until then, I leave you with this:

The Wings
Still smiling! (and not completely crazy. At least not yet.)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Skye Full of Stars is here!!!!

Drum roll, please....

It's official...A Skye Full of Stars went live on Amazon on Monday, August 3rd! You can find the paperback there as well as on CreateSpace, and the ebook can be found either on Amazon or on Smashwords

I don't play favorites with my books. I'll be honest...they are much like children. I have two of those, and could never, ever, in a million, trillion years pick a favorite. That's how I feel about all three of my books. What's different with this one, though, is that I did it on my own. With A Color of Thunder and Alabama Skye, I self published...but with help from Xlibris Publishing. (There will be a whole other blog post about that in the near future...) This time I jumped in with both feet and did it myself...and so far, the experience has been incredible.

On Saturday, August 15th, I threw a release party on Facebook. I say that I threw it...when in reality, what I did was show up with prizes. It wouldn't have been nearly the success it turned out to be had it not been for Samantha Soccorso, publicity specialist extraordinaire. 

This woman is a powerhouse...and I'm pretty sure she never sleeps. She's everywhere all at once, has her finger in every pie, knows everyone there is to know...and has promoted the hell out of me and A Skye Full of Stars. She organized and ran a fifteen author release party that lasted the same number of hours. She set up a group chat, so all of the authors involved engaged in a sort of backstage conversation while the party was going on. There were contests and giveaways, there was laughter and silliness...I met so many wonderful people, both writers and readers, had forty likes added to my author page, and even won a contest myself in the process. I had no idea what I was in for...More than 2,000 people were invited, almost 350 of them got involved. I was there throughout the entire fiesta...and was so happily overwhelmed by the feedback I received. I was exhausted for two days afterward...but, man, what an awesome experience.

The celebration for A Skye Full of Stars is still if full swing. Just today I learned that it was nominated ( Samantha) as a contender for best cover in the Summer Splash Book Awards held over on Inks and Splashes Literary Magazine Blog. If you like the cover, click on over if you would and give A Skye Full of Stars your vote. It's in a really competitive category. There are a lot of extremely beautiful covers, but it's pretty cool to see mine mixed in with the rest.

While I don't play favorites, I will say that publishing this third book has been an amazing journey for me. It's been so very different from the experiences I had with either of my other books. I've heard a lot of wonderful things from readers about this story, and I love these characters. I was excited to introduce them again, and so happy they are getting a warm response. 

And now? Back to the keyboard! The shores of Kelby and Skye are not through with me yet...

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Skye Full of Stars is almost here!

Here's a little teaser for you. I'll be posting these until release day.

In case you haven't seen the trailer for A Skye Full of Stars yet, check it out here:

Now it's back to work for me. This book isn't gonna publish itself. :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I've set the release date for A Skye Full of Stars

Now I'll just cross my fingers and hope that I can do it. It's looking good. It's all written...I'm just cleaning it up a little with the help of my beta readers, and putting the final touches on it. 

I'm proud of this one, y'all. :) I can't wait until its published.

If you haven't seen the book trailer for A Skye Full of Stars yet, head on over to my website and take a look.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A First Glimpse of A Skye Full of Stars

A Skye Full of Stars is, as I type this, in the most capable hands of my beta readers. They are helping me dot all my i's, cross all my t's...and generally making sure I didn't make a mess out of anything. I'm hoping to have it back, polished and perfected and ready for release by the end of this month. 

There's a lot about the UK in this book, specifically a two night air raid in a little town called Clydebank not far from Glasgow during World War II. Readers get a better look at who Finlay was, and Noah plays a big part in this sequel. Thank you to all the readers who urged me to write this second book. Alabama Skye, in my head, was always meant to be a stand alone novel. Now, it's become the beginning of a trilogy. For anyone who is wondering...there is another book of the Gannon Family Series coming. Perhaps this time next summer, I will be posting the first chapter of Under a Southern Skye.

So, without any further delay, here is the first chapter of A Skye Full of Stars. The book has two story lines running through it. This is how Noah's begins.

Chapter One


Life was a funny thing. Noah hadn’t spent much time with either one of her parents in the past ten years. Now they were both on their way back to Kelby, and one of them was about to die.

Noah, of course, didn’t know this. She didn’t know that soon she would be seeing both of the people who had brought her into this world, and she certainly had no idea that she would be there when one of them left it.

She ran down Main Street, her sneaker clad feet thudding along the sidewalk and the early morning sun reaching warm fingers of light to dazzle the blonde strands of her pony tail. At the corner she turned left and caught sight of the gray blue waters of the Gulf. She was too busy to think about death, and if someone were to ask her when it was that she last thought of her mom, she would have been hard pressed to come up with an answer.

“Good mornin’,” a rounded man garbed all in white greeted Noah with a friendly dip of his double chin. He wore an apron wrapped around his considerable girth and a smudge of flour across his sweaty cheek. He stood on the sidewalk just outside his shop squinting into the sun with a cigarette pinched between two beefy fingers just as he did every day at this time. Noah nodded back and offered him a smile as she jogged around him.

“How’s the day been treating you?” she asked as she ran past, her blue eyes hidden behind a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses.

“Oh, I can’t complain, but it’s early yet.” Noah almost mouthed the words as the man said them. She’d known what his response would be before she posed the question.

The road stretched out for another block in front of her before it turned into sand and she picked up her pace. None of the souvenir shops were open yet, although there were bright signs in many of the windows advertising discount prices on colorful trinkets, beach towels and refrigerator magnets. Three t-shirts for ten dollars! Genuine abalone shell necklaces! Sunscreen, buy one get one free! Unwieldy plastic shapes stared out at her from behind big plate glass windows; floats and water toys painted to resemble round eyed dolphins and big polka dotted doughnuts. There were coolers and umbrellas in all the colors of the rainbow, and swim trunks with garish palm trees and other loud tropical prints splashed over them. The bikinis were over-priced considering how little fabric was used to make them. Noah smirked as she ran by. She’d spent quite a bit of hard earned cash on a handful of similar suits over the years. It was true what some people said; sometimes less is more.

She brought a bottle to her lips and filled her mouth with cool water. The sun was a brilliant shade of gold without a single cloud in sight. Her feet carried her closer to Pelican Square, and the sun glinted off of the chrome that shaped a number of the boats bobbing in the marina. From the window of a parked car floated enough of a discernable weather forecast to assure Noah that the perfect early morning would give way to a perfect afternoon and evening. Another day in paradise.

Noah swallowed more water before forcing her body even harder. It would be in the mid-sixties by noon. The temp now was a bit cooler than that, and the air was moist with humidity that made errant wisps of hair curl coyly around her flushed face.

Foil ribbons danced from a doorway of a novelty shop up ahead, the long tendrils of shiny purple, green and gold fluttered in the sea breeze as she ran past. Fat Tuesday, not even a week gone, was still evident on the streets in the heart of the business district. Kelby, a small town on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, was just a little more than fifty miles southeast of Mobile, the original home of Mardi Gras. The Big Easy liked to claim the world’s largest Carnival celebration, but true Alabamians knew the French had brought the tradition with them to their great state fifteen years before New Orleans was even a spot on the map.

Noah glimpsed more proof of the weeks’ long celebration in the remnants of crepe paper streamers bunched up in the boughs of the redbud trees that lined the oceanfront street. The branches were still bare except for the gaily colored paper they wore like gaudy rings on their finger like limbs. The trees looked as if they’d had a few wild nights and Noah’s mouth quirked in silent empathy. She’d done her own fair share of partying from the third weekend of February straight into the first dozen days of the new month. There was never a shortage of places to visit packed full of enthusiastic revelers, both tourists and those native to the area. Most people who came to the beach were looking for a good time. Throw Mardi Gras into the mix and things could get downright wild.

Her mind drifted as she ran, thinking about Hurricane drinks the shade of passion flowers mixed with rum, fruit juice and grenadine garnished with sweet cherries. Of course nothing compared to the Bushwackers her best friend Greer liked to make. She’d gotten the recipe from her grandmother, Sarah, who everyone knew in the town of Kelby, and in the city of Mobile where she’d been born, to be a true Bay Lady. Bay Ladies, along with their many other talents, were capable of throwing memorable get-togethers complete with tables weighted down with plates of barbecued pork and beef, dirty rice, potato salad and fruit filled pies topped off with an abundance of sweet southern hospitality. Sarah had been famous for her Bushwackers, and always mixed them in the blender with ice cream and KahlĂșa. Later in life, Sarah came to the conclusion that she could still be a respected lady even if she chose not to string her pearls around her neck everywhere she went. In her opinion, it was more advantageous knowing how to mix a good stiff drink than it was remembering to show up at a tea party with clean, white gloves. After all, there isn’t a single soul alive who doesn’t appreciate a well-mixed drink, and handling a tumbler full of bourbon was a heck of a lot easier with bare hands.

Greer definitely had a talent for mixing drinks, but she was also one hell of a good cook, and every delectable little thing she created always threatened to add inches to Noah’s svelte frame. It never failed. No matter what other thoughts filled Noah’s head, and she thought about a great many things, she eventually came back to food. All the pies, cakes and cookies Greer baked and brought to fill the case in the store next to Noah’s were hard not to overindulge in on a normal day. When the calendar brought about any sort of holiday, the temptation to eat was tenfold. As if the king cakes, with their iced dough braided and baked with cinnamon and sprinkled with colored sugar weren’t enough during Carnival, there was the chicken and sausage gumbo, the oyster po’boys and the hush puppies. Oh, Lord, the hush puppies.

“Damn it,” she cursed Greer, although her friend wasn’t there to hear her. As she set her sights for the marina her stomach growled and she felt a spring of hunger pop up beneath the tank top she wore. Just like yesterday, she’d run an extra mile this morning so she could treat herself to whatever fattening collection of desserts Greer would deliver in another couple of hours. She’d have to if she still had any hope of fastening the top button of her jeans. She would scold Greer for making it difficult to keep the body she’d been proud of since puberty hit fifteen years prior, right before she ate whatever confection taunted her from behind the glass display. Greer would smile at her, say nothing, and the two of them would then do the exact same thing tomorrow. Some things never changed.

Noah took a deep breath as the scenery around her bounced in time to her plodding feet. Life was good, she thought. Actually, she corrected herself with a bob of her pony tail, life was better than good. It was fantastic. As amazing as it all was, though, Noah found herself wondering when it had gotten to be so predictable.

The trapped air rushed out of her lungs and she could feel the burn start in the muscles of her quads. Sometimes in the midst of all the wonderful she found herself wishing for something more. She’d never been good at listening to those who told her she should be careful about what she wished for. This time, as she ran down the street with the ocean rushing up over the sand on her left, and the shop keepers opening their doors for another day of business on her right, she silently gave herself this oft spoken piece of advice. Predictably, however, she didn’t listen to it this time, either.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Review of So What Do I Do? by author G.J. Griffiths

I love to read and review books. I do this a lot for self-published authors because, being an indie author myself, I know how important reviews are...and how hard they are to get. I haven't really posted reviews on my blog before, but I've decided it might not be a bad practice to start. Any publicity helps, and I've learned in the last few years what an awesome thing it is to help out another author. It always comes back, in one way or another...and it's a really fun thing to do.

So, here is my first posted book review. This book comes from a series written by author G.J. Griffiths. I've read all three books that make up this series. (Will there be more? I hope so.) I've enjoyed them all, but this third one, So What Do I Do? is my favorite.

The third book in the So What series starts off with Gil Hodgson, whom readers were introduced to in Griffiths’ previous novel. This time, we are offered a closer peek at his personal life when we are introduced to his wife, Jean. It’s been five years since Hodgson’s Hide was built, and as the story opens, it is here we find the couple as they take part in a bit of bird watching. They aren’t alone, however. They are unknowingly in the company of some troublemakers, and Griffiths has shown a bright spark of storytelling brilliance with this introduction. He starts the story off with more than a little intrigue, and succeeds in keeping the pages turning from the beginning all the way through to the end.

Hodgson’s Hide, a once beloved nature corner, and Birch Green High School, which is interested in becoming an academy school, both seem to be in danger at the hands of some rather unscrupulous partners; half of which are interested in exacting personal revenge, and the other looking for financial gain. The plan goes awry, setting off a domino effect of one crime committed after another.

Griffiths uses some of the most entertaining phrases such as; “In contrast to his brother-in-law Sherwin’s lack of tallness had more of the Dumpty about it. But this “egg” was of the hard-boiled type, with a shell that cracked easily, having no time for fools.” These creative gems are sprinkled throughout his engaging prose, delighting the reader while giving an already imaginative story even more color.

This tale holds a bit more mystery than those before it, and shows Griffiths’ talent for intrigue. It’s an interesting puzzle, one that is not so much a ‘whodunnit’, but ‘how’dtheydoit’. The pieces are created incredibly well and fall into place nicely. This story rolls along at a very pleasant pace with many surprises along the way…including possibly one of the best bad guy confessions ever written, and a very satisfying ending.

Here's a little bit about G.J. Griffiths:

G J Griffiths is a UK baby-boomer who worked for quite a while in the photographic industry. Then he became a science teacher for about twenty years. He likes reading (lots!) walking in the countryside and birdwatching - Oh! and being a Grandad! Having retired he thought he would like to write a novel. 

Learn more about him, or connect with him via the following links:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Author Migraine Central: Spotlight on Author J. C. Wing

Fellow author, Crystal Miles Gauthier spotlighted me on her blog today. This was a really fun interview. I mention in here how awesome authors are...and how we all like to help each other out. This just illustrates that point. Please click on the link and check it out.

Author Migraine Central: Spotlight on Author J. C. Wing: Please welcome J. C. Wing to our humble blog.  Leave a comment if you are so inclined.  Her links are at the bottom of interv...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Book trailer for A Skye Full of Stars

Nope...A Skye Full of Stars isn't completely written yet...right now it's at 89,600 words...which is about 3,000 more than Alabama Skye finished up at. It's not completed yet...but it's oh so close.

Here's the book trailer for you to peruse. I'd love to hear what you think of it.

Here's the full'll see I took some of the text for the video from it. 

Three years have passed since Sarah, the matriarch of the Gannon family, lost her battle with Alzheimer’s, and for the family she left behind, life in the small coastal town of Kelby, Alabama moves steadily on. The Cheshire Cat, Meara’s whimsical book store, is doing a booming business. Cheney and Greer find continued success with their Scottish B & B, Gannon’s Glen, and Noah’s beauty salon has become one the most popular spots in all of Baldwin County. The days are busy and satisfying, if not a touch predictable, but change is in the air. Spring is coming, and it’s bringing with it more than just tourist season.

When Cheney receives word that a package with her name on it has been found by a family friend near Glasgow, she decides to take Meara back to Scotland with her to retrieve it. Together, the sisters embark upon an emotional journey, and discover surprising evidence of a previously unknown life led by their father long before either one of them was born.

Noah’s happy life is shaken when her father falls ill, and the mother who abandoned her ten years before reappears with news that makes Noah question everything she thought she knew about herself. Things are further set off kilter when Noah’s childhood crush, Keene, drives into town with all of his belongings packed into his truck…everything, that is, except his wife.

A Skye Full of Stars brings readers back to the bustling locales of both the Alabama gulf coast and colorful Portree on the Hebridean Isle of Skye. They will revisit all the characters they were introduced to in Alabama Skye, and meet a few more as they travel back in the past to World War II, and step into the future with the Gannon women and those who are close to them.  

I'm busy, busy, busy with my Booktrope projects right now, but am consistently writing. I hope to have a completed manuscript off to my beta's by the end of the month.

There is much more I'd like to include with this post, but if I am to get all of the things done I have before me, I must go back to work!