Guest Author Interview – Olivia Gaines

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Title: On A Rainy Night in Georgia (Modern Mail Order Bride Book 5)

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Synopsis: On a rainy night in Georgia, Ezekiel Neary lights a fire in the old hunting cabin in the mountains where he, his two brothers and father would come to get away from it. Healing from a gunshot wound, the post-traumatic stress has left him less than fit for human company. Company was more than he bargained for when a naked pregnant woman in labor shows up on his doorstep.

The roads are washed out and Aisha Miller has no choice, but to run from her captor or risk bringing her child into the world in a dark cabin. Praying, she runs wildly through the woods, ending on a washed out road. The only glimmer of hope is a blue mailbox, partially rusted, halfway sticking out under the sparse moonlight.

The lone cabin sits on a hill, with two large windows looking down on her as if to pity her circumstance. Half crawling, the contractions are one minute apart and she prays that the figure in the window will be a Godsend versus the nightmare she just escaped.

Olivia Gaines, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Olivia Gaines. She writes contemporary romance with heart and humor. Welcome back to my blog, Olivia.

CH: Please tell us why we should read this book on modern mail order brides.

OG: I played with the premise of what if what you always prayed for came to you, but via a different route?  I think the readers are going to enjoy this book and the opportunity to read something fresh from me.

I am taking a chance by writing something a tad bit different with a scale back on the humor, a bump up in suspense and an alternate route to the happily ever after.

CH: In the beginning Aisha is held captive and escapes, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

OG: There are times when I free write.  I sit down and allow the words to flow, which is what happened with this story. I am fascinated with the psychology of the bad guy meeting the unbreakable woman and that is where this story starts.  He can’t break her spirit and she escapes, running, in the throes of labor and winding up on the doorstep of a man who himself came to Georgia to heal, but through her he finds new meaning for his life.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book or is it all imagination?

OG: There wasn’t a great deal of research needed for the first book in this trilogy, but the other two brothers require some work.  We meet Gabriel, the middle brother in Blind Date.  Well, Gabriel is back, as well as, Nathaniel Mann, our hitman, who lives next door. The stories are all tied together with the brothers, so we get to experience Aisha’s healing process over a year’s time and evolution of their marriage in several books.

I didn’t see a way to wrap it all up with one happy bow for Aisha, so she is in a standalone novel, that interlaces with the other two stories. Her two friends, Cabrina and DeShondra, set out looking for her with a fresh clue, but for the sake of their safety, our main character, Zeke, intervenes for his brother. This creates the other two stories.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

OG: I have a unique style of hard core word play, laced with humor at the most inopportune moments, having readers laughing out loud.  In one of my books, I take you through the gamut of anger, joy, laughter and tears.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

OG: It was.  Halfway through the book I realized Zeke had delivered the baby, but didn’t cut the umbilical cord.  He was also giving the baby a bath a submersing her in water.  I had to go back and address that with quickness.  One other really relevant factor I had to take into consideration was that she’d had a baby and underwent a traumatic life event. There are no hot steamy sex scenes, but rather, caring intimate moments in the book.

I think it is tastefully done and appropriately addressed.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

OG: Zeke.  Here we have a character that has had a sole and single purpose for the past 12 years—to protect and serve.  After a terrible accident, his left leg is full of pins, he’s had a shoulder replacement and his hand has an unsteady tremble.  His primary mission and purpose in life has been taken away from him and Zeke has to find a reason to get up every morning. Viola, arrives this woman and child.

Aisha is not conscious for the first three chapters of the book.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

OG: I love Aisha’s character.  Life has handed her all of this ugly and in it, she finds beauty that she takes out, toys with and finds the happy in simply being alive. The other characters envy her ability to do this; yet, are concerned that she is “sugar coating a shit sandwich.”  The readers are going to connect with her, because she is a realist and a survivor.

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

OG: Michelle, the baby.  Although, she has no words, she is an integral character in the story.  She is the one piece, which ties all of the sections of the story together.  She brings Nathaniel Mann to Zeke’s doorstep; heck, she brings Aisha to Zeke’s doorstep.  Zeke’s parents are pulled into the story because of the baby and she holds the main characters to task in the story.

Writing a silent character is tough.

CH: That is so true, Olivia. Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

OG: Yes.  How much of your life and freedom are you taking for granted?  Freedom isn’t free; yet, we have an abundance of it that we waste each day. Aisha understands this from having lost nearly a year of her life to her captor.  Each day she wakes, she is grateful, which is unnerving for those around her. Yet, she faces each day with an optimism, which is almost infectious.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?

OG: Pre-release threats from readers, who want it in their hands and they can’t wait until the day it releases. Note: The book has been released.

CH: Where did you get the idea for the series—modern mail order brides?

OG: It started as a joke between me and another author, but the more I worked with the concept, the more I loved the idea.  What if…we had all of these successful women, who have shattered the glass ceiling, made the money and found it all to be empty.  I pair them with very blue collar men, who live off the land and now, we have a story.

I get to write fresh stories, exploring a myriad of different jobs, a ways to live off the grid.

CH: This is book 5 in the series, how many more books are there in the series?

OG: I am doing all the states and even considered a couple of provinces, as well.

CH: What is the hardest part of writing for you? (outline, draft, edit, write, or rewrite)

OG: The outline is a snap.  I use a three-act model and jot it all down hitting the six major plot points.  I then make a loose outline of chapters and what happens in each.  My draft is a final version.  I don’t do multiple rewrites.  You lose something in the storytelling when you second guess yourself. The hard part for me is the emotion. I can feel it.  I have to layer the words, so that the person on the other end absorbs the words and holds onto the story—days after they have read it.  That is the hard part.

CH: Can you tell us about the awards you’ve won?

OG: Let’s see.  I am a two-time Georgia Author of the Year Nominee.  I won Best Contemporary Novel in 2015 for Thursdays in Savannah (Slivers of Love Book 3) and recently, the 2017 IRAE Award for Best Contemporary for Wyoming Nights.

CH: What is your next writing project?

OG: I am completing this trilogy, but I have an exciting new project debuting in June with Siera London.  I am totally stoked about the concept of this five-book series that readers will be able to get all in one read.  It is called, “The Men of Endurance.”  A small-town series set in California in the Endurance Capital of America.

People come from all over the world to test their mettle against time, distance, nature and very thin air.

CH:  How to Find Olivia Gaines: 

CH: Can you tell my audience where they can purchase your book?

OG: Amazon, Kindle, Kindle UK, Nook. iBooks, Kobo, and Universal.

CH: Any closing remarks?

OG: Thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk about my latest release. And for your followers, please enjoy the prologue to On the Rainy Night in Georgia. Due to space limitations, email authorCherylHolloway@gmail.com for your copy of the Prologue. I read the book and loved it!

CH: Thank you so much, Olivia Gaines, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Olivia Gaines and Cheryl Holloway.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Tina-Marie Miller

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Title: The Curious Miss Fortune (The Hamptons)

Genre: Romance/Mystery

Synopsis: There’s great excitement as the Hampton Players gather to begin rehearsals on their annual am dram. However, it’s not long before the cast begin to make a connection between the fictional storylines and coincidental occurrences in their villages leaving them fearful that a murder is about to take place. Tiggy Lawrence is devastated to learn her father is terminally ill. As she returns to the family home after a nine year absence she’s fearful of a run in not just with step monster Bobbie but also ex fiancé Patrick. Aster Maxwell is a successful maxillofacial surgeon who is hungry for success. Desperate to maximise his specialisation by opening his own private clinic, will he stop at nothing to get what he wants? Diana Fortune’s forgotten past could be her strength when she auditions for the Hampton Players. Only it’s a dark and stormy night as she makes her entrance. Has Miss Fortune finally arrived? Drama finds itself back in the Hamptons as Poppy and Richard Hambly-Jones make an appearance as they prepare to host the Autumn Ball. Expect the unexpected!

Tina-Marie Miller, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest International Author is Tina-Marie Miller. She enjoys curling up with a good book and losing herself in tales of love. Welcome to my blog, Tina-Marie.

CH: Can you sum up this mystery thriller in 20 words or less?

TMM: A series of curious incidents that leave residents fearful a murder is about to take place.

CH: Your book deals with a Hampton play rehearsal and coincidental occurrences in their villages. So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

TMM: It was whilst I was writing the play for the Hampton Players that I came upon the idea of mirroring the events within the drama alongside coincidental occurrences in the Hamptons.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book or is it all imagination?

TMM: Whilst my work is written from my imagination, to make the story believable I undertake a lot of research. Specifically for this book I did a lot of medical research and considered a number of possible storylines before settling on the final scenes.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

TMM: My writing offers a diverse perspective through a village environment.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

TMM: I relish the challenge of creating believable situations and issues some of which I take from real life and elaborate and some are from my imagination.

CH: Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from when you write?

TMM: I’ve been blessed with a diverse career and I’ve lived in a number of different areas and met a plethora of amazing people from all walks of life. This has fed my imagination and inspires my writing.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

TMM: The wonderful Reverend Peter Fisher! He’s based on several people, with a bit of added eccentricity! He also reminds me of the Vicar who baptised me.

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

TMM: Aster Maxwell. It was important to build up the character sufficiently to ensure the reader understands his ruthlessness.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

TMM: For me, each character I develop has to presented as believable to my readers. There isn’t any one character that stands out as being the hardest to write in this novel.

CH: When you wrote the first book, did you know then that it would be a series?

TMM: Yes, absolutely. It was always my intention and I took a long time planning it.

CH: Are there more books in this series?

TMM: Yes, I am hopeful that this series will continue for some time, yet.

When I began creating my debut novel, Everything Happens For A Reason, I undertook extensive research at that time. I carefully mapped out the villages of the Hamptons and created a number of characters. Therefore, when I moved onto writing book 2, The Curious Miss Fortune, most of the work had already been done.

This is the same for the next in the series, which I will commence writing shortly. I have created a number of characters that I have yet to use and several storylines yet to put in place.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?

TMM: I am absolutely thrilled with the feedback I have received so far. Almost everyone complimenting me on keeping them guessing until the very end, due to the many twists and turns within the storyline.

CH: Since this book is full of suspense, action and intrigue, do you prefer writing books with a lot of twists and turns and ups and downs?

TMM: Yes, I do! But they are not easy and I think this is why I prefer it—the challenge is greater. I am fortunate to have an office where I can carefully map everything out on the walls which enables me to keep a careful check on the plot twists and turns that I am trying to create.

CH: What is your next writing project?

TMM: I am planning on writing Book 3 in the Hamptons series.

CH: Can you give my audience your website address?

TMM: Of course. You can find out a lot more about me and my work by visiting www.tinamariemiller.co.uk

CH: How to Find Tina-Marie Miller:

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

TMM: My book is available to purchase through Amazon worldwide. Paperback copies can also be purchased directly from me via my website (above).

CH: Any closing remarks?

TMM: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be featured on your blog. I much appreciate this. I would like to invite your readers to view my first vlog at http://tiny.cc/gs2wqy

With my best wishes and grateful thanks Cheryl to you and your readers, Tina-Marie xoxox

CH: Thank you so much, Tina-Marie Miller, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Tina-Marie Miller and Cheryl Holloway.

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Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

Subscribe to my blog because I share great books with wonderful readers all over the globe!

   

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Margareth Stewart

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Title: Open – Pierre’s Journey after War

Genre: Psychological

Synopsis: Open – Pierre’s Journey after War is an intimate story of a man whose wife and children are killed during bombardments of France in WWII. Devastated and embittered, Pierre leaves everything behind and embarks on an odyssey to bury his past in the darkest recesses of his mind.

The journey, which lasts more than forty years, involves a sequence of events and coincidences that ultimately provide him new direction and a sense of purpose.

Pierre feels at home in moving from place to place. When his mission in a specific village or town is accomplished, he wanders once again, observing and savoring whatever life offers.

His activities are circumstantial and unpredictable. Intuitively, he remains on the move to reconcile his past while his future stands still.

He returns to France an old man. On a day on a walk past vineyards near his former home, Pierre is offered a lift by a couple whose absurd, whimsical presence vividly contrasts with whatever solemn tranquility he’d found through his consequential journey and search for redemption.

Pierre for the first time is inspired to speak of his past.

Margareth Stewart, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest International Author is Margareth Stewart. She holds a PhD in Social Psychology and teaches Social Projects through Literature and local stories. Welcome to my blog, Margareth.

CH: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read Pierre’s story?

MS: Pierre is story about all of us. It’s a story about burying the past, making mends end with our last wishes. It’s about pain, healing, and the inner force to survive.

CH: Your book deals with the after effects of war. So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

MS: When I was young, I heard a lot of stories about war from my grandfather, now I’m certain they had a great influence on me, more than I can ever think of. Besides that, I have a background in Social Psychology and Pierre reinforces all the post-traumatic narrative from someone who has faced war—someone who doesn’t sleep well, who can’t breathe properly, who avoids being too close to people, and who never speaks about his past!

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book or is it all imagination?

MS: Oh, yes, writing is a great combination of imagination, reality and research. I did check everything before launching the book—when I was in France, I talked to people about it, double checked dates, info and places—all to make sure it would be a well-crafted believable story. Even so, I have a feeling that I’ve already known Pierre.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

MS: I guess the way I portray the characters. I don’t describe them. I guess I become them, and that’s an artefact that gets the story into very realistic grounds—and we (writer/reader) learn a lot this way. And there’s something else in the style I write, I just do not hand out the cheese, plate and knife to the reader—they have to work things out, too.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

MS: No, not really—maybe because I’ve had so many years in the field of Social Psychology. So, I’m used to walking in other people’s shoes—maybe it’s because I have traveled and seen a lot, too.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

MS: Oh, all of them. Pierre, because he’s in my first novel, but then comes Mademoiselle-sur-Seine, and right now, I’m working with Lorraine in a thriller. I’ve learned so much with all of them, and I’m so grateful to having them and their stories.

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

MS: The Book Shop Owner in Open,  he is a war fanatic, probably a general or war fugitive, he’s so bossy and arrogant, but even being so, he says many true things, and I wanted to point out that we can learn lots from people like him. It is hard because we usually despise such people, and that’s when we fall into traps and problems. It is what happened to Pierre, to know more about it just get the book (LOL).

CH: Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from when you write?

MS: I guess from all the things I’ve lived and have seen, I’m also an avid reader and that helps a lot. On top of that, I’d rather say novel writing for months and Writer’s Residencies are also very precious.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?

MS: People like it. They also learn a lot with Pierre. The funny thing is that each person says a different thing on what was important to them—so it seems the novel has many layers—some people see pain, others healing, others are impacted mostly by the Book Shop Owner, others by Chiamaka or Manoj, and so on.

CH: Are there any authors that provide inspiration for your writing?

MS: Oh, yes, so many: from Steinbeck to Chekov, James Joyce to João Guimarães Rosa, or Gabriel García Márquez.

CH: Since this is your debut novel, can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

MS: I’ve always written papers, and articles for the university, but in the past like 3 or 4 years, I felt this urge to write fiction. The stories kept popping up—the voices, the plot and everything—so, I had no other option, but to sit down and write fiction.

CH: If you could work with any author, living or dead, who would that be and why?

MS: Oh, Sir Theodore Zeldin, professor and historian at the Oxford University. He does not write like a historian. He writes like a fiction storyteller—he tells the story from a very singular perspective, and then, he explains, historically, why that is happening. It’s amazing! Carlo Ginzburg also does this kind of writing. There are many others, too.

CH: What is the hardest part of writing for you (outline, draft, edit, write)?

MS: Editing is extra, extra boring. All the rest is fine and flows like a river. But reading our own manuscript over and over again can be very exhausting.

CH: Yes, I agree with you on that. What is your next writing project?

MS: It is the one I’m taking now, Zero Chance, a thriller with best friends, a millionaire in Zurich, the upper-class watch industry, unauthorized fishery, corruption, and loads of unexplained issues.

CH: Can you give my audience your website address?

MS: For sure. Thanks so much for asking. It’s: www.Facebook.com/AuthorMargarthStewart

CH: How to Find Margareth Stewart:

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

MS: Open – Pierre’s Journey after War is available at web-e-books.com. Just look for Author Stewart, Margareth (it’s under my surname first), and for just US $4.95 you have an unforgettable novel. It’s easily readable on all devices, and they also accept paypal for payments.

CH: Any closing remarks?

MS: Follow your instincts in both livings. Thanks for the interview, Cheryl.

CH: Thank you so much, Margareth Stewart, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Margareth Stewart and Cheryl Holloway.

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Don’t Keep this Blog a Secret…Tell Your Friends about it!

Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

Subscribe to my blog because I share great books with wonderful readers all over the globe!

   

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Questions? Comments? Interviews? Contact :

AuthorCherylHolloway@gmail.com or Cheryl@CherylHolloway.net

Guest Author Interview – Amie Denman and May Williams

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This Valentine’s Day, spice up your reading life and fall in love with a love story!

Title: Valentines at the Grand Hotel (White Pine Island Stories Book 5)

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Holidays

Synopsis: Hazel and Ian – Love requires just the right recipe.

When Hazel Weaver lands a dream internship as a pastry chef at the famous Grand Hotel on White Pine Island, she pours her heart into sweet desserts and stunning wedding cakes. Icing and confections fall under her spell, but the reclusive head chef at the hotel keeps her at a bittersweet distance.

Ian Dodd learned a painful lesson when a kitchen romance turned to disaster, and he vowed never to fall for someone in the restaurant business again. Especially, not a beautiful and sweet baker assigned to his kitchen as part of her training. He resists her as long as he can, believing he’s protecting both of them until a Valentine’s Day Ball provides some magic and a secret ingredient.

Francie and Christopher – Can two hearts heal in time for Valentine’s Day?

Francie Donati loves making fine wines in her family business on White Pine Island. Along with her brother and grandfather, she carries on the tradition even after a tragic sailing death takes the life of her father. A year after his loss, she can’t get her mind off the heroic Coast Guard Commander who tried to save him. Although, he seems unapproachable, Francie knows there is plenty of heart bubbling beneath his surface.

Lieutenant Commander Chris Sparks believes in honor and service at his island Coast Guard Station. Saving lives and keeping the ocean safe are beliefs that run through his veins. When a beautiful vintner tempts him with her sweetness, he relives his regret of the night he failed to save her father. More than that, Francie Donati believes in the power of family so strongly that she won’t look the other way when Chris gives up on his own parents. Is Francie’s love strong enough to make Chris stop bottling up his feelings and risk his heart?

Amie Denman, Author

May Williams, Author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CH: Today’s Guest Authors are co-authors Amie Denman and May Williams. They write the popular Grand Hotel series. Welcome to my blog, Amie and May.

CH: Amie, can you tell us why we should read the story of Hazel and Ian?

AD: If you like beautiful hotels, amazing desserts, and falling in love, I hope you’ll enjoy this story. I think I gained five pounds writing it because talking about cakes and desserts made me want to bake and eat! Write about cake, bake a cake, eat the cake, and repeat.

CH: So, how did you come up with the premise for this story?

AD: May and I work together to create the characters for each book in our Grand Hotel series. We try to realistically think about who would be visiting or working at an island resort hotel, and that’s how we came up with a renowned chef and an apprentice pastry chef. The next step was to imagine what would keep them from falling in love with each other and then challenging that idea.

CH: Was it hard to intertwine the two stories into one book?

AD: May and I work together almost daily on our books, so intertwining them is an organic process. Lots of wine and conversation!

CH: Where did you get the idea for the series?

AD: This is my favorite question! May and I took the Amtrak from Ohio to Chicago (about a 5-hour trip) to attend BookCon in May, 2016. On the train on the way back, there was a crying baby in our car, so we escaped to the dining car and stayed up all night with our notebooks planning our White Pine Island series. When we got on the train, we knew we wanted to do a series of connected novellas together, and when we got off the train, we had our idea for a Grand Hotel on an island off the coast of Georgia. I’ll never forget that night on the train!

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

AD: I loved writing about Hazel because she’s sweet, but she’s not a push-over. And, wow, is she a fabulous baker!

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

AD: Ian was a little tougher to write because he’s an emotionally reclusive executive chef. So many chefs on television seem rude and callous, but I didn’t want to go with that stereotype for Ian. He has a good reason for guarding his heart, and that touch of vulnerability is what Hazel loves about him.

CH: Was a Valentine’s Ball imperative for the Grand Hotel series?

AD: A ball with beautiful gowns, delicious desserts, and the promise of romance is imperative for everything! But, yes, a resort hotel should host at least one formal ball a year—more if possible!

CH: What is your favorite romance book? And why?

AD: Pride and Prejudice is my favorite romance, and I enjoy reading it over and over again. It’s the model for a great romance with memorable characters who give their hearts away, but not until they’ve put up a fight.

CH: Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

AD: I have always loved reading and dreamed of being a writer. My first book was published in 2011 by a small press, and I have written over 20 books since then. I have seven books published by Harlequin, and many self-published or co-authored. There were times it seemed my dream would never come true, but I’m so glad I never gave up and kept working until I found my voice.

CH: What is your next writing project?

AD: May and I are hard at work on Weekend at the Grand Hotel (our next White Pine Island book), and our next book in the Coastal Cruise Line stories which takes place on a luxury cruise ship called the Grand Islander. I’m also working on a fun summer novel, The Mayfly Summer Resort, and a series set on the coast of Maine called Kenyon Cove. I think/hope/believe I will have 12 books released in 2018!

CH: May, please tell us in one sentence, why we should read the story of Francie and Christopher?

MW: Francie Donati has every reason not to fall in love with Coast Guard Officer Christopher Sparks so, of course, she does.

CH: So, how did you come up with the premise for this story?

MW: In Autumn at the Grand Hotel, Francie’s brother finds love in a second chance romance. When Amie and I decided to continue the series with Valentine’s Day, Francie was a natural choice. Readers had already been introduced to Christopher, the Coast Guard Officer. Francie and Christopher had a little history and plenty of reasons why they shouldn’t get together, which made them perfect for a Valentine’s couple.

CH: When you wrote the first book in the series, did you realize it would be a series then?

MW: Amie and I planned the first four books (one for each season) on an Amtrak train between Chicago and our homes in northern Ohio. We sat in the club car and created the concepts of the Grand Hotel and the family who owned it. As the books gained a following, we decided to continue the series. And we love writing them. Readers get to escape to the Grand Hotel when reading the books, but Amie and I escape when writing them, as well. And who doesn’t want to visit the Grand Hotel?

CH: Are there any authors that provide inspiration for your writing?

MW: In terms of dedication to the craft and the business of writing, there’s no greater influence than Marie Force. I love her books and her attitude about making her own success.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

MW: Francie was my favorite from this book. On the surface, she’s lighthearted and caring, but underneath she’s struggling with her own problems. I think, she’s a true representation of many women’s experiences.

CH: Was a Valentine’s Ball imperative for the Grand Hotel series?

MW: Absolutely. Guests at the Grand Hotel love to celebrate and what better celebration is there than Valentine’s Day? Especially, when characters are looking for love.

CH: What is your favorite romance book? And why?

MW: I love Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Family series. I’ve read them all several times. The novels appeal to me because each is different in character and tone, giving them so many layers to enjoy.

CH: Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

MW: I started writing historical romances, because I enjoyed reading them. I wrote WWII era and Victorian novels to start. Amie convinced me to try writing contemporary romance, and I love it. It’s freeing when I don’t have to worry about historical accuracy of clothing or houses or anything else. I published my first contemporary trilogy, Animal Prints, Snow Prints, and Finger Prints, in 2015. I plan to remain a contemporary romance writer.

CH: What is your next writing project?

MW: Amie and I will continue to write the Grand Hotel series. We’ve started a connected series set aboard a luxury ship that cruises the southern waters from Charleston to Key West. We’ve published One Christmas aboard the Grand Islander and Two Weeks aboard the Grand Islander so far, with more to come in 2018.

CH: How to Find Amie Denman and May Williams:

CH: Any closing remarks?

AD: Thank you for hosting Valentines at the Grand Hotel and promoting romance books in general. Reading and writing romance is good for the heart, and I’m so grateful I get to visit beautiful places like the Grand Hotel and the Grand Islander with my best friend and writing partner May Williams. I wish everyone a wonderful Valentine’s Day, no matter how you celebrate!

CH: Thank you so much, Amie Denman and May Williams, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Amie Denman, May Williams and Cheryl Holloway.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Ju Ephraime

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Title: A Knight’s Love: Medieval Time Travel Romance (Campbell Brothers Book 2)

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis: Fighting alongside his two brothers, Garvin Campbell of Clan Campbell is content to remain in the shadows. After all, he’s lived most of his adult life as a Knight Templar, and that requires him being in the shadows, not seen or heard. “Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed Nomini tuo da gloriam; (Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy Name, give glory). That was the rule of the Templars until they were forced to disband at the request of King Philip IV “the Fair” of France.

Many of the Order’s members in France were arrested and tortured. However, Scotland did not get involved in the arrests and prosecution of the Knights. There was no recognized king of the Scots, and with the Bruce having already been excommunicated, the Roman Church had little say in Scottish politics, so Garvin returned to his clan to use his skills in the fight against the English for Scottish independence.

Having been told all her life to avoid the Campbells, the last thing Lady Helen is thinking about is falling in love with a Campbell, and a Knight Templar at that. She is aware the Templar Knight has taken a vow of abstinence, so when Garvin Campbell comes to her clan to deliver the decree from Robert the Bruce, Helen is unprepared for the connection she immediately feels for the knight. She dismisses it as butterflies at meeting a knight, but fate has other plans for her and Garvin, as he becomes her reason for living and he forgoes his training of remaining in the shadows as he surrenders to love.

Ju Ephraime, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Ju Ephraime. She loves to indulge her over-active imagination to write the high heat romances she enjoys reading. Welcome to my blog, Ju.

CH: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read this historical romance novel Valentine’s Day release.

JE: This story has many of the elements that make for a great romance:  A knight’s first love, a beautiful female, strong alphas, all set against one of Europe’s most romantic and fantasy filled locations—the Scottish Highlands.

CH: Finding love is pretty special, so how did you come up with the premise for this book?

JE: The premise for the book is about finding love when you least expect it.

CH: What made you decide to write an enchanting romance?

JE: Again, it was not planned that way, but all the stars were aligned to make this happen.

CH: Did you have to do a lot of historical research to write this book?

JE: Yes, lots and lots.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

JE: Oh. I can’t answer this without sounding vain and egotistical, but I’ve been told, I can hold my own with some of the best in the industry—tongue in cheek.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

JE: It was not hard at all. I did take a lot from real life and elaborated on it.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

JE: The opposing side.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

JE: The youngest brother of the main character.

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

JE: The main character. As an ex-Templar Knight, I had to be very careful what I had him saying in the dialogue scenes.

CH: Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from when you write historical romance?

JE: From places I’ve visited or want to visit, with rich interesting historical backgrounds.

CH: Are there any historical romance authors that provide inspiration for your writing?

JE: No one in particular, I read quite a wide selection.

CH: If you could work with any historical romance author, living or dead, who would that be and why?

JE: Stephanie Laurens, a #1 New York Times bestselling author.

CH: What is your next writing project?

JE: My third and final installment in this highlander trilogy.

CH: How to Find Ju Ephraime:

 CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

JE: This book is sold wherever fine books are sold and online at Amazon.

CH: Any closing remarks?

JE: I enjoyed doing this interview and hope my answers will give your audience an insight into the mind of an unbelievable romantic.

CH: Thank you so much, Ju Ephraime, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Ju Ephraime and Cheryl Holloway.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Eric Wilder

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Title: Sisters of The Mist (French Quarter Mystery Book 6)

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Paranormal

Synopsis: It’s Halloween in the French Quarter as P.I. Wyatt Thomas traces his missing girlfriend to a mysterious convent hidden deep in south Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp. Even if he manages to find her and they both survive, will their relationship ever be the same?

Eric Wilder, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Eric Wilder. He is a master of Louisiana mystery writing. Welcome back to my blog, Eric.

CH: Can you sum up this New Orleans paranormal mystery in 20 words or less?

EW: It’s a diverse mixture of fantasy, reality, and the paranormal set in arguably the most haunting and exotic city on earth.

CH: Why did you decide to write this book on this topic?

EW: There is nothing normal about New Orleans. Its culture, religion, cuisine, etc., is a complex mixture of many people from all over the world. In New Orleans, voodoo and Catholicism are inextricably intertwined. In writing Sisters of the Mist, I wanted to explore this connection and do it by adding a dollop of fantasy to see what flavor I could achieve.

CH: Did you find anything challenging while writing about a convent?

EW: I once lived across the street from a Catholic convent where the nuns stayed cloistered for life. No one, neither friends nor family, ever visited them, and once they entered the compound, they never left it. Questions percolated in my brain for many years, until it became too much for a fiction writer not to probe the ether for answers.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues to mingle with New Orleans history?

EW: The complex cultural history of New Orleans is what makes the city so haunting and mysterious. Numerous plagues, slavery, killer hurricanes, and Civil War has shaped its history and made it unique. Because of this, I find it easy to use the Big Easy as the canvas upon which I apply the layers of color to create my stories.

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

EW: Because of his intense family tragedy and the ensuing events leading to his spiritual development, Lando Impeke was the hardest character to develop. There’s a thin line between the complex, tragic character Lando is and the cartoon figure he could have become, if not portrayed correctly. I only hope I succeeded.

CH: Which characters experienced growth and change over the course of the story?

EW: Abba Gigoux experienced the most growth and change—her views on life, self-perception, and religious beliefs evolving dramatically.

CH: There were multiple themes in the book, how did they relate to each other and to the plot?

EW: I usually have two storylines intertwined throughout my books. Tony Nicosia, former N.O.P.D. homicide detective, turned P.I., is usually hot on the trail of a New Orleans’ mystery. This storyline is always related to a third person narrative and mostly lacks paranormal shadings. The primary storyline always involves Wyatt Thomas. It’s told in the first person, from his perspective and always involves fantasy, voodoo, and the paranormal.

CH: You have captured your readers when writing about New Orleans, and most of your readers come away from your books wanting to read more. How have you perfected this hook?

EW: I try to make the characters real, complete with warts including bigotry, racism, biases, and flaws. I also try to place the reader firmly in the Big Easy by using my knowledge of the city and its citizens to paint a vivid and very real picture of the place.

CH: Is there a special attachment that you have to New Orleans and this genre?

EW: New Orleans is one of the most interesting, complex, and mysterious cities on earth. I want my readers to feel as though they are actually there, and I always strive to make the city my main character.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

EW: After reading The Exorcist many years ago, I didn’t sleep well for a month because it seemed so real to me. I do my best to bring my stories to life and make everything, no matter how unbelievable, believable.

CH: From a feedback perspective, and without a spoiler, did most readers find the ending to be satisfying and met their expectations of the plot?

EW: I wanted to leave a cliffhanger at the end of the book that no one was expecting. So far, everyone I’ve talked to that has read the book likes the ending.

CH: This is book 6 in the series, how many more books are there in the series?

EW: I honestly don’t know how many books this series will ultimately have. I love the characters and the setting, and I think I could go on forever. Guess I’ll stop when the readers stop asking for more.

CH: What is your next writing project?

EW: I’m working on French Quarter Mystery #7, which is tentatively titled, New Orleans Dangerous. It’s about an NBA player that gets traded to the New Orleans Pelicans and begins to learn he has a connection he didn’t know about that involves voodoo, incest, and murder.

CH: How to Find Eric Wilder:

CH: Can you tell my audience where they can purchase your book?

EW: My books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Smashwords. Paperbacks can be ordered from your local bookstore.

CH: Any closing remarks?

EW: Thanks, Cheryl, for spotlighting my new book. You are a great author in your own right. Your blog is a wonderful platform for authors, and your interviews are astute, intelligent, and illuminating.

CH: Thank you so much, Eric Wilder, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Eric Wilder and Cheryl Holloway.

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Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

Subscribe to my blog because I share great books with wonderful readers all over the globe!

   

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Patrick Parker

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Title: Six Minutes Early

Genre: Thriller/Suspense/Espionage

Synopsis: Max Kenworth, a former Delta Force officer and nuclear weapons expert, is tasked with stopping a major attack on US soil in this thrilling adventure.

FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) has stolen a cache of man-portable nuclear devices from a secure American facility in Panama. The weapons end up in the hands of ex-special forces officer Bart Madison. With the help of ISIS, drug cartels, and a US senator, Bart is planning to use the devices to create an atrocity in the American heartland.

Max is briefed on the situation by SOCOM (Special Operations Command) and teams up with FBI agent Gail Summers and Mossad agent Danya Mayer to find the weapons before they can be used against American citizens. The three will face opposition from both foreign enemies and so-called allies as they follow Bart’s trail across the continental United States. Their foe is intelligent and well connected, but the three of them are determined to stop this terrorist before more lives are lost.

Patrick Parker, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Patrick Parker. He has spent several years working in the defense industry. Welcome to my blog, Patrick.

CH: Can you sum up this espionage thriller for my audience?

PP: With the help of a traitor, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) plots to attack the American heartland with a weapon of mass destruction.

CH: Your book, a sociopolitical suspense novel, deals with the realities of today’s life and terrorism. So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

PP: I am a retired Army officer with a background in nuclear weapons. After retiring from the military, I spent an additional fifteen years in the defense industry. In both army and corporate jobs, I was involved in numerous classified, as well as, unclassified projects that dealt with the security of our country. Knowing the terrorists want to attack the U.S. with a nuclear type device, I drew on my military and corporate experiences to come up with the relevant, timely, and realistic story.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?

PP: I always do research on my books. Even if I have done something in real life a hundred times, I will still do research on it when I put it in a story. I want the story to be realistic. I want my readers to walk away and ask themselves, “What was real, and what was fiction?”

From the feedback I have received, I have accomplished that.

CH: Since this book is about recovering stolen nuclear weapons, did you run into any challenges while writing this book?

PP: I think every author has challenges. I had to ensure nothing I wrote was classified and that it was close to reality. I was able to find through open sources those items I needed for the story.  Not too many years ago, I couldn’t make that statement. I probably couldn’t even write the story the way I did, as it would be classified. My background was an asset in writing this story. I have always heard, “write about what you know.” So, I did.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

PP: I make my stories very realistic, and I write through the eyes of someone that has experienced many of the places, events, and situations. In Six Minutes Early, terrorists with the help of an ex-Special Forces Officer, steal man-packed nuclear weapons from a classified site in Panama. Man-packed nuclear weapons are real. Terrorists are real and want to attack the heartland. My writing is realistic and usually contains things that have actually happened. There are challenges and I fill in the pieces.

My stories are fast-paced and keep the reader on the edge of his or her seat.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

PP: All of the characters are different and I have to keep them separate, then stay true to the character.  I would say that Danya Mayer was the hardest.  I’m a male and she is female. She had to be a believable female character, as well as, a professional from Mossad. It was a challenge to get her thoughts, actions, and what she might say to be believable.

FBI Special Agent Gail Summers was another, “tuffer ‘n woodpecker lips,” female. She is a professional that matured in the man-dominated world of the FBI. Gail was patterned after a real female FBI agent.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

PP: I enjoyed writing all of the characters, because they were all different. Probably, Max Kenworth was the most fun. He was quiet, resourceful, and skilled. He had to navigate through the politics of the different agencies and the personalities of the women he worked with to accomplish his mission.

I also had fun writing the terrorists. They were a different bunch. Aside from the Muslim terrorists, there were several Americans working for them.

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

PP: In a way they were all hard to write because they were all different and had different agendas. Probably, the terrorist were the hardest.  They don’t think like Westerners. So, when one of those characters was in the scene, I had to think like I envisioned them to think. They spoke and used mannerisms the way I imagined them to do.  They were a challenge, but also fun.

CH: Since this book is full of suspense, action, and intrigue, do you prefer writing books with a lot of twists and turns and ups and downs?

PP: Yes, I think that adds to the suspense. This is especially true if it is realistic and contains real things or events. Real life is that way. The protagonist must overcome a situation to succeed. In Six Minutes Early, Max Kenworth, the protagonist, is facing an equally capable antagonist, Bart Madison. Max must draw on every bit of his experience, but Bart manages to stay one step ahead of him. Max is not only challenged by his adversary, but his allies, as well. As the clock ticks away, egos of those he must work with in the U.S. Government Agencies become hostile roadblocks to him completing his mission. All of the twists and turns, ups and downs, in this book keep the reader on the edge of his or her seat.

CH: Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

PP: They should feel satisfied that their time was well spent. I want a reader continue to ask, “What was real and what was fiction?” My goal is to entertain them. I want the reader to walk away knowing that I write a good book and that I have worked hard to eliminate errors. The next time they buy one of my books, they will know it will be a great ride!

I didn’t really plan to convey a message when I started Six Minutes Early, but one did emerge. The U.S. is vulnerable to an attack, much as I described. There are some people that do have a hand in our security that will do whatever is necessary to get a “gold star” on their report. Often, there are those in charge that don’t have the necessary skills to be in the position they are thrust into. Also, there are those that will readily prostitute themselves for a piece of the limelight. This is the real world we live in today. I hope the reader will ask: “What is real, how vulnerable are we, and what is the real motivation of those in charge?”

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?

PP: It has all been great! Here are a few snippets: “…high tension, rapid-paced, edge-of-your-seat ride….” “A thriller with unmatched suspense!” “Six Minutes Early is full of suspense, action and intrigue.” “This book is the real deal.” “He’s pulled off an international thriller without leaving the sexy bits.” “I enjoyed every minute reading about the story and the characters…”  “I enjoyed Patrick Parker’s nail-biting adventure written from a vast store of military and weaponry experience. Six Minutes Early has an immensely authentic and frightening theme that one might fear could be read flashing across the screen as a FOX news Special Alert.”

CH: Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from when you write?

PP: From a lot of places: people, events, and history. Usually, something happens and that has a relationship to something else. I take a ‘what if’ approach. That gets me going.

I get my ideas from either history or something that has happened. A fiction writer could not make up what has been happening in the news over the last several years. Some of it is hard to believe. It is fantastic fodder for a writer and I take advantage of it. I have gleaned several ideas from what has been in the news, which makes my stories, although, fiction, more believable. I think my readers love it!

CH: If you could work with any author, living or dead, who would that be and why?

PP: Good question. Several authors inspired me. Ken Follett, Robert Ludlum, John Le Carré, and, of course, Tom Clancy. They are all great suspense storytellers and I like their style and topics. I’d probably have to say Ken Follett would be my top choice.

CH: What is your favorite espionage book? And why?

PP: Another good question. Each of my favorite authors have a lot of great books. My favorite would probably be, Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett. The story is set during the World War II era, just before the Normandy invasion. The master spy, code name, ‘Needle’ was the object of one of the most desperate manhunts in history. I like that era in our history and the way Follett writes the story kept me on the edge of my seat.

CH: Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

PP: My journey as a writer started out as a challenge. I was traveling a lot and I would usually pick up a book to read on the plane. After two books in a row, I complained to my wife how poorly the books were written with various errors. They were published by big name, traditional publishing houses. When I said I could write a better book, she said, “Well, do it.” I wrote Treasures of the Fourth Reich. I had fun writing it and achieved my goal.

With the success of my first book, I decided to write War Merchant. It turned out great, then next I wrote Six Minutes Early. All three have received four and five star reviews.

The first thing is the idea. If it’s something I’m interested in enough to work on for the time it takes to write a book, usually a year or so, I will go on to the next step. I proceed to explore it and then come up with an ending. With the idea (situation) and ending, I then work backwards to get a rough idea of how to get to the end. What must happen, what type of characters are needed to get to the ending. Everything along the way must be believable. Usually, I take something from history, something that really happened and go from there. For example, in Treasures of the Fourth Reich, that story was based on the true Nazi looting of Europe and what could have happened forty-five to fifty years later.

I don’t really plan everything out, but capture the points that will get to the end. Usually, the characters take control and write the story. I just get out of the way.

I do research before and while I’m writing. It could be about a character, place, or event. I try to write so that the reader is constantly asking, “What is real and what is fiction?”

CH: What is your next writing project?

PP: I’m working on a suspense book that has actually turned out to be a sequel to Six Minutes Early. I didn’t originally plan it that way; the characters did it. At the height of the 2016 Presidential election, an attempted coup d’état happened in Turkey. Chaos and turmoil was the norm in the U.S. The election was full of corruption, dirty tricks, and shenanigans. Internationally the U.S. and lame duck President were not respected. So, I took the situation and came up with the idea.

The story is full of suspense, corrupt politicians, murder, treason, terrorists, and all the other makings of a great story. Keep watching for it.

CH:  Can you tell my audience where your books are sold?

PP: My books are available in paperback and Kindle versions through Amazon.

CH: How to Find Patrick Parker:

CH: Any closing remarks?

PP: I can’t think of anything else to add. This has been thorough.

Thank you for interviewing me, Cheryl. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. I would love to hear from your readers and get their comments about my books.

CH: Thank you so much, Patrick Parker, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Patrick Parker and Cheryl Holloway.

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Subscribe to my blog because I share great books with wonderful readers all over the globe!

   

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Ken Stark

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Title: Arcadia Falls

Genre: Horror

Synopsis: Something is wrong in Arcadia Falls. The first boy vanished without a trace and with just as little fanfare. Even the second disappearance amounted to little more than a few passing remarks and another name skipped over in the classroom roll call. As far as Riverside High and the rest of Arcadia Falls were concerned, it seemed, it was as if nothing had happened at all. Tyler John was no different. He had barely given the matter a second thought, but then a wrong turn sent him on a path straight into the dark heart of the mystery, and the deeper he peered into the shadows, the more he realized that something was looking back. Now, the hunter has become the hunted and time is running out. With nowhere else to turn, it’s up to Tyler and his handful of friends to stop the evil thing that’s been preying on Arcadia Falls, and if they fail, they might just be the next ones to vanish. Yes, something is desperately wrong in Arcadia Falls, and it’s like nothing anyone has ever seen before.

Ken Stark, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s International Guest Author is Ken Stark. He writes stories to chill the blood. Welcome to my blog, Ken.

CH: Can you sum up this young adult horror in 20 words or less?

KS: Something is preying on Arcadia Falls, and a small group of friends have to either stop it, or die trying.

CH: Why did you decide to write this book on this topic?

KS: I asked my best friend’s teenaged daughter one day what kind of book she’d most like to read, and her answer was, “Something scary, with a monster, and some kind of mystery.” Well, scary was right up my alley, and a mystery could only add depth to the story, but it was her insistence that the monster be something entirely new that really hooked me. I mean, what horror writer doesn’t want to unleash a whole new monster on the world? I started hashing out a story that very night, and the more developed the ‘monster’ became, the more I knew I had to let it loose.

CH: Did you find anything challenging while writing about kids disappearing and the townspeople not seeming to care?

KS: I tend to get caught up in the details, so the logistics of this story were a bit of a challenge. Without giving too much away, the ‘thing’ that’s been preying on Arcadia Falls has a way of hiding in plain sight, so it was a constant balancing act with different characters knowing a little more than the others and with how long each one might retain those memories.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues?

KS: It isn’t easy to keep a story grounded in reality when it’s specifically designed to scare the snot out of the reader, but if it’s going to be scary, it has to be believable—and to be believable, it first has to be imaginable. I can create any kind of monster I want, but if the reader can’t imagine such a thing existing or if the characters don’t act the way real people would in those situations, then the whole thing falls apart. It’s like capturing that single moment where we’re just waking up from a nightmare and everything is familiar; yet, anything is possible. That moment is fleeting at best, but I have to make it last through an entire book, so it can be tricky at times.

CH: There are several characters in the group of teens. Which character was hardest to develop?

KS: Niki is by far the most complex character I’ve ever created, so she was a handful to say the least! She’s sweet and she’s snarky and she’s vulnerable and she’s strong, and I was never really sure which side of her was going to show up at any given moment, so she demanded a lot of attention. But it was important to me that I get her right, so all of that work really was a labor of love.

CH: Which characters experienced growth and change over the course of the story?

KS: Certainly, everyone was affected by the experience, but where most of them were changed more was in how they perceived one another and the world around them, than in any physical sense. I think Roly underwent a real metamorphosis along the way. He showed his true colors, he proved his courage, and he might just have become the hero no one ever thought he could be.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

KS: Niki was my favorite character, but Sarah was my favorite character to write. She’s sarcastic and she’s a smart-ass, so it was a sheer joy to me every time she opened her mouth. Plus, she has a heart of gold underneath that tough exterior, so it was great letting her reveal her gooey center to the others, if only in tiny little glimpses.

CH: You have captured your readers, teens and adults alike, when writing horror stories, and most of your readers come away from your books wanting to read more. How have you perfected this hook? 

KS: Honestly, I have no idea! I simply write what I write and hope that someone out there likes it. When I first started out, I figured my stuff would appeal to a fairly tight demographic, but the feedback I get is from everywhere across the spectrum.

The best I can figure, it’s because I write from the heart. I try to screw words together in a way that will scare the crap out of people, yes, but there’s always within it a glimmer of hope. The world may be crashing down around your ears and every nightmare you’ve ever had might be coming to life, but as bad as things get, there might just be a way out, and maybe, just maybe, you don’t have to go through the nightmare alone. I guess that kind of story just resonates with people. Tell you what, though…if you can figure out for sure what makes one book successful, while another gathers dust, you tell me and we’ll patent that sucker.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

KS: Well, I don’t feel particularly compelled to adhere to rules of grammar set out by some bespectacled professor centuries ago, so I write in a very natural way. When you’re talking to a friend, you don’t worry about dangling participles or splitting infinitives, so why should it be any different just because it’s in print?

Arcadia Falls was written with a younger reader in mind, but I didn’t do anything different to fit the story into the ‘YA’ genre. In fact, I don’t think that there should even be a specific genre based on age. Young people are every bit as smart as their elders, and quite often smarter, so they are perfectly capable of deciding what they want to read.

CH: Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from when you write horror?

KS: They can come from anywhere at all, and I mean that literally. Sitting in traffic? What if that kindly old gentleman one car over has a child’s body in the trunk. Or that sound that woke me up in the middle of the night? What if that was the last dying gasp of a neighbor? Literally anything and everything can be turned into a horror story if you look at it a certain way. A visit to an elderly aunt, a stray cat, a knock on the door, a siren in the night, sitting on a toilet, taking a shower…

Tell you what, the next time you’re about to pull back that shower curtain, take a second or two and let your mind wander. How many horrors can you imagine waiting for you on the other side?

CH: If you could work with any author, living or dead, who would that be and why?

KS: I admired so many authors growing up; Poe, Asimov, King, Conan Doyle, Wells… I’d love to meet them all, but I honestly don’t know if I’d want to work with any of them. Writers are a solitary bunch after all, and we all want the story to come out as we see it in our heads, so collaborations are tricky. If I worked with any one of those masters, I’m sure I’d be relegated to coffee-monkey, so I’d much rather just hang out and pick their brains and maybe steal a peek over their shoulder from time to time, as they went to work.

CH: What is your favorite horror book? And why?

KS: I have to go with a classic: Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Yes, scarier books have been written since, but for sheer creepiness, nothing beats the book that first introduced us to the modern vampire.

CH: From a feedback perspective, and without a spoiler, did most readers find the ending to be satisfying and met their expectations of the plot? 

KS: I’m happy to say that from what I’ve heard, the ending fits the story perfectly—scary, exciting, and with a surprise or two thrown in for good measure.

CH: What is your next writing project?

KS: I’m hard at work on the third book of the Stage 3 series, entitled Stage 3: Bravo, and I have a couple of short stories in the works as well, one of which will be part of an anthology due out for Halloween. Everything else is up in the air for now, right where I like to keep them.

CH: Can you give my audience your website address?

KS: Absolutely! I invite everyone to drop by and have a look. There’s no mailing list or newsletter to sign up for, so stop in, read a short story or two, and use the contact page to drop me a line. I can’t promise to answer every message, but I promise I’ll read them all.

CH: How to Find Ken Stark:

CH: Can you tell my audience where they can purchase your book?

KS: Arcadia Falls is on Amazon right now, with a special release price of 99 cents, but the sale will only last until mid-February, so act fast!

CH: Any closing remarks?

KS: This was a lot of fun! Thank you, Cheryl! I’m always grateful for the opportunity to share a little bit about myself and my books and the writing process, and if anyone wants to know more, they can find me on my website or on social media. Just search for my name or PennilessScribe, and you’ll find me.

Happy reading to you all!

CH: Thank you so much, Ken Stark, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Ken Stark and Cheryl Holloway.

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Guest Author Interview – Nicole L. Turner

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Title: Detox Your Relationship: Know When to Stay and When to Let Go

Genre: Self Help/Relationships

Synopsis: People who have not addressed their individual toxins, take them into their relationships, and this can lead to dissension, chaos, drama, emotional abandonment, trust issues, and lack of communication. Some people stay in relationships they probably should leave, while others leave relationships that are worth trying to make it work. This book gives insight into both.

Nicole L. Turner, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Nicole L. Turner. Nicole is a Detox Strategist and she helps individuals to identify the toxicities in their lives. Welcome to my blog, Nicole.

CH: Can you tell us why we should read your book?

NLT: You should read my book because everyone has had relationships they stayed in longer than they should, or had a relationship they walked away from when perhaps they should have stayed and tried to work it out.

CH: Your book deals with the realities of life and love—the good relationships and the bad relationships. So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

NLT: The premise came to me from my own personal experiences, friends’ experiences, and trends I saw in relationships, in general. Our romantic relationships (good and bad) have a direct impact on other areas of our life (e.g., work, health, non-romantic relationships, etc.)

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?

NLT: I am a lifelong learner, so I am always researching, studying people, and reading, but this book was really a brainchild of my personal observations. I am a regular guest on various local and national radio and TV outlets and speaker where I am discussing relationships, so writing a book on the subject was seamless.

CH: The topic of when to stay and when to go in a relationship is a real-life situation. At what point did you decide to share this information with other people?

NLT: I was already sharing this information as a speaker at various events, and on radio and TV, and I’ve been sharing it for years. So, sharing it in a book provided an opportunity for people who have not heard me at a speaking engagement or on radio or TV, to get the information.

CH: How do you identify a toxic relationship?

NLT: Is it filled with drama? Does your relationship constantly feel intense and is full of conflict? Do you feel like you are always on an emotional rollercoaster ride? Do you feel like you are the only one giving in the relationship? Are you lowering your standards to be in a relationship? Is the relationship bringing out the worst in you? Do you feel like you are in a competition instead of a relationship? Does it bring you more sadness than happiness? If the answer (or answers) is yes, you are in a toxic relationship.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

NLT: Unlike most books, I write in a conversational style. I’ve been told my books make the reader feel like I am talking to them specifically.  I don’t do a table of contents because I want the reader to be able to open the book to any page and receive good nuggets.

CH: What is your key piece of advice for detoxing a relationship?

NLT: If the relationship is one where you should stay and NOT go, do something to consistently show your appreciation. Saying and/or doing small, simple expressions of gratitude every day yields big rewards. We all want to feel valued and appreciated by our mate.

CH: You are a detox strategist. So, how do you help people detox their relationships?

NLT: I take them through a seven-step process that starts with them being honest with themselves about their own personal flaws and toxins that may have a negative impact on their relationship.  I start with the personal detox because if they are taking their own personal toxins into a relationship, it’s very difficult to have a happy, healthy, and loving relationship.

CH: Did you have an outline for your book to include all of the information that you wanted to provide?

NLT: No, I didn’t. I had certain points I wanted to make, but there was no set order to it.

CH: Is there a specific self-help message in your book that you want the readers to grasp?

NLT: Yes. Self-love is the greatest of all love. If you have a healthy relationship with yourself first, you are more likely to have a healthy relationship with someone else.

CH: Do you find that most people take your advice or do they continue to stay in a toxic relationship?

NLT: Everyone is different. Many people already know what they should do, but it’s not so easy to just do it.  Fannie Lou Hammer said it best when she said, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” I know she was referring to Civil Rights, but it is so applicable to many areas of our life, including relationships.  When a person gets to a place where he/she is sick and tired of being in a toxic relationship, he/she will make the decision to love themselves enough to leave.

CH: What can we expect next from you?

NLT: I actually just released my fourth book on New Year’s Day, Live Now, Die Later. I’m really excited about this book and what’s to come as a result of this book. There’s a quote that reads, “Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.” Sad to say, but that’s the story for so many people. They are just existing in life—not actually living.

CH: How to Find Nicole L. Turner:

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

NLT: You can find my books on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and Books-A-Million.

CH: Any closing remarks?

NLT: Everyone deserves a love that brings them joy. It’s not going to always be sunshine and roses, but it should not be the constant cause of your stress. We are imperfect people. If you are seeking perfection in your relationship, you will always be disappointed. The greatest of all love is self-love.

CH: Thank you so much, Nicole L. Turner, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Nicole L. Turner and Cheryl Holloway.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Khaled Talib

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Title: Gun Kiss

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Synopsis: A stolen piece of history, an abducted actress and International intrigue…

When the Deringer pistol that shot Abraham Lincoln is stolen and ends up in the hands of a Russian military general, covert agent Blake Deco is tasked by the FBI to head to the Balkans to recover the historical weapon. Meanwhile, the United States media is abuzz with news of the mysterious disappearance of Hollywood movie star, Goldie St. Helen.

After Blake’s return from overseas, he receives a tip from a Mexican friend that a drug lord, obsessed with the beautiful actress, is holding her captive in Tijuana. With the help of a reluctant army friend, Blake mounts a daring rescue. What he doesn’t expect is to have feelings for Goldie—or that a killer is hunting them.

Khaled Talib, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s International Guest Author is Khaled Talib. He is a member of the Crime Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers Organization. Welcome to my blog, Khaled.

CH: Please tell us in one sentence why we should read this thriller?

KT: Both, reviewers and authors who have endorsed the novel suggested that readers take a deep breath before reading it.

CH: How did you come up with the premise for this book?

KT: It’s hard to miss the bits and pieces of scandalous news about Hollywood.  From sexual harassment, pedophilia, to stalking fans. So, I decided to work on these themes to give more depth to what is often described as paperback novel.  While this thriller is exciting and light-reading, it features important and current issues affecting the movie industry.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues, or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

KT: I drew real-life inspiration based on the stories I have read about the lives of celebrities. To check, if my story didn’t sound over the top after I had finished writing it, I interviewed a celebrity bodyguard, who had worked with famous names. He confirmed the things—everything that takes place behind the scenes. I dare say, it’s life imitating art. For example, I was told some celebrity stalkers don’t just invade a movie star’s privacy, but they also send strange things in the mail…like gruesome things—we’re talking body parts!

CH: Since this book is about a stolen piece of history, an abducted actress and International intrigue, did you run into any challenges while writing this book?

KT: It was difficult to bind the plot.  I mean, what has a stolen piece of history (in this case, being the Deringer that shot Abraham Lincoln) and an International intrigue, got to do with an actress being abducted? In fact, when I first submitted it to a literary agent, he told me that the story was unfocused. I panicked!  Then, after calming down, I began to rework it and managed to tie in everything by creating a subplot. Even that didn’t resolve the story flow. The pages had to be seamlessly connected. I’m proud to say I managed to do it without awkwardness.

CH: The plot involves the FBI, so did you have to do any special research to write this book?

KT: During my research period, I learned about the FBI’s Form 302, which they use to summarize an interview. The thing is, they write down your replies, which means that they can rewrite it, the way they want it, which can trap you. That’s dangerous. Caution: if the FBI ever wants to talk to you, make sure you have a lawyer present.

CH: Since this book is a mystery/thriller with lots of suspense, do you enjoy writing a plot with a lot of ups and downs?

KT: All my novels have been described as intense and fast.  I’m not writing literary fiction here, it’s supposed to make you bite your fingernails and send shivers down your spine. In Gun Kiss, you’ll find the story having its ups and downs moments, as my intention is to play with your mind and emotions.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

KT: Expect the unexpected. I let you assume what you think is going to happen, before pulling the carpet from under you. You’ve been warned.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

KT: Goldie St. Helen, the movie star and co-protagonist. In the story, she’s a big Hollywood name, so I couldn’t afford to let this A-list personality appear unimportant. Yet, at the same time, I couldn’t let her overshadow the protagonist, Blake Deco. Goldie had to stand out. She needed to appear shiny with a powerful personality. I feel, Gun Kiss is a story with two protagonists. There are many scenes in the novel where she stands alone. I think without her the story would have been flat. I’m fine with it.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

KT: Goldie St. Helen. In fact, if you go to my website, I hosted a Q & A interview with her.

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

KT: Dai Lo, the drug lord. I tried imagining myself as evil. So, I indulged in method-writing, which is like method acting. I went into character. I think I should enter a decompression chamber because I keep saying ‘Amigo’ a lot nowadays.

CH: Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

KT: The novel is flamboyant and glittering, just like how Hollywood is. But there’s a dark side that one needs to know about. Not all that glitters is gold.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?

KT: So far, I’ve been enjoying raving reviews from readers, but I think one reviewer in the UK cursed the book for whatever her reasons. Personally, I’m happy with my work. The fact, I received praise from Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author of The Rising and Gayle Lynds, New York Times bestselling author of The Assassins is a solid endorsement. Even Midwest Book Review gave me high marks.

CH: Are there any authors that provide inspiration for your writing?

KT: I read all kinds of novels, so I would say there’s a bit of everyone in me. However, that said, many have described my previous novels like Robert Ludlum’s novels. In his blurb, Jon Land described Gun Kiss as a novel that reminded him of Don Winslow’s The Force.

CH: Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

KT: I’ve been writing since I was a kid. They used to call me a day dreamer in school. I wasn’t day dreaming—I was in the world built by Enid Blyton, the British author, who wrote fantastical books for children.

CH: What is your next writing project?

KT: I’m writing a murder mystery set at a winery in South Australia. I used to handle the public relations account of the South Australian tourism office, so I’m familiar with the State.

CH: How to Find Khaled Talib:

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

KT: Gun Kiss is available on Amazon and on Kindle Unlimited, Nook, Kobo and various other online stores in paperback, epub and kindle.

CH: Any closing remarks?

KT: Wishing everyone a Happy and Peaceful 2018!

CH: Thank you so much, Khaled Talib, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Khaled Talib and Cheryl Holloway.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Allegra Huston

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Title: Say My Name

Genre: Women’s Fiction/Contemporary

Synopsis: Years ago, frightened by passion, Eve settled for less: marrying safely, building a solid, ordinary life. Now she longs for more.

One day, treasure hunting for a friend’s antiques shop, she finds a mysterious instrument, carved with twining vines. It sends her on a quest—and into a compelling connection with a young man, the son of an old flame. He is twenty years younger than she is, a musician, a seeker, a bohemian—and, to her amazement, he’s pursuing her.

Can this euphoric connection last? Eve finds herself defenseless against the force of her fantasies. But she cannot retreat back to safety; she is no longer the woman she was. And even now, she can hardly imagine the woman she will become.

Allegra Huston, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Allegra Huston. After an early career in UK publishing, Allegra has recently published her second book. Welcome to my blog, Allegra.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

AH: It’s a love story between an older woman and a younger man, centered around music—short and sexy, which I hope are two good things.

CH: This book is about one woman’s journey to self-empowerment. What made you decide to write this book?

AH: It turned into that as I wrote it. I began simply writing a love story based on my own romantic fantasy, which is that one of the great rock songs would have been written about me.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

AH: Many of the situations are taken from life. I split up with my son’s father, while I was writing the book. So, inevitably, much of that relationship made its way into the relationship of Eve and Larry (though the whole “inner wolf” thing does not come from him). All the characters are based, to some extent, on people I know. I wish I could say the events of the love story came from my life!

The houses, and Micajah’s apartment, are all based on houses I know.

CH: Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole concept?

AH: I have no formula. Stories don’t come to me that frequently. Both Say My Name and my short film Good Luck, Mr. Gorski started with a situation that I wanted to follow, in order to see how it would play out. The starting point of my next novel is a disturbing episode in my own life, which I am still trying to make sense of.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?

AH: I researched flower clocks (which I learned about because I am part of the editorial team of the art magazine Garage, and a few years ago, we featured a painting of one), and looked through 18th-century stringed instruments, until I found the viola d’amore. Other than those, only small things, such as the vaporetto schedule in Venice. I have close friends, who play the instruments and the kind of music Micajah plays, so that was already familiar to me.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

AH: I probably enjoyed writing Micajah most of all, because he kept surprising me. I loved writing Barbara, because when I let her speak, I gained wisdom from her. And the auction house expert, because I have fun writing pompous speech.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

AH: Eve, the central character, is based on me—and it’s hard to know if you’re creating a believable character, when they are so close to you, but not actually you. Deborah is based, to an extent, on my stepmother, and I’ve always found it difficult to capture my stepmother’s vividly unique manner of speech.

CH: It was released in UK/Australia/Ireland in July 2017 and US/Canada in January 2018. What made you decide on two different release dates? And two different covers?

AH: Not my choice! The publishers set their own dates, and designed their own covers.

CH: Publishers do tend to do that. Is there a message about self-empowerment in your book that you want readers to grasp?

AH: Yes, absolutely, though as I said previously, I didn’t write the book with a message in mind. It emerged because I wanted to write a love story, but as I worked on it I realized that I didn’t want to imply that a woman can only be happy with a man. A ‘happily ever after’ ending felt fake to me—but I wanted a positive ending. I hope we’ve left behind the days when a wedding was like the finishing post of a race, and if a woman didn’t reach it, she’d failed. A true happy ending, for me, is to leave my character in conscious charge of her life.

Eve’s flowers were not part of my original idea—they just started happening one day, as I wrote. That turn in the storyline is very important to me. Women do not need men to make them happy, in bed or anywhere else. (Which isn’t to say that you can’t have a great time in bed with a man! Just that the lack of a man in your bed does not mean a lack in your life.) Women can be sufficient unto themselves, can follow their own agendas, craft their own lives. Particularly, now, when we’re becoming more aware of how men continue to control the lives of working women, I think it’s important to tell stories in which women take charge of their lives.

I’m certainly not anti-men, or anti-romantic. Say My Name began as a love story and the love affair between Eve and Micajah is the emotional heart of the book. It’s through this love affair, with a man 20 years younger, that Eve discovers her sense of self.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

AH: That’s not for me to say. I don’t compare myself to other writers. What I hope readers take from my writing is a sense of honesty: that even though I’m telling a fictional story, I’m conveying true experiences, true emotions, true desires, and true demons. I believe we read and write books, because we’re constantly fascinated by ourselves: Why do we humans do the things we do? How do we negotiate the circumstances that fate throws in our path?

I like to write stories in which things turn out well—though not in the way you’d expect. There’s enough sorrow and anguish in the world, and I want to add weight to the positive side of the scales.

CH: Readers continually say that you are a great storyteller. Did this come naturally?

AH: I’ve been an avid reader, since I was 3, and I’ve been editing other people’s books, since I was 20. I’ve absorbed a great deal of storytelling in my life, so I have a sense of story that I don’t always have to think consciously about. I wouldn’t say it’s genetic.

Also, being a screenwriter, as well as, a novelist and memoirist, I have studied story structure. The classic three-act movie structure is often my starting point, though I will depart from it.

CH: What type of feedback have you received so far?

AH: I’ve been very touched by how strongly people react to this book, as shown in the reviews on Amazon.co.uk and on Goodreads.com. People seem to really, really love it. Candace Bushnell, who wrote Sex and the City, read it as a favor to a mutual friend and gave me a wonderful blurb—and then saw our mutual friend at a party a month later and said something like, “That book is just wonderful!” I was thrilled that it had stayed with her.

CH: Who are some of your writing influences?

AH I don’t think I have any in particular—just all the good writers I’ve ever read.

CH: What can we expect next from you?

AH: I’m working on my second novel, which I hope will be published within the next two years. It’s a sort of psychological thriller (at least it is at this point, though it may take a turn that surprises me, as Say My Name did).

I also have a couple of screenplays, including the screenplay of Say My Name, in development, so I hope at least one of them will soon be showing on a screen near you.

CH: How to Find Allegra Huston:

CH: For my audience, where is your book sold?

AH: Say My Name is sold at all good bookshops (if it’s not in stock, you can order it), and all online book retailers.

CH: Any closing remarks?

AH: Thank you for not using the word “cougar” in relation to this story! That word drives me insane. It suggests predatory, hard, desperate, and unloving. The use of that word is demeaning to women. Beyond that, in my experience of such relationships, when they’re affairs of the heart, it’s almost always the man who did the chasing.

I say in my book that a relationship between an older woman and a younger man is, in its way, the perfect relationship—as long as you live in the present. And since we are all happier and healthier when we live in the present, such relationships should be celebrated.

CH: Thank you so much, Allegra Huston, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Allegra Huston and Cheryl Holloway.

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Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Hugh O. Smith

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Title: Candyland

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Synopsis: Writer Shaun Harmon should be the happiest man alive. His novels are best-sellers, Hollywood just made one of his books a hit movie, and he and his daughter recently left the Bronx and moved into a huge home in the New Jersey suburb of Willows.

But, all of Shaun’s success comes at a price. His wife dies, just as he achieves his dreams. The words that used to come so easily to him, won’t come anymore and the affluent new town he’s moved to is not quite what it seems. Soon, Shaun finds that the town harbors dark secrets, secrets that it would do anything to hide—even kill.

Hugh O. Smith, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Hugh O. Smith. He has written for as long as he can remember and enjoys writing across diverse genres. Welcome to my blog, Hugh.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

HOS: Candyland is about a writer who achieves success, only to find that wealth can corrupt, as much as poverty can.

CH: Your book deals with a writer at the peak of his dreams and life happens. How did you come up with the premise for this book? Is it partially your life?

HOS: Partially. Shaun and I have a lot in common. We’re both authors, we’re both from the Bronx and we both moved to a New Jersey suburb only to find out that there is a lot going on behind the scenes that most people will never know about. The difference is Shaun moved into a very wealthy suburb and mine isn’t.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

HOS: No, it wasn’t too hard to create the situations. As authors, these crazy things run through our heads 24/7. The hard part is writing them down well and making them entertaining and enthralling for the reader. As far as real life, I’ll just say that the situations in real life weren’t as…intense as in Candyland, thank goodness.

CH: Since this book is a mystery/thriller with lots of suspense, did you run into any challenges while writing this book?

HOS: Oh yes. I love writing about suspense and relationships at the same time. The relationship part, I think I am okay with, but the suspense part comes harder for me. I want to write stories that make the reader gasp out loud, or write situations they never saw coming and to do that is a challenge for me.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?

HOS: Not too much. I had to look up certain towns in New Jersey to get a better idea of their history and how they evolved over time, but that was about it.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

HOS: I really love to write about people, who are good people, but sometimes don’t do the right thing. I think most people are good people with good intentions, or at least we try hard to be, but we don’t always do the right thing, or make the best choice. We make mistakes, I know I sure do, and my characters do, as well, but I want to make the reader still root for them and still like them, despite their imperfections.

Also, I bring an appreciation of plus-size women that you don’t see too much in books. At least I don’t. I don’t hit the reader over the head with it, but I make sure you know what most of my female characters look like. Look around, not too many real women you see every day are a ‘perfect’ size 2, so why should they be ‘perfect’ in books? They shouldn’t and they won’t be in my books, I guarantee you that!

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

HOS: I had two, Shaun and Jake. Female characters are easier to write because women can be an open book. Women are not afraid to tell you what they think and what’s on their minds. Men, on the other hand are more challenging to write, because as men, we sometimes are reluctant to express much (to say the least), so to have a man say or do something in a book, you must really think about it, because if you don’t it might not ring true. So, Shaun was challenging because he’s essentially a good man, but because he’s in pain because of the loss of his wife, he sometimes makes bad choices. He sleeps with women, hoping to recapture even a second of what he had with his wife, not realizing that it’s not fair to the women he’s with. He’s also at a point in his life where his dreams have come true, but they weren’t only his dreams, they were his wife’s, as well and without her there, he can’t fully enjoy the journey. To make you like Shaun, while you might not like the things he does or the decisions he makes was fun to write. Jake was also fun because he’s a bad guy, but for a different reason—he lost someone he loves. That happened a long time ago, but he just can’t get past it, and that rage and loss turns him into a monster.

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

HOS: Chloe, Shaun’s love interest, is a woman with a past. I still feel like I don’t know her full story, and I think there might be books in the future that explore more about her. She also lost someone she loved at a time in her life when she was young and vulnerable. I don’t want to give away too much about Candyland,  but people Chloe loved and trusted helped to make that loss possible. Also, Chloe is caught between two worlds, but truly belongs to neither. It will be interesting to see where she goes in the future.

CH: Is this book part of a series or a stand alone?

HOS: All my books can stand alone, but most of them take place in the fictional town of Willows, NJ, a town that looks perfect from the outside but has many, many secrets. So, if you read my other books like Soccer Mom and Willows you might see characters or places you’ve known from Candyland.

CH: Your book has a lot of ups and downs and potholes and high rises, so do you prefer writing a book with a lot of twists and turns?

HOS: I really do, but that part is challenging for me. I guess for some people it’s easy, but man, I agonize over that part of the process. The romantic parts are much easier (and much more fun).

CH: Is there a message in the novel that you want the readers to grasp?

HOS: Candyland explores themes about race and class and the rich taking advantage of the poor, but those themes are part of the plot and I insert no message at all. I’m not one of those writers that inserts a lesson in his books, I won’t hit you over the head with one philosophy or another. I leave it to the readers to glean their own message. If all you get is an entertaining read, then I’m 100% fine with that.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?

HOS: The thing I get most is questions about how I came up with the story and is it based on anything real. It isn’t based on actual real-life events that I experienced, just my imagination taking over and building on the drama that occurs just below the surface of a town.

CH: Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

HOS: Sure. I’m Jamaican, I came to the US when I was younger, but during my childhood there, I noticed that Jamaican people are born storytellers. I loved that my cousins and I could see a movie, then the next day we would tell each other the story of the movie and each person had a totally different perspective on it. My father was a big reader and he introduced me to many different types of books and I loved to read, so as I got older I tried my hand at writing and here I am.

CH: Are there any authors that provide inspiration for your writing?

HOS: So many! I love fiction, so Walter Mosley, Lee Child, Attica Locke, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Mat Johnson, Marlon James (another Jamaican author), Barbara Neely, Larry McMurtry, Alex Haley, and Elmore Leonard, just to name a few.

CH: What is your next writing project?

HOS: I’m working on a few things, I have a project about three-quarters done about a group of women that come together for a passion party and things go horribly wrong. Readers have been asking me to write a sequel to my book Green Eyes and Good Hair and that should be out early in 2018. I’m thinking about making chapters available on my website for free.  Also, I’m writing a paranormal series about a plus-size woman, who discovers that she is really a witch. That one is challenging, but really fun to write.

CH: How to Find Hugh O. Smith:

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

HOS: Sure, you can find it on Amazon along with my other books.

CH: Any closing remarks?

HOS: Thank you so much for interviewing me, Cheryl. It really was a pleasure. I really love to interact with readers, so please feel free to communicate with me at my website, on Facebook or Twitter. I’d love to hear from you!

CH: Thank you so much, Hugh O. Smith, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Hugh O. Smith and Cheryl Holloway.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Carole Price

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Title: Vineyard Prey: A Shakespeare in the Vineyard Mystery (Shakespeare in the Vineyard Mysteries Book 3)

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Synopsis: Cait Pepper, owner of the Bening Estate vineyards, and navy SEAL Royal Tanner return to help friends who recently acquired a vineyard in Livermore, California. Sadie, an Amish girl, and her husband, Danny Lord, are excited about their new adventure of owning their own vineyard until agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency knock on their door. When Danny bought the property, he neglected to check the previous owners’ background and didn’t know about their drug connections. Desperate to save her friends from danger and embarrassment, Cait is torn between helping the Lords or the actors in her Shakespeare Festival. Will Cait’s cop skills be enough to save the Lords from the drug dealer—and the DEA—while avoiding another tragedy that could put her Shakespeare Festival in peril?

Carole Price, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Carole Price. Carole is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. Welcome to my blog, Carole.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

CP: Cait Pepper and Royal Tanner help friends from drug dealers at the same time that Cait’s Shakespeare Festival is running.

CH: Your book deals with the realities of life, such as vineyards, Navy Seals, Amish, DEA, and Drug Dealers—usually not all mixed together. So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

CP: I’m from Ohio, and although vaguely familiar with the Amish, I researched their lifestyles, homes, and habits. Cait is also from Ohio. I like to draw from my background, as well and bring that into my writing and my characters, but I started from scratch with the SEALs and the DEA, when I began this series. Learning something new is part of the fun of writing.

CH: With that in mind, was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

CP: As a police volunteer for almost fifteen years in Livermore, California, where I live, I have access to officers to ask about police procedures, drugs, ride-alongs, and role play in various situations.

CH: Since this book is a mystery/thriller with lots of suspense, did you run into any challenges while writing this book?

CP: Working without an outline is a challenge, but I keep a binder that covers the background on every character. I know their likes and dislikes, their schooling, religion, and love interests. This is critical when writing a series. I have tried using an extended synopsis to keep me in line, but that too didn’t work because ideas would come to me while writing and before I knew it, I’d wandered off and occasionally written myself into a corner.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?

CP: My series takes place in Livermore where I live. After I settled on the design and floor plan for the estate, I added a vineyard, and created two Shakespeare theaters. In creating the indoor and outdoor theaters, I referred to my experience at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, where I’d visited many times, toured their theaters, and spoke with theater personnel about costumes.

CH: I, too, enjoy the Shakespeare Festivals. What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

CP: It’s been fun and exciting for my readers who live in Livermore. They’ve even driven around looking for the estate. I had to get permission from the police chief and city attorney to use an interview room in the station to make scenes appear authentic.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?                            

CP: Probably, Cait Pepper, my protagonist. She inherited the Benning Estate from an aunt she’d never heard of, gave up her job as a cop in Columbus, Ohio, and moved to California to manage the estate and her Shakespeare Festival.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

CP: Fumié Ondo, by far, who is a recent college graduate, and she works part-time at the Bening Estate helping Cait. She sings like an angel for visitors, while they wait for the plays to begin. Soon she’ll head off to Park Ranger school, leaving behind her recent romantic interest.

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

CP: Marcus Singer, an ex-con, who doted on Cait’s aunt, while she was alive, but was reluctant to approve of Cait.

CH: When you wrote the first book in this series, did you know then that it would be a series?

CP: Not until I fell in love with the characters and couldn’t let them go.

CH: Are there any additional books in this series?

CP: Twisted Vines is Book 1, Sour Grapes is Book 2, and Vineyard Prey is Book 3. I’m hoping Cait and RT will resolve their problems in Book 4.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?

CP: Mostly very good and readers are eager for the next book in the series. Unfortunately, I’m not a prolific writer. I tell myself that it’s because I didn’t start writing seriously until after I retired.

CH: Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

CP: My husband and I attended an author book signing event where I met an author who inspired me to start my own book. That was twenty years ago. Today, we are still in the same critique group.

CH: How wonderful. Are there any authors that provide inspiration for your writing?

CP: The author I previously mentioned is Penny Warner, who has over sixty books published. Without Penny or my critique group, I wouldn’t be published, today.

CH: What is your next writing project?

CP: Many. I still want to publish the first book I’d written. Still unnamed, it’s a mystery and takes place on Martha’s Vineyard, a place I love and have visited several times. I’ve also started a cozy series about a girl and her stained-glass shop, something I know about. I’ve written one short story and am eager to write more.

CH: How to Find Carole Price:

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

CP: It is sold on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, and Kobo

CH: Any closing remarks?

CP: My thanks to you, Cheryl Holloway, for this opportunity to discuss my Shakespeare in the Vineyard series. Exposure like this is a real blessing for authors and one I appreciate. I also hope readers enjoy my books, as much as I love writing them.

CH: Thank you so much, Carole Price, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Carole Price and Cheryl Holloway.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Carolyn Killion

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Title: The Alchemist’s Children

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Paranormal

Synopsis: After their mother disappears, fourteen-year-old Gabriella and eleven-year-old Holden decide to search for her. The problem is, she’s a human-sized leprechaun and has traveled to the leprechaun world, which they have never seen. With the help of their Uncle Robert, they journey to this mysterious realm, where they encounter goblins and dragons and unexpected surprises. What they find is both more enchanting and more dangerous than they ever could have imagined. A leprechaun king is determined to invade Earth through a magical portal. To save their mother, Gabriella and Holden must find a way to stop a war between leprechauns and humans.

Carolyn Killion, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Carolyn Killion. She has her head in the clouds, but her feet are firmly planted on the ground. Welcome to my blog, Carolyn.

CH: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read this Sci-Fi/Fantasy. 

CK: It opens up a new world of fantasy, where Leprechauns have the power of alchemy and they control other fantasy creatures such as dragons, gargoyles and sea monsters.

CH: This book is about children looking for their mother in a world that they’ve never seen. How did you come up with the premise for this book?

CK: This book started as short story that was a mixture of elements to entertain my daughter. It was blend of fantasy, but also rooted in reality, as it was based on a child that had physical scars. I’ve watched my child struggle with fitting into the fabric of society, with facial scars from a rare disease. I wanted to create a story where the character had these flaws, and show how—even though different—you can possess strength and overcome obstacles.

CH: Since the children have to stop a war between leprechauns and humans, did you have to do any special research to write this fantasy book or is it all imagination?

CK: Most of it was imagination, as I was re-imagining the mythology of Leprechauns.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

CK: I strive for simplicity and to keep the pace flowing. My daughter has always struggled to read and my biggest goal with this book was to create a story that was fast paced, and not mired in details and items that would lose a young adult reader.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

CK: I thought about how children would react to situations, and the way I viewed life when I was that age. This is how I created the situations and solved the issues.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

CK: The character that was the hardest to write is one that makes a minor appearance at the end. The father of the two children returns, and will play a major role in the next two books. It was difficult to write a small amount about him, when he has such an explosive story to tell.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

CK: The two main characters were my favorite and it is hard to choose between these two. It was fun putting them into situations and sending them along an adventure that would change their lives in fantastical realms they barely knew existed before their journey began.

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

CK: The character of Gabriella was hardest to develop. I wanted to include so much more about her, and her personality and why she reacted to situations the way she did. Yet, I did not want to lengthen the book or get too involved where a young reader, that struggled to read, would have difficulty. I wrote a lot more that I have reserved for the second book.

CH: Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

CK: The message in this novel is that people are not necessarily good or bad, and that adversity can be overcome.

CH: Does your fantasy audience consist of adults and children?

CK: My audience does consist of both adults and children.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book? 

CK: The main feedback is that it was quick, enjoyable, and ‘When is the next one coming out?’

CH: Are there any Sci-Fi authors that provide inspiration for your writing?

CK: Neil Gaiman, Phillip Pullman, C.S. Lewis, Rick Riordan are all a few of my favorite authors. They create amazing worlds, and I love how easy it is to escape into them.

CH: What motivates you to have the imagination to create fantasy worlds?

CK: It is an escape from the reality of life, and a way to entertain others. Also, as an avid reader, I tear through many books. Sometimes, I yearn to read more than what I can find about some fantasy/sci-fi worlds, so I create my own.

CH: Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

CK: I started writing when I was a young child, and have always done it on the side. I was never serious about publishing until recently. I have so many stories that I’ve created and set aside, and it was finally time to focus more seriously on what I have always been passionate about in my life.

CH: What is your next writing project?

CK: I am finishing up the next novel in the Alchemist’s Children series and also working on an adult urban fantasy.

CH: How to Find Carolyn Killion:

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

CK: The book may be found at Barnes and Noble online and Amazon. It is available also as an eBook. There are also links on my website to where to purchase the book.

CH: Any closing remarks?

CK: Thank you for featuring me on your blog. I hope that you enjoyed the book. I always am welcome to feedback, and a link to contact me is also available on my website.

CH: Thank you so much, Carolyn Killion, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Carolyn Killion and Cheryl Holloway.

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Subscribe to my blog because I share great books with wonderful readers all over the globe!

   

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Marissa Campbell

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Title: Hot in Aruba: An Unabashedly Sexy Contemporary Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis: Vulnerability is Samantha Mackay’s kryptonite, and she keeps her emotions—and her men—at arm’s length. But when her good friend, Carlos Naldini, invites her on an all-expense-paid trip to Aruba, her resolve waivers.

Tired of being relegated to the friend zone, Carlos enacts his foolproof plan, inviting Samantha to join him in Aruba, hoping the trip to paradise will soften her reluctant heart.

Samantha agrees to Carlos’ proposal, giving him exactly ten days to prove he’s boyfriend material. After some wild Aruba nights and hot, sexy days, things appear to be progressing swimmingly, until Carlos’ ex-girlfriend arrives, exposing an intricate web of deception and betrayal. When news from home shatters Samantha’s hopes further, she leaves Aruba, giving up on her dreams of happily ever after. Devastated, Carlos is determined to do whatever it takes to bring Samantha back to Aruba and into his arms.

Secrets, lies, and heartbreak lurk in the shadows behind sunshiny days of sex on the beach, cocktails by the pool, laughter, and friends. It’s getting hot in Aruba—but the sparks might just consume them.

Marissa Campbell, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s International Guest Author is Marissa Campbell. She is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society and Romance Writers of America. Welcome to my blog, Marissa.

CH: Please tell us in two sentences why we should read this book.

MC: I tend to blend genres together in my writing, so if you think you might enjoy an unabashedly sexy contemporary romance with the depth and resonance of a memorable women’s fiction, then Hot in Aruba might be for you. I even managed to say all that in one sentence, lol.

CH: Your sexy book deals with the realities of life and love. So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

MC: Hot in Aruba was inspired by a short story I wrote, called Italian Delicacy. I fell in love with these two characters and decided they had a bigger story to tell. I had just finished writing the second book in my historical romance series and knew I wanted to try my hand at a contemporary novel. I also wanted a location I knew and loved. Aruba was a great fit. It gave me a timeline to work with and an exotic location to set the story in.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this hot and sexy novel?

MC: For the first time writing a book, I didn’t have to do any extensive research. That was the captivating draw of writing a contemporary romance. While I wrote Avelynn and Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, book one and two in my historical fiction series set in 869 England and Wales, I was immersed in research. For my next book, I wanted a refreshing change. Fortunately, I had been to Aruba, so I could give a reasonable account of some of its features. For parts where I wanted to branch out beyond what I had experienced, I interviewed friends who had also been to the island to get an idea of where they stayed and what they did while on holiday there.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

MC: As mentioned, I like to blend genres, specifically looking to add or tweak elements I discover when reading. For example, I tend to gloss over some of the internal thoughts that are typical of the romance genre. Readers, of course, will know what Samantha and Carlos are thinking, but for me, in a typical romance there’s just too much repetition of why the two protagonists can’t be together. My style of writing doesn’t fit with that.

The other thing that I need when reading a book is some seriously sensuous heat. I love the depth of women’s fiction, or chick-lit if you will, but I find they typically shy away from sexy scenes. Most sex scenes are off the page, behind closed doors, or are short and sweet. I wanted to bring readers a truly memorable and emotionally resonant love story, with lots of character development, but I wanted to titillate with enough heat to satisfy the most discerning romance or erotica reader.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

MC: I think emotions are universal. In order to write a compelling love story, an author needs to tap into the feelings we’ve all experienced and bring them to life on the page. Even if the situations I’m creating are new, I remember what it felt like to fall in love, to feel betrayed, to feel lost or alone. I bring that reflection to the scenes I create for my characters. Though, I will say the story of Catharine and Mr. Lewiston was based on my own grandparents and the love and life they shared together for 60 years.

CH: Which character was the hardest to write?

MC: I always find my lead protagonist, in this case, Samantha, the hardest to write. I tend to be a very deep methodical thinker, and my main characters are not prone to fantasy. They are practical, down to earth, and typically stubborn. This makes them a little closed when it comes to trying to understand what’s going on in their heads. They don’t make it easy for me. I have to remove a layer of insight one scene at a time until I know them like the back of my hand. Carlos and Mr. Lewiston for example were a breeze to write in comparison, lol.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

MC: I enjoyed spending time with Mr. Lewiston, Samantha’s mentor and only real father figure in her life. Because I based the love story of Mr. Lewiston and his wife, Catharine, on my own grandparents, it was like they were with me, as I wrote the novel. I cherished that.

CH: With secrets, lies, and heartbreak, is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

MC: They always say your personal style reflects themes and guiding principles. I never really thought about it until I finished writing Avelynn. It was only after reading a craft book about theme that I realized the novel had a strong theme, though I had interwoven it subconsciously. I’ve since come to realize that I do have key messages in my books and in a way, they guide my entire life: Follow your dreams; If you are passionate about something, it’s worth fighting for; Everyone deserves happiness; and Always know your worth.

CH: How long have you been writing? What attracted you to writing in the first place?

MC: According to my kindergarten reflection sheet, I was always going to grow up and be a writer. Who knew? Lol. I find it fascinating that at 5 years old, I had a sense of who I was. Of course, it took me another thirty years to truly embrace it, but I’ve spent my entire life writing in some capacity, whether penning articles for newspapers and local magazines, writing blog posts, or tinkering with stories that will never see the light of day. It took me a long time to own the title, Author, and to actually take a chance on writing novels.

As for what attracted me to writing in the first place, that’s a good question. I think I needed an outlet for a hyperactive mind. Most writers I know have minds that just won’t shut down, and at some point, you need to do something with all that clamor banging around in your head. I used to write poetry to help make sense of my emotions and feelings, but writing a novel allows you to experience someone else’s feelings, and someone else’s life. It lets you channel and focus your thoughts into something new, rather than constantly rehashing the same internal melodrama of your own life. It’s like an escape, like travelling to Aruba for a blissful vacation.

CH: What is your favorite romance book? And Why?

 MC: I’m a huge Outlander fan, an amazing historical romance series by Diana Gabaldon. I’m pretty sure everyone on the planet has read the books, but just in case you haven’t, you really should read the books. 😉  I fell in love with the main characters, Jamie and Claire, in the first book and continued to follow their adventures, savoring every moment they were on the page together. Not only does Diana do an incredible job of creating and then sustaining that romance through each book in the series, but she also writes wonderfully sensual love scenes. A trait I admire greatly.

In fact, I’d say Diana is my greatest inspiration as an author. It was because of my love for Outlander that I found the courage to write Avelynn, and I continue to be captivated by her words. I’ve had many authors move me with their stories, and each one has helped shape who I am as a writer. I learn something new with each book I read.

CH: Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

MC: When I was very young, I wrote wild tales of strange lands and knights and damsels. Then as a teenager, my thoughts turned dark and existential, and I explored my emotions and feelings through poetry. After that, I found myself starting a family, and in my spare time would write articles for parenting newspapers and local magazines. It wasn’t until I became a yoga instructor that I co-wrote my first book, exploring how to live life to the fullest. Life: Living in Fulfillment Every Day was a labor of love, taking five years to complete, but when it was done, I had something meaningful to give to the world, and the satisfaction I took away from that, as well as the knowledge that I could in fact complete a book, despite the countless false starts sitting on floppy disks (yes, I’m dating myself, lol), was intoxicating. I wanted to do it again. Then, after one cold Outlanderless night, having just finished reading An Echo in the Bone, I decided to write my own historical romance to fill the void. Thus, the Avelynn series was born. My debut novel, Avelynn was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2015. The sequel, Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, I indie published in 2016. And, this year, 2017, I tried my hand at contemporary romance with Hot in Aruba. It’s certainly been a journey.

CH: What is your next writing project?

MC: Fans of Avelynn would want me to say book three in the series, and while that’s somewhere on the horizon, I have been toying with an LGBTQ romance story, which may be my next venture. However, this past September I returned to college full-time. So, my writing has taken a bit of a hiatus, and studying has taken over.

CH: How to Find Marissa Campbell:

CH: Can you tell my audience where the book is sold?

MC: Hot in Aruba is available through all the regular channels: Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Chapters, etc. The eBook will be available strictly through Amazon for the time being. I may expand the distribution down the road, but I’m giving Kindle exclusivity a try.

CH: Any Closing Remarks?

MC: I’m incredibly proud of Hot in Aruba. I took a chance and blurred the genre lines, but I think readers will appreciate the effort. I’m excited to see what everyone thinks! Thanks, Cheryl.

CH: Thank you so much, Marissa Campbell, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Marissa Campbell and Cheryl Holloway.

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Subscribe to my blog because I share great books with wonderful readers all over the globe!

   

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Erin Trejo

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Title: A Love Like War

Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Romantic Suspense/Contemporary

Synopsis: Nash Lamont Kingston: I knew what I wanted from a young age. Born a piece of trailer trash, I had bigger dreams. I wanted it all. I wanted to run the drugs that keep Miami hot. I would become the King one way or another. Sadie was the girl that I loved. I couldn’t commit to her though. I was far too gone for that, but when her life is put in the line of fire, I’m forced to choose between her and the empire I’ve built. The choice wasn’t any easy one to make and when I do, I may be shoving her into the arms of one of my best friends.

Erin Trejo, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Erin Trejo. She loves being able to create different characters and spin a web that makes them come together in the end. Welcome to my blog, Erin.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

ET: A Love Like War is a raw gritty glimpse into the life of some lifelong friends that want more out of there life than what they started with.

CH: Your book deals with love, drugs and thugs. So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

ET: These are things that we have all dealt with in some way, shape or form. I think it brings a lot of things to light that some readers have been exposed to. I wanted my book to be as real as possible.

CH: With that in mind, was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

ET: A little of both. I’ve had a lot of crazy experiences in life that I like to use in my books. I think it creates a much more real setting for my characters.

CH: Since this book is a mystery/thriller with lots of suspense, did you run into any challenges while writing this book?

ET: I did! Creating a plot that I could toss, twist and what it turns into was a challenge. The basic storyline just wouldn’t have been enough to draw attention. It needed more.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?

ET: I did research on some of the mafia aspects in the book, since they are my weakness.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style? 

ET: I think that my background and the way I twist in some real situations is different. Not every single book will have purely fiction. I think tossing in some real is what makes the books come alive.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

ET: Tristan, for sure. He was a bad boy with a good heart. I think trying to make that presentable was the hardest part.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

ET: Nash. He has no filter when it comes to something he wants. He doesn’t take no for an answer, at any time.

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

ET: Nash again. I had to find a way to make his “not so nice” persona have a heart, later on in the book. He was for sure my biggest challenge.

CH: Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

ET: Never give up on your dreams. When you find something to love, love it with all you have.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?

ET: The feedback has been positive. They feel the connection to the readers and it really helps them feel like part of the story.

CH: Are there any authors that provide inspiration for your writing? 

ET: No. I don’t tend to read much, as strange as that sounds!

CH: Since you’re a stay-at-home mom, was writing your outlet to real life?

ET: It can be, yes. I always have a lot going on and mainly in my head. When my kids are at school, that’s when I can really get things out!

CH: Have you received any awards for your writing?

ET: I’ve been International Best Seller on Amazon more than once. That’s a huge thing for me!

CH: What is your next writing project?

ET: I’m finishing up a new MC series for next year, Soulless Bastards.

CH: How to Find Erin Trejo:

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

ET: This one is on Amazon only for the time being. Eventually I will have it on multiple platforms.

CH: Any closing remarks?

ET: Thank you so much for inviting me for this interview. Cheryl, it’s bloggers like you that keep us Indie writers going. I don’t think you guys truly get the recognition you deserve. Without you we wouldn’t get anywhere so you guys mean the world to me!

CH: Thank you so much, Erin Trejo, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Erin Trejo and Cheryl Holloway.

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Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

Subscribe to my blog because I share great books with wonderful readers all over the globe!

   

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Penny Warner – A Writer’s Path

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A Writer’s Path on A Writer’s Day

The title is one that I hope will spark some constructive discussion among writers. Yes, it’s A Writer’s Day on the Cheryl Holloway Blog. We will share writing tips, information and advice for writers.

Penny Warner, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Penny Warner. She is an American mystery writer, who has written more than 60+ books in a variety of genres and she has won multiple awards. She also writes under the pseudonym Penny Pike. Welcome to my blog, Penny. Below are some books by Penny Warner.

   

CH: It is not often that I meet a successful writer who has written numerous books over decades and who has been traditionally published and self-published. So, let’s ask her some important questions about writing—information for the new and seasoned writer.

CH: Penny, what do you attribute your long-term success to as a writer?

PW: Perseverance! I just keep at it and don’t give up.

CH: You write on a variety of subjects ranging from cooking to parenting guides to party and activity books. In addition to the Connor Westphal mystery series and the Code Buster Club series, you write books on all subjects for children and adults. So, do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

PW: A combination – I want to be fresh, but writing mysteries has a traditional formula that readers expect.

CH: Do you want each book to stand on its’ own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

PW: Each series stands on its own, but I have a certain style/ sense of humor that connects the books.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

PW: I hope my books are informative, as well as entertaining. I try to include interesting topics but not bore the reader.

CH: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

PW: Tons! But I keep them handy, just in case…

CH: What does literary success look like to you?

PW: Having readers read your work and letting you know they enjoyed it.

CH: How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?

PW: I’m still part-time. I need to work outside of writing to stay topical.

CH: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

PW: I used to read them, but I realized I couldn’t please everyone.

CH: What was your hardest scene ever to write?

PW: I can’t write sex scenes so I’ve given up. I need to do more research… 😉

CH: How do you select the names of your characters?

PW: I try to make them related to the character’s background, and make sure it’s age appropriate.

CH: How long on average does it take you to write a book?

PW: Six months for an adult mystery, three months for a kid mystery, like The Code Busters Club.

CH: What advice do you have on the best way to market your books for new writers?

PW: Attend conferences, do blog tours, host book signings, talk at women’s groups, and speak at schools for kid’s books.
CH: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

PW: Wow—certainly not chocolate, lattes, or wine…what’s left?

CH: You’re in a writing group, how has this helped your writing? Was there inspiration from the writer’s group?

PW: I have a great group, all published writers but one. They give honest feedback without hurting my feelings!

CH: Can you tell my audience where your books are sold?

PW: Amazon and bookstores.

CH: How to Find Penny Warner:

CH: Any closing remarks?

PW: Great questions! Lots of fun! Thanks so much, Cheryl!

CH: Thank you so much, Penny Warner, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Penny Warner and Cheryl Holloway.

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Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

Subscribe to my blog because I share great books with wonderful readers all over the globe!

   

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Questions? Comments? Interviews? Contact :

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Guest Author Interview – Elaine Everest

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Title: Christmas at Woolworths

Genre: Saga

Synopsis: Even though there was a war on, the Woolworths girls brought Christmas cheer to their customers.

Best friends Sarah, Maisie and Freda are brought together by their jobs at Woolworths. With their loved ones away on the front line, their bonds of friendship strengthen each day. Betty Billington is the manager at Woolworths, and a rock for the girls, having given up on love…until a mysterious stranger turns up one day—Could he reignite a spark in Betty?

As the year draws to a close, and Christmas approaches, the girls must rely on each other to navigate the dark days that lie ahead…with so much change, can their friendship survive the war?

Elaine Everest, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest is International Author, Elaine Everest. She also runs a writing school. Welcome to my blog, Elaine.

CH: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read this World War II saga.

EE: A story of its time set in a real town, true history and honest characters.

CH: Your book deals with the realities of life during a war. So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

EE: My sagas had to be set in a world that I knew—albeit later than WW2. I knew so much history of Erith as that is where I was born and grew up. I also knew the people of Erith to be hardworking and reliable. Knowing how loved Woolworths was, I was ready to write my stories.

CH: With that in mind, was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

EE: I have four timelines for Christmas at Woolworths. The first is WW2 as what happened in my country at that time had to influence the story. Next, came the history of the town itself. I was putting my story into a place that many readers still remember, so I had to be true to my readers. Third, was Woolworths. I had to show the Erith store, as people remember it. An iconic company has to be treated with respect and the history of Woolworths has to weave through my story. Finally, comes the fictional timeline. My characters need to go on an adventure that fits in with the other three timelines.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this wartime book?

EE: Saga writers always have to undertake research. At times I feel I would love ‘just to write a story’ but I have too much respect for the time period to do that without checking facts. For my research, I use national archives, reliable non-fiction books and local history experts. I couldn’t write my books without the excellent Woolworths cyber museum, where I gained inspiration and advice.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

EE: I’m not sure about ‘different and exciting’ but I like to stay true to the people of the town and what life was like ‘back then.’ For example, Ruby Caselton lives on Alexandra Road in Erith. The street of Victorian houses is still there—I lived at number 13 for over twenty years, when first married. I absorbed the stories and the lives and I hope this comes through in my writing.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

EE: That is a hard question. My three main characters Sarah, Maisie, and Freda are known to me, I have always known how they will live during the war and what will happen to them in the future. To me, they are real. However, there is one character, Ruby Caselton, Sarah’s Grandmother, who is the linchpin to the book, as she not only has her own hopes and fears and lives by the rule of being honest and helpful. How she advises and acts, can at times make for pivotal moments in my stories. If she gives the wrong advice to ‘the girls’ there can be life-changing effects.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

EE: I love writing Betty Billington’s story. Her life was set from the moment she lost her husband to be in WW1. A spinster and manager at Woolworth her future was set in stone. Or was until I decided to make some changes…

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

EE: Sarah Caselton/Gilbert. She was the main character in the first of the Woolworths books and as my readers loved her so much I have to be very careful what happens to her in future books.

CH: When you wrote the first book in this series, did you know then that it would be a series?

EE: I had no idea that my publisher would decide to carry on with the stories. Readers took The Woolworths Girls to their hearts and so the series began. It did cause a problem as anyone who has read The Butlins Girls would know. This book is set in 1946 and Freda plays an important part in the story. She mentions her mates at Woolies and so, when I came to write Carols at Woolworths, Christmas at Woolworths and the two following books, I’ve had to remember what was mentioned in that one other book.

CH: Are there any additional books in this series?

EE: Yes, Christmas at Woolworths is the third book in the series, Carols at Woolworths is an eBook, and there will be more books. Wartime at Woolworths will be published in May 2018 and I’m writing another book at the moment for the end of 2018.

CH: There is a lesson to learn and a reason to celebrate Christmas, especially during a war. Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

EE: I’m a storyteller. I’m not sure that I give messages in my books. However, I’ve found that younger readers learn from my books about how people lived through the war and that patriotism carried us through dark times. Celebrating weddings and Christmas gives normality to families at a time when no one knew what would happen next.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?

EE: Readers have been very generous with their feedback. I hear from people who worked at Woolworths in its heyday. They send memories of their working life and tell me that I have helped them remember happier times. It is an honour to hear from ex Woolworths workers from around the world and to know that for the time, they are reading my books, they are taken back to their youth.

CH: What is your favorite Christmas book? And why?

EE: My favourite book is The Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens is the best storyteller of the period and can carry me away to a time when Christmas really meant something.

CH: Are there any authors that provide inspiration for your writing?

EE: True saga writers, who write beautiful characters and strong storylines that stay with me are Harry Bowling, Dilly Court and Dee Williams, to name but three. It is an enjoyable part of my work as a saga writer to study those who have mastered the art and set their books in areas I recognize.

CH: What is your next writing project?

EE: At the moment, I am halfway through writing another Woolworths book due for publication in November 2018. This book brings the war to a close and sees my girls looking to the future and peace.

CH: How to Find Elaine Everest:  

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

EE: Christmas at Woolworths, along with most of my other books, can be found on Amazon, as well as in all good bookshops.

CH: Any closing remarks?

EE: Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Cheryl. It is an honour to be invited to talk about my books.

CH: Thank you so much, Elaine Everest, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Elaine Everest and Cheryl Holloway.

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Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

Subscribe to my blog because I share great books with wonderful readers all over the globe!

   

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Questions? Comments? Interviews? Contact :

AuthorCherylHolloway@gmail.com or Cheryl@CherylHolloway.net

 

 

Guest Author Interview – Lindsay Townsend and Deborah MacGillivray

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Title: One Yuletide Knight (Box Set)

Genre: Historical Romance/Medieval/Holidays

Synopsis: Travel back to medieval times to celebrate Yuletide with these dashing knights and their spirited ladies in a wonderfully romantic boxed set of stories you won’t want to put down! Lose yourself in this collection of eight exciting stories of medieval days penned especially for this most joyful time of year.

With exciting tales by talented authors such as Deborah MacGillivray, Lindsay Townsend, Keena Kincaid, Cynthia Breeding, Angela Raines, Patti Sherry-Crews, Beverly Wells, and Dawn Thompson, you’ll find it hard to put this collection down until you’ve read to the very end! Don’t miss these adventures of holiday romance spiced with medieval danger in One Yuletide Knight!

Lindsay Townsend, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

 

 

 

 

CH: Today’s Guests are International Authors Lindsay Townsend and Deborah MacGillivray.  Both are English novelist with a passion for writing historical romance.  Welcome to my blog, Lindsay and Deborah.

Let’s discuss one of the novellas included in the box set, Sir Constantine and the Changeling by Lindsay Townsend.

CH: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read this Christmas historical novel.

LT: If you are looking for passion, magic and adventure set in a  past when Christmas was also Yule and the darkness of the year and the Solstice were more than simple night, please read this collection of novellas.

CH: You seem to enjoy writing about dashing Knights, their spirited ladies and their romances.  How did you come up with the premise for this novella?

LT: I was re-reading Steven Runciman’s ‘History of the Crusades’ and was struck by how many Knights went abroad on crusade, sometimes for many years. What impact did such a long absence have on their families back home and on their relationships? That thought was the germ of the idea behind my novella, Sir Constantine and the Changeling, particularly when married to medieval beliefs concerning changelings. After a long time apart from his wife Kari, my knightly hero Constantine falls prey to the insinuations of his brother, and that trouble forms the backdrop to the story between Constantine and Kari.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

LT: It was very satisfying to use real medieval beliefs to shape my story and to make it more realistic and compelling. I took the fear and distrust that some medieval churchmen had towards women and used that to drive a dangerous wedge between my main characters. In the middle ages, winter was a time of danger and hunger, so I could use that to add to the stakes, plus I took the figure of the Yule Goat and put that in as part of the climax of the novella.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?

LT: I needed to refresh my knowledge of medieval Christmas customs and also Yule-time food and drink.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

LT: I hope that my readers enjoy my characters, who are not kings and queens, but more down-to-earth people, each struggling with situations and dilemmas that are timeless—love, betrayal, trust, and so on, very human problems. I try to write as vividly and with as much immediacy as possible, so readers feel as if they are part of the developing plot.

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

LT: I found Constantine’s Templar brother Hadrian difficult to write because he is so certain and unyielding in his narrow faith. I found him almost impossible to develop since, unlike his younger brother Constantine or Kari, he does not want to change and consider anyone else. In the end, I was glad when he went away!

CH: Is there a message in the novel that you want the readers to grasp?

LT: That couples should talk to each other and to never let the sun go down on a quarrel without some kind of resolution, however grudging and hard to reach.

CH: This book is part of a Christmas box set.  What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of your novella?

LT: It’s only just out, so early days yet. I know the other Christmas box sets have been well-received. People seem to enjoy slipping back to the Middle Ages, especially over Christmas. I think the colour, chivalry and spectacle of that age is interesting to savour in the depth of winter, when outside can be gray, cold and dark.

CH: Is this your favorite genre to write?

LT: Yes! I love writing romance and historical romance, particularly romance set in the distant past.

CH: What is your favorite historical Christmas romance?

LT: I love Mistletoe Everywhere by Linda Banche. It’s a Regency romance, full of the magic of mistletoe, the plant of peace and reconciliation. I find it a perfect escape for Christmas.

CH: What is your next writing project?

LT: I plan to promote the upcoming re-issue of my medieval romance novel, A Knight’s Captive, and work on a new medieval story, Ugly Meg.

CH: Any closing remarks?

LT: Only a large ‘Thank you’ to you, Cheryl, for hosting me, today, and wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful Yule for you, your readers and everyone!

 CH: Thank you so much, Lindsay Townsend, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

CH: How to Find Lindsay Townsend:

Next, let’s discuss another novella included in the box set, A Marriage Made in Hell by Deborah MacGillivray.

Deborah MacGillivray, Author

 

 

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

 

 

 

 

 

CH: Can you sum up your historical Christmas novel in 20 words or less?

DM: Probably not…lol…but I shall try.  A woman, who lives in the shadows of her beautiful sister, finally gets the chance to find love and happiness.  Okay, I guess I can.  20 exactly.  Ta Da!

CH: You write historical romance novels. Can you tell us how you started writing historical romance novels?

DM: Originally, I began writing suspense and contemporary romance.  History was such a strong part of my life it’s not surprising that I was pulled in that direction.  I found a story about a distant part of my family, complete with an ancient medieval trust that remains a riddle to this day.  The intrigue took hold and wouldn’t let me go.

For many summers, I was a researcher to my grandfather, a retired historian.  During WWII family records were moved from southern England, fearful of the buzz bombs hitting, or that Hitler was going to invade.  The kids in the family were packed off to the States to keep them safe.  The extensive records, going back for centuries, were boxed up and sent to the Hebrides in Scotland, hoping to protect them.  Only, my great-great-grandfather and great-grandfather were not appreciative of the records, of history.  They were dumped in a seldom used thatched house.  Some papers were damaged when the roof leaked.  Thankfully, my grandfather set about the task to salvage, restore and record, as much of the papers as he could.

From childhood, I had a deep love for knights and their chargers, ladies in the beautiful costumes of the period, so naturally I loved reading old letters, diaries and writings from the various periods.  Later on, I was a trained typist, so I moved to helping my grandfather in his work.  I guess instead of dry facts from the distant past, I heard the voices of people.  Men and women, who had laughed, loved and fought to survive.

Old places call to me.  I always see a castle, or manor home and wonder who lived there, what were their lives like?  I supposed it was a natural extension to pick out some piece of the past and use that as a launching pad for my series, lending voices to the force of their love, what brought a man and woman together, wove their lives, and their destinies into one.  That power transcends dates and facts.  To my romantic heart that is pure magic.

CH: This book is about the adventures of a holiday romance spiced with medieval danger.  So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

DM: This novella, A Marriage Made in Hell, launches a new series: Hell Knights: The Knights of Hellborne. It is a spin-off from the current medieval historical series I pen—the Dragons of Challon (Prairie Rose Publications now, originally Kensington Historical Books).  So, I already had a setting, and a period fixed.  After that I just needed to figure out the premise.  And what could be more dreamy, than a holiday romance where deepest wishes come true?  In a novella, you have such limited space to flesh out characters and plot.  You have to jump into the story and get things moving quickly.  Christmas being a wondrous time, when dreams could come true, I imagined a young woman wanting a marriage desperately; yet, it was beyond her reach.  In contrast, I saw a man, a fourth son, who didn’t ever expect to marry.  Suddenly, you have all sorts of room for amusing situations.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

DM: I rarely take my characters anywhere.  They take me.  I create names, a setting, give them the seeds of the story, and then breathe life into them.  Once that conjuring is done, my characters awaken and tell me their tale.  I literally see the plot like a movie inside my head.  The scenes, and the emotions are there.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?

DM: I actually find I have to do more research for my contemporary novels.  Things are changing so quickly.  When I began the Sisters of Colford Hall series,  there were no cell phones.  Mobile phones were just coming into use.  Originally, I was writing the series by hand and on a word processor.  Nothing like laptops were about to help you.  Fortunately, they came along by the time I finally got to the point of seriously submitting.

I spent so many of my summers working with the family records, along with other historical projects, such as archaeological digs, so I often feel more comfortable with one foot in Medieval times.  When I was small, my grandfather used to read me history instead of fairytales—William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and Sir James, the Black Douglas.  I think I was about nine before I understood that William Wallace wasn’t an ancestor!  Before I began my Dragons of Challon series, I created a massive ‘bible’ for the novels.  Extensive bios, maps, where were Wallace, Bruce and Edward Longshanks on any given day—several years worth of work.  Now, I will check details to make sure there are no conflicts, but I don’t research the Medievals.  I just have one foot firmly planted in the 13th Century these days.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

DM: I bring hands on experience.  Besides learning about history, my grandfather thought we should experience it.  So, for summer projects, the grandkids would do unusual things like making lye soap, collecting honey, creating wax and dipping candles.  One summer when I was nearly fifteen, I was painted blue with woad from head to toe.  That was an experience!  When I was twelve I was clomping around in armour, thus I have dressed in plate and mail, and know how it feels on your body, what it does to your movements.  I learned to fight with claymores, throw knives, shoot bows and arrows, sew medieval gowns and weave baskets.  I have gone through secret passageways and prowled hidden rooms.  I messed up my knee in a bike accident when I was about ten, so I missed the lessons on looms, which I later regretted.  I tried to learn to spin wool.  While I wasn’t very good at it, I do understand the process.  I have sheered sheep, carded wool, cared for horses and cows.  I have cut and split wood, built fires using only a flint, and cooked on open fires.  I washed clothes outdoors in huge kettles.  Dried fruits.  I have shod horses, and even spent time in a real forge seeing how horseshoes and swords were made.  I loved the experience, though it was too hot for my comfort.  Thus, my medieval stories have a sense of how things were, a realness.

CH: Wow. You had an interesting childhood, full of the unusual. Which character was hardest to write?  Which character was your favorite to write?

DM: The character I am writing about at the moment is always my favorite.  I feared after creating Julian Challon that I might never love another hero as I loved him.  I soon learned I could fall for Des Mershan, Damian St. Giles, Redam Maignart…well, I love them all.  I have to bring that love for my hero to the story to make the reader love them, too.  Julian was also likely the most troublesome to write.  Originally, I plotted him in a much darker vein.  I am a BIG fan of Anne Stuart.  She writes Gamma rogue characters like no one else.  I wanted that dark edge she imbues in her bad boys to be the platform for Julian.  I quickly learned he truly didn’t appreciate that.  One night, after I fell asleep, I was ‘awoken’ by a man sitting on the edge of the bed.  He said, “My name is Julian…and we need to talk.”  LOL   That was the first time I realized characters were demanding and would permit me to tell their stories—if I listened to them.

In my novella,  I think the secondary character of Elspeth was most problematic.  Her complete naive selfishness was hard to maintain.  I feared her coming out two-dimensional.  I was setting her up to be the heroine in the second novella in the series, On The Road To Hell, where she finally grows up and gets past her childish, self-centered ways and becomes a caring woman.  She needed to be bitchy in the first novella, but not to the point readers won’t believe her transformation in the second story.

CH: Is there a message in the novel that you want the readers to grasp?

DM: I am not big on messages.  I write to give the reader an adventure they won’t find elsewhere—an escape to another world.  However, often the thread of being true to yourself, being who you really are, who you are meant to be, tends to be something I see again and again in my works.  It’s not conscious, but I think we start out believing we will be one type of person; as we grow, life experiences will reform those self-opinions and how we see life, and how we go through this world.  Also, for us to strive for our dreams.  If you stand back and wait for life to come for you, then you might miss something very special.  You have to reach out and try.  Even if you fail in trying, you change and grow.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this novella?

DM: Very positive.  I have a strong reader base.  I have been very lucky in the faithful readers that have been following me for over a decade now.  I think if I commit any sins, it’s in not getting the stories out quickly enough.  Christmas stories always are a magical way to enjoy the season by curling up with a cup of Earl Grey, by the fireside, and slipping away to a magical adventure.  The novellas at Christmas are perfect length.  You have less reading time, so these give you the heartwarming tales of a different time, of love and hope.

CH: You often review books by other authors, how important are reviews for books?

DM: I no longer review books.  I was on several review sites for nearly a decade, a member of  Reviewers International Organization (RIO), and a top reviewer on Amazon.  I am still on staff at Paranormal Romance Reviews, but I don’t think I have reviewed a book in several years.  I continue to run their promotional site.  Basically, I don’t have the time any more.

How important are they?  I think that has been the question for a long time.  Most reviews you see out there are not reviews anymore.  They are opinions.  Reviews cover the structure of the book, the craft, how special or original they are.  Maybe you address how this book compares to other books from the same author.  Most opinions posted on novels are just that.  They will overlook those things and post how they like a book.  Liking should come into play, but I don’t have to LIKE a book to think it’s a five star novel.  I might not care for it because it simply isn’t something I found fun to read.  However, the book could have thought-provoking purpose, or show me a great skill at wordsmithing to make me see others would find the book super.  I have often really liked books that had problems.  A book that comes from the heart and makes me enjoy my time spent with it can make me forgive problems in structure or plot.  I don’t see many postings showing that objective view of a book.  If you reviewed an erotica novella, but you don’t like erotica, your opinion of the book could be very bad.  However, maybe they penned such an amazingly original story, that you have to see the talent behind that and anticipate they will grow and sharpen that ability.

Also, Amazon now restricts authors from posting reviews.  Very odd, since Montlake (Amazon’s Romance publishing) keeps encouraging me to write them.  However, another branch seems to be going around warning authors not to post them.  They miss a balance, I think.  Author’s understand what it takes to make a good book, what is interesting voice or writing style.  Perhaps, they just need to label the review as such and let the readers decide if that review helps or not?  I have seen books getting horrible reviews go on to become bestsellers.  Some books with no reviews, do well.  Still, I think we all look to find feedback from readers.  What they enjoyed about our works.  Questions they might have.  So, I cannot really say if reviews help or not.  Bad reviews often provoke readers to buy the book just to see for themselves.  You simply don’t know.

CH: What is your next writing project?

DM: I am currently finishing up with redoing the third Dragons of Challon novel, One Snowy Knight.  Then, I will be finishing up and releasing the fourth in the series, Redemption.  It’s a book that has haunted me.  I finished it once:  the night my house burned down.  I had to rewrite the whole thing from scratch.  It’s been a bit of a bugbear for me, because of memories, but I am determined to move past that, now the historicals have a new home.  I will also do the novella On The Road To Hel,l which will be a sequel to the novella in One Yuletide Knight.

I will also be penning the fourth in the Sisters of Colford Hall series—Some Things Never Change.  Also, I am helping Candy Thompson get out a book that her late sister, Dawn Thompson was in the process of publishing when she died.  Dawn has a novella in this same anthology, A Wish Under a Yuletide Moon.  Candy and I made a promise to get her final novels and novellas out and keep them out, something we take to heart in seeing is done.

I am never without a cartload of projects waiting for completion…lol.

CH: Yes, you seem to be quite busy. Any closing remarks?

DM: I want to thank you for allowing me to visit with your readers.  I wish each the Happiest of Holidays and a very special Happy New Year.  May 2018 bring peace to us all, to the world.

CH: Thank you so much, Deborah MacGillivray, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

CH: How to Find Deborah MacGillivray:

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet,Deborah MacGillivray and Cheryl Holloway.

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Guest Author Interview – Melinda Hammond

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Title: The Duke’s Christmas Bride

Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Romance/Regency

Synopsis: Waldo, the fifth Duke of Charingden, shows no inclination to marry. In desperation, his family invites a string of eligible beauties to the Christmas Ball at Birklands for him to choose from, but the only young lady to interest the Duke is little Clara Tillotson, who is herself desperate to avoid being forced into marriage…a sparkling Regency romance with just a touch of snow!

Melinda Hammond, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest Author is International Author, Melinda Hammond, who also writes as Sarah Mallory. She writes historical romance adventures. Welcome to my blog, Melinda.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

MH: A reluctant bridegroom finds himself dancing in the snow with a beautiful stranger in this sweet Regency romance.

CH: Your Christmas book deals with a Duke who has no inclination of marriage. So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

MH: I wanted to write a feel-good festive story, for pure escapist entertainment. I had an image in my mind for some time of a Regency couple dancing in the snow on a country house lawn. It is another take on the Cinderella story, but in this version I wanted both my hero and heroine to be reluctant to marry.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this historical fiction/regency novel?

MH: I have been writing novels set in the Regency period for decades now, but there is always something new to discover, little points of accuracy that I like to get right. Being set in a country house, and much of it at winter time, I had to pay attention to costume detail, to make sure my poor heroine did not get frostbite!

CH: Did you run into any challenges while writing this book?

MH: The story is set in and around a fictional country house, Birklands Hall, one of the country seats of the Duke of Charingden, so the biggest challenge was to bring all the characters into that setting. It is not a long book, so it was important not to get too bogged down with back story or too many characters.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

MH: That is a difficult one for any writer to answer! First of all, I want to keep the story moving, so the reader doesn’t get bored. I try to make my characters real and to set them and their story against a historically correct background. I also like to put in some adventure, too. Of course, I am writing fiction, and romantic fiction at that, so it must have a happy ending. We all know that real life can be pretty amazing, so although this is fiction, I like to think that it could have happened.

CH: Since this book is a historical Christmas novel, was it hard creating believable situations and issues during the Christmas season or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

MH: This story takes place over two winters, so it was important to check just how Christmas was celebrated in the Regency. Most of the traditions we associate with Christmas—carols, cards, and Christmas trees—are from the Victorian era (although decorated trees and Christmas hymns were known in the Regency, and presents, too were exchanged, but nothing on the scale that came later).

At this period, Christmas was mainly a religious occasion, but being in the depths of winter, it was a good excuse for some celebrations. Farmers and the gentry would prepare feasts and possibly make little gifts for one another. The aristocracy might hold a servants ball and give their staff little presents, but this varied a great deal. They might also give presents to one another, but it was not obligatory. The poor, of course, had little to celebrate at any time of the year.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

MH: My heroine, Clara. She is a meek, gentle soul, but with a stubborn streak that will not give in to intimidation. She is fleeing from her father, a bully who is trying to force her into marriage with a man she loathes, but for all that, she is not about to marry a good man, just because he proposes to her, even if he is a Duke!

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

MH: Will you allow me, two? It is the Misses Goodliffe—the elderly sisters, Hannah and Harriet. Researching the Regency, one is constantly aware of the plight that can befall women with no money and no one to protect them. The Misses Goodliffe are living on the Duke’s charity, making do with very little but content, for all that. They are the heart-warming core of this story and provide a refuge for Clara in her times of trouble.

CH: There is a lesson to learn and a reason to celebrate Christmas. Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

MH: Simply that people should be good to one another. I hope readers will find this is a Christmas story to warm the heart. A little bit of Christmas magic.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?

MH: The Duke’s Christmas Bride has only been out a short while as a single title eBook, so I am still waiting for fans to let me know!

CH: What is your favorite Christmas book? And why?

MH: It has to be A Christmas Carol. That sums up all the lessons we need to learn for Christmas, but is a darn good read, too!

CH: Is there a special knack that an author must have to write Christmas stories?

MH: The story must come first, and it must be something that draws the reader in. It doesn’t have to be particularly realistic, in fact, Christmas stories tend to work well with a little bit of magic.

CH: You also write under a pen name, Sarah Mallory. Can you tell us a little about writing under two names?

MH: I began writing many years ago as Melinda Hammond, writing mainly Regency and Georgian romantic adventures, but other historical periods, too, including a couple of dual time novels. When I began to write Regency and Georgian romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon I wanted to choose a different name, so that as Melinda Hammond I could continue to write stories that do not quite fit the romance genre. My Sarah Mallory novels are all fast-paced historical romances, but they tend to be hotter, with more sexual content than my Melinda Hammond books.  Not all readers enjoy that style, so I wanted to keep it as a separate “brand,” if you like.

CH: Are there any authors that provide inspiration for your writing?

MH: Too many to name, but I will give you a few: Mary Stewart, Jeffery Farnol and Georgette Heyer were my first inspiration, but since then I have found many more, including Louise Allen, who writes rip-roaring historicals.

CH: I enjoy Louise Allen also. She was recently interviewed on my blog.  What is your next writing project?

MH: I am writing a short story for an anthology of northern authors, to be published in the summer of 2018, plus I am working on another Sarah Mallory novel, and I have in mind another “sweet” Regency, so plenty to be going on with.

CH:  How to Find Melinda Hammond:

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

MH: The Duke’s Christmas Bride is available as an eBook via Amazon.

CH: Any closing remarks?

MH: Thank you, Cheryl, for setting some stimulating and thought-provoking questions. Christmas is a time for spreading happiness, and I hope your readers enjoy this interview, it has been great fun!

CH: Thank you so much, Melinda Hammond, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Melinda Hammond and Cheryl Holloway.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Louise Allen

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Title: A Candlelit Regency Christmas: His Housekeeper’s  Christmas Wish (Lords of Disgrace Book 1) A Candlelit Regency Christmas: His Christmas Countess (Lords of Disgrace Book 2)

Genre: Historical Romance/Regency/Christmas

Synopsis: His Housekeeper’s Christmas Wish – Resolute bachelor Alexander Tempest, Viscount Weybourn, accidentally collided with penniless, curvy Tess Ellery on the icy streets of Ghent but he did his indolent best to make amends. But Tess is left stranded, so Alex is honour-bound to take her home…as his housekeeper! And, despite his long-held rule of spending Christmas alone, Tess’s warmth soon has this brooding Lord determined to make all her wishes come true!

His Christmas Countess – Grant Rivers, Earl of Allundale, is desperate to get home to his son in time for Christmas. But when he stumbles upon a gentlewoman all alone in a tumbledown shack, having a baby, it’s his duty to help her. Grant knows all too well the risks of childbirth and, once he’s saved her life, he is determined to save Kate’s reputation too…if she will consent to marrying a stranger on Christmas Day!

Louise Allen, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest Author is International Author, Louise Allen.  Writing the Regency is her passion. She finds it an endlessly fascinating era full of contrast and change, danger and elegance, luxury and squalor.  Welcome to my blog, Louise.

CH: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read these Christmas Regency novels.

LA: In very different ways these two novels have a message of warmth and hope that I think is very right for the Christmas season.

CH: Your scandalously witty regency romances deal with the realities of life and love. So, how did you come up with the premise for these Christmas stories?

LA: These are two of a series of four novels loosely linked by the four heroes, who are friends. The stories grew out of the heroes’ very different characters and needs.

CH: Since your specialty is regency romance, did you have to do any special research to write these romantic and passionate novels?

LA: I write almost exclusively in this period, so the general information was at my fingertips. But I did have to research the town of Bruges in Belgium and the landscape of the Scottish Borderlands.

CH: Since you write about England’s elite, was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

LA: I try and make the situations and issues develop from the characters themselves and I hope that they are believable in the setting of the early 19th century.

CH: This Christmas book is unique in that it is two books in one. Why did you decide to put two books in one?

LA: This was the decision of my publishers, Harlequin Mills & Boon. The two novels are also available separately.

CH: Your books seem to offer much more than just romance. What else do they offer readers?

LA: I also aim to have an undercurrent of humour in all of my books—and also passion! I do try very hard to make certain that my historical details are correct.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

LA: Alex Tempest, Viscount Weybourne, in His Housekeeper’s Christmas Wish, was a puzzle because he is commitment-shy and hides behind a façade of caring for nothing. Both the heroine and I had to dig deep to find the ‘real’ Alex.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

LA: Kate Harding in His Christmas Countess. Kate has been abandoned by her lover, is giving birth in a really dangerous situation and then finds her life turned upside down by her rescuer. I enjoyed writing such a strong, brave woman.

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

LA: Grant Rivers, the man who rescues Kate. He has a dark secret in his past and it was challenging to explore how he was going to get past that—it took two Christmases for this story to work its way to a happy ending!

CH: Which book was easier to write?

LA: They both had challenges and places where I couldn’t see the way ahead and they both had parts that flowed easily, so I can’t say which was easier.

CH: Which book is your favorite?

LA: I don’t think I can choose one—they are very different stories and I enjoyed writing both very much—I hope that comes through to the reader. The book that one is writing at the moment is always an author’s favourite!

CH: Yes, that is so true. Is there a message in either novel that you want the readers to grasp?

LA: That however dark things seem, there is always hope if you give love a chance.

CH: What is your favorite Christmas romance book? And why?

LA: I honestly don’t think I can pick one! There are so many heart-warming seasonal stories.

CH: I must agree. There are several loveable Christmas stories. Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

LA: I’ve been writing for a long time, it seems! I am working on my 58th novel for Harlequin Mills & Boon, but I have also written several historical non-fiction books based on my researches and I write historical romantic mysteries and Regency romantic time-slip novels independently. I would describe my journey as one of learning both my craft and what I enjoy writing and will find a challenge.

CH: You are a talented and experienced author. Are there any authors that provide inspiration for your writing?

LA: Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen gave me my love of the Regency period and I think almost any Regency romance author will tell you the same. There are several current authors whose work I admire, but I think we each have to find our own path and our own style.

CH: What is your next writing project?

LA: My current ‘work in progress’ is a novel for Harlequin Mills & Boon. The heroine owns a vineyard in Portugal making port wine and I researched that in the Douro Valley on a wonderful river trip. There is no title yet, but it should be out next year.

CH: Do you have a blog?

LA: Yes, I blog about the Regency period at http://janeaustenslondon.com

CH: How to find Louise Allen:

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

LA: The 2-in-1 volume, A Candlelit Regency Christmas is available as an ebook or a paperback in the UK only (Mills & Boon website www.millsandboon.co.uk)  or www.Amazon.co.uk

Both titles are available separately as ebooks on Amazon and www.amazon.co.uk. There are buy-links to all my books on my website.

CH: Any closing remarks?

LA: Cheryl, thank you very much for the opportunity to be a guest on your blog—and a very happy Christmas to you and all of your readers.

CH: Thank you so much, Louise Allen, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Louise Allen and Cheryl Holloway.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Libby Campbell

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Title: Lydia’s Revenge

Genre: Literature/Fiction

Synopsis: Maybe once in a lifetime do you meet a person as interesting as the inspiration for this book. ‘Lydia’ began as a collection of true tales and then just took off on a fictional adventure all her own.

 

Libby Campbell, Author

CH:  Today’s Guest Author is a writer friend of mine, Libby Campbell. She is a debut novelist. Welcome to my blog, Libby.

CH: Can you sum up your book in a few sentences?

LC: Can one moment in time change a life forever? For Lydia, a feisty and independent 74 year old, one fateful day may have long reaching consequences.

CH: Your book deals with the realities of life. So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

LC: Lydia’s Revenge is based on a real person and a real-life murder/mystery, which combined with imagination made a wonderfully warm fictional novel about people and life.

CH: As a debut author, did you run into any challenges while writing this book?

LC: Yes, many challenges. I’ve wanted to write for a long time. When I came to the Accokeek Women’s Writing Group (AWWG), I got inspired and wanted to put more time into my writing. It was the ‘kick in the pants’ I needed to take my work more seriously.

In the fall of 2014, I took the plunge and signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). That year yielded a rough draft. I never looked back and the following November I had finished revising it.  I published the eBook version. However, a customer’s review shocked me into reality, when it said that the book needed to be edited. Next, I had it professionally edited and I had finally finished the book that I had been working on for four years.  So, I was now ready to self-publish the print paperback.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

LC: Lydia is based on a real person, but as the project went on, she changed quite a bit and took on a life of her own. It’s fiction, after all, and among the surprising things Lydia gets embroiled in, only a few are drawn directly from real life.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write? Which character was hardest to write?

LC: Lydia was my favorite to write, but she was also the hardest character to write.  Maybe once in a lifetime do you meet a person as interesting as the inspiration for this book.  Lydia’s Revenge began as a collection of true tales and then Lydia just took off on a fictional adventure all of her own.

CH: You’re in a writing group, how has this helped your writing? Was there inspiration from the writer’s group?

LC: When I came to AWWG, I got inspired, and put more time into my writing. I credit meeting once a month and having writer friends who cheer you on, as what really helped inspire me to keep writing.

CH: Patrise Henkel, one of the writers from AWWG, reminded me of this story. In 2015, during a series of NaNoWriMo meetings at the library, you arrived late with a gift for everyone—a bag full of knitted hats. And you said, “Please everyone, take one. Consider it a thinking cap, to keep your writer’s brain warm, while you write this month.” Libby that was such a nice gesture. Now, can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

LC: Yes, I wrote reports and proposals during my career at the Alice Ferguson Foundation, a center for environmental education. After retiring, I discovered my imagination was ready to use that skill for a new adventure.

CH: Overall, Libby’s feedback is good since that awakening review. Below is a 5-Star book review from one of the AWWG members:

“Everything I read seems to focus on younger people. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover a main character more my age in Lydia’s Revenge. The first part of the book introduces you to Lydia, following enough twists and turns throughout her life that you soon discover you know her and consider her a friend.

Just when you are about to relax together with a cup of tea, Lydia’s world turns upside down and each page leads you deeper into a totally unexpected mystery with bizarre connections to Lydia herself! Congratulations to a first time author who generously shares her lively imagination and wealth of knowledge.”

~Carrie Staples

CH: How to Find Libby Campbell:

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

LC:  Exclusively on Amazon.

CH: Any closing remarks?

LC:  Thank you to all the readers who have chosen my book. I greatly enjoyed writing it and hope you found something in it to resonant within your own experience. Cheryl, I’d like to thank you for having me on your blog.

CH: Thank you so much, Libby Campbell, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience.

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Libby Campbell and Cheryl Holloway.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – June McCrary Jacobs

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Title: A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom

Genre: Literature/Fiction/Holidays

Synopsis: Tragedy brings heartache to the community of Apple Blossom. A car takes the life of 6-year-old Mary Noel Simmons’s best friend—her dog—and nearly destroys Mary Noel’s spirit as well. Now, she lies at the hospital, traumatized and silent, while the medical bills are piling up with no way for her parents to pay them.

That is, until Mary Noel’s teacher, Amber Kellen, breaks out of her quiet, lonely life to help.

With the help of her new friend Paul, Amber sets out to solve the family’s financial problems by involving the entire community. And as the two friends work together, they discover that creating a Christmas miracle may also have some unexpected benefits. Filled with romance and kindness, this story of hope and faith will warm your hearts.

June McCrary Jacobs, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is June McCrary Jacobs. June is a quilter, crafter and writer. Welcome to my blog, June.

CH: This was your first book and the winner of Cedar Fort Publishing’s 2013 Holiday Tale Contest. Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

JMJ:  The Apple Blossom community comes together to help a family in need after a tragedy involving their young daughter, Mary Noel.

CH: Your Christmas book deals with the realities of life. So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

JMJ:  I taught first grade for almost two decades, so I knew I wanted the main character to be a brand new teacher who was facing the ups and downs of being new in the classroom. Amber is also new to the community of Apple Blossom, Vermont. She was raised in California (like me) and struck out on her own to move to New England for her first teaching position.

I had been hearing about the astronomical medical bills facing many families when a child became ill or was in an accident. I thought that issue would be a strong plot element and would be the catalyst to bring together the community to help out the Simmons family in their time of need.

Once I figured out the problem and how I wanted the characters to solve it, I realized I needed to have the story set in a place that traditionally has lots of snow! (Read the book to find out why.)

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this novella?

JMJ:  I named the town ‘Apple Blossom’ because I learned that Vermont’s state tree is the apple. I then searched to find out if there was a real town in that state named Apple Blossom. There wasn’t, so I had the quaint name I wanted for my setting.

CH: As a debut author, did you run into any challenges while writing this book?

JMJ:  Perhaps my great challenge came after I wrote the book. Fortunately, the story construction process flowed well for me. The hard part came with promoting the book. Until I was an author, I did not have a Facebook page or blog, and I had not used Goodreads before. I had a lot to learn about setting up and using these platforms to reach out and communicate with other authors and readers.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

JMJ:  I will share some of the comments and feedback I’ve received from my friends, family and readers who have read this book. I’m considered to have a good sense of humor by those who know me, and many people commented how much they enjoyed the humor I shared throughout the story. I enjoy reading books that lighten the mood with good old-fashioned humor and puns, so I included those elements in my book.

Many readers liked the fact that there are true-to-life Christmas and church traditions in the book. They said it brought back fond memories of their childhood holiday activities with family and friends. Fans of inspirational romance appreciated the dash of romance in the book.

Finally, my friends have shared that they liked the book because it is a wholesome, inspirational story which is completely clean in language and content. I’ve learned that there is a segment of our population which is craving relaxing, meaningful books to read that reflect their spiritual beliefs and lifestyles.

CH: Since this book is a contemporary Christmas novel and an inspirational fiction, was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

JMJ:  Creating believable situations and issues was not difficult for me because several aspects of the book were based upon my life’s experiences.

For instance, the Christmas Eve services at Amber’s church were taken straight out of my memories of the candlelight services at my childhood church. Those were such happy, warm memories for me that I wanted to share them in my book. I mentioned previously about Amber’s profession and how it felt to be a brand new first grade teacher in a new town. Been there, done that!

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

 JMJ:  Mary Noel Simmons, the six year old, who was injured. It’s been a long time since I was a six year old!

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

JMJ:  Paul Watkins, the leading male character. He has a great sense of humor, and I had fun writing some silly situations and dialog involving this interesting character. Paul is a journeyman carpenter because that was my Grandpa John’s trade back in the early twentieth century.

CH: There is a lesson to learn and a reason to celebrate. Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

JMJ:  The main message I’m trying to send in my book is that I believe Christmas is not about buying the perfect gifts, decorating the most glamorous tree or hosting the perfect Christmas dinner. It’s remembering that the holiday exists, so that we can celebrate the birth of a very special baby boy who graced our earth over two thousand years ago. He was God’s gift to our world, just as helping others in their time of need is the community of Apple Blossom’s gift to the Simmons family.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?

JMJ:  I’ve been pleased with the reception my book has received. The only thing I can add that I didn’t already specify is that lots of people have written to me saying they felt like they were in a Hallmark movie, while they were reading my book. That’s quite a compliment to an author!

CH: Since this was your debut novella, what attracted you to writing in the first place?

JMJ:  I’ve wanted to be an author since I was in the sixth grade. I have been a voracious reader since I was a young child. I guess in my young mind I figured if I like to read and am good at it, maybe I’d like to write and possibly be good at that, too.  About a decade ago, I finally answered my inner nudge and began writing columns and articles for sewing and craft magazines published in the United States and the United Kingdom.

In 2010 or so, I began writing fiction for my own pleasure, and I soon followed that up with submitting for various anthologies, etc. Winning Cedar Fort Publishing’s 2013 Holiday Tale Contest with A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom was a great personal accomplishment and prompted me to continue on my path of being a published author.

CH: What is your favorite Christmas book? And why?

JMJ:  My favorite Christmas book is a children’s picture book originally published in 1957 in Ladies Home Journal magazine. It was published by Viking Penguin Inc. in 1958

The Story of Holly and Ivy was written by Rumer Godden with pictures by Barbara Cooney. It’s my favorite book because it touches something very deep inside of me about a person wanting a certain thing and wishing for it with all of her heart. The illustrations are beautiful.

CH: Are there any authors that provide inspiration for your writing?

JMJ:  I love to read Debbie Macomber, Tracie Peterson, Lauren Wolk, and many more talented men and women! I also like to read my bible, especially Proverbs and the Psalms, for their cadence and rich vocabulary. I enjoy Robert Frost’s poetry, too.

CH: What is your next writing project?

JMJ:  I’m currently finishing/polishing Book Two in my Bonita Creek Trilogy. It will be about Penny Ralston, who is the cousin and best friend of Robin Bennett Clarke, the main character, in Book One, Robin’s Reward.

I also enjoy writing short stories for children, so I have about half a dozen of those written and set aside while I’m deciding what to do with them.

CH: How to Find June McCrary Jacobs:  

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

JMJ:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books and Things (eBook).

CH: Any closing remarks?

JMJ:  I’d like to thank you for hosting me on your blog, Cheryl. It’s been fun to meet a new author friend, and I wish you the best in your writing endeavors.

I’d also like to wish you and your readers a blessed Christmas season and a wonderful 2018!

CH: Thank you so much, June McCrary Jacobs, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, June McCrary Jacobs and Cheryl Holloway.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Dee Taylor-Jolley

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Title: Make Love, Make Money, Make It Last! 10 Secrets to Shape A Great Marriage!

Genre: Self-Help/Relationships/Love & Romance

Synopsis: What are the secrets that long time, happily married couples have discovered that have allowed them to withstand the test of time?

Dr. Willie Jolley and Dee Taylor-Jolley have withstood the test of time. They have been married for over 32 years and have not had an argument in 30 years. That doesn’t mean that they never argued. The first two years were tough, but they learned some secrets that have helped them go from arguing to loving! Today, they work together; play together, and along the way, they have learned how to stay together.

Dee Taylor-Jolley, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Dee Taylor-Jolley. She is the C.O.O. of Willie Jolley Worldwide, the Chief Learning Officer for Jolley University, and co-author with Dr. Willie Jolley, who is a speaker, singer, media personality and author. The Jolley’s have written a book for couples who want a long-term successful marriage.  Welcome to my blog, Dee.

CH: Please tell us in two sentences why we should read this book?

DTJ: Couples learn how to communicate to build long-lasting intimacy and respect in their relationship. They also learn strategies on how to disagree with their spouse without being disagreeable.

The Jolleys have been happily married for over 32 years.

CH: Your book deals with the tolls of real life on marriage. So, how did you and your husband come up with the premise for this book?

DTJ: Our son’s friends never believed him when he said he had never seen his parents argue!  So, for our 30th wedding anniversary, William gave us a party. He invited a ‘few’ of his friends to our home to eat pizza and question us on how we work together, travel together and seem to really enjoy each other. After sharing our ‘Jolley Tips’ for a successful marriage with over a hundred of his friends (married, dating or just being happily single) that evening, we realized we were on to something.

We then shared our ‘Jolley Tips’ ideas for this book with one of our adopted sons in the professional speaking business, Delatorro McNeal. He gave us the wonderful title, Make Love, Make Money, Make It Last!

CH: Can you give us a sample of the type of secrets you offer to shape a good marriage?

DTJ: One Secret to Shaping a Good Marriage is:  Always date your spouse!

The pressures of life…children, work, family members, health issues, money issues, etc., can cause us to forget what brought us to the altar in the first place! And if we don’t work on our relationship, we drift apart.  So, have a weekly date night.  It doesn’t have to cost any money!

We had more bills than month when we started date night over thirty years ago. It gave us time alone to focus on just each other. Carve out a couple of hours at least once a week to sit in your bedroom with the door open (so the kids can walk by, but not come in because they know you guys are dating)! And what does that mean?  It means continuing to learn about each other—your hopes, dreams, challenges and frustrations. You get to love on, cheer for and encourage each other. It helps build great relationships.

CH: Will this book only help married couples or others, as well?

DTJ: Married couples onlyabsolutely not!  In our special section, called ‘For Those Not Yet Married,’ we outline strategies for helping you determine if you are selecting the right person, BEFORE you head to the altar! Plus, our honest discussion of what it takes to build successful, long-term relationships can be an eye opener!   It is a life investment.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?

DTJ: Yes!  To help us learn how to build our loving and lasting marriage, we sought wise counsel!  We searched for mentors who were happily married! We visited and we interviewed many couples. We asked what was their story; how they made it work; and their recommendations. And we took their advice!

We have mentors who have been happily married for over 60 years! We gathered findings from various research projects, as well, on relationships and marriages and what causes more than 50% of marriages to fail. While the research findings may have been very discouraging for the longevity of marriages, the lessons we (the Jolleys) have learned and implemented over the last thirty years, assures me that great marriages are worth working for. They help build character, trust, responsibility, dependability and unconditional love and respect.

CH: What is different and exciting that you and your husband bring to your readers through your writing style?

DTJ: Willie and I layout the 10 basic principles we believe shape any great marriage. But we each then give our perspective on each one of those principles. So, you will read Willie’s perspective; then my perspective. And at the end of each chapter, we have what we call ‘Jolley Advice,’ which is what action steps to take next.

CH: It’s been said many times that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. So, what is it that men want? And what is it that women want?

DTJ: Men and women want the same things, just packaged differently! I believe women need intimacy and security. Men need sex and respect. Now, does that mean women don’t want sex and should not demand respect? No! Intimacy may lead to sex, but sex may not be a part of intimacy! How we get to our common goals can be very different. And that is why learning to communicate…not just talk…is crucial for the success of any long-term healthy relationship.

CH: Is there a message in your book that you want the readers to grasp?

DTJ: Yes. Anything of value requires work. Marriage has great value—so it requires great work. Learn how to make love, make money and make it last using our book as your guide!

CH: Finances tend to strain most marriages. What suggestion do you have to simplify arguments over money?

DTJ: First, discuss how you each view money, i.e., Do you need to be wealthy to feel secure? Do you want home ownership? Does a job fuel building your dream business?

Know each other’s debts, credit score and spending habits. Then decide how you, as a couple, will handle paying bills. In our book, we discuss the three (3) approaches that many successfully married couples use to manage their money.

CH: Can you tell my readers three simple things that they can do to make their marriage better?

DTJ: Remember these 3 Cs: Communicate, Compromise and Choose to laugh, love and live peaceably!

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?

DTJ: We are humbled by the positive responses. Couples are practicing how to agree without being disagreeable. Couples are studying their mates and listening to them to understand, as opposed to waiting to just respond! Couples are holding hands and having date night to keep the love flames alive. And couples are putting our ‘Jolley Advice’ into practice and getting positive results!  This chapter is so important that we give it free on the jolleymarriage.com website

CH: Michelle and Barack Obama recently celebrated their 25thAnniversary. How long have you been married?

DTJ: We’ve been married almost 33 years.

CH: Are there any couples that provide inspiration for you and your husband?

DTJ: Yes. We’ve interviewed numerous couples, including those who are our mentors! They’ve been married 30, 40, 50 and even 60 years!  A lot of great wisdom and practical information there!

CH: How long did it take you and Dr. Jolley to write this inspirational book?

DTJ: It took us two years to write the book!

CH: How to Find Dee Taylor-Jolley and Dr. Willie Jolley:

CH: Any closing remarks?

 DTJ: For readers—Two things…one, you said, “I do,” now do! Love is an emotion, marriage is a decision! You made a good decision; now make your decision good! Two, we highly recommend you get two copies of this book; one for each of you, and read it together, so you are on the same page, in the book and in your marriage! Thanks Cheryl, for inviting me to your blog.

CH: Thank you so much, Dee Taylor-Jolley, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Dee Taylor-Jolley and Cheryl Holloway.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Pamela Samuels Young

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Title: Abuse of Discretion (Dre Thomas Series Book 3)

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Synopsis: A Kid’s Curiosity…A Parent’s Nightmare

Graylin Alexander is a model fourteen-year-old. When his adolescent curiosity gets the best of him, Graylin finds himself embroiled in a sexting scandal that threatens to ruin his life. Jenny Ungerman, the attorney hired to defend Graylin, is smart, confident and committed. She isn’t thrilled, however, when ex-prosecutor Angela Evans joins Graylin’s defense team. The two women instantly butt heads. Can they put aside their differences long enough to ensure Graylin gets justice?

Unbeknownst to Angela, her boyfriend Dre is wrestling with his own drama. Someone from his past wants him dead. For Dre, his response is simple—kill or be killed.

Pamela Samuels Young, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Pamela Samuels Young. She is an award-winning author of eight mystery novels. Welcome to my blog, Pamela.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

PSY: When a teen’s adolescent curiosity gets the best of him, he finds himself embroiled in a sexting scandal that threatens to ruin his life.

CH: A kid’s curiosity about sexting by middle schoolers, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

PSY: I was stunned when I learned that children were being prosecuted for distributing child pornography as a result of sexting. I immediately knew this was a topic I wanted to address in a legal thriller.

CH: Why did you decide to write this book about the juvenile criminal justice system?

PSY: I was surprised to learn about the differences between the adult and juvenile criminal justice systems. For example, I had no idea that police could show up at a school and question a kid without parental consent. I doubt most parents know that either. There was a lot I wanted to communicate.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your legal writing style?

PSY: I’m a former TV news writer, so my writing style is very fast-paced. Not a lot of flowery writing, but strong plots and engaging characters.

CH: I realize you’re an attorney, but did you have to do a lot of research on the juvenile system for this book? 

PSY: Yes! The juvenile system is very different from the adult system. There are no jury trials in the juvenile system and the goal is rehabilitation, not punishment, at least that’s the intent. I had a lot to learn.

CH: Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole concept?

PSY: Whenever I learn something that’s shocking to me, I assume it will be just as shocking to others. My books typically start with a social issue—teen sexting, child sex trafficking, discrimination in the workplace—and take off from there.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

PSY: Graylin. He was a fighter who stuck to his guns even when his attorneys and father tried to convince him otherwise.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

 PSY: In the beginning, Graylin’s attorney Jenny Ungerman was the hardest to write. But as the book progressed, I got a handle on her personality and really liked the relationship that developed between her and Angela Evans.

CH: When you wrote the first book in the series, did you realize it would be a series then? Which book in the series was hardest to write?

PSY: I had no plan to write a series when I wrote the first book. I decided to make it a series after people kept asking me what the characters would do next. I don’t think any of the books were harder to write than the others. I can say that Anybody’s Daughter was the easiest to write because I was so passionate about the topic of child sex trafficking that the book just flowed.

CH: Will there be other books in this series?

PSY: Yes. I have lots of other social issues I want to address, including elder abuse and domestic violence among teens.

CH: Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

PSY: I want parents to understand that they need to know what their kids are doing on social media. I want kids to understand that the consequences of sexting can be devastating. Hopefully, if both kids and parents are educated about this tragedy, they can avoid becoming entangled in the juvenile justice system.

CH: What type of feedback are you receiving from readers?

PSY: So far, the first few reviews on Amazon have been five stars and everyone is shocked to learn that children are actually facing pornography charges, as a result of sexting.

CH: What can we expect from you next—more series or a stand alone?

PSY: I’m working on a stand-alone book that’s currently entitled The Perfect Lawyer. It’s about a dynamic young female attorney who’s struggling with bipolar disorder. As a society, I don’t think we deal very well with mental illness. I want to shine a light on the condition and hopefully educate people about it.

CH: How to Find Pamela Samuels Young:

CH: For my audience, where is your book sold?

PSY: All my books are available in print, eBook and audiobook format everywhere books are sold.

CH: Any closing remarks?

PSY: Never give up on your dream. I experienced a lot of rejection from traditional publishers early in my writing career. My third book, Murder on the Down Low was rejected by nine publishing houses, which forced me to self-publish. I’m now a successful indie author. When I was approached by two publishers who previously rejected my books, I could only smile. In the words of Tyler Perry, “We don’t have to wait for someone to green light our projects. We can create our own intersections.”  Cheryl, thanks so much for featuring me!

CH: Thank you so much, Pamela Samuels Young, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Pamela Samuels Young and Cheryl Holloway.

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Don’t Keep this Blog a Secret…Tell Your Friends about it!

Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

Subscribe to my blog because I share great books with wonderful readers all over the globe!

   

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Questions? Comments? Interviews? Contact :

AuthorCherylHolloway@gmail.com or Cheryl@CherylHolloway.net