Guest Author Interview – Rachel Howzell Hall

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Title: City of Saviors (Lou Norton Series Book 4)

Genre: African American Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Synopsis: Los Angeles Homicide Detective Elouise Norton encounters her toughest case yet in City of Saviors, the fourth installment in the critically acclaimed mystery series from author Rachel Howzell Hall.

After a long Labor Day weekend, seventy-three-year-old Eugene Washington is found dead in his Leimert Park home. At first blush, his death seems unremarkable―heatwave combined with food poisoning from a holiday barbecue. But something in the way Washington died doesn’t make sense. LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) Homicide Detective Elouise ‘Lou’ Norton is called to investigate the death and learns that the only family Washington had was the 6,000-member congregation of Blessed Mission Ministries, led by Bishop Solomon Tate.

But something wicked is lurking among the congregants of this church.

Lou’s partner, Detective Colin Taggert, thinks her focus on the congregation comes from her distrust of organized religion. But Lou is convinced that the murderer is sitting in one of those red velvet pews―and that Bishop Tate may be protecting the wolf in the flock. Lou must force the truth into the light and confront her own demons in order to save another soul before it’s too late.

Rachel Howzell Hall, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Rachel Howzell Hall. She is a writer of things and an observer of life. Welcome to my blog, Rachel.

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

RHH: Detective Lou Norton investigates the death of a man found in his hoarded house. Looks like an easy case—nope.

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

RHH: I loved reading mysteries—especially Los Angeles stories. But only Paula L. Wood had written a series with a Black woman detective in LA. I wanted to see more of that, especially since I grew up in the Crenshaw District. You don’t get to see it much in novels or on TV, but it’s a place rich with history, complications—good and bad. So, I created a character that is part me, and part friends of mine. A woman connected to the community, but sometimes an outsider. I wanted to create a series that celebrated women, black women who thrive—and die—in the City of Angels.

CH: Since Eugene Washington is found dead and has no family other than his church, was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

RHH: Unfortunately, with crime stories, you don’t have to make up much except for the name and the events sequencing. When creating this story, I thought about churches that take advantage of their congregants, so-called spiritual leaders, who juice these believers for all they have, which may not be much, and they buy Bentleys and airplanes. I thought of neighborhoods that have gentrified and the elderly still living in those homes, who can no longer afford property taxes, and so, the houses fall into disrepair. I thought of those hot days in LA, in those old and broken homes with no air conditioner, and how the old folks in those hot houses succumb to the heat. Then, I combined all that with an interesting way to murder someone. You know how crime writers do…J

CH: Since you have created L.A. Homicide tough Detective Elouise (Lou) Norton, can you describe your writing style for this mystery/thriller series? 

RHH: I’ve been described as ‘noir’—my stories fall on the gritty side, both in language and in subject matter. There are no crime-solving cats in my stories. Stylistically, I’ve been compared to Raymond Chandler. The rhythm of my sentences is hard combined with humorous. There are no fussy sentences or word gymnastics in the pages of my books. I’m interested in telling readers a story, not showing off my ten-cent words.

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

RHH: What’s different and exciting? I think my setting in Los Angeles that isn’t Hollywood or Beverly Hills. My depiction of the life of regular people caught in awful situations. Lou is strong, but she’s vulnerable. She makes mistakes. She has a mouth, but she shows restraint. She’s ‘us.’ And in City of Saviors, she’s having a hard time being physically weak—again, just like us, sometimes.

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?

RHH: I prefer ideas, especially ideas or situations that bother me or scare me. Ideas that I don’t understand and so, I will write about them to better understand them. I have to be passionate enough about whatever that idea is, if I’m to write 80,000 words about it. But I do keep an Evernote file of weird stories that can help fill out that idea. For City of Saviors, I’d been reading a lot about Jim Jones and Peoples Temple. I’d been struggling with the gentrification of my neighborhood, happy that my house is worth more, but also knowing that I couldn’t afford to buy my house now, if I wanted.

CH: Why did you decide to write this book to end the series?

RHH: Because faith and weakness are two goal posts in my own life. When I started the series, I’d personally been overcoming my own health issues. While I’m stronger now, I was weaker then. Lou starts out strong in the series, and so, she’s weaker in some ways with City of Saviors. She’s always been my counter. I wanted to also leave this open-ended in some ways, so that she can return invigorated, the phoenix, ready to avenge for the folks in her neighborhood.

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

RHH: Yes! Hoarding and post-traumatic stress disorder were two issues I had to research. I knew about them, but I needed to know the ‘why.’

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

RHH: Of course, Lou—I absolutely love that woman. In each book, I had the opportunity to fill her out, to discover what she believes, to hear what she’d say. In City of Saviors, I also loved writing about the three prophetesses and Bernice. They’re funny. They’re easily dismissed, until much of what they’ve said is true.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

RHH: I would say…Colin—a white male. Although, their viewpoint is most represented in much of everything we see and hear, to get into his head and have it ring true was the hardest.

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

RHH: I didn’t—of course, I had hopes that it would be. But just one had been my original prayer. The stories struck a nerve—with my publisher and with readers—and even other writers. I’m thrilled I had a chance to share Lou’s journey through the four.

CH: Since this is the final book in the series, which book was hardest to write?

RHH: City of Saviors was the hardest to write—I knew I had to wrap it up some, but leave open the chance of returning. Also, as I wrote, I was changing jobs (I still work full-time), so my writing schedule also shifted.

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

RHH: I want readers to see that there are dedicated and compassionate civil servants and cops out there. I want them to give writers of color an opportunity to share their stories, and that ultimately, we all want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I want readers to see that there are stories everywhere.

CH: Who are some of your mystery/thriller/suspense writing influences?

RHH: I love Raymond Chandler’s works, as well as Dennis Lehane (voice and place are so important to me, and these two writers are IT in that). I also count Agatha Christie and James Patterson, as influences.

CH: What has been the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey?

RHH: A few things—meeting readers that are thrilled to meet someone like Lou. Also, having the opportunity to co-author The Good Sister: A BookShot (Bookshots) with James Patterson.

CH: How to Find Rachel Howzell Hall:

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

RHH: My stories are in bookstores around the country, as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

CH: Any closing remarks?

RHH: Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk about my stories!

CH: Thank you so much, Rachel Howzell Hall, 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, Rachel Howzell Hall and Cheryl Holloway.

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Guest Author Interview – Alan Geik

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Title: Glenfiddich Inn

Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis: It’s America in 1915— The still distant Great War in Europe creates unexpected opportunities for the Morrison and Townsend families in Boston, while, at the same time, they watch with dread as the ferocious conflict reaches across the ocean. William Morrison’s boss, the bank president, Joe Finnerty, is also a relentless con man. Whether, it’s elaborate stock frauds, war profiteering or just dipping into a widow’s trust account—Finnerty’s ever-cheery amorality, both captivates and repels William. William’s wife, Margaret is also captivated—but for her it is with wireless voice transmissions. It’s called “radio,” and while she is certain it will soon transmit a voice, even music, for as much, as several miles, she is dismayed by its use on the battlefields of Europe. Margaret’s sportswriter brother, Byron Townsend, covers the Boston Red Sox and its simpleton teenage sensation, Babe Ruth. He believes the World War will be the defining event of his generation and he intends to go to the front lines as a journalist. Byron’s wife, Helen, shares Margaret’s passion for radio. They form a strong bond in their quest for independence—a bond that will be severely tested by love affairs and patriotism. But after a German torpedo sinks the ocean liner, the RMS Lusitania, no one’s life will ever be the same again.

Alan Geik, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Alan Geik. Alan has been a radio host, music producer, and now, a writer. Welcome to my blog, Alan.

CH: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read this historical book about World War I.

AG: The WWI era is so rich with extraordinarily transformative events— the automobile, silent movies, and radio were all developed then— any one of them would be a vibrant scene set for a novel.

CH: There are several themes in this book, how did you come up with the premise for the book?

AG: I was lucky in that the fictional characters were immersed in the dramatic events of the era—almost, as if they gravitated toward them. The premise evolved quickly, but shifted and changed as I moved forward.

As just one example—Henry Ford’s Model T began mass-production for the first time right before the war began in Europe in 1914. It allowed people, for the first time in history, to travel great distances in a motorized vehicle—no horses. It was an extraordinary change in the way people connected with each other.

Or imagine when someone saw for the first time a silent movie being projected onto a big screen or even onto a barn wall. These early viewers were changed forever as the magic of moving pictures took hold here and all around the world.

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?

AG: As this is my first novel, I can’t speak too much about where my ideas usually come from. I probably would not have begun writing, if there were not two events that would greatly change America

One of those events occurred just as the first cannons were fired in Europe in August 1914—an awkward, naïve teenager arrived in Boston to join the Boston Red Sox. George Herman Ruth, and because of his size and gullibility was given the name “Babe” Ruth, and he was, for the decades that followed, to deeply imprint America’s social fabric in many ways.

Another event that profoundly changed the way we humans interacted was the development of communications technology. A few years before Glenfiddich Inn begins, wireless Morse code was installed on trans-ocean liners—and so, as fate would have it, distress signals were sent out when the Titanic struck an iceberg. Nearby ships came to the rescue and, as a result, we are still telling the tales of the survivors, instead of just another tragedy being relegated to “lost at sea.”

After wireless Morse Code, the next frontier for electrical engineers was “wireless audio transmissions,” its enthusiasts called it simply “radio.” One of the audio laboratories in America was at Tufts College, just outside of Boston. Two of the female fictional characters, Helen and her sister-in-law Margaret, are captivated by the possibility that perhaps one day a news program, or even a musical performance, could be transmitted a few miles on a cold New England winter’s night into a desolate farmhouse living room.

These are just two of the transformative events of the era. As a radio host for twenty-five years in Los Angeles, I am keenly aware of the unique intimacy of radio—it is in the listeners’ ear at the beach, in the bedroom, and while jogging. Surely, less so, now than for most of the previous century, but it was for many decades the technology that so greatly impacted the world

CH: Why did you decide to write this historical book?

 AG: As I was researching this era for an HBO project, fictional characters emerged from some of the historical signposts, such as the sinking of the Lusitania or the comical search by the U.S. Army for Pancho Villa in the barren hills of Northern Mexico—I felt compelled to follow the growing cast of fictional characters through their journey.

Perhaps the most interesting surprise was how much the characters pushed and pulled me in directions other than that which I had envisioned. I would have never thought that possible, even though I was aware of novelists describing this experience.

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

 AG: Actually, Cheryl, this question brought a big smile to my face. The truth is that almost every paragraph had points that needed to be researched for accuracy, and during that research new plot and character doors opened. Just a few examples occurred in the prologue—William Morrison, a main character of the story, is in a hotel overlooking Pier 54, the pier from which the Lusitania has set out on its fateful trans-Atlantic voyage in May, 1915.

A bellboy knocks on the door with a hat in his hand. William Morrison had given it to him several years earlier and now the bellboy wanted to return it. What kind of hat would William have worn, given his social class and the season of the year?

William has binoculars in his hand. What kind of binoculars would he have had then? The binoculars became a far more important item in the story, than I had initially intended.

The internet makes this kind of research and fact checking relatively easy. Google was my best companion during the writing—that, and of course, a thesaurus. The New York Historical Society and The Library of Congress were great sources for historical photos, some of which I used for the cover art and publicity. I also owe a thank you to the help desk at the New York Public Library.

I can only imagine the enormous amount of time and energy expended by earlier generations of historical novelists in libraries hunting down the minutest detail, now available on the internet with just a click.

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

 AG: My experience, as a film editor at Paramount Pictures, proved to be an invaluable, and unexpected, asset. I had a sense of how much detail, and how wide the brushstrokes needed to be.

Writing this kind of novel, with so much historical scene set, there is always the need to constantly monitor how much is enough. Leaving reams of film figuratively on the editing room floor was similar to the process of “killing your children” in writing, i.e.. losing large and small passages because, no matter how “brilliant” they may seem to the author, they didn’t serve the flow of the novel.

CH: Where do you get inspiration for your historical characters?

 AG: As a surprising by-product of my research and the arc of the story, I first met some of the historical characters, while writing. They entered the narrative quite effortlessly, as my fictional characters gravitated toward them.

One historical character was Lee DeForest, who in the early part of the 20th century developed the Audion tube—a simple tube that allowed for all three functions necessary for the development of radio. But also, DeForest had many character traits that were fascinating to me and attracted the fictional characters to him in unexpected ways.

Another generally unknown historical character is Dr. Robert Welch. He was the pioneer in public health services in America. Before him there was little interest in this now widely accepted branch of medicine. It was long understood that in many, if not most, wars far more fatalities occurred from the spread of disease, than from actual combat.

Dr. Welch, a man of both resolution and quirkiness, sent teams out to quantify how disease affected the foot soldiers at the Western Front, as the war progressed. Little did he, or the world, ever expect that the most lethal breakout of a worldwide pandemic was about to occur with extraordinary speed. But I prefer to not be a spoiler of my own novel.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

 AG: Oh, Joe Finnnerty for sure. Joe is a fictional character—the youngest bank president in Boston. The most charmingly self-aggrandizing and amoral of people—he is as delighted to lift a few bucks from a widow and orphan’s trust fund, as he is to engineer a sizable stock fraud.

I never intended to devote as much space to him in the novel, as he ultimately required or demanded. The other characters viewed him with disdain—especially the Townsends, the publishing family of a progressive, well-respected, and fictional Boston newspaper. They had a front row seat to some of his many maneuvers. Surprising to me, and an outcome I never planned, Joe Finnerty does an awesome, life saving turn for William Morrison, a main character of Glenfiddich Inn.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

 AG: George Creel is another real-life historical figure—as were the two I just mentioned earlier, Lee DeForest and Dr. Welch. Creel also had an enormous effect on America of the early 20th Century.

When we first encounter George Creel, he is a crusading journalist, who had received considerable publicity for his book that exposed the horrors of child labor. Half way through our story he becomes publicity director for Woodrow Wilson’s presidential re-election campaign in 1916. Soon after the inauguration, despite Wilson’s attempts to keep America out of the ferocious war in Europe, he finds himself with no other choice, but to enter the conflict.

Creel is given the daunting task of cobbling out a unified support for America’s entry into the war. That meant the mounting of an intense propaganda campaign.

Creel goes from an admirable exposer of social abuses to a contemptible bureaucrat. His interactions with the Townsends, the progressive newspaper family once his friends, turn bitter and confrontational.

It was hard for me not to inject my own contempt for him, as the story unfolded.

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

AG: There was no intention of a message, when I started writing Glenfiddich Inn. It could have logically become an anti-war novel—after all, never before in history were the battlefield fatalities so staggering.

And, it was so cynically waged! Almost all of the generals for every country came from a privileged class—part of their class superiority was revealed, when they intentionally never went to the front lines because, they claimed, seeing the staggering toll in human life would cloud their judgment.

However, the real message, and one extremely relevant, in today’s political world was the beginning of the relentless need for the government to sway public opinion.

I mentioned George Creel’s role in this effort. Immediately after America entered the Great War (as it was called at the time), Creel formed the Committee for Public Information (the CPI). They sent thousands of volunteers to street corners, concert halls, and movie theaters with simple talking points, as to why America was in the war. Many of these points were as deceitful, as were the ones we heard decades later, regarding Vietnam and, even later, to support the invasion of Iraq.

The CPI laid the groundwork for government censorship and heavy-handed manipulation of public opinion. I was completely unaware of this aspect of WWI, when I began writing the story.

CH: This book has been out for a couple of years, so what type of feedback are you receiving from readers?

AG: When the novel was first released, I gave copies to close friends and associates. I told them that reading it was in no way compulsory for our relationship to survive and, further, I would never ask them about it.

Keeping a distance from the potential reader, I think, proved to be a good strategy, as on more than a few occasions someone would contact me months later and tell me that they read Glenfiddich Inn. They would discuss minute details or large passages that indicated the considerable attention they gave to the story.

Similarly, many of the reviews posted on blogs or on Amazon or Goodreads provided interesting comments. I had never had a work of mine evaluated so publicly, by people I didn’t know—that was, and remains, a new adventure, even in the cases, where the story did not resonate completely with the reader.

CH:Who are some of your writing influences?

AG: Gore Vidal and Kurt Vonnegut are two writers, who have always interested me. Both, have a unique cynicism and sense of irony—told in completely different voices.

Gore Vidal adds a lush overlay to his historical narrative into which he inserts fictional characters. His detailed observations are insightful, and often amusing. I reread his Burr and Lincoln several times each—I doubt any history books could bring either period into sharper focus.

Kurt Vonnegut, for me, occupies a distinct end of the writing spectrum—he brings a concise; yet, penetrating voice to his characters and their flaws. Slaughter House Five is as vibrant an anti-war polemic as we will find; yet, filled with an amusingly ironic overlay.

CH: What can we expect next from you?

 AG: I started a novel based on my own family. It’s a family of the 30s through the 80s, involved in criminal activity—labor racketeering, police corruption, mail and tax fraud, and Murder Inc. alumni. It’s titled Uncle Charley Killed Dutch Schultz. I think I love the title, more than I do the enormous work that will be involved to pull it off. Sadly, many of the keener observers of the family dysfunction are no longer with us to recount the crimes in the exquisite detail they warrant.

There is also a tug at me to take the characters of Glenfiddich Inn into the roaring 1920s of Boston and New York—an era worthy of journeying through and letting the characters find their way through the story, as they did in Glenfiddich Inn.

CH: What has been the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey?

 AG: Sharing readers’ passion for historical novels and indulging ourselves in another time period. I often receive messages from readers speculating about some aspect of Glenfiddich Inn or about the era in which it is set.

Also, and quite unexpected, are the personal recollections of the era from people, who have attended book readings, especially, at several senior citizens’ centers. At the end of the Q&A, I ask, “do you have any recollections of your family’s involvement in the World War One era?” the responses are often poignant and sometimes harrowing.

CH: Can you give my audience your website address?

 AG: I have been using my Glenfiddich Inn Facebook page, which I find more interactive than a website (listed below). Hopefully some of your readers can visit the page.

CH: How to Find Alan Geik:

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

 AG: Amazon, kindle, and ibooks.

CH: Any closing remarks?

AG: Yes, Cheryl. I can’t thank you enough for giving me this opportunity to share some aspects of my novel with your audience.

CH: Thank you so much, Alan Geik, 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, Alan Geik 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 – Janet Maile

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Title: Second Genesis

Genre: Sci-Fi

Synopsis: Gerald is frozen in the 20th century and wakes 2,000 years later to find himself a prisoner in a strange and violent world. He escapes, only to discover that the outside world is a far more horrific place than he could ever have imagined. He must find a way to work with the strange and distant Hagan, to save the world from the worst environmental disaster the planet has ever known.

Janet Maile, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest Author is International Author, Janet Maile.  She’s been writing since she was a child; however, this is her debut novel. Welcome to my blog, Janet.

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

JM: Environmental disaster. Solution goes wrong. Many disasters and struggles. Problem solved.

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

JM: I started writing it in 1986 and was inspired by three things:  climate change, cryonics (the freezing of dead bodies) and the setting up of the Norwegian Seed Bank. I thought—what if someone was frozen and awakened in 2,000 years.  What would it be like?

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

JM: I don’t really create the situations in that sense. I allow things to develop in their own way, but my writing is influenced by certain feelings and emotions:  a sense of isolation, the way people treat those they regard as different and how we have lost our sense of being connected—to each other, to nature, to the universe and beyond.

CH: Can you describe your writing style for this Sci-fi novel?

JM: I aim to make my books accessible to all. A lot of the action takes place through dialogue. I don’t go in for long descriptive passages.

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

JM: Some of the ideas behind the story are deep and profound, but the book is an easy read. It is entertaining and makes you think.

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?

JM: I do not have a standard formula, or any formula. I start off with one idea, such as being frozen and awakened in the future, and the book develops from there. My ideas come from being concerned about what we are doing to the planet and the extinction of species—for example, in 1986 when I started writing, the European Tree Frog became extinct.

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

JM: Yes, a great deal. Examples: what is the latest DNA research, what are the symptoms of radiation sickness, what does Art Deco furniture look like, which creatures are lethal to humans and which plants grow in Cheddar Gorge?

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

JM: I enjoyed creating them all.

CH: This is the first book in the series, did you realize it would be a series when you wrote it?

JM: No.  It took me 30 years to complete the book, during which time I never thought about a second one. Once I had completed the book and found a publisher, I started thinking about what I would write next, and realised there was more of the story to tell.

CH: You’ve written two books in this series, which book was hardest to write?

JM: The first one.  I had had articles and short stories published, but found writing a book a daunting enterprise. I didn’t know how to go about writing a novel: how to develop the plot and the characters, or how to keep the reader hooked. There were other things that hampered my progress. Back in the 1980s, I was using a typewriter, so additions, deletions and moving paragraphs around was not simple. When the word processor was invented, my creativity began to flow. Also, there was no internet back then, so to do my research, I had to go to the library, or write to an organization.

CH: The first book in the series was released on September 4th and you released the next book on September 5th. Was there a reason for back-to-back release dates?

JM: Second Genesis was published at the beginning of January by an American publisher, who did not honor the terms of the contract, when it came to promoting the book, so I took my rights back and designed a new cover. I had finished Final Illusion by then and once my son had finished editing it, it made sense to put both books up on the internet.

CH: This book received the Readers’ Favorite Review. What type of overall feedback are you receiving about the book?

JM: Good.  Everyone who has read it, has enjoyed it and said that it is easy to read. My sister couldn’t put the book down and read it in six hours.

CH: What has been the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey?

JM: After thirty years, seeing Second Genesis finally in print.

CH: Thirty years is definitely a long time to wait. What can we expect next from you?

JM: The Pretzel Affair, a romance inspired by meeting my soulmate late in life, is available as an eBook from Amazon and Smashwords.

The Druid’s Cup is currently being edited by my son and will be published in October. It is a mystery with a difference. It was a lot of fun to write. Many of the scenes are set in Glastonbury, Somerset, home of the famous music festival. The book includes many of the traditions and myths that surround the area, such as the thorn tree that flowers twice and is rumoured to have grown from the staff of Jesus’ uncle, Joseph of Aramathea.

Saving Grace is currently with a publisher and will be published in December.  It is a romance set against the gritty horror of World War II. It was inspired by my mother’s memories of that time. She was invited to join the local cycle club by the man who collected the insurance money each week and it was there that she met my father.

Moving On, the story of my difficult childhood experiences and the effect they had on my adult life, can be downloaded as a free pdf document from my website.

I have started a blog, Therapies That Work, and welcome stories from people who have found a therapy that works from them.

CH: How to Find Janet Maile:  

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

JM: It can be bought as an eBook or paperback from Amazon.

CH: Any closing remarks?

JM: I welcome hearing from my readers. The contact details are on the website. Thanks very much, Cheryl.

CH: Thank you so much, Janet Maile, 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, Janet Maile 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 :

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Guest Author Interview – Diane Rapp

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Title: High Seas Mystery Game Book: Three Party Games for up to 57 Players

Genre: Board Games/Travel Games

Synopsis: Mystery dinner parties usually require guests to learn parts and risk getting embarrassed by their own bad acting. The worst might happen to a host if a guest assigned an important part simply does not show up. This book offers three different process-of-elimination games designed to be played by 2–4 players, 4–8 players, or a party of 41 to 57 players. The solution is different each time any of the games are played. Game pieces, game boards, and instructions are included for buyers to copy and print for use at their own party. Have more fun at your next fund-raiser, group pot-luck dinner, or simply play the games with friends and family at home.

Diane Rapp, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Diane Rapp.  Diane writes murder/mystery thriller novels. Welcome, to my blog, Diane.

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

DR: A game book for 4 to 57 players and a different solution each time. Game pieces, boards, and instructions are included.

CH: I love mystery dinner parties! How did you come up with the premise for this mystery game book?

DR: I was asked to design a dinner party game for a fund-raiser group of sixty.  When I did all the work for one game, I decided to design two more games for smaller parties.  It was a fun break from writing.

CH: Since the solution is different any time each of the games are played, was it hard creating believable situations and issues for the players?

DR: No, since I modeled the games after my own mystery trilogy. The hard part was designing game boards that were different. The large party uses lanyards to reveal clues marked on a game sheet. The smaller parties needed fun boards to move pieces around.

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

DR: This game book gives readers of my novels a fun way to create new endings for each book. They are played with pieces that are shuffled and the answers hidden until a player makes a guess about the solution. It’s like a clue game that involves my mystery novels.

CH: Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots to make the game fun and interesting?

DR: Each game in the book is in a different format, but all three involve narrowing down the clues until a solution is discovered. So, each time you play, the answer is different.

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

DR: No, the research was already done when I wrote the mystery novels. The clues came from those characters, weapons, places, etc.

CH: This game book can be used for a variety of events, such as a fund-raiser, a group pot-luck dinner, or simply with family and friends. How did you decide to make the game so versatile?

DR: Since I had three mystery novels set at sea, it made sense to design three different types of games for the books. The large fund-raiser party was the hardest, because I had to find lots of clues to use during the party. The others were game boards and needed to be for smaller groups.

CH: How did you come up with the inspiration for so many characters?

DR: I started with the characters in the books and added more for the games.  There are hundreds of people who sail on a ship. My clues are all based on the stories in my books.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

DR: Kayla was my favorite. She’s modelled after my own daughter, so I could literally see her in my mind.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

DR: Julia Sanders in the Murder for Glacier Blue was supposed to be Kayla’s mother. Therefore, I was writing a character, who was modelled after ME. That is very hard for me, so I asked my daughter to give me an actress to use for the character. She picked Julianne Moore, so that made it easier.

CH: What type of overall feedback are you receiving about the game?

DR: My family loves playing the games, and the people who participated in the fund-raiser really enjoyed themselves.

CH: You are an author of murder mystery thrillers, the High Seas Mystery Series. Is the game book connected to the book series?

DR: Yes, I designed each game after the characters and clues in one of the books.

CH: Can you give us a brief synopsis of the book series?

DR: This romantic mystery series is set on passenger cruise ships traveling to different parts of the world. Readers experience exotic locations as they travel with personnel, who work on the ships. Get behind-the-scenes glimpses into cruise-ship life and get to know an engaging cast of recurring characters. Remember places you’ve been, or preview new destinations to travel, as you read the series.

CH: Who are some of your mystery writing influences?

DR: Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle spurred my love of mysteries, but I have read so many different authors now. I love reading and absorb everything.

CH: What has been the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey?

DR: Meeting other authors on social media. I really believe I’ve developed a strong group of friends and supporters, who I’ve never met face-to-face. What a different world than the one I grew up in.

CH: What can we expect next from you?

DR: I am getting ready to launch a new mystery novel set on the seas.  It’s a spin-off of the original High Seas Mystery series and will feature a psychic and ex-Interpol agent that readers got to know in Murder On A Ghost Ship. They are protecting winners of a DNA contest, who are being targeted by terrorists. The story reaches back to 1978 when the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana hit the headlines. Does the stalker want revenge or justice?

CH: Can you give my audience your website address?

DR: Of course!  Readers can go to my website (listed below), or I can be followed on twitter: @DianeRapp and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/quicksilvernovels.

CH: How to Find Diane Rapp:

CH: For my audience, where are your game and books sold?

DR: Although, I do sell an eBook version on Amazon, it’s hard to print the game pieces from an eBook. Therefore, I offer eBook readers one game PDF download with a verified purchase. The full-print edition can be purchased on Amazon. I believe it is also sold through other online marketing sites.

CH: Any closing remarks?

DR: Anyone who likes to play board games will enjoy these games. If you need to host a larger party for a pot luck or fund-raiser, the third game is the best! I hope readers get interested enough in the characters and stories to purchase the whole High Seas Mystery Series. Thanks, Cheryl.

CH: Thank you so much, Diane Rapp, 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, Diane Rapp and Cheryl Holloway.

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Cougar Tales: Jamaican Love by Cheryl Holloway…Get Your Copy Today!

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“Have You Read A Good Book by Cheryl Holloway?”

Jamaican Love

Joi meets a Chef in New York City that is interested in dating her. Joi is not ready to be in a new relationship with anyone, especially a long-distance relationship—he lives on the East Coast and she lives on the West Coast. But Spencer doesn’t give up easily. They go their separate ways. Fate brings them together again while on vacation.

Can Spencer sweep Joi off her feet with Jamaican love?

Note: This is Book 3 of 3 in the Cougar Tales series, but can be read as a standalone novella and can be read without needing to buy subsequent books.

If you like this blog post, share it 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 – Louise Blackwick

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Title: Vivian Amberville: The Weaver of Odds

Genre: Teen/Young Adult/Dystopian Fantasy

Synopsis: Vivian Amberville is philosophical fantasy book series about a girl whose thoughts can control and reshape reality.

The main protagonist, Vivian is an orphaned child who uncovers her imagination can influence certain events, and even twist reality into impossible shapes – a mind-over-matter ability called “Weaving”

But Vivian’s powers prove hazardous to keeping the universal balance. Beyond the fabric of reality, she finds herself in the custody of the original Weavers, thrown head-first into the most dangerous competition the multiverse has ever known: The Weaver Trials.

Louise Blackwick, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest is International Author, Louise Blackwick. Louise says that she is a next generation fiction writer. Welcome to my blog, Louise.

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

LB: Vivian Amberville – The Weaver of Odds is a philosophical fantasy about a girl whose thoughts can control and reshape reality.

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

LB: I have always been a great believer in the power of imagination; that given enough effort, any great idea can be shaped into a waking reality. We wouldn’t have as much as a bridge in this world without a mind to imagine it. We have built and continue to build this world on the premise: thoughts become things.

Vivian’s story merely extrapolates on that idea. She is a 13-year old, who discovers she can reshape reality in her image. This fantasy book, thus becomes my way of telling the reader: we are responsible for the ideas we breed, and we are responsible for the world we create.

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

LB: My personal experience and real life played an important part in the book’s development. My anxiety disorder became Vivian’s, and as I conquered it, she did too. Vivian’s world—much like our own—is plagued by the same struggles we face: war, disease, poverty, hatemongering, injustice, and indifference. These parallels have helped me develop a living-breeding fictional world, as real as our own.

CH: Can you describe your writing style for this dystopian fiction novel?

LB: I mixed classic British humour and social satire with a simple narrative structure. Descriptions are short, but memorable, dialogues are lifelike, and I struggle to make any bit of narration, as immersive as possible. Language-wise, it’s very approachable. I wanted this to be a book everyone can enjoy, particularly younger audiences. As a dystopia, I wanted kids to know how a society should NOT be. Naturally, adults savour the book for its deeper, more philosophical traits. I do enjoy writing in layers.

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

LB: The story is set in two dystopian worlds: one is a futuristic Great Britain ruled by disease and poverty; another is a fantasy realm where people can imagine things true. The book is essentially a double dystopia, with two different universes that, despite their differences, correspond to one another. Since Vivian can walk both worlds, it is exciting to see the two worlds collide.

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?

LB: My ideas come from imagination. As for the plots, I cannot really say I follow a standard formula, but screenplay writing is a great influencer. I like to play with camera angles, and strive to make my fictional environments as interactive as possible. Pacing, lighting and angles play just as big a role as theme-building and characterization. I always assume my readers have picked up my book because they expect entertainment, and I deliver that entertainment by ‘projecting’ a movie into their mind.

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

LB: Can’t really recall any research, but I did use a skill. Not many people know this, but I have a degree in Norse linguistics. I found myself developing not just one, but 3 distinct fictional languages (and their dialects), fully-equipped with grammar, phonetics, semantics. It took me years, but alas! I had so much fun doing it! I’m sure my former linguistics professor feels proud my degree didn’t completely go to waste.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

LB: By far, Kaap (aka The-Hole-in-the-Wall) was the most difficult. He is a sentient shape-shifting non-human character—that’s a mouthful!—who follows Vivian on her journey. I’ve been told he is so realistic, readers expect him to spring up from the page. Kaap is a walking metaphor of everything Vivian is, and my absolute favourite!

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

LB: A character called Lady Saah, the Artisan. She has one of the most painful inner struggles in the Vivian Amberville series. A certain villain called ‘Ashlar’ was also difficult to write, as villains often are in such stories. Stories are only as strong as your weakest villain, I always say. There is a quote in the book that I believe resumes this quite well: As the Weaver, so is the Thread.

CH: Since this book is about Vivian’s power to reshape events, is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

LB: I’d say quite a few messages, yet the most pivotal one would have to be this: your circumstances don’t define your life. No matter how terrible your circumstances, how dreadful your situation, you remain the creator of your own life; the master of your circumstances. A true Weaver of Odds. Your circumstances don’t define your life—your actions do.

CH: What type of overall feedback are you receiving from readers?

LB: My Publisher recently told me the book has created quite the fanbase. I personally received thousands of messages from readers who felt inspired by Vivian’s journey; people whose appetite for reading was rekindled by the story; people who believe I offered something original and refreshing. I heard many readers are discussing the book’s deeper layers on literature forums. Since this is only the first book in a series of five, I guess only time will tell how this could develop.

CH: Who are some of your fantasy writing influences?

LB: Definitely Lewis Carroll’s quirky Through the Looking Glass is Vivian Amberville’s greatest influencer. I owe my dreamlike narrative style to the surrealist, André Breton, and the absurdist, Kafka. Edgar Allan Poe is again, a big influence, more strongly seen in the novel’s darker scenes. As for the philosophical aspects of the book, J.J. Rousseau, F. Nietzsche and S. Kierkegaard are my pillars.

CH: What has been the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey, so far?

LB: At one point, the book got so known, many of my neighbours had read it. Funny part is, I write under a pen-name, so they didn’t know it was me. I can never forget the look on their faces when they found out!

CH: What can we expect next from you? More books in this series?

LB: The Book of Chaos—Vivian’s sequel—is coming in 2018. In the meantime, I’m working on a humorous sci-fi novel entitled, God is a Robot. Set in a world where the humans are long extinct, 4 unlikely robots will embark on a journey to answer the question: Why have the humans created us?

CH: Can you tell me a little about your website?

LB: Absolutely! I’m continuously working on expanding the trivia page, thus visitors can expect new content every so often.

CH:  How to Find Louise Blackwick:

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

LB: Vivian’s official website is our main selling point. Visitors can purchase both the eBook and the paperback from: https://www.vivianamberville.com/the-book. They can also preview the book on the same address. Smaller selling points are Amazon and Kobo.

CH: Any closing remarks?

LB: Cheryl, Thank you so dearly for this interview! I applaud your amazing initiative and look forward to reading more author interviews on your page!

CH: Thank you so much, Louise Blackwick, 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 Blackwick 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 – Lesley Hayes

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Title: The Other Twin

Genre: Teen/Young Adult/Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis: Since early childhood, Verity has been haunted by the dream of meeting her twin soul. Is such a thing even possible? She thinks she might have found him in Ned, but is he all that he seems? No one and nothing in this novel is as straightforward as it first appears, including Verity. Sometimes, it takes other people to help us discover who we truly are, and the lengths we will go to when pushed. A compelling psychological mystery with the notion of true love at its heart, The Other Twin explores the noxious legacy of suspicion, hatred, revenge, and duplicity—and asks of the reader: just who can you trust?

Lesley Hayes, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest is International Author, Lesley Hayes.  Lesley has noticed as she writes that she has grown wiser in her treatment of her characters.  Welcome to my blog, Lesley.

CH: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read this psychological mystery about love.

LH: Anyone who has ever wondered whether there is such a thing as a soulmate or a twin flame will be beguiled by the story and learn a lot about obsession in the process.

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

LH: I have always been fascinated by twins, and by the notion that although apparently similar, there are also significant differences in their personalities. I’m not the first writer who has elaborated the narrative of ‘good twin’, ‘bad twin’, but I also wanted to explore our need to trust the people we love, and to pose the question: ‘But how can you really be sure when someone is telling you the whole truth?’ …Especially, when your future with that person hinges on the answer.

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

LH: Oh, that would be telling! All writers plunder ruthlessly their own life experience and steal narratives from situations and people they have met. It’s inevitable that in every book I write, there will be elements reminiscent of aspects of life I have lived or heard about. But I also have a fertile imagination and easily move into exploring the territory of ‘What ifs?’

CH: Since you are trying to define love, can you describe your writing style for this mystery/thriller?

LH: I’m told by readers that I have a unique and recognizable voice, whether I’m writing in the first or third person. For this novel, I chose to write the story in the third person, but from Verity’s perspective, so that the reader was kept in the dark as much as she was about what might be going on ‘behind the scenes.’ Writing in the third person gives me the freedom to delve into the history of the main characters, which inevitably brings increasing insight into their hidden motivations.

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

LH: I always write with a deep interest in the psychological makeup of my characters. Creating an expanding picture of them on the inside and revealing what makes them tick, brings a particular satisfaction to the reader. I’ve been told that people find themselves identifying with the characters, relating to them and their emotions and often feeling as though the story is telling them something new about themselves.

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?

LH: I definitely don’t have a formula, which is why all of my novels are so different. Stories come to me; I don’t go looking for them. They arrive almost fully formed in my mind, and then I just have to get on with the hard work of writing them! The structure, dialogue and characterization are all equally as important as the plot itself.

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

LH: Only in a few technical details regarding private aircraft, and the procedure in Oxford airport.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write? Which character was hardest to write?

LH: Ah, that’s impossible to answer. I feel at the end of writing a novel as though I know every character so well, and they each have something special about them. I get so involved in the inner life of my characters that they are all equally enjoyable to write—even the ones who are intentionally dislikeable.

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

LH: That love is challenging, and trust is fragile, and the wounds of childhood go very deep and have a long memory…so be warned, dear reader, you can never be sure that what you see on the surface is even close to the truth of who a person is.

CH: What type of feedback are you receiving from readers?

LH: Five stars all the way as far as the reviews go, which is very affirming. One of the reviewers wrote of The Other Twin: “It has particular emphasis on what has hurt and belittled so many of us in childhood and how that affects the way we interact with others as adults: especially the lies, the half-truths, the yearnings and the disappointments, the rivalries and jealousies that so affect our behaviour towards, and opinion of, others. It is about caring and needing, and living with suffering, about trying and failing to please and to win approval, about trust and betrayal: the endless, manoeuvring maze of human interactions through which we all do our best to find our way.” That review really summed up what I had hoped to achieve.

CH: Who are some of your mystery/thriller/suspense writing influences?

LH: I don’t think any other writers have actually influenced my writing—not consciously, anyway.

CH: What has been the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey?

LH: If I go way back to the beginning, the first short story I had published in a magazine when I was seventeen, and was almost immediately head-hunted by an agent! That was many years ago, and a lot of water has passed under a number of bridges since then. This time around, taking what felt like the breathtakingly daring step of self-publishing my first book on kindle, followed by the first review…that amazing moment when I realised I actually had a following!

CH: What can we expect next from you?

LH: I have two more collections of short stories currently in the pipeline, hopefully to be published before Christmas. I’ve also recently completed my sixth novel, and am endeavouring to find an agent as I’d like this one to be published by the more traditional route. If I can’t get the support of an agent you’ll be seeing that one on kindle and in paperback via Amazon by the end of the year. No spoilers, though. I won’t even divulge the title!

CH: How to Find Lesley Hayes:

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

LH: On Amazon. If you go to my Author page there you’ll find links to The Other Twin and all my other books. There is also a universal link that should reach an Amazon near you anywhere in the world.

CH: Any closing remarks?

LH: Cheryl, I appreciate the opportunity you’ve given me to talk about my work. I’m not great at self publicity as I much prefer writing. When people who read my books ask me to tell them something about myself I usually say: ‘Read between the lines of my books. That’s where you’ll find me.’ Although, I do give quite a lot else away on my website.

CH: Thank you so much, Lesley Hayes, 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, Lesley Hayes 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 – Shyla Colt

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Title: Twist of Fate (Kings of Chaos Book 6)

Genre: Romantic/Multi-Cultural/Interracial

Synopsis: Shayne Spencer wasn’t the man of my dreams.

A twist of fate placed us in the confines of my family’s food truck. The attraction between us was a force of nature we couldn’t ignore. The bonds we formed made me believe in forever, and gave me the courage to break free from the chains of tradition.

Then fate took another turn, and I learned Shayne wasn’t who he said he was. Now, I’m forced to question everything I thought I knew.

I went on a mission for the Kings of Chaos looking for, redemption and reconciliation with my hate-filled past. What I found was the greatest treasure I never knew I was seeking, Xia Foley. I should never have gotten involved with the brown-skinned woman. My hands are stained with the dirt I’ve done and the choices I made.

Will my past as the reformed son of a racist traitor ruin my chance at creating a future worth living?

Shyla Colt, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Shyla Colt. Three of her favorite writing areas are strong females, pop culture, and alternate routes to happy ever after. Welcome to my blog, Shyla.

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

SC: Two lost souls, find more than themselves when fate places them together. They discover a love worth fighting for.

CH:  A twist of fate…how did you come up with the premise for this book?

SC: I love reality tv, where people compete. I was watching Master Chef with my family, and this story hit me.

CH: Why did you decide to write this book?

SC: I wanted to do something fun, with the competition in the book, and I wanted to write a coming of age story for an older woman. Sometimes it takes more time to figure things out, and become the adults we want to be.

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

SC: I don’t believe so.  I think we’ve all been cast into roles that don’t suit us at one time, and we stay for one reason or another.

It takes courage to break free, take risks, and in some cases go against our family. As someone who has a job in the creative field, I understood that feeling well. People don’t always understand what you do, or why you do it.

I also related to the theme of racism and the change that can come from understanding, and knowledge, because I’ve seen that happen, and I wanted to tell that story.

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?

SC: My ideas come from all over the place. I might see a movie, or a tv show. It could be sparked by a place I saw on a road trip.

I’m a character-driven writer, so often the character comes to me and tells me their story, or something happens that triggers me developing a character to match it.

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

SC: I’m not sure how to answer this. I’m a pretty unique person, and I think my perspective, and the things I write about can be unique, i.e., the food truck business in this story.

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

SC: I did a decent amount, to get the food truck business and contests correct. Because I once lived near the areas I wrote about. I didn’t have to invest as much time on the setting, as I usually do.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

SC: Oh wow, I think Xia. I loved her unique style, determination, and drive. I admired her.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

SC: Hmmm. I think Xia’s father. I didn’t like some of the things he did, but I had to stay true to him as a character.

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?

SC: I did know it would be a series. I really enjoy world building, so I was excited. Wow, the hardest one to write…maybe For the Love of Dixie, because of the very sensitive subject matter.

CH: Will there be other books in this series?

SC: Yes, there will be a few more.

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

SC: Love is for everyone and tragedy, or hard times don’t last forever.

CH: What type of feedback are you receiving from readers?

SC: I get the good, the bad, and the honest. (Shyla laughs) I’m blessed to have readers who take the time to tell me what they enjoyed, didn’t enjoy, and would like to see more. I appreciate them so much.

CH: What can we expect from you next—more series or a stand alone?

SC: A mixture of both. I try to keep things varied.

CH: How to Find Shyla Colt:

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

SC: Amazon

CH: Any closing remarks?

SC:  Cheryl, Thank you for having me. It’s been a lot of fun.

CH: Thank you so much, Shyla Colt, 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, Shyla Colt 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 – Toki Smith

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Title: Them Inside Me

Genre: African-American Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Synopsis: Several women come together to support each other while trying to find healthy ways to deal with the traumas each has faced. But during the course of their 8 week support group, betrayal, self-doubt and even murder begins to threaten their path to becoming survivors. “Them Inside Me” is a look at sexual assault and the long-term consequences.

Toki Smith, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Toki Smith. She is a passionate writer who takes real situations and creates an inspiring novel. Welcome to my blog, Toki.

CH: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read your book.

 TS: My book is, not only a murder mystery, but also elements of my own journey as a sexual assault victim.

CH: This book is about a support group of women dealing with traumas. Why did you decide to write this book?

TS: I haven’t read books about “real” characters in a trauma support group.  Many books have the standard few characters that are so one dimensional, it will falsely leave you thinking all victims present have the same cookie cutter behaviors.  I wanted to show, from a personal experience, what it was like for me in a support group.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues?

TS: It was hard to express my life situations in a way that drove the fictionalized elements of the story.  I wanted to be true to my history, while not making this a biography, per se.  I haven’t known pimps and prostitutes, so I drew on some of those 1970’s TV shows for inspiration!

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

TS: My first book, The Plan, featured an assassin and I wanted to tell a story about how that person became a killer and a human being without regard for others.  During my journey, I’ve wondered why I became a law-abiding citizen and not a hard, hostile and unforgiving person.  So, I got to explore the dangerous side through my writing.

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

TS: The feedback has been universal—the characters speak like people they know.  I tried to use an honest voice, as I think the character would want to express their truth.

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

TS: Yes, I set my story in a fictional town in West Virginia, but my son, who is a West Virginia University student, made me a map of the downtown area, so I could use it for the story.  Otherwise, I relied on my clinical skills, I’m a clinical social worker (mental health therapist) and a survivor of rape and incest.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

TS: My favorite character to write was Yvette!  She was a ‘tell-it-like-it is’ girl and I wish I could be more like her and not care about the consequences.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

TS: Penny for sure…she was a professional dealing with the long-standing consequences of being raped by a cousin.  Reliving my own rape to write her storyline was very painful.

CH: Tell us a little about your first book and whether you will decide to make your second book a series?

TS:  My first book, The Plan, introduced us to an assassin, but it’s definitely a stand-alone book.  I’m not sure if Them Inside Me will be a series.  Although, I have gotten feedback that certain characters should have their own books.

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

TS: Yes, a few take-aways would be:

  • Don’t assume you know how the victim feels;
  • Some families do make it back from trauma;
  • Don’t assume every victim is the same;
  • Suicide may not be an option to you, but respect that victims may see it as a very real option; or
  • There is help out there…keep living till you find it.

CH: What type of feedback are you receiving from readers?

TS: Sexual assault victims have reached out to me with thanks for giving them a voice.  One lady’s mother committed suicide years ago and she wanted to thank me for giving her some idea of what her mother may have been dealing with.

The Center for Abused Persons asked me to be their guest speaker (Victim’s Vigil) and from there, the Charles County Commissioners invited me to speak at a town hall meeting about childhood sexual abuse.

Lastly, one of my first therapists wrote that she was proud of me and my book was “on par with the mysteries I read.”

CH: Who are some of your writing influences?

TS: Janet Evanovich and James Patterson.

CH: What has been the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey?

TS: Meeting other victims and having them tell me I got it right!

CH: What can we expect next from you?

TS: I would really like to write a story where Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford get back together!  I can’t believe The Way We Were has been left for so long with their characters still apart!

CH: How to Find Toki Smith:

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

TS: My above website and Amazon; also found at Southern Maryland libraries!

CH: Any closing remarks?

TS: Thanks Cheryl for offering your platform to support other writers.

CH: Yes, I pay it forward to other authors as much as I can. Thank you so much, Toki 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, Toki Smith and Cheryl Holloway.

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Guest Author Interview – Jeanna L. Pryor

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Title: Every Penny Counts: Become A Middle-Income Millionaire

 Genre: Personal Finance/Money Management

 Synopsis: Are you fed up of living paycheck to paycheck? Every Penny Counts shows you how to become debt free and build wealth using the money you make. Middle-income workers make hundreds of thousands of dollars during their working lifetime, but struggle to live day-to-day and retire at near-poverty levels. You don’t have to! You can live the American dream using your take home pay. You don’t have to be rich to become rich. You can live in comfort, buy a home, pay for college, take vacations, and stop robbing Peter to pay Paul. Follow the techniques and principals outlined in Every Penny Counts to begin a chain reaction of financial success.

Jeanna L. Pryor, Author and Financial Coach

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Jeanna L. Pryor. She is a Financial Coach and helps people to become middle-income millionaires. Welcome to my blog, Jeanna.

CH: Please tell us in sentence, why we should read your book.

JLP: Many struggle with getting the most with the money they make, this book tells you how.

CH: Why did you decide to write this book?

 JLP: I began writing the book in 1982 when I began teaching and assisting individuals with their finances, in 2009, I finally put all of my notes together and wrote the book over a two-week period.

CH: Why is it important for middle-income people to have financial freedom?

JLP: It’s important for everyone to achieve financial independence.  The difference between financial freedom and independence is independence is a level of financial security that only the individual can determine.  Freedom is rarely achieved, because laws and needs change.

CH: What is generational wealth? Why is it important to our generation?

JLP: Generational wealth is created when a financial inheritance of assets (money, property, stocks, etc.) are left from one generation to the other.  These assets continue to increase in value and are used as leverage to achieve more wealth.  It’s important because it catapults each generation financially forward to achieve a legacy, create jobs, and more assets.  Great examples of generational wealth are the Hiltons, Kennedy’s, Walton’s, and Rockefeller’s etc..

CH: What is a fiduciary? Are you a fiduciary?

JLP: A fiduciary is a financial advisor that is under law to place their client’s interests above their own when providing financial advice.  This is important because while they could benefit financially and make more money providing a recommendation, if the recommendation is not in the clients’ best interest, they cannot make the recommendation.  Yes, I am a fiduciary.  But more importantly, without the legal requirement to do so, as a person of integrity and moral character, I would not make a recommendation that is not in the best interest of my client.

CH: What type of services does a financial planner provide?

JLP: It depends on their license and competence.  The services could include, financial planning for retirement, college, etc., investment executions, banking, and insurance.

CH: Do you offer sample financial plans?

JLP: Yes

CH: What are ‘penny’ stocks?

JLP: Penny stock is stock that cost less than $5 per share.

CH: Is there a special investment approach that middle income families should use?

JLP: No.  Each investment approach is unique to the individual, their financial goals, the funds they have available to achieve the goal and how much risk they feel comfortable taking. There is no one-size fits all.

CH: Should people use eTrade?

JLP: Self-trade and eTrade platforms are great for individuals that are willing to do their own research and investing.  I recommend self-traders consult with a fee-based financial advisor at least annually to get a comprehensive check-up on how they are progressing with their financial goals.  Making trades is only one component of financial planning and goal setting.

CH: Is financial planning a one-on-one process or do you work with a team of advisors?

JLP: The consultation should be a one-on-one or family process to ensure the individual’s needs are met.  The consultation to create the best financial platform should be a team process.  By this I mean, tax, accountants, banking, legal, etc., experts work with the financial advisor to create the best solution for their client.

CH: What are some of the most important financial resources ordinary people need?

JLP: Like the previous answer, the resources are experts in finance, law, banking, taxes, and accounting for starters.  Each considers the implication each of their expertise can be used to help their client achieve their financial goals.

CH: Realistically, can a middle income person become a millionaire?

JLP: Absolutely.  Most middle-income persons will make over a million dollars during their working lifetime.  The key is having strategies to keep and grow most of what they make.  That’s where their expert financial team can help.

CH: What type of feedback are you receiving from readers of your book?

JLP: Most are surprised at the budget strategy I teach in the book.  Those that have employed it have eliminated their debt in less than three years.  They also share how they became more aware of where they were spending money and how to redirect those funds to achieve the goals they wanted.

CH: How to Find Jeanna L. Pryor:

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

JLP: Amazon is the best place to find it.

CH: Any closing remarks?

JLP: Ms. Holloway, thanks for this opportunity to share my thoughts on Every Penny Counts.  The principals taught in the book have been used with great success, since 1982 with my clients and students.  Try them for yourself.

CH: Thank you so much, Jeanna L. Pryor, 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, Jeanna L. Pryor 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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Flash Book Sale on Cheryl Holloway’s New Print Book!

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To My Loyal Fans and Readers,

You will receive an autographed copy of the  book, a bookmark, a pen and a coaster for your coffee cup or wine glass!

Plus…$1 Shipping  All for only…Email: authorCherylHolloway@gmail.com

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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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Cheryl Holloway Says, “How Important Are Book Reviews?”

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“How Important Are Book Reviews?”

I firmly believe book reviews are an essential part of reading a book.

What does it mean to review a book?

According to the internet, A book review is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review may be a primary source, opinion piece, or summary review.

As an author, book reviews are the first thing I look at on Amazon. They tell me about my writing—overall. Reviews are an important way of getting the word out about books, and for authors, reviews are the much needed feedback about their work—encouragement from others. It is a validation of an author’s hard work—a validation by readers, fans, peers and friends/family.

I think, book reviewers have a different perspective on writing reviews. For them, it is an exercise in thinking about an author’s words and how she/he organized them and presented those words to the world.

I recently released one of my eBooks as a print book, A Sisterhood of Women Living Life: A Short Story Collection Book 1. I’ve sold several copies of the book and I encourage readers to stop by Amazon and leave a book review. I read somewhere that only 5% of readers write a review. I find that 1 in 250 readers write a review for the average author. However, for a celebrity author, they are knocking down the door to write a book review. How ironic, those are the very authors who don’t need a review. Oh, well…

On the other hand, many of my readers email me to tell me how much they enjoyed my books. This is wonderful, but no one sees their comments but me and them.

Recently, a friend, since I was 16 years old, finally read one of my books. (I have nine books on Amazon.) She said, “Wow, I didn’t know that you were such a great writer and story teller. Your book is wonderful. I’ve read it three times in a three days.” It is a stellar review.

So, how can I encourage the readers to tell me and tell the world about my books?

Amazon Link: http://tiny.cc/3f9uny

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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 – Rachel J. Good

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Title: Buried Secrets (Sisters and Friends Series )

 Genre: Religious/Inspirational/Romance/Amish

Synopsis: Overcome the past and any other obstacles that stand in the way of the future God has planned for you.

Three years after the accident that almost claimed her life, Emma Esh has recovered physically, but has no memory of the year before the accident. When she moves to a new community to help her sister Lydia and brother-in-law, Caleb, prepare for the birth of twins, she falls for their neighbor Samuel.

But the twins’ premature birth, a visit from the Englisher Emma once dated, and the sudden return of her memory threaten Emma’s romance. After the secrets of her past are revealed, will love be able to overcome all obstacles?

Rachel J. Good, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Rachel J. Good. Rachel writes heartfelt tales of faith, hope and forgiveness. Welcome to my blog, Rachel.

CH: Can you sum up your Amish/Inspirational novel in 20 words or less?

RJG: Secrets from the past threaten to destroy Emma’s budding relationship with Sam and make her doubt God’s love and forgiveness.

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

RJG: I created this story from my imagination, but I take the feelings and reactions from real situations that are similar to those in the book. I chose three sisters for the first three books because I’m one of three girls, so that was a conscious choice, but the sisters don’t really resemble my family. But in the first novel of the series, Change of Heart, I discovered after I wrote it, that it had many parallels with my life and that of close family members. Interestingly enough, while I was writing it, I wasn’t thinking about those events. The other things I find is that the spiritual truths I’m exploring in each book are usually lessons I need to learn.

CH: What made you decide to write this series about sisters and friends?

RJG: Because I have Amish friends, I like being able to introduce readers to Amish lifestyles and beliefs, which I hope will make them more respectful of the Amish culture and lead to a greater understanding. So many people are curious about the Amish and admire their lifestyle, but I want to show that they have problems and challenges the same as the rest of the world, but I also want to reveal the depth of their faith and, in this book, the emphasis they place on forgiveness.

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

RJG: For this book, I spent time in the Northern Dauphin area, which is where Emma travels from her Lancaster home. I do a lot of research for all my books, spending time in the areas where they’re set, visiting all the places I mentioned, meeting the Amish in that area, reading about physical and mental healing (and going to Amish healers), checking with professionals about all the topics in the book. Once I’ve completed all the general research, I talk to Amish friends and have beta readers check all of my information. I try to select people who have been through some of the experiences in the book to be sure they ring true.

Sometimes, I stumble upon great ideas for other books while I’m researching, which is an extra bonus. One of my friends in the Northern Dauphin area gave the Amish school the right-of-way through their land, so I spent time observing the Amish children driving their pony carts to school. It was fascinating to see eight-year-olds driving down country roads to get to school. Those visits sparked one of my next books, The Amish Teacher’s Gift (April 2018). Of course, that meant I needed to visit Amish schools, which was fun. Next, I will be tagging along with a Lancaster County midwife for The Amish Midwife’s Secret.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

RJG: I love Emma, the main character of the book. She was the troubled younger sister in book 1, Change of Heart, who rebelled against God, her family and her community. I’ve always been partial to troublemakers. I think they often rail against lies and hypocrisy. Sometimes, they speak truths that others refuse to see. But they’re often hard on themselves.

After Emma’s wildness during Rumschpringa (the Amish teens’ running around time), she ends up in a lot of trouble. When Buried Secrets opens, Emma has amnesia because of an accident and doesn’t remember what she did in the past. Over the course of the book, her memory slowly returns. She must face some devastating secrets from her past, which make her doubt her worthiness to be loved or forgiven. I like that Emma is willing to be honest and courageous, when she chooses not to conceal the truth.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

RJG: I had two characters I struggled with writing. The first was Emma’s oldest sister, Lydia, who interferes in Emma’s life. In the first draft, she came across as mean and bossy. My editor suggested writing some chapters from Lydia’s point of view. To do that, I had to really dig into Lydia’s personality to uncover her love for her sister and the caring that lay underneath her critical exterior.

The other character was Emma’s father. He reveals a shocking secret from the past, but I wanted readers to empathize with him rather than judge him. It was a delicate balance to keep him likeable despite what he’d done to hurt others.

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

RJG: When I signed the contract, the publisher offered a three-book deal, so I had to come up with two more ideas for the series. I decided to tell one story about each of the three Esh sisters. Since then, I’ve come up with three more stories about the characters in this series, but some of them will be put out by different publishers.

Once I finished writing the first three books, I found myself wanting to explore the lives of some of the other characters in the books. So, Lights, Camera…Love tells the story of Rebecca, the head teacher and best friend to Sarah, the youngest Esh sister. Many readers wondered about Kyle, the headstrong Englisher (non-Amish) Emma dated, and his story will be in The Amish Midwife’s Secret. Ada, who appears in Gift From Above, is the schoolteacher in The Amish Teacher’s Gift. Several of my minor characters also show up in the anthologies Springs of Love and A Plain Hearth.

I think the reason for the continuation of the series is that the characters become so real to me, and I want to tell their stories. I also find that I subconsciously include details that don’t seem very important at the time, but later I realize that those details are important to another character’s story and they make a perfect set-up for a new story. I’m not sure exactly how the mind works that way. Perhaps the best explanation is that it’s God’s leading. He knows what I’m going to write next, even if I don’t, and He prepares the seeds for that story.

CH: So far, which book in the series was hardest to write?

RJG: I struggled the most with the third book, Gift From Above, which tells the story of the sweet youngest sister, Sarah. A lot of readers said she’s their favorite character. She’s near and dear to my heart too, because she always tries to do the right thing. That’s terrific in real life, but when you’re trying to write stories, you need tension and conflict. It’s hard to create conflicts when a character is so nice. I really struggled to come up with problems for Sarah, but I managed to put her in a moral dilemma, where she must decide about keeping someone’s secret, which she promised to do, and telling the truth when it appears that secret will endanger her best friend and others in the community.

CH: One of your reviewers said that this is a well-layered story of love, loss, growth, forgiveness, and redemption. What overall feedback have you received from readers?

RJG: I’ve been amazed at how many people were drawn to this story. On the website, ChristianBooks.com it has 4.9 stars and on Amazon it has 4.8 stars.

CH: Is there a message in this book that you want readers to grasp?

RJG: For me, one of the main messages is that we often underestimate God’s forgiveness. Sometimes, we harbor the feeling that God (or others) could never forgive us for something we’ve done. The truth often is that we can’t forgive ourselves. God’s mercy is unending.

In addition to God’s forgiveness, the characters in the book are faced with situations that must be forgiven—often for sins many of us consider unforgiveable. But healing comes when we open our hearts first to God’s forgiveness and then extend that forgiveness to others who have hurt us.

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

RJG: I try to write faster-paced books with more action and drama than are usually found in typical Amish novels. In Buried Secrets, I touch on a taboo topic I haven’t seen before in any Amish stories I’ve read.

CH: Who are some of your Amish writing influences?

RJG: This is a hard question to answer. I admire so many authors, but I try to bring my own style to the stories I tell.

CH: What has been the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey?

RJG: For me, connecting with readers and fans of the Amish genre has been awesome. I find them so loving and supportive. It’s been such a joy to meet each and every one of them.

As for the actual publishing part, I’ve been thrilled to have an awesome agent, who does so much to help my career. I’ve been humbled that several major publishers have been interested in acquiring my work. It was especially exciting when one of the publishers I’ve always aspired to work for emailed me out of the blue with an offer because of her interest in Buried Secrets. I can’t say more about that yet because we haven’t finalized the contract, but I was thrilled to have a publisher seek me out.

CH: What can we expect from you next?

RJG: I have quite a few books under contract and/or coming out soon. Book 3 in the Sisters and Friends series, Gift From Above, will come out in Nov. That will be followed by Book 4, Lights, Camera…Love (2018).

This fall, I’ll have a story in an anthology, A Plain Thanksgiving, with authors Laura Hilton and Thomas Nye.

I’m also writing the Love & Promises series, which includes The Amish Teacher’s Gift (Apr. 2018), The Amish Midwife’s Secret (Oct. 2018), and The Amish Widow’s Rescue (Mar. 2019). I have 2 books coming out in the Hearts of Amish Country series (Jan/Apr. 2018)—Hearts Reunited and Secret Identity.

CH: Can you give my audience your website address?

RJG: I’d be happy to (below) and readers who love Amish novels, can sign up for my newsletter on my website.

CH: How to Find Rachel J. Good:        

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

RJG: Online at Amazon and Christian Books; some Walmart stores (will be coming soon to many more), and many bookstores. If your local bookstore doesn’t carry it, you can ask them to order it in.

CH: Any closing remarks?

RJG: I’m so grateful to God for leading me down this path. I’ve always been a reader, but it’s been a joy to write books for others to read. I just want to encourage anyone who has a dream to follow their passion. God put that dream in your heart for a reason. Sometimes, it seems like there’s no way to reach that dream, but trust God to lead you. Start small and do something every day to move yourself in the direction you hope to go. Each step will bring you one step closer.

Thank you so much for having me, Cheryl. I appreciated your insightful questions.

CH: Thank you so much, Rachel J. Good, 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, Rachel J. Good 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 – Angelica Kate

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Title: Scars of Yesterday

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Military

 Synopsis: Jordan Kuriel was tough as nails, immovable and unflinching which were the very characteristics that propelled her into a decorated military career serving multiple tours overseas, until the moment a bomb ended that trajectory and sent her state’s side for good. Upon her return home, she found her younger sister’s lifetime of bad choices come to a head making Jordan a single mother causing her life’s mission to take a drastic turn. Balancing her grief, healing and an infant Jordan finds peace with the past and focuses on building the life she desires for her new son. Over time Jordan comes to cherish her close-knit family, a career she loves and is making the best of all her blessings while never allowing herself to focus on the sacrifices her injuries forced upon her and ruin that peaceful existence. That balance is upended the day she comes home to one of the richest men in America standing on her doorstep demanding her name a number for her to turn over custody of her son.

Domninic Bansuelos runs his families multi-national company with firm but fair hands and puts his duty to the masses of employees and his family above his own happiness. The scar across his heart honed by hordes of people who only seek his company to better their bank accounts, company position or other selfish endeavors causes him to always feel alone even in the most crowded of public spotlights. He was raised by parents who only ever had eyes for each other until the moment his father passed on the reigns of their kingdom to him. His parent’s marriage provided him a blueprint of the ideal relationship that no woman has ever been able to attain and give him a reason to break his bachelor existence. When his mother demands he once again clean up his baby brother’s mess, and try to gain custody of the nephew he never knew existed he crosses path with the indomitable force that is Jordan Kuriel. He had hoped for a simple showing of force to back her down but soon finds out that where this woman is concerned nothing is that simple.

Angelica Kate, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Angelica Kate. She is a lifetime scribbler who has always enjoyed writing as a release of her creative juices.  Welcome to my blog, Angelica.

CH: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read your book.

AK: This book is filled with feel good characters you want to cheer for from the first page.

CH: What made you decide to write about a good/bad set of brothers and a good/bad set of sisters in your book?

AK: As the oldest sibling in a large family, I like seeing the way that elder siblings react to situations that many times are in direct opposition to how others might react.  I enjoy exploring these bonds that are strong despite the differences, and no matter what love of family—triumphs, trials and tribulations occur.

CH: Military, foster care, rich lifestyle and romance are all in one novel. How did you come up with the premise for this book?

AK: My family has always fostered children and had strong military ties through multi-generations serving in various branches of the military. I enjoy honoring these relationships in my own life by weaving them into stories.

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

AK: I took them from news stories I have read of veterans loosing limbs and wanted to honor that sacrifice, while expanding the dimensions of these polar opposites.  I always enjoy writing contemporary stories that are familiar and also uplifting and inspiring.

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?

AK: I tend to find my stories in headlines in the news. I enjoy reading about people and imagining the other side of the story. The murder victim that isn’t a victim, foster kids that rise up above their situation, the abused mom who pulls herself up and starts over inspiring others around her through their own struggles.  It seems like every time someone tells me the news is all depressing, I have to disagree because I see the start of a great story beyond the headlines.

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

AK: My husband is a veteran, his brothers served, his father served and hordes of other friends and extended family. I love listening to their stories and asking questions of their experiences to weave into my stories.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

AK: I loved Jordan, she is strong in all she has survived, but soft in how she loves her family and nephew/son. She is driven by a duty above all others, and need to protect those around her from everything that duty drives her to see and experience. I felt she was a wonderfully complex and enjoyable character to bring to life.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

AK: Dominic was tough for me, as he had so much and that was difficult to write and balance it with scars so deep it could overshadow nearly everything he had. Finding a good balance in that level of wealth and privilege, with the solitude, anger and grief his past causes him to live with daily. I couldn’t imagine how someone in this status would exhibit his emotions. I had to read other stories and articles and hope I could do him justice.

CH: Is there a message in this book that you want readers to grasp?

AK: Absolutely, never judge a book or person by their outward appearance and belongings. The heart and emotions of anybody is a hard thing to know, so always give everyone the same amount of respect and consideration you yourself would want provided.

CH: Since you’ve written several books, what is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

 AK: I bring stories of common people, in uncommon situations that climb above their station and circumstances. I want characters that anyone can relate to and want to cheer the story through to completion due to investing in the characters themselves.

CH: You seem to have written several books about the military and war. Were you in the military, and do you use your experiences as a backstory for your books?

 AK: I was not, but my husband was and still goes through putting little routines related to his service every day. I think we owe a debt of honor to those that serve, and find that calling to be one that I myself want to honor through my writing, whenever possible.

CH: Who are some of your writing influences?

AK: Erma Bombeck, Shel Silverstein, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Suzanne Collins.

CH: What has been the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey?

AK: Seeing my first book on Amazon will remain the best day of my journey so far, having a bestseller go number one on Amazon and finally becoming part of a boxset with a large group of women authors.

CH: What can we expect from you next?

AK: I am writing an expanse science fiction trilogy that I am hoping to bring out in 2018, and have one more romance novel due out Christmas of 2017.

CH: How to Find Angelica Kate:

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

AK: Amazon for my ebooks; itunes/audible for my audio books; and my paperbacks on most online platforms.

CH: Any closing remarks?

AK: Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me, Cheryl. It was a great honor to discuss my passion of writing with you and I hope your readers find one of my books to enjoy in the future.

CH: Thank you so much, Angelica Kate, 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, Angelica Kate 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 – Lynne M. Spreen

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Title: Key Largo Blues (Karen Grace Book 2)

 Genre: Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance

 Synopsis: When Karen Grace turned fifty, she lost her husband and her job. Now she’s starting over, and this time, she’s determined to build a new life on her own terms. However, she’s being pulled in multiple directions: her family and friends want more of her time, her hometown sweetheart wants a commitment, and her fledgling business is on life support.

With the hard-won confidence of midlife, Karen knows what she needs to do, and pays the heartbreaking price for pursuing her dreams. And while grieving that decision, another challenge lands: Frieda’s granddaughter arrives on her doorstep in Key Largo, pleading for refuge.

In this life-affirming sequel to Dakota Blues, Karen Grace completes her journey, deciding what can be saved and what must be jettisoned as she navigates passage into the second half of her life.

Lynne M. Spreen, Author

 CH: Today’s Guest Author is Lynne M. Spreen.  She says, “As an author, I write about older people, because I’m fascinated by the incredible drama we go through.” Welcome to my blog, Lynne.

CH: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read your book.

LMS: My novels are a fun and emotional read; and they’re geared to positive aging, so readers of every age will feel uplifted about the second half of life.

CH: This book is about a female mid-life crisis. Why did you decide to write this book?

LMS: I enjoy reading and writing about women who are age fifty and over. Dakota Blues was the first, and when readers asked for a sequel, I was happy to oblige them.

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

LMS: It wasn’t hard, and they sprang from my imagination and real life. Dakota Blues was more autobiographical. I think a lot of first-time authors draw from their own lives. But Key Largo Blues was more imaginary. Although, now that I think of it, some parts, like what it feels like to experience domestic abuse, were not made up—unfortunately.

CH: Where do your ideas come from?

LMS: Lots of authors are asked that question, but I’ll bet few of them give this answer: advice columns! I grew up reading Dear Abby and Ann Landers, and I’m still hooked on Carolyn Hax, Ask Amy, and E. Jean’s column in Elle Magazine. I’ll be reading and all of a sudden, I want to know more about the person who wrote in, but since I never will, I get to make it up. Or maybe, they sound like a character I’d like to include in a book. I print out the column, make notes about why it compels me, and put it in my idea folder.

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

LMS: I don’t have a standard formula for plots. I wish I did! But each book is its own creation.

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

LMS: People have told me two things about my style: that it pulls hard on your emotions, and that my descriptions of settings affect them deeply. For example, After Dakota Blues, a neighbor sold her house and became a full-time RVer. They say my writing makes them feel as if they are there, smelling the salt air and feeling the soft, warm air on bare skin.

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

LMS: Oh, for sure, Cheryl! Being the diligent writer that I am, I made several trips to the Florida Keys to do research—long and arduous research.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

LMS: My favorite character was probably Frieda, in Dakota Blues. She just popped in one day and I couldn’t get rid of her. My readers loved her, because (down side) I have this quirk in my writing: my sidekick characters threaten to take over! Karen, pretty much, is me. But Frieda and Fern and Jessie are all inventions, who just flew out of my head onto the page and now, they feel like real people! All of them were easy to write.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

LMS: The only time a character is difficult to write is if I’ve made some kind of mistake with them. Like the worst reason ever to invent a character is to reflect some creepazoid in your real life. It’s innocent fun, I guess, but it never works. They just go nowhere, which has to be karma. When they fall flat, you deserve it. So, when a character turns out to be a dud, I pick them up, look at them for a long time, ask them if there’s any way they can change to legitimately serve the story, and if the answer’s no, they go in the ‘Some Other Time’ folder.

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

LMS: No, I had no idea that Dakota Blues would turn out to be the first book, and Key Largo Blues, the second, in a series. In fact, when readers said they wanted a sequel, I had to put aside a different book and write Key Largo Blues. Now, I’m working on another sequel, Palm Springs Blues, and after that I’m mapping out Sedona Blues, so the die is cast.

CH: Which book in the series was hardest to write?

LMS: Oh, Dakota Blues for sure was the hardest, because I was a newbie writer. Dakota Blues took me about eight years. Every time I took a class on structure, plot or characterization, for example, I had to go back and redo a bunch of pages. I think of Dakota Blues as my Master’s Degree in Fiction. And it won an award, so I guess all that time was worth it.

CH: Is there a message in this book that you want readers to grasp?

LMS: Yes. I want readers to get a sense from every book I write that the second half of life is amazing! That you’re not alone. That people everywhere are going through what you’re experiencing and they’re finding solutions, and becoming happy again. Authors aren’t supposed to have messages, so I’m not supposed to admit that. But if anything drives me, it’s that.

CH: What has been the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey?

LMS: People telling me how much they enjoyed my books, and why. When they get attached to a theme or character, or draw out some special, personalized meaning, that just floors me. I feel like we’ve connected in a deep way—heartwise— and that’s the best part of being human.

CH: What type of feedback are you receiving from readers?

LMS: Very encouraging. I wish I could write faster! They want more books. I get lots of great reviews.

CH: What can we expect from you next?

LMS: Palm Springs Blues is the sequel to Key Largo Blues and it’s kind of interesting in that it’s a novel in four parts. Each part is an epilogue for characters that appeared in the two earlier books. Part One is a crisis affecting Fern and Belle. Part Two is Rita, the trucker, and her boyfriend, Grady. Part Three is Jessie and her mother, Sandy. And Part Four occurs in North Dakota, tying up loose ends and making new beginnings for Karen and Curt. The book is in first person, in Karen’s point of view, and she travels to four different cities visiting friends and dealing with the crises.

CH: Wow. Lynne, that certainly sounds like a great sequel! I will have to invite you back.

CH: How to Find Lynne M. Spreen:

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

LMS: The best source is Amazon.com.

CH: Any closing remarks?

LMS: Only to tell younger people that getting older is a blast! And that I’m so blessed to be able to do this, after waiting a lifetime for the chance. Cheryl, thanks for inviting me.

CH: Thank you so much, Lynne M. Spreen, 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, Lynne M. Spreen 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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Questions? Comments? Interviews? Contact :

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Guest Author Interview – Lachlan Walter

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Title: The Rain Never Came

Genre: Sci-Fi/Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic

Synopsis: In a thirsty, drought-stricken Australia, the country is well and truly sunburnt. As the Eastern states are evacuated to more appealing climates, a stubborn few resist the forced removal. They hide out in small country towns – where no one would ever bother looking.

Bill Cook and Tobe Cousins are united in their disregard of the law. Aussie larrikins, they pass their hot, monotonous existence drinking at the barely standing pub.

When strange lights appear across the Western sky, it seems that those embittered by the drought are seeking revenge. And Bill and Tobe are in their path. In the heat of the moment secrets will be revealed, and survival can’t be guaranteed.

Lachlan Walter, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest is International Author, Lachlan Walter. He has completed a PhD that critically and creatively explored the relationship between Australian post-apocalyptic fiction and Australian notions of national identity. Welcome to my blog, Lachlan.

CH: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read your book.

LW: Told in an unmistakably and undeniably Australian voice, The Rain Never Came will show you a different end of the world, one of thirst and drought and baked earth, of mateship and laconicism and black humor.

CH: Since this book is about a drought in Australia, was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

LW: A great deal of The Rain Never Came is extrapolated from real life. Almost a decade ago, I moved back to my hometown at the tail end of a ten-year drought that devastated much of Australia’s south-east. My hometown is a tiny country town, deep in the bush—at that time, it was suffering from the effects of this drought. Life was strange: communities were fraying; some people who depended on water for their livelihood began abandoning the land and moving to the city; and water theft had become common.

It seemed as if the past had returned—a world of hard work, dust and thirst. And yet, we were surrounded by the trappings of 21st Century life. More than anything else, this world of old and new seemed like the beginning of some post-apocalyptic world you would find in science fiction. From there, based on my own experience, it was easy to imagine the parched land only a handful of years hence. And so The Rain Never Came was born.

CH: What made you decide to write this book?

LW: I returned to university in my late twenties, to finish a Bachelor’s Degree that life had interrupted. I’d already had the idea for The Rain Never Came, but turning it into a book seemed like a fantasy. However, during my degree and my honors year, I took quite a few writing classes, and rediscovered a passion and enthusiasm for writing that I thought had disappeared.

I practiced a lot, trying to find a voice and point-of-view all my own. I finished my studies and returned to real life, writing as much as I could, whenever I could. And then one day, the opportunity arose to do a PhD, which would involve writing both a novel and a piece of literary criticism. I seized it, realizing that it would be the perfect environment to bring The Rain Never Came to life.

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?

LW: Like most writers of science fiction/speculative fiction, the big ideas at the heart of my stories are really just frameworks upon which I can hang explorations of the ways in which people might react to their new situations and new worlds. After all, an idea isn’t a story—it’s more like a spark—a spark that ignites a fire. As I want my fires to contain what-ifs and maybes (that nonetheless still connect to the world we live in), I’m always on the lookout for real-life stories that seem to point towards our future—changes in technology, politics, culture, the environment, medical science, communication devices, interpersonal relationships, infrastructure systems, and organizational, learning and teaching methods.

And then it’s just a matter of extrapolating a new idea from any particular real-life stories that grab me, and working out how this new idea might affect everyday people. To do this, I rely on every writer’s trick: observing and eavesdropping, creating characters and situations by recombining the people I know and see and the minutiae of life around me. Once I’ve got the first inklings of my characters and a plot, I then tend to just spend time with them and let them reveal themselves through the process of writing—their formation should be a bottom-up process, based on attempts at realistic actions and reactions, rather than a top-down process, whereby the stricture of a predetermined plot guides them with an unwavering hand.

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

LW: Most of the way of life portrayed in The Rain Never Came was based on observation, guesswork and my own prior knowledge—the only real research that was necessary was on the effects of dehydration. And even then, we’ve all been thirsty at some time. 

CH: Who was your favorite character to write? And which character was hardest to write?

LW: I didn’t have a favorite character to write, or a least favorite. Likewise I didn’t find any one particular character harder to write than any other. What I did find was that there were some character moments I thoroughly enjoyed, and some that I didn’t enjoy much at all. Funnily enough, these two disparate moments both involved the same characters: Bill and Tobe.

Even though Bill and Tobe are almost entirely fictional creations, there is one part of their relationship that is steeped in reality: the shit-stirring, knockabout sense of mateship that they share. Here, I drew upon the same kind of Australian-style trash-talk that exists between some of my own friends and I, and thoroughly enjoyed the process – the roughness and dismissiveness that they show towards each other, which masks genuine concern and compassion, never failed to make me smile. And so, without giving things away, I found writing the flip-side of their relationship to be a difficult and sometimes enjoyment-free process, so invested was I in the light-hearted and affectionately derogatory vibe that exists between them.

CH: Is there a message in this book that you want readers to grasp?

LW: I don’t really like highlighting particular messages that I want readers to take from my work—I feel that the beauty and the joy of literature is that the act of reading is all about the reader, rather than the writer. I might want people to find specific messages in The Rain Never Came, but I can’t force them to do so. Reading is the most individual of individual acts; whatever messages we take away apply only to ourselves, as they’re solely dependent on our own points of view and personal philosophies.

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

LW: First and foremost, I want people to be excited by an Australian voice that is steeped in Australian-isms—this is something that I’ve tried hard to achieve, as we have some fascinating terms and colloquialisms that are as interesting as those of anywhere else, and what might be called our stereotypically ‘Australian’ way of looking at the world can provide a refreshing perspective.

As well, I hope that readers will find my style both straightforward enough to avoid affectation, and literary enough to avoid being boring or seen as riding the coattails of the bare-bone sparseness common to so-called literary science fiction/speculative fiction. I’ve always been an admirer of both types: the straightforward science fiction voice that simply gets the job done, and the literary voice that flaunts a love of words, language and story. But above all, I’ve always preferred those writers who can walk the fine line between the two.

That’s not to say that I want my ‘voice’ to sound like any of theirs. What I do want, though, is for mine to affect people in the same way as theirs do, and to straddle the same kind of line as they do. And lastly, I hope that readers find it to be unique without being precious, earthy without being coarse, learned without being pretentious.

CH: What can non-Australians understand by reading this book?

LW: I hope that The Rain Never Came will open the eyes of non-Australian readers to the uniqueness of Australian science fiction/speculative fiction, and I hope that these readers see The Rain Never Came as a deliberate addition to this subgenre/offshoot/micro-genre/call-it-what-you-will. Of course, every nationality has a different way of telling stories, both in general and about themselves; no two national perspectives are the same, nor are any two senses of national identity or foundational myths. But being Australian, in my book I want Australian-ness to shine through.

As well, I hope that in The Rain Never Came readers will see how the inherent potential and unreal nature of science fiction/speculative fiction allows for a creative exploration of what it means to be ‘Australian,’ a device used by many other Australian authors operating in the same genre. I also hope that after reading it, readers will imagine the Australian bush in much the same way as they imagined the Australian desert after seeing Mad Max—as a place of desolate beauty and ancient stillness, that doesn’t need dressing up to resemble a world after the apocalypse.

CH: What type of feedback are you receiving from readers?

LW: Most of the feedback I’ve received so far has been positive, or at least encouraging. I’m more than ready for anything negative, though nothing creative is ever perfect, and nor should it be. Luckily, I’ve got pretty thick skin. The writer’s lot has given me this ‘you can’t let rejection letter after rejection letter stop you from persevering,’ you just have to have confidence, determination and an honest eye, and realize that you can always get better.

Remembering that taste is in the eye of the beholder also helps. Even better is doing the best job that you can, and resisting the urge to grow complacent or lazy with your work. We write because we love writing and literature, books and stories. There’s no point in phoning that love in.

 CH: Who are some of your writing influences?

LW: I like those writers who have a singular ‘voice’ and focus on the emotional states of their characters, and on their characters’ psychological development. Within science fiction/speculative fiction, these kinds of writers normally use their science fiction ideas as a framework to support an exploration of these states and developments, rather than as an end unto themselves: people like J. G. Ballard, Kurt Vonnegut, Debra Biancotti, Steven Amsterdam and Margaret Atwood. Their work, while full of ideas, is truly memorable for the way it makes us feel, rather than the way they make us think.

Outside the umbrella of science fiction, I like writers who do the same kind of thing, and possess a similarly singular voice and focus on the emotional and psychological states of their characters: Charles Bukowski, William Kotzwinkle, Katherine Dunn, Franz Kafka and Peter Carey.

CH: What has been the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey?

LW: The Rain Never Came hasn’t been out for that long, so I’m only really taking my first steps as a published author. But I don’t think that many writing accomplishments will ever feel as good as the first time I saw my book as an actual book, something I’m sure most published writers will agree with.

CH: How to Find Lachlan Walter:

CH: What is your next writing project?

LW: I like to have a lot of projects on the go at once—the trick is knowing which one to focus on first, something I’m not that good at. And so right now, I have a decent second draft of a book-length story cycle, which looks at giant monsters with serious eyes, and have also made a start on two other books: a post-apocalyptic western, and an offbeat piece of metafictional science fiction. Did I really just use the word offbeat?

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

LW: You can find The Rain Never Came at all the usual places: Amazon, the Book Depository, Booktopia, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and Odyssey Books’ website.

CH: Any closing remarks?

LW: I’ve banged this drum previously, but I’m going to beat it some more: as fans of science fiction/speculative fiction, we must ensure that we make an effort to explore beyond the boundaries of those countries that produce the majority of it: Europe, the UK, the US and Japan.

From South-East Asia to the Antipodes, from the Indian Subcontinent to Eastern Europe, and from Africa to South America, science fiction/speculative fiction allows all of us to express our hopes for the future and our fears of it, regardless of our nationality or background. All we need to do is look a little further and dig a little deeper. Cheryl, thanks for the opportunity to be on your blog.

CH: Thank you so much, Lachlan Walter, 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, Lachlan Walter 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 – Stephen Murray

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Title: Murder Aboard the Queen Elizabeth II

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Synopsis: Wealthy Beverly Hills socialites, Brian and Sylvia Sinclair, are celebrating their 25th Anniversary on a cruise from London to New York on the luxurious QEII. Joining the couple’s joyous excursion is their rebellious daughter and her controlling husband, their scheming son and his wily girlfriend, six of their longtime friends, and a surprise person from their past. Also on board is private eye Richard Manning, who volunteers to investigate when a member of the party dies an unnatural death. Manning’s search reveals dark secrets and everyone becomes a suspect. Ferreting out the truth is a daunting challenge, and time is short—once the ship reaches New York, the parties will scatter—making it almost impossible for authorities to solve the case. Will Manning figure it out in time? Follow him on his quest to unmask the killer in this captivating mystery.

Stephen Murray, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Stephen Murray. He enjoys traveling and has explored the world extensively, which gives him background for his writings. Welcome to my blog, Stephen.  

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

 SM: My novel is a fun, clean, cozy, page-turning, murder mystery with a very diverse cast of intriguing characters as suspects.

CH: What made you decide to write this book about a cruise from London to New York?

SM: I originally wrote a murder mystery for a dinner party in my home! The short story centered around a wealthy Beverly Hills couple celebrating their silver wedding anniversary with family and friends. The murder mystery was set in their mansion. After I published my first two novels, I wanted to have a shot (no pun intended!) at writing a murder mystery novel. I thought it would be interesting to expand my original story line from my dinner party, and set it against the backdrop of the QEII to (hopefully) make it more entertaining. I had the good fortune to travel on the Queen Elizabeth II many years ago, and thought it would be interesting to blend the two experiences.

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

SM: My novel involves the ‘lifestyles of the rich and famous’, a way of life with which I am totally unfamiliar.  The situations and characters were pure imagination. That is what makes my writing journey such an enjoyable one.

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?

SM: In all my novels, the ideas are original. I never base any of my characters upon people I know or have met. I generally create an overall concept in my mind, and see the beginning and the end of the novel. I then have to figure how to get from start to finish. That often takes me down very interesting side paths. As part of a standard formula, I do try and include the gamut of emotions in all novels—sadness, joy, grief, love, passion, and always a dose of humor. The characters must be credible and have contrasting personality traits.

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

SM: In Murder Aboard the Queen Elizabeth II, I tried a slightly different concept. In many murder mysteries, the victim becomes apparent in the very early stages. In my novel, the murder doesn’t actually take place until quite far into the book. The entire cast of characters is introduced, and any one of them could be the victim. I thought it might be fun to offer the reader a twofer—first to figure out the victim, and then to figure out the murderer.

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

SM: Not really. I did have to rely heavily on recall, since it had been so long since I had travelled on the QEII. But having lived in London and in Los Angeles (albeit, not Beverly Hills), I was familiar with the places and localities mentioned in Murder Aboard the Queen Elizabeth II.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

SM: There was no favorite. They were all fun and challenging to develop. They all have their good sides, but they all have their dark elements—and all have a reason, if not the capacity, to commit murder.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

SM: Sylvia Sinclair, the character who is celebrating her Silver Wedding Anniversary. She is very stoic, refined, straight-laced, controlled, dignified, and very upper-class British. And she does not reveal her emotions easily.

CH: Is there a message in this book that you want readers to grasp?

SM: I would just like the reader to enjoy the escapism, wrap themselves in the luxury and elegance of the environment, knowing that even the wealthy and famous have their demons.

CH: Some of your books are about love and romance. Is this your favorite genre for writing?

SM: No. I like writing in all genres. I was encouraged to write for the female reader and stumbled across the idea of writing a novel focused on a day at a fictional Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. The book tells the stories behind the couples that travel to our city to get married, and, in so doing, have made it the marriage capital of the world. The idea spawned my first published novel, The Chapel of Eternal Love: Wedding Stories from Las Vegas, and its unintended sequel, Return to the Chapel of Eternal Love: Marriage Stories from Las Vegas.

CH: Who are some of your favorite writing influences?

SM: Charles Dickens. Who else could come up with such delicious characters as Ebenezer Scrooge, Fagin, the Artful Dodger, Mr. Micawber and Uriah Heep?

CH: What has been the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey?

SM: There have been many exciting happenings on my publishing journey, not least are the amazing people I have met along the way who have enriched my life. If I had to cite the most exciting though, it would probably have to be when The Chapel of Eternal Love: Wedding Stories from Las Vegas won First Place Award in the mainstream fiction category in the Authors Talk About It book contest.  It was totally unexpected. The most exciting happening will be if it is ever optioned for a TV series.

CH: What type of feedback are you receiving from readers?

SM: Fortunately, very favorable. All three of my published novels have been well received. It has been very, very humbling and extremely gratifying.

CH: What can we expect from you next?

SM: I am currently in the middle of writing another murder novel, this one set in Las Vegas.

CH: How to Find Stephen Murray:

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

SM: They are available on Amazon and Kindle. If readers would like signed and personalized copies, it can be ordered from my website, where credit cards and PayPal are accepted. All of my books are distributed internationally through IngramSpark and can be ordered at any book store.

CH: Any closing remarks?

SM: Thank you, Cheryl, for this wonderful opportunity, and for your very thought-provoking questions. I would like to thank your audience for taking the time to read about my books and my journey as a writer. I certainly wish you and your followers every success and much love and happiness in all future endeavors.

CH: Thank you so much, Stephen Murray, 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, Stephen Murray 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 – Barb Warner Deane

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Title: On The Homefront

Genre: Historical Women’s Fiction

Synopsis: In 1941, WWII begins for the United States, and life will never be the same for three women as they send their husbands, brothers, and friends off to war.

Ruth, a young wife and teacher, Lilly her teenaged sister-in-law, and Helen, a British war bride, learn to cope with rationing, change, fear, loss, humiliation, and brutality, while they forge an impenetrable bond and grow to be stronger than any of them ever dreamed possible. They lean on each other for support, aided by the family and friends who surround them, but when one decides to go to the front lines as part of the American Red Cross Clubmobile program, how can they cope with her absence—and more telegrams reporting loss?

Barb Warner Deane, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Barb Warner Deane.  Her book was inspired by a trip to Normandy, France. Welcome to my blog, Barb.

CH: Can you sum up your historical fiction novel in a few words?

BWD: On The Homefront is historical women’s fiction set in the U.S. during World War II, following 3 young women after their men marched off to war, which shows how they stepped up and one even joined the American Red Cross Clubmobile program and going to the front lines.

CH: What made you decide to write about strong women who step up when their men go off to war?

BWD: I learned about the Clubmobile program when visiting the American Cemetery in Normandy, France and started researching these little-known heroic young women. As the ideas grew, I realized most American women had to become heroes during WWII, whether on the front lines or the home front, in order to keep the country operating and to support the war effort.

CH: Did you have to do any special research for the historical accuracy of this book?

BWD: When I practiced law, my favorite part was the research and writing, and that holds true for writing historical fiction. I spent hours reading first-person accounts, in letters and books, of former Clubmobilers, as well as reading books, watching film, and visiting many WWII historical spots, to research life on the home front, the men on the front lines, the battles in both theaters of operations, and the overall effect of the war on Americans.

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

BWD: Some aspects of the story just came to me while writing, but for some I took situations from real life. For instance, when I was visiting the WWII Museum in New Orleans, one of the WWII veterans working there told me to be sure to check out an exhibit about a soldier whose life was saved by the life-preserver made by his own mother back in the U.S., where she was a ‘Rosie-the-Riveter’ type of factory worker in a plant back in the U.S. I found the story so compelling, I had to work it into my book.

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?

BWD: Each book comes to me in different, but similar ways. I lock onto the people in the story—they are what catches my interest from the start. For On The Homefront, it started with a real Clubmobiler and grew as I dug into my research to incorporate these three women working in different ways to support the war effort. For Killing Her Softly, my new release later this month, I woke up one morning with the nugget of the story clear to me from a dream. I knew who the people were and went from there. For my current work-in-progress, a connected book to Killing Her Softly, I had an idea of a heroine I wanted to write about and realized she was going to fall in love with a character from Killing Her Softly, which started the wheels in motion.

CH: What made you decide to write this book?

BWD: I have always been interested in history and writing, so I guess the surprising thing is it took me until my fourth completed novel to finally write historical fiction. When I read about the Clubmobile program, and realized how little was known about them, I realized this was a story that needed to be told. I just had to work to make it right.

CH: Where do you get the inspiration for your strong women characters?

BWD: Ruth is named after my mother; and certainly, inspiration from my mother, my aunts, and other members of the Greatest Generation served as inspiration for the women in On The Homefront. In fact, there are a number of names pulled from my family tree—I’m big into genealogy, too—and the Walker farm in the story is inspired by the Walker family farm that has been in my Aunt and Uncle’s family for more than 100 years. Mostly, I have always been surrounded by strong women, from my mother, mother-in-law, aunts, sisters, sisters-in-law, daughters, nieces, and friends. These women all serve as inspiration.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

BWD: In OnThe Homefront, I was sure Ruth would be my favorite, given that she was named after my mother and she was the inspiration for the story. But I found each woman compelling in her own way. Lilly came from a loving home, but had to endure a lot at a fairly young age, so she grew into a fascinating woman for me. But, I think it was Helen, who came from a very difficult upbringing, who had low self-esteem and was functionally illiterate, but was at her core a strong, loving, caring, and dependable woman, who really surprised me the most.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

BWD: Each woman had her own challenges and surprises, but I think the hardest to write was Lilly, because she was so young and innocent at the start of the war, but even on the home front, those qualities couldn’t survive during the war.

CH: Is there a message in this book that you want readers to grasp?

BWD: One of the things that draws me to the WWII era is the clear delineation the world saw in right versus wrong, but the many shades of grey that remained for individuals trying to do their best to survive and save their world. I think the main message I see in On The Homefront is that life is a group effort. It takes a village, not only to raise a child, but to have a full and fulfilling life. We need to support and care for one another in order for any of us to really succeed in life.

Again, the main message is that your life is a successful one if you surround yourself with people you can help and who help you. My parents raised my sisters and I to believe that we are obligated and privileged to help others where we can, just by the fact that we are alive and have the ability to help. Life is not meant to be a solitary endeavor and the most rewarding life is one lived in service to others.

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

BWD: I think one of the distinct differences that readers are enjoying about On The Homefront is the fact that it is written in alternating first person point of view of all three women—Ruth, Lilly, and Helen. Readers feel a stronger sense of connection to each of these women, because they are in each woman’s head. For me, this era is so much about the feeling that we were all in this together, I wanted to ensure that my readers really felt that they were a part of the story, as well.

CH: What type of feedback are you receiving from readers?

BWD: The feedback and reviews of On The Homefront have been better than I had hoped for and I am truly grateful. I think it currently has a 4.8 out of 5 star rating on Amazon and Goodreads; and the emails I’m getting from readers telling me they couldn’t put the book down; and cried and laughed; and loved my characters. The feedback tells me that it is hitting the right notes with so many readers. I’m extremely happy and fortunate that so many readers are ‘getting’ what I was going for and enjoying the story.

CH: What can we expect from you next?

BWD: My second book, Killing Her Softly, will be released on September 29, is a very different type of book. It is a contemporary romantic suspense, set in a fictional town next to my hometown of Watkins Glen, NY. The main characters are Kate, a woman trying to escape her abusive marriage, and Jack, the new sheriff in town, who happens to be Kate’s long-ago friend and brother-in-law. I dedicated this book in part to the late Nancy Richards-Akers, a wonderful romance author who was killed by her abusive husband.

I am working on two more books right now. I’m about half-way through writing a contemporary romantic women’s fiction that will be a follow-up to Killing Her Softly, set in the same town of Harper’s Glen, with several of the same characters having roles in the new story. I foresee at least a third book in the Harper’s Glen series down the road. I’m also in the research stage of my next historical, also a WWII-era story set on the American home front.

CH: Can you tell us about your website?

BWD: My website (listed below) is designed by my talented daughter, Miranda. I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/barbwarnerdeane

CH: How to Find Barb Warner Deane:

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

BWD: On The Homefront is available in both eBook and paperback from The Wild Rose Press and Amazon. For anyone who would like to buy an autographed copy of the paperback, they can contact me directly, via the contact page on my website. Interested readers can also sign up for my mailing list on my contact page and, if interested, qualify for the lottery drawing for free tickets to For The Love of Books & Chicago, a large book signing of 40+ authors at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL on October 14.

CH: Any closing remarks?

BWD: Thanks so much for interviewing me about On The Homefront and my writing career, Cheryl. It is a privilege to be able to share my passion for writing, reading, and books with you and your audience.

CH: Thank you so much, Barb Warner Deane, 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, Barb Warner Deane 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 – Tim Adler

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Title: Slow Bleed

Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Medical Thriller

 Synopsis: A missing son; a kidnapper who’s dead; nobody believes her; and nothing will stop her.

When Doctor Jemma Sands’ five-year-old son goes missing, only she believes that a vengeful patient has stolen her child.

How do you convince police to search for a dead woman? As her world falls apart, Jemma realizes she is the only one who can save her son. If somebody took your only child, how far would you go to get him back?

Tim Adler, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest is International Author Tim Adler. His debut novel was #1 eThriller on Amazon. Welcome to my blog, Tim.

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

TA: A female doctor hunts down a supposedly dead patient, who she believes has kidnapped her five-year-old son out of revenge.

CH: Since the doctor’s child is kidnapped by a vengeful patient, what made you decide to write this book?

TA: My background is as an entertainment journalist and I used to be the London editor of the Hollywood news website, Deadline Hollywood. Slow Bleed is my tribute to a genre I enjoy very much, the woman-in-jeopardy thriller, the kind of movies which used to star Ashley Judd and/or Jodie Foster.

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

TA: Every author’s book is autobiographical, often in the incidentals and settings rather than the thrust of the main plot. For example, the island of Port Croix, which Jemma travels to, is based on a trip to the French island of Porquerolles. And being a single parent at the time having brought up two small children, it was easy for me to transpose my feelings of fierce protectiveness onto Jemma.

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

TA: Hollywood uses a ‘shorthand,’ it calls ‘high concept’ where you boil down the thrust of a book into a single sentence. I think it’s important to nail the concept down—almost like a tip of a spear, which the rest of the book will follow. With my second book, Surrogate, it was ‘What if a husband and wife invited their surrogate to come and live with them in their home, and the surrogate kidnaps their baby? According to the police, no law has been broken—the baby belongs to the surrogate.’ With Hold Still, my third book, it was the idea of a woman photographing the moment of her husband’s death—but the closer she looks at the photograph, the more she suspects her husband was murdered.

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

TA: Being a journalist, I try to get the facts as accurate as possible. I interviewed a doctor and psychologist for Slow Bleed, and also drew on my own experience, working as a hospital porter in university vacations. The highest compliment I received for Slow Bleed was when a book editor asked me how long I had been working in ER?

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

TA: Jemma-I drew on my own experience as a single parent for Jemma’s fierce protectiveness as a lioness protecting her cub.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

TA: Toppy Mrazek, the antagonist, I wanted to create someone who’s sociopathic and as believable as possible—to make the reader feel pathos for them. Everyone is the hero of their own story. Toppy feels entirely justified in taking revenge on what she thinks was a literal miscarriage of justice.

CH: Is there a message in this book that you want readers to grasp?

TA: The importance of letting go of the past, rather than carrying it around with you.

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

TA: Well, I would like to think that I’m getting better with each book. Being a ‘jouno,’ I have a lean and muscular writing style anyway, but it’s still evolving. Certainly, I think that the structure of each book is getting better.

CH: Do you enjoy writing books with lots of twists and turns in the plot?

TA: Of course. What you really want are twists that are both unexpected and inevitable. It’s about giving the reader a surprise, and making the story an accelerating roller coaster read.

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

TA: The majority of reviews on Amazon have been 5* — not that I think they’re justified. Slow Bleed was my first effort with all the faults that implies; I do think its follow-ups, Surrogate and Hold Still, are stronger. I’m still learning my craft.

CH: Are there any books that influenced you while writing this book?

TA: With Slow Bleed, it was more movies than books, which influenced me. My original pitch for the book was Flightplan (a 2005 thriller starring Jodie Foster), which was set in a hospital.

CH: Who are some of your suspense writing influences? 

TA: My paragons as writers have been Ernest Hemingway, Joan Didion and Graham Greene. I’ve been told that my writing style is very American, and I do find writers in the States much more exciting, than their British counterparts. There’s a whole new wave of American thriller writers, such as Blake Crouch, whose Dark Matter was the best book that I read last year. And Dennis Lehane is a new discovery (for me).

CH: What can we expect next from you?

TA: I have spent the last year writing a new book, Dead Already, about a man, who wakes up in hospital and sees a get-well card from his five-year-old daughter—the only problem is that his daughter died 27 years ago. Having finished the first draft, I then completely restructured the book and it’s now lying in pieces around my feet—a bit like a kit for a car that you’re rebuilding by hand.

CH: How to Find Tim Adler:

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

TA: You can download Slow Bleed for free either through my website or through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks and Kobo. All I would ask is that you either sign up for my mailing list or leave a review—for good or ill. Reviews help Indie authors, such as myself with discoverability (I’m told).

CH: Any closing remarks?

TA: My third book Hold Still, came out last year in England through Urbane Publications, what you in America would call a small press. Despite this, I am still without representation, which puzzles me. So, if there are any agents out there reading Cheryl Holloway’s Blog, please holler! Thanks for having me on your blog, Cheryl.

CH: Thank you so much, Tim Adler, 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, Tim Adler 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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Questions? Comments? Interviews? Contact :

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Guest Author Interview – Nicholas Kontis

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Title: Going Local: Experiences and Encounters On The Road

Genre: Travel

Synopsis: Today’s traveler seeks authentic experiences, not just viewing awesome sites, and taking must-see photo opportunities, while checking an item off of a bucket list. Experiential travel, also known as immersion travel, is about travel experiences that resonate on a deeper emotional level—A focus on experiencing a country, city or particular place by connecting to its history, people and culture. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is an experience worth?

Travel is life-changing. We all become better world citizens when we learn from other cultures. Real life experiences are compelling people to travel and bridge cultures together. Travel opens us up to the wonders of the world, and to the serendipitous occurrences when different cultures merge. At the forefront of any journey, travel begins with people and protecting local society and wilderness. It’s a powerful lesson that cannot be learned by staying home and viewing travel shows on television.

Nicholas Kontis, Author

 CH: Today’s Guest Author is Nicholas Kontis. Nick says that 2/3 of Americans do not have passports, does anyone care about travel books? Welcome to my blog, Nick.

CH: Can you tell us in one sentence, why we should read this travel book?

NK: The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.

CH: This book is a collection of authentic travel experiences. How did you come up with the premise for this book?

NK: Travel was instilled in me at a young age. I was blessed to have been born in Greece, and raised in America’s culture capital of San Francisco. It seems like all that one hears about in the travel industry is immersing into local society, while seeking out unique experiences. Airbnb, being the poster child of peer-to-peer travel, showed me that concepts of sharing living spaces, sharing meals, learning to cook a meal, learning from local society is here to stay. I’ve been sleeping on friends and relatives couches and helping prepare meals since my childhood. The idea just came to me, and I ran with it.

CH: Can you briefly summarize some of the places visited?

NK: Too many to count, but a few of my special favorites include trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu; traveling all throughout India and Nepal; traveling over from Kenya to South Africa and from Darwin to Sydney in Australia. Greece is where I’m born, and Mexico is where I live part-time.

CH: How did you select the travels that would be included in this book?

NK: My book is more about a philosophy and inspiration to get off the couch and travel the world. Travel changes us like nothing else. I cover why and how to live experientially; and the importance of learning from local society. I mention foods pivotal role in planning a trip; why we should all take 6 months to a year off and travel the world; also, how we all should do volunteer work on our travels; and ‘Responsible Travel’ and why it matters.

CH: Did you decide to include any travel tips or relevant facts in this unique book of travel encounters?

NK: Many! I have a whole section on apps, web sites, responsible tour operators, food tours, cooking classes and volunteer organizations. I cover meal sharing which is an interesting concept to go to the home of a local, and see how the chef/owner cooks dinner. I guess one could argue that my book is mostly travel tips, and that’s okay with me. If I can inspire even a small number of people to take a chance on travel, that works for me.

CH: How can a traveler learn to bridge cultures and meet locals without speaking their language?

NK: You know it really sickens me to see bombings, fighting, and senseless killings. Travel teaches us tolerance, understanding of people and a lack of prejudice. Richard Branson (an English business magnate, investor and philanthropist) once said to me that we’re less likely to want to bomb a place that we have visited and met the locals. If you make an effort to learn a few words of a local language, your efforts will be rewarded with kindness and acceptance.

CH: What is your favorite thing about traveling?

NK: I have a perpetual wanderlust. Not that I’m not happy wherever I may roam. But, my wife says, put me in Mexico and I want to be in London—on and on. The countless chance encounters of making new friends over say ciccietti—small happy hour nibbles and drinks in Venice. Serendipity! Or getting lost in Kenya—only to meet new Masai friends.

CH: Of your travels, which country or place was your favorite to visit?

NK: Again, a tough question for a traveler, but I’m of Greek decent.  I live in Mexico, but I can be seen biking the streets of San Francisco. Italy took what my people did, and made it even better. Okay, then add in Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Peru, Spain, Brazil, S.E. Asia, Nepal, Kenya, and Spain—the list is too long. Oh, Burma, my how Myanmar mesmerized me. I recommend that if you can, go to Myanmar—where time really stands still.

CH: When you are travelling to so many places, does your travel start to feel repetitive?

NK: No, I can go to Paris a thousand times and I’ll always find something new. I’m also a photographer, and many times a good one. I see the view of the grand dame of world bridges in my city by the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge or I even see the light at different times of the day, the angles, or different vantage points. Even in my second city of Puerto Vallarta, I find new ways to get enthralled. Maybe a new beach, or even a scrumptious taco truck that I somehow missed. I can go back to Greece 1,000 times and it never feels repetitive.

CH: How do you keep each destination exciting?

NK: I try to view a destination through the people—who know it best—the locals. I want to know what makes them happy and sad. The world becomes a better place, when cultures collide. I seek the road less traveled, when at least for me, has rarely let me down.

CH: How did you decide to write the book to keep readers from being bored?

NK: My book is not a Don George anthology book of travel tales, but then we’re all different. However, my biggest challenge in my home country is the 66% of Americans many who rarely depart their home state, and who could care less about a book that preaches and teaches people to learn from a live person like a local from a different country.

CH: Did you include photos of your trips? If so, was this decision before or after you began writing the travel book?

NK: I did not want to make my book all about my trips, but I’m included throughout the book in photos from the trips. Whether I’m in Greece, Mexico, or Peru, since I have many interviews and subjects based on material in the book, such as moving to another country, or taking a trip around the world.

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

NK: From the well over 100 reviews on Amazon (and believe me, that’s a ton of reviews for a travel book), I’m told that my book inspires people.

I’m blessed—and people are loving my book. If you go to Amazon, almost all of my reviews are 5-Stars. I guess it’s kind of difficult for a responsible traveler not to follow my mantra of “Going Local.” Especially when the founder of Lonely Planet Guidebooks backs my subject matter (you can’t get much better than that).

CH: What is your next writing project?

NK: I want to gather travel tales from select travel experts, authors, bloggers, and create a book around people’s encounters with people. There are so many worthwhile stories to be told around the kindness of people.

CH: How to Find Nicholas Kontis:

CH: Can you give my audience your website?

NK: My website, www.nicholaskontis.com, is being redone, and I have a site for discount business class/first class airfares, Circle the Planet at www.circletheplanet.com

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

NK: My book is sold on Amazon and select book stores throughout North America.

CH: Any closing remarks?

NK: I’ve learned that 95% of people are good. Do you know that I’ve been to 85 countries and never been mugged or harmed? There’s a reason for that. People are just as curious to learn about you—the travelers—as you are excited to learn about your new destination. Cheryl, thanks for having me on your blog.

CH: Thank you so much, Nicholas Kontis, 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, Nicholas Kontis and Cheryl Holloway.

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

   

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