Cheryl Holloway’s Special Valentine’s Week Book Video Feature

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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 – Mimi Barbour

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Title: A Tuch of Passion Boxed Set (Romance Bundle): Love Me Tender

Genre: Romance Anthologies

Synopsis: How could Anne return to Texas knowing that her son would be meeting a father who didn’t know he existed? And how could she go back to face the only man she’d ever truly loved?

 

Mimi Barbour, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Mimi Barbour. Mimi is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author. Welcome to my blog, Mimi

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

MB: Well, according to most of my reviews, I tell a good story. I know I work very hard to make sure that readers are attracted to my characters and care about their conflicts and what happens to them.

CH: First and foremost, you are extremely successful as a romance author. NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author who has sold over 500,000 copies of your books. What do you attribute your success to as an author?

MB: I can tell you indisputably that it takes a huge amount of hard work, long hours and total commitment. And…having a good imagination helps, too.

CH: Can you tell me a little about how Love Me Tender became a book?

MB: The book I submitted to the box collection is called Love Me Tender. I started writing my Elvis series when I heard a song and it wouldn’t stop playing in my head—She’s Not You. I adored Elvis and the words to this song began forming into a story. (And it’s breaking my heart, cause she’s not you.) I had to write it.

Then I decided to run a contest for the readers to choose the next song for me to turn into a book. They overwhelmingly chose Love Me Tender.

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?

MB: Oh, man, that’s a hard one. When I know I need to start a new book and it has to be—say for my romantic suspense series called Undercover FBI—I start thinking of a core plot. Maybe hijacking young women for the sex trade (Special Agent Maximilian) or killers who’ve convinced the police that each murder they investigate is suicide (Special Agent Finnegan). Next, I try and decide what kind of people I want to spend the next 6 – 8 weeks with. Soon, I can almost see them in my head, interacting, falling in love and having to overcome constant conflicts—sometimes against each other and many times together.

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

MB: Many times I’ve taken real-life situations and interwoven them in my stories. It gives me a kick to see these funny and oft times ridiculous experiences end up re-happening to my characters. I use nicknames that belong to my family—for instance in Special Agent Finnegan: Fin refers to his impudent Irish father as the Joker. That was what my husband called his father for as long as he was alive. I fell so in love with Fin’s Joker that I must have entrenched a lot of that emotion in the man because he ended up being mentioned in most of the reviews—seems the readers fell for him, too.

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

MB: My favorite character “Marcus Chapman” is in my favorite book called Together for Christmas book #6 of the Vicarage Bench Series. This is a paranormal/spirit-travel novel where magic forces Abagail Taylor’s spirit into Marcus’s body so they have to deal with this craziness together and try to discover a way to separate. I was totally invested and having fun and I think the readers feel the same.

The hardest character to writeTruthfully, I never find it hard to write a character. I tried to think of one but honestly—I don’t seem to struggle over that part of the writing process. Now if you asked me about social media, you wouldn’t have enough time to read everything that’s gone wrong for me in that area. LOL!

CH: You write in a lot of box sets and you have written 5+ series. Is there a secret to writing so many books?

MB: In some of my series (the first one called the Vicarage Bench), I just couldn’t let go of Mrs. Doyle and Dr. Andrews. They were so interesting and hilarious that stories kept coming to me where they would be perfect. They show up in each of the 7 stand-alone stories.

Then I had a chance to be involved in a multi-author set with a woman I admired but she only wanted suspense. So…the Vegas Series began and I found my niche. Turns out, I love writing romances that are fast-paced and filled with conflicts that keep the readers turning the pages. I get that in a lot of my reviews and it tickles me when someone writes that she/he sat up half the night because they couldn’t put the book down.

I guess my secret is that I love what I do. I have to actually turn off my imagination because plots flood into my head and I’d never have enough time to write them all. For a writer, that’s a problem we all love to have.

CH: What is unique about writing with other authors in a box set?

MB: It’s a journey we all go on together and that makes it much more interesting— sharing jobs, each of us taking turns to promote a set we’re all very proud of and celebrating together when we hit pinnacles like the winning the Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice award. You can get pretty close to the others and it’s nice.

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

MB: I insist on making my characters human and not ridiculously way-out.  I try and stay away from the clichés, like for instance when the heroine sees the hero’s pecs and muscles and they go on and on about how they are ravenous for his body. That just doesn’t ring true to me and so, I don’t go there. My heroines are a bit kick-ass but they always have kind hearts and that shines through. The heroes aren’t the he-man type but they are handsome in their own way, strong enough to be very protective and always with a sense of humor. I want people to fall for my heroes because they are sincerely nice guys under all their bluster. And in most cases, I like to stick humor in there whenever I can—if I can make the reader break out into an unexpected laugh, then I’m happy. The reviews say I do that also.

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

MB: Yes, that people aren’t always what you think. That villains have backstories and that two people alone cannot make a good story. They need secondary people so that they are true to life and not total fantasy.

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

 MB: I love my fans. They are delightful and fill me with so much joy that when I’m writing, I’m often thinking of how they will like the plot or the conflict that’s just been written. I actually grin and even chuckle because I can see a reader getting a surprise and it delights me when I can make that happen. I tend to get wonderful reviews and almost all of my books have rating of 4.3 – 4.7 on Amazon.

CH: Do you have any advice for writers who would like to reach your volume of success?

MB: Yes. Don’t ever think it’s easy. Don’t ever think it’s cheap. Don’t ever try and copy another—be true to yourself. And Don’t stop…

CH: How did you begin writing romance? How long have you been writing romance books?

MB: In 2007, I started writing romance after I began reading a book I had just bought and it was so bad—whiny heroine and a boring hero—that I threw it across the room in frustration and thought—what a waste! Hell, I can write better than that.

Whoa – lightbulb moment!

Years before I had bought a book called How to Write Romances on a whim and I ran to the bookcase and in my mind I thought—if the book is there, it’s meant to be. It was there…

I spent the rest of the night with a yellow highlighter to color everything I knew I needed to research and absorb in order to write a love story.

In the next few weeks, I read through books like a crazed person and again highlighting words that I wouldn’t normally use in my day-to-day vocabulary. I wanted my work to come across as if an educated writer had created it. I ended up with a three-ring-binder about 3 inches thick of pages of those words I’d listed on a spreadsheet for the just-in-case moments when I needed to upgrade the words I had originally written. For me, it was a good experiment and while I was doing this, it taught me a lot of how words are used to spotlight emotion and sadness; and to drive the dialogue.

I finally wrote the first book and some years later when I reviewed it for revision; I was stunned that I hadn’t missed one of the newbie errors. I’d hit them all. Ha! That book was finally published last year. (I’m No Angel)

CH: Love and Valentine’s Day seem to go together. What inspires you to write happily ever after stories?

MB: That’s what romance is all about, happy ever after endings. I love knowing that my characters might go through hell to be together, but they’re worth the effort and being together at the end is what life is really all about.

CH: What’s your next writing project?

MB: I started another series (yeah, I know – #6) 🙂 called the Mob Tracker with the first book being released some time during this month—called Sweet Retaliation. I’m crazy about the heroine. In the beginning, this naïve librarian witnesses her twin brother being killed by the gang he belonged to. The police have no leads and so she decides she needs to go after each of the four people that were there that night and make sure they pay. I’ve had a blast changing her personality from the sweet role her father and brother forced her to live by to a woman that can hold her own in any fight. She toughens up, but that sweet core is still there and it makes her a delight to write about. Her hero is a cop, a man I wished I knew. He’s scrumptious.

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

MB: When we hit the NY Times list with Summer Heat. I sure enjoyed the Baileys I drank that night.

CH: Can you tell my audience about your website?

MB: Love to. If you come to visit my website, please sign on to my newsletter. I usually only send them when I have great news—mostly a new release—and I truly appreciate every person who follows me.

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

MB: A Touch of Passion is sold on Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, Kindle, Nook, iTunes, Kobo and iReads.

CH: How to Find Mimi Barbour:

CH: Any closing remarks?

MB: Thank you for reading this far. I can’t believe I rambled on so much but it’s fun answering questions about things that make me remember the past. I want to thank Cheryl for letting me be a guest on her blog. It’s always wonderful to have the opportunity to meet new people. Sending Hugs, Mimi.

CH: Thank you so much, Mimi Barbour, 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,Mimi Barbour and Cheryl Holloway..

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

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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’s Special Valentine’s Day Book Feature

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Title: The Proposal: A Leap of Faith

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Short Story

Synopsis: Carol and Marvin love each other and have dated off and on for over ten years; however…Carol becomes jaded about the relationship when Marvin won’t ask her to marry him. Marvin’s commitment to the relationship never wavers despite being afraid to commit to marriage. Finally, he wants to move their relationship to the next level—on Valentine’s Day. After a heartbreaking event and crying for days, Carol is ready and at last she thinks he is, too. Will he ask her to marry him or does he have something else on the agenda? Will commitment-phobic Marvin take the plunge?

Smart and sophisticated, with a plot twist that will give the reader a jolt!

Cheryl Holloway’s The Proposal: A Leap of Faith is inspired by a real-life woman and real-life events.

Similar to books written by Shirley Wine and Becky Wade.

Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/2lzg1jU

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet 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.

   

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 – Tamara Ferguson

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Title: A Tuch of Passion Boxed Set (Romance Bundle): The Unforgettable Kiss

Genre: Romance Anthologies

Synopsis: Since Kate Callahan will be running the family construction business someday, she doesn’t have time for love. Until fate steps in by way of an unforgettable kiss from architectural intern Michael Murphy.

Tamara Ferguson, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Tamara Ferguson. Tamara is a Bestselling Author and Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Award Winner for New Adult romance. Welcome to my blog, Tamara.

CH: This is a romance anthology with various genres and authors. Can you sum up your story in 20 words or less?

TF: That Unforgettable Kiss is a second chance romance about two people “kissed by fate,” and destined to fall in love.

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?

TF: My stories all take place in the same fictional town of Crystal Rock, Wisconsin, which closely resembles a town where I spent every summer with my grandparents while I was growing up. All my stories have emerged from the place and the time in my life that I remember as being the happiest.

I have four different series now: mystery suspense, Tales of the Dragonfly series, new adult romance, Kissed by Fate series, military romance, Two Hearts Wounded Warrior Romance series, and the latest is sweet romance, Daydreams & Dragonflies series. The first story in each series usually determines the next; although, many have overlapping storylines and characters, I build up the plot and subplots, adding details during the writing process.

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

TF: Although, I do have to do some research, especially for my wounded warrior stories, most of what I write about is based on real-life experience.

CH: Where did the idea for the box set come from—a publisher or an author?

TF: The hardest thing for any author to do is to get noticed! Box sets are a terrific way for readers to sample authors. A Touch of Passion was created by Uvi Poznansky as a promotional tool to connect readers with ALL of our books that are available.

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

TF: In That Unforgettable Kiss, it was pretty much equal as far as having a favorite to write about. Although, they are probably the most difficult to write about, my most enjoyable characters are those with redeeming qualities who are unlikeable on the outside, because of what they have suffered in the past; like abuse or an assault. I love revealing layers a little at a time, so that by the end of my story, my readers might actually grow to like and sympathize with them.

CH: How much of your leading lady is based on you?

TF: There’s a little bit of me in every lead female character I invent.

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

TF: The primary message I try to convey in every romance I write is HOPE. I’ll never write an ending other than happily-ever-after.

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

TF: Telling stories with my writing that are unique and outside of the box. I try to create stories that are appealing to every age group.

CH: You’ve won many awards and are a best-selling author. What attributes to your success as an author?

TF: Spending way too much time on social media and having the privilege to work with a bunch of talented authors who have experience and great results with promoting. I used to be in sales, so I think that helps me out a lot too. But a lot of what’s happened with me is because I’m writing outside of the box, and my stories relate directly to what I know or have experienced, such as being the mom and full time caregiver of a severely autistic son with diabetes.

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

TF: I began writing after I realized my autistic son would not be able to enter the vocational program he was supposed to when he graduated school, and I would have to be home with him 24/7. Since I hadn’t written in twenty years, it took four or five years to have confidence in what I was writing, as well as discovering my own particular style.

I didn’t know any authors back then, so everything I did, like formatting, I taught myself. I’ve used an editor too. Truthfully…I think it was good that I learned how to do tasks like formatting and copywriting myself, because having someone do these things can be costly, and sometimes difficult to find someone who will do a good job for you.

At first, I was focused on finding a publisher, but now, not so much. Having a publisher could mean years before you’re published, changes to your story that you don’t like, a cover you don’t like, and it goes on and on, the more I read about it. The worst part is, you sign over your rights to the story, and have little control over what will happen with it once you do.

CH: If you could collaborate with any author living or dead, who would you choose?

TF: Linda Howard, Nora Roberts or Mary Balogh—I would collaborate with one and/or all.

CH: Can you tell us about contributing to various box sets? Is there a special process?

TF: Every boxed set I’ve contributed to has been different. But after being invited in, the group doesn’t normally get together too often, except to discuss deadlines and duties, such as handling promotions, events, facebook and twitter shares and so on. Sometimes you buy in and other times one person handles the accounting and each author is assigned paid promos to set up. After your stories, blurbs and covers are turned in, there is usually a facebook party event.

CH: Since you’ve been quite successful, do you have any advice for new writers?

TF: Don’t give up. I’d been writing for about three years and was seriously considering giving up because of all the time involved before I won my first award. Success came to me when I least expected it.

But I’m still always looking for ways to grow, and I try to accept criticism gracefully. Remember not everyone will like what you write, no matter how good of a writer you are.

CH: Are there any writing projects in progress? What can we expect next from you?

TF: Love In Times of War has been released. This is another great boxed set put together by Uvi Poznansky. We’ve also become a #1 Best Seller!

I have several stories in the works, Cheryl. Two new box sets (1) Wedding Pets & Kisses featuring the first book in Daydreams & Dragonflies, A Kiss Upon A Star  (2) Kissed by Fate That Unexpected Kiss will be featured in Hunks to the Rescue. These sets will be released in April and May. At the end of the summer I’ll release Emergence, from my romance suspense Tales of the Dragonfly series and sometime in November I’ll be releasing an independent novella in the Chandler County Series featuring bestselling authors P. J. Fiala, Anna Celeste Burke and others.

CH: How to Find Tamara Ferguson:

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

TF: A Touch of Passion is sold on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, kobo and itunes.

CH: Any closing remarks?

TF: Thanks for inviting me as a guest at your blog, Cheryl!

CH: Thank you so much, Tamara Ferguson, 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,Tamara Ferguson and Cheryl Holloway..

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

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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 is A Guest on Internet Talk Show Sunday, February 12, 2017

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Deborah Parker, Talk Show Host

What: The Gospel Truth Internet Talk Show

When: Sunday, February 12, 2017 

Time: 2-4 pm (Eastern Time)

Where: www.eLifeMedia.net

Cheryl’s Topic: Valentine’s Day, Romance and Romance Books

Call in Number:  (240) 455-5934 

Cheryl Holloway, Author

Show Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4BSzVs1h-I

 

Guest Author Interview – Wynn Wagner

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Title: Brent: The Heart Reader

 Genre: Gay Fiction

 Synopsis: A New Age Romance (M/M, explicit, adult fiction)

Brent is a tarot reader, a young man whose adopted family doesn’t like tarot readers or gays or Swedes or anything else that Brent can bring to the discussion. One of his tarot readings is for a young Sioux man, and that’s where Brent’s old life stops. Brent’s finds a whole new life that is full of wonder and adventure, as he learns to read his own heart first. Viking meets Sioux — fireworks.

BRENT: THE HEART READER is the tender and sexy story of self-awareness and acceptance as this wounded healer lets himself fall in love with a wonderful man.

Wynn Wagner, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Wynn Wagner. Dr. Wagner is a retired Archbishop who writes gay romance novels. “It’s a niche,” he says. Welcome to my blog, Wynn.

Note: Wynn Wagner is a humorous man. You will smile or laugh throughout the interview.

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

WW: A young man, rejected by family, creates his own life. He survives by doing tarot readings and flourishes when he falls in love. [23 words—That’s me bucking authority.]

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?

WW: I start with the beginning. No more. I know the main characters (more-or-less), and I throw about 10 pounds of stuff into their 5 pound lives. “There, Wynn. Let’s see you dig your way out of that.”

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

WW: In one of my vampire books, I have two having sex while riding on the tail section of a jumbo jet as it screams over the Atlantic ocean. So, “believable situations” is a relative term.

All my books are first person, so Brent is telling his own story. He’s always on a spiritual quest. All the themes are known to me. I’ve meditated on tarot cards for most of my life; although, I have never done a reading.

Rejection by family is guesswork. I came out of The System (foster care), so I have never known a real DNA-based family.

CH: Where did you get the idea for this book?

WW: Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha (1922). It’s the best book on spiritual discovery I ever read.

CH: Where do you get inspiration for your characters?

WW: They pop up in my head, and I become a stenographer for the first draft. I wish I could tell you there’s a magical formula or a special way of outlining, but that’d be a lie.

They mysteriously pop up, and I write down what they say. Seriously.

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

WW: Cecile and Hamlet in the Vamp Camp novels were so much fun. She’s snarky. He’s ditsy.

The hardest was Takoda, the love interest in Brent: the Heart Reader. He’s Native American. When he reacts to something, I had to make sure that I wrote things that a typical Sioux would know. That was way out of my comfort zone. Fortunately, I have a couple of friends who are Sioux, so they chased me around until I understood.

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

WW: Namasté. People and things need to be seen as having a wonderful life force about them.

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

WW: I treat the reader as an adult, a smart adult. There are b’zillions of comments that require you know such-and-such before you see the deep meaning or the joke. Nobody will get all my references, and that’s fine. I hope it’s still a good read.

All my books are laid out without lots of flowery language. They deal with action or conversation, without mentioning the fluffy purple coronation brocade under the main character’s tush, or the fluffy clouds wafting across the summer sky.

CH: You’ve written several books in various genres. What contributes to your success as a writer? What has been the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey?

WW: Royalties. I was hospitalized for pancreatitis in 2010, and they kept me there for 5 months. Surgeons did a risky 4 hour surgery to remove my pancreas completely. I still have to be on powerful opiates daily for pain.

When I got home, I saw royalties were posted to my bank account all through that hospitalization. It made me double-thankful for readers.

CH: You’ve written a lot of gay books and articles on HIV/AIDS, Is this topic your passion for writing?

WW: I am one of the long-term survivors you hear about from time to time. I’ve been Poz (positive) since the beginning of the pandemic, and I am alive through nothing I did. It’s hard: my pancreatitis was caused by two of the early meds to fight the virus. I survived, but my pancreas didn’t.

At some level, the smart author will write what he/she knows. No, I’ve never had sex on the tail section of an airplane crossing the Atlantic. That was me being silly.

I write about HIV because I know the signposts. My book Commitment Issues is about a radio announcer who is getting sober one day at a time. I was also a network newscaster who got sober one day at a time.

CH: Your main character is a lot like you—adopted, Swede, and gay. How much of your leading man is based on you?

WW: Adopted Swede who’s gay. Have you seen books with that combination? No. It was up to me to fill this niche. At some level, all my characters come from something deep inside me. I’m an intuitive writer, but one who loves playing with words. I don’t think I’m allowed to have a non-Scandinavian or non-gay main character. It wouldn’t be seemly.

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

WW: Lately, most of the feedback is whining about a new title. I haven’t released anything in years. That’s about to change.

CH: Are there any writing projects in progress? What can we expect next from you?

WW: Sure. Time Flies is a science fiction book (still a romance, too). It was just released!

 

Time Flies is an angry book to start. It happens in a small Texas town with rednecks and homophobes. The narrator went out to learn martial arts to protect him from bullying. He talks about “It gets better,” but adds “because I made it better.” The plot is his path to hope and love, against impossible situations.

Time Flies took five years to write. Writing for me was never a chore, and I could do a rough draft lickety–split. Those days are gone. Now, I need copious notes and outlines. Thank goodness for Scrivener and all its notes and version controls. I tore up the entire book 5 or 6 times, after writing myself into a boring corner, or a plot that was too intricate to follow.

CH: Can you give my audience your website address?

WW: My alternate websites are: www.MysticWaysBooks.com and www.DreamspinnerPress.com/authors/wynn-wagner-495

Or you could just search my name at your favorite online merchant. There are paperbacks, case bounds, and audio books. The biggest channel is Amazon (Kindle, audio, paperback). Readers are typically women, and they love the Kindle or audio versions.

Thank you, audience. Thank you so much. You have really made a difference in my medical bills.

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

WW: All of my books are sold online. I don’t know of any brick-and-mortar. I’m sure there’s too much sex for the typical walk-in merchant. They hear about that airplane tail section, and they’re all like: Oh, no, no, no, no.

CH: How to Find Wynn Wagner:

CH: Any closing remarks?

WW: This was a fun exercise for me, so Thank You for that. Because of my health, the publisher usually declines interviews. What I want to know is this: What nefarious rumor did you threaten the publisher to get them to agree to this?

CH: Thank you so much, Wynn Wagner, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers and give us a few laughs.  I probably asked the publisher for an interview at a great time, when your new book is being released. It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers,  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet and Wynn Wagner.

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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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Black History – The “Lone Ranger”

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Bass Reeves, First Deputy U.S. Marshall West of the Mississippi River

 

It is believed that the “Lone Ranger” was inspired by the African American First Deputy U.S. Marshall West of the Mississippi River, Bass Reeves. He was born a slave in Crawford County, Arkansas.

 

Black History 

When the Civil War ended, freedmen came West with the hope of a better life where the demand for skilled labor was high. These African Americans made up at least a quarter of the legendary cowboys who lived dangerous lives facing weather, rattlesnakes, and outlaws while they slept under the stars driving cattle herds to market.

In 1875, Judge Isaac Parker hired Bass Reeves as one of 200 Deputy Marshals in the Oklahoma Territory sent out to tame “Indian Country,” and this is how he acquired his Indian companion.

He worked mostly in Arkansas and the Oklahoma Territory. Like the Lone Ranger, he was a master of disguise, had a Native American companion, was an expert marksman, and rode a large gray (almost silver) horse. He was 6’2”, 190 pounds with broad shoulders and was larger than most men during that era.  It is noted that he wore a trademark black hat and wore twin .45 Colt pistols and used the cross-draw style. He also gave silver dollars as his calling card.

Reeves stated that he had brought in 3,000 living felons and had only killed 14 outlaws in self-defense.

According to Lt. Dan Marcou (www.policeone.com), the lengthy and glowing obituary for this universally respected former slave turned U.S. Deputy Marshal described him as “absolutely fearless and knowing no master, but duty.”

Sources: Wikipedia.com; pbs.org/black-culture; and policeone.com

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet 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 – Gaynor Torrance

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Title: Step Up or Die

Genre: Thriller/Suspense

Synopsis: Attacks in the US and the UK result in a significant loss of life. Meghan Dawson has no interest in these events until her father is murdered. Stumbling across the identity of his killer she realises that her young son is in danger too. Fleeing New York she finds herself having to outwit a killer who knows her better than she knows herself. To save her son, it’s time for Meghan to Step Up or Die.

Gaynor Torrance, Author

International Authors on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Gaynor Torrance, an international author from South Wales. She has developed a strong interest in psychological and psychiatric conditions, which is incorporated in her books. Welcome to my blog, Gaynor.

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

GT: Step Up or Die is the story of a woman who faces the ultimate challenge when she discovers that a psychopath is intent upon killing her and her twelve year old son.

CH: This book is a transatlantic thriller. Where did you get the idea for this book?

GT: The ideas for this book came from three separate sources:

  • An episode of Elementary starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu gave me a basic idea for my villain.
  • A documentary on the construction of St. Paul’s cathedral in London inspired the location for my ending.
  • An episode of Horizon (a science show which has aired for more than 40 years here in the UK) gave me the idea of what could tie the various strands of the story together.

CH: Does your background in psychological and psychiatric conditions have great influence on this book?

GT: Not in this instance, though I like to write about characters with psychological flaws or psychiatric conditions.

CH: Is this your debut novel? How long have you been writing?

GT: Step Up or Die is the second book that I’ve published. My debut novel, Revenge, is a whodunit set in Cardiff (the capital city of Wales), which was my home town when I wrote the book.

CH: Did you find anything challenging while writing this book?

GT: Setting much of Step Up or Die in New York was particularly challenging for me. It’s a city I have always wanted to visit but don’t have first-hand experience of. I’ve seen it on the TV, and these days you can view locations on Google Earth, which was particularly helpful when describing places. A crucial section of my story relies on journeys being made within a particular timeframe which was quite problematic for me as I wanted this to be as realistic as possible.

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

GT: I love reading and writing books with intricate plots and plenty of surprises. I want to be caught up in the story, racing towards danger, pulling back just in time, feeling that I’ve got a handle on things without quite knowing whether or not things will work out fine in the end. A story has to be exciting and perilous to hold my interest.

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

GT: The message is how easy it is for any of us to be blinded by love as we tend to see only what we want to see. It would be wonderful to think that each of us will only ever experience happy, healthy and respectful relationships, but human nature dictates that some people will not be so fortunate. To enter into any romantic relationship you have to be optimistic about what it has to offer. Else why would you risk opening yourself up to another person? But it is this very investment of hope, coupled with a desire for happiness which can make you vulnerable to the other person’s character flaws. In most cases these flaws are trivial, and may irritate or cause minor upset when they come to light. But in the worst case scenario they are grounded in malevolence and so well hidden that you would not suspect your chosen partner to be capable of such thoughts or deeds. It is impossible to analyse someone’s every word or action, and it would not be a healthy path to embark upon as trust is essential for a relationship to flourish. However, there are occasions when you may not pick up on warning signals that something was not quite right. And no matter how secure you may feel you may suddenly discover that everything you took for granted has been snatched away from you.

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

GT: I write about the darker side of human nature where nothing can be taken at face value. I also like to intertwine actual contemporary and historical issues into my work to inform and add interest to either the setting or the story.

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

GT: It wasn’t hard to create fictional situations, and as I mentioned in the previous question, I also weave in real life issues to make the setting and plot more believable.

CH: Where do you get inspiration for your characters?

GT: I find inspiration from many sources, from snippets of overheard conversations, news articles, historical characters and sometimes even people I know. But my characters are always a hybrid, which makes them interesting for me to write.

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

GT: I found that my protagonist, Meghan Dawson was the hardest character to write. When she is first introduced she is quite dislikeable, but as you get to know her you realise that having spent her entire life amongst high achievers she has very little self-confidence.  She has to start believing in herself and as the story develops, we witness a slow, reluctant transformation taking place. When she discovers what her husband is up to, she knows that she has to stop him, but she is terrified of doing something which may get herself or her son killed. There comes a point when she has no one to turn to and has to make decisions for herself. As a writer I had to hold on to her self-imposed limitations and keep pushing her until she had no choice but to commit to a course of action.

Meghan’s husband Russell was my favourite character. As he had no conscience and was also a technological genius; it gave me so much scope to extend my plot.

CH: Do you have a book trailer? What are your thoughts on book trailers?

GT: I have trailers for both of my books. I think they are a very good way of advertising your book as people like visual and auditory stimulation. The book trailer for Step Up or Die can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvkkVeOCH7U&feature=youtu.be

CH: Are there any other genres you would like to write?

GT: I have recently had an idea for a science fiction story set in Florida which I may play around with and possibly develop at sometime in the future.

CH: Are there any writing projects in progress? What can we expect next from you?

GT: I am currently writing Cuckoo, which is about a teenage girl who is in a coma and two women who have links with her. It is a far slower pace than my previous books, but will have quite a few twists and turns along the way. I think I would class it as psychological suspense which will test readers’ expectations of the characters.

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

GT: My book is available at: Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple.  It is also be available at Inktera and Blio.

CH: How to find Gaynor Torrance:

CH: Any Closing remarks?

GT: Cheryl, I would just like to thank you for this interview, and encourage anyone who wishes to know more about my work to contact me via my website.

CH: Thank you so much, Gaynor Torrance, 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 and Gaynor Torrance.

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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 – Victoria Benchley

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Title: The Siamese Suicides:  A Duncan Dewar Mystery of Murder & Suspense (Duncan Dewar Mysteries Book 6)

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Mystery

Synopsis: For Scottish detective Duncan Dewar, do bad things really come in threes? People connected to the investigator keep dying, and he has to wonder. Will the past drag him from the promise of a bright future?
Offered a chance to consult with his former employer, Duncan investigates the apparent suicide of an art dealer in Edinburgh. In a case right out of today’s headlines, he learns that the art business has its shady side. Professionally successful once again and engaged, he’s finally ready to move on to the next chapter of his life. However, the past has a way of haunting the Scottish detective, and things aren’t always as they seem. Explore Old Town and see if you can solve the case of the Siamese Suicides. This stand alone novel is book 6 in the Duncan Dewar Mystery Series.

Victoria Benchley, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Victoria Benchley.  She’s a Christian who loves to write Scottish mysteries. Welcome to my blog, Victoria.

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

VB: Suicide or murder?  Duncan must determine what caused a respected art dealer’s death while facing demons from his past.

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?

VB: My ideas come from various sources and I follow no set formulas.  Often, a scene develops in my mind that becomes integral to the plot of the story, and the novel springs from that.  In the case of The Siamese Suicides, my interest in art fueled ongoing research, while past and current events in the international art world provided a portion of my inspiration.   At some point, the characters take over, and seldom do my stories end as I may have originally envisioned!

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

VB: Some real-life events do inspire points in my novels.   Often, these are not part of the main storyline, but they help to make the overall tale more believable.  I write fiction, after all, and part of the fun lies in ensuring that the reader gets a break from reality.

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

VB: The idea for the Duncan Dewar Mystery Series came from a combination of things—my Scottish heritage, travels around Scotland, elderly relatives from my childhood who possessed incredible wit, and a scene cooked up in my imagination.

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

VB: When I wrote the first Duncan Dewar book, I knew it would be a two-part mystery.  Then, the characters took over and demanded more adventures.

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

VB: I currently have six novels and one short story in this series, with book number seven on its way to my editor.  They have each had their own challenges.  In The Merlon Murders I and II, I focused quite a bit on forensics, science and mathematics.  Those novels took a great deal of investigation into areas I normally wouldn’t explore with my free time!  Since I’m an art lover, aspects of The Siamese Suicides proved more enjoyable to research.  I find that each book’s writing process has its own unique hurdles to overcome.

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

VB: I have had great fun writing Armondo Berluca, a chef who appears in several of the books, Duncan’s siblings, and Donald Merriwether, the Blue Bell’s innkeeper.  Duncan remains the most difficult character to form and develop.

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

VB: Since I don’t follow a formula, you never know where one of my plots will lead.  My novels are character driven, quite literally.   In the Dewar Series, you’ll find yourself in Scotland or another fascinating location, experiencing local customs, history, and little-known details of the region.  I write clean novels with quirky characters and situations.  I’ve spent a lifetime around scientists and others with extremely high I.Q.s, and I bring some of that unique experience to my books.

CH: Did you find anything challenging while writing this book?

VB: I encountered several challenges writing The Siamese Suicides.  As I mentioned, my stories are character driven.  That makes incorporating all the details of a mystery, in a way that makes sense to the reader, difficult.  Also, some of the subject matter could be a bit heavy.  I didn’t want to focus too much on the darker aspects of the crimes.

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

VB: I love a book or a movie that I cannot quite figure out.  I want to be able to follow the story, and come up with plausible solutions, but never be certain I’ve got the answer.  Those are my favorite types of novels and films.  So, I aim for plenty of twists and turns when I write.  Sometimes, the culprit may seem obvious, but his or her methods and motives remain surprising.  In other books, the villain may be a shock.

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

VB: I would like to think, that as well as entertaining, my novel relays a message of optimism.  Good guys win in the end, and we must respect and be mindful of others and remember there’s a God in Heaven who cares for each individual.

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

VB: I receive all kinds of feedback from readers.  People love my books and people hate my books.  I get very few middle of the road responses.

CH: Is this the last book in the series? What’s your next writing project?

VB: Actually, The Siamese Suicides is not the last book of the series.  Book seven is on the way to my editor in a few days!  I currently have no plans to end the series.  I do want to let Duncan take a well-deserved vacation while I work on other projects after the newest novel releases.  I hope to begin another mystery series, and I’m working on a story set in the medieval period.

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

VB: There have been many wonderful things to come out of publishing.  Several of the Dewar books have hit the number one spot in more than one Amazon category and have also made the hot new releases lists.  My short story remained number one in its genre for almost a year.  I have met so many fantastic, fun, and supportive people whom I now call friends.  If I must choose, the most exciting thing continues to be finishing a novel!  That’s an amazing moment worth all the hard work.

CH: Can you tell my audience about your website address?

VB: My website is https://victoriabenchley.com/    Feel free to look around.  There, you can sign up for my spam-free newsletter, get to know me better, check out my other books, or join me for a cup of tea and friendly chatter on my blog, Teatime Tuesday.

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

VB: My books are currently available for sale as eBooks on Amazon.

CH: How to Find Victoria Benchley:

CH: Any closing remarks?

VB: I want to encourage anyone who’s ever wanted to write a book to go ahead and take the plunge.  Thank you to all of my readers for investing your time in my novels.  You are most appreciated!  Also, a big thank you to Cheryl Holloway for this interview.  Best wishes and happy reading!

CH: Thank you so much, Victoria Benchley, 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 and Victoria Benchley.

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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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Black History Fact – Dorothy Height Stamp Issued

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Dorothy Height Stamp Image © 2016 U. S. Postal Service. All rights reserved.

Yesterday, February 1, 2017, was the first day of issue for Dorothy Height stamp, the 40th stamp in the Black Heritage Forever series. Dorothy Height is the 15th African American woman to appear in the series.

Dorothy Height (1912-2010) was a civil rights and women’s rights activist focused primarily on improving the circumstances of and opportunities for African-American women. She dedicated her life to fighting for racial and gender equality. Dorothy Height received the nation’s two highest civilian honors for her work, the Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

Dorothy Height was the president of the National Council of Negro Women for forty years and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.

She served as national president of Delta Sigma Theta sorority from 1947 to 1956; was the chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; and an honored guest at the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009, where she was seated on stage.

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet 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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Celebrating Black History Month 2017 with Cheryl Holloway

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Black History Month – Throughout the month of February, I will spotlight various books, facts, information and quotes for Black History Month. They will have the image below on the page. I am planning some interesting blog posts.

This morning I watched The View and the guest was Michael Eric Dyson and he was discussing his new book, Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America.  He spoke of our “First Toddler Presidency.” It was a very interesting comment and observation. What are your thoughts?

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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.

   

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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Book Review: The Rejected Writers’ Book Club by Suzanne Kelman

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Title: The Rejected Writers’ Book Club (Southlea Bay)

Genre: Contemporary Women/Humor

Synopsis: Librarian Janet Johnson is puzzled when she is invited—and practically dragged—to her first meeting of the Rejected Writers’ Book Club. This quirky group of women would much rather celebrate one another’s rejected manuscripts over cups of tea and slices of lemon cake than actually publish a book. But good friends are exactly what Janet needs after moving to the small town of Southlea Bay, Washington. Just as the ladies are about to raise a teacup to their five hundredth rejection letter, they receive bad news that could destroy one member’s reputation—and disband the group forever. To save the club, Janet joins her fellow writers on a wild road trip to San Francisco in search of the local publisher who holds the key to a long-buried secret. As they race to the finish line, they’ll face their fears—landslides, haunted houses, handsome strangers, ungrateful children—and have the time of their lives.

Book Review_Cheryl

Note: I purchased this book for my personal book collection on my kindle and had no intention of writing a book review. I chose this book because of the title—it grabbed my attention and pulled me in. So, I started reading…

Let me begin by saying that Suzanne is a master storyteller. I enjoyed the humor and it was a refreshing change from some of the books I had been reading lately.  It was an enjoyable, humorous and quick read.

As a writer, I am very familiar with rejection slips. However, I never thought a group would actually collect them on purpose. So, the plot was intriguing.

All of the characters were well-developed; but Doris took the cake (no pun intended!). She even intimated Janet in a letter.  They were the weirdest group of friends I had ever seen or heard of, but they kept me laughing—page after page. And most of the characters they met on the road trip were even more eccentric than the ladies themselves.

The road trip was a real novelty and half of their encounters, one can only dream about.  Also, can you imagine how crowded that Suburban was with ladies, luggage, and food? They should have had a trailer attached for the “extras.” I can guarantee that the road trip was memorable for each woman attending.

Spoiler Alert: I was not expecting a love story, but it was nice and easy to follow.

I enjoyed the events and the ups and downs on the road trip journey.  I enjoyed how some of the scenes were far-fetched, yet, still believable.

The book was well-written. The ending was great and emotional.

Suzanne Kelman is a special kind of writer, but then we know that since she’s written over 200 books!

I rate this book

starstarstarstarstar

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DISCLAIMER

Endorsement Disclaimer: All reviews posted on this site and written by Cheryl Holloway are personal opinions of the book by the reviewer. The reviews are NOT paid endorsements of the book or the author. They are not advertisements. All reviews are honest, forthright and the opinion of the individual reviewer, freely given. Our opinions are not for sale.

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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’s Blog Giveaway Winners Announced!

 

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January 31, 2017

Three Lucky Giveaway Winners Announced

  1. Ann 
  2. Patricia R.
  3. Kiesha 

Each Winner will Receive Two eBooks by Author Cheryl Holloway and $10 Starbucks Gift Card and each winner must provide a review of the books on Amazon.  

Note: Winners were randomly selected and will be notified via email.

A Special Thanks to Everyone in our Reading Community who Commented and Entered the Giveaway.

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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 – S. McPherson

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Title: At Water’s Edge: An Epic Fantasy (The Water Rushes Book 1)

Genre: YA Fantasy/Romance

Synopsis: When 17-year-old, Dezaray Storm drunkenly stumbles across a portal one night, her abused and broken life begins to change, mainly because she starts living someone else’s life.

Accidently trading places with the most powerful sorceress of the realm, Coldivor, Dezaray finds herself assuming the identity of her magical lookalike, having to convince everyone in the realm that she’s the real deal.

Aside from a few minor hiccups along the way, like the fact that she is not magical nor does she know even the simplest cards trick; Dezaray soon finds herself settling in, particularly in the arms of Milo; a blue-eyed jokester with the ability to teleport.

However, it doesn’t take long for Dezaray to realize that life on the other side is far from glitz and glamour and that creatures unimaginable are hunting her. A war is brewing between the seven empires of Coldivor and those that long to take over. Dezaray’s enchanted double is their only hope; their secret weapon, set to be unleashed on her eighteenth birthday when she is gifted the powers of her forefathers.

But for the enchantress to return, Dezaray has to leave, and the thought of going back to Islon fills Dezaray with dread, for more reasons than one. Torn between a reality she can’t stand and a fantasy she can’t keep, Dezaray is struggling to see how any choice she makes will lead to a happy ending.

S. McPherson, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest Author is S. McPherson. The proclaimed globetrotter turned writer is one of our International authors. Welcome to my blog, S. McPherson.

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

SM: Sure. I think you should read At Water’s Edge because it will introduce you to new worlds, new experiences and take you on a thrilling adventure of love, magic and turmoil.

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

SM: I got the opening scene in my head and wrote it down, years before I started working on the series. The opening scene left me with questions as to why certain things were happening and who was this girl. I think over the years my subconscious started concocting answers until I finally had a fully formed idea.

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

SM: Stories generally come to me as a whole concept. I get the bare bones and as I go along, I add in the meat, the brain and most importantly, the heart.

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

SM: Umm, some things I took from real life and elaborated on, but with most, especially since At Water’s Edge is a fantasy, I had to put myself in that character’s shoes and try to imagine how I would react if that situation ever occurred.

CH: Where do you get inspiration for your characters?

SM: Most things for me start with an image in my head. I will hear a character say a line and that line will stick with me. Latching onto the way they say it—the tone, and the intent—will help me to devise a character around them. Are they witty, sarcastic, pessimistic, or timid? From there, I wonder how they spend their spare time, what job they might have, what music they like. The last thing, I usually decide is the name, depending on what suits their character.

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

SM: I can’t really say any of the characters were easy, each one having some attribute that I really wanted to shine through; whether physical or emotional, and I was always aware of what I made them do or how they did it in this book, would cement their character for the future books they appear in.

I think my hardest characters to write were Dezaray, Jude, Milo and Lexovia. More so the getting to know them and how they interact with one another and how differently each are affected by situations.

My favourite character to write was Jude. He is so quirky and odd and a bit of a dark horse.

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

SM: I try to keep the tone believable and edgy. I like to hook readers with fast- paced action, then, slow it down with lyrical thoughts and heart-wrenching scenes. I try to keep a flow of highs and lows that always keep the reader wondering what will happen next. That’s what I most love about the reading process—always guessing.

CH: This is the first book in the series; however, other books in the series have been published. So, when you wrote the first book in the series, did you realize it would be a series then?

SM: Yes, as soon as I sat down to write the first book, I had a planned trilogy in my mind. As the stories progressed and the characters evolved, my trilogy expanded to a five book series. 🙂

CH: Since you have lived all over the world, was this helpful in creating various countries in your book?

SM: It has certainly helped give me a greater insight into various cultures and people’s ways of life. Primarily, my book takes place in England and a fantasy world, but meeting such an array of people and being exposed to variations in countries has certainly helped me create my realms.

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

SM: There is, but I feel, the more the story develops, the more clear the message becomes throughout the series. The hook for book one, At Water’s Edge, is ‘They say love can cross oceans but can it cross worlds?’ As you dive further into the series, you will see how my message applies to the literal divide between the worlds in my book, but also the metaphorical worlds, like race, gender, religion and preference. Can love cross those worlds, too?

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

SM: Dezaray comes from an abusive home, and one challenge I found was trying to put myself in that situation. It was hard speaking to others who have come from a similar background and difficult to hear about their experiences and what made them stay, but it was extremely enlightening and definitely helped me to understand Dezaray a bit more.

CH: Since you are a debut author, is there a famous or not-so-famous author that you would aspire to be like?

SM: There are so many wonderfully talented authors out there that I would aspire to be like. I suppose the dream of most authors is to be as grand as the Queen of fantasy—JK Rowling! But I would be humbled and touched to have success on a similar scale to Sarah J. Maas and Veronica Roth.

CH: Do you write full-time or part-time?

SM: Part-time. I write whenever I can, daytime, night time, whilst cooking. (haha) I do teach during the day, as well, but it finishes early enough for me to dedicate most of my time to my writing.

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

SM: So far, it’s been overall very positive and constructive. They’ve really helped give me an insight into my readers’ minds and what they would like to see in future books. I wouldn’t have come this far, without the support of my wonderful readers. 🙂

CH:  How to Find S. McPherson:

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

SM: My book is currently sold on Amazon, although I may expand this to other retailers before the end of the year.

CH: Any closing remarks?

SM: Thank you so much to your fans for taking the time to read this interview and I hope I have given you a better insight into myself and my books. I truly appreciate all of your support on this long and soul-searching journey! I would love if you would join me on my Facebook page where I blog and give book updates, and I am about to host a contest called the Artist of Dreams with fantastic prizes! (Running from January 29th until March 1st)  Cheryl, thanks for having me on your blog.

CH: Thank you so much, S. McPherson, 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 and S. McPherson.

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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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Celebrity Guest Author – Suzanne Kelman

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Suzanne Kelman
Title: The Rejected Writers’ Book Club (Southlea Bay)

Genre: Contemporary Women/Humor

Synopsis: Librarian Janet Johnson is puzzled when she is invited—and practically dragged—to her first meeting of the Rejected Writers’ Book Club. This quirky group of women would much rather celebrate one another’s rejected manuscripts over cups of tea and slices of lemon cake than actually publish a book. But good friends are exactly what Janet needs after moving to the small town of Southlea Bay, Washington. Just as the ladies are about to raise a teacup to their five hundredth rejection letter, they receive bad news that could destroy one member’s reputation—and disband the group forever. To save the club, Janet joins her fellow writers on a wild road trip to San Francisco in search of the local publisher who holds the key to a long-buried secret. As they race to the finish line, they’ll face their fears—landslides, haunted houses, handsome strangers, ungrateful children—and have the time of their lives.

Suzanne Kelman, Author

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

SK: A small-town librarian gets pulled into a ‘kaleidoscope of craziness’ when she gets dragged to a meeting of The Rejected Writers Book Club.

CH: Where did you get the idea for this book? 

SK: The book started out as a screenplay that ended up being a book and now a series. Years ago, I went to a book signing, and the author started his talk by emptying all his rejection letters onto the table in front of him. It was freeing to all the authors in the room—as if he was giving us permission to be rejected by publishers. I always thought it would be fun to have people celebrate that experience.

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

SK: My stories typically start with the spark of an idea that grows into a bigger piece. I write the first draft very fast, and it is more like a very long outline and the story literally unfolds before my eyes. Then, I go in and clean that draft up, and more story ideas materialize and lastly, I re-write adding in the real comedy and crafting the scenes.

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

SK: From real life and elaborate. I already spend time in real life with characters just like this. Living in a small town is like that; you learn to love and appreciate everyone, even the eccentric members of the group. But friendship and a desire to bond is the center of any small town, and there are no finer people to rally around you in an emergency. Janet, my protagonist, was my window into the world of small-town eccentricities from an outsider’s point of view. I am British and moved to my town here in the Pacific Northwest from a big city in England, so I understand what it feels like to jump into such a unique melting pot.

CH: Where do you get inspiration for your characters? 

SK: I think a lot of it comes from my theater background; I was trained from an early age to study people. Now, I’m middle-aged and have met every kind of conceivable character there is, I’m sure. When I’m creating a new character, I just combine a couple of folks I know to create a whole new person. It’s way too dangerous to base any fictional character totally on one person, especially in a small town!

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

SK: My favorites are the really comedic characters. In book one, Ronald, the homeless guy, was the most fun to write. The Rejected Writers get snowed in the mountains with him. I remember one editor suggesting I lose him altogether, but I decided to keep him, as I think he is a great character for comedy and my readers seem to really enjoy that scene. The hardest character is Doris; she is a strong, bombastic character, but she also has a heart of gold, and it’s a balancing act not to make her too off-putting for my readers.

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

SK: I think, I give them permission not to take life too seriously. Also, so often when I read comedy, some writers rely on being crude to make it funny. All of my books have clean humor with no explicit sex scenes.  I love to take everyday situations and take them to the edge of madcap crazy without hopefully taking it too far.

CH: Did you have to do any research for the wild road trip to San Francisco?

SK: I have actually traveled the route two or three times on my own road trips, so I am familiar with it and the different terrains and towns along the way. However, when I was researching and writing the book I followed the journey on Google maps just to make sure I had everything in the right place, plus that helped me figure out the timeline for the trip.

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

SK: That you should never judge a book by its cover, the strangest of people can be the kindest; also never underestimate the length people will go for friendship. At the end of the day, kindness and friendship are the most important things.

CH: Since you live in a small town, how much of your background has influence on this book?

SK: I live in a small town, which I love, and have been part of many crazy groups, so I really drew on that experience.

CH: Since you were born in Scotland, raised in the U.K. and now live in the U.S., does your background have any influence on your writing? 

SK: Yes, I think it does. My humor is definitely British, so if you like that kind of crazy madcap comedy you might enjoy my books. Also, the Brits have a very unique way of seeing the world, often through a filter of humor, which you will see in my protagonist.

CH: You’ve written several books, well over 500. What contributes to your success as a writer? 

SK: I didn’t start writing seriously until six years ago, and I think finding your passion later in life creates a different focus. I have been very committed to the craft in that time. I am quite disciplined with my writing schedule and have always taken it very seriously, writing 4-6 hours a day five days a week, even weekends when I’m on a deadline. And for years, I wasn’t paid anything, but stayed committed. I also never stop learning. I am always reading, and absorbing everything I can about the craft of writing.

CH: You have won several awards for your writing. Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

SK: There have been many twists and turns in my writing career, and many things have contributed to my success, but there never was a real plan, except the fact I have always been a passionate storyteller and want to communicate that to the world.  I started in the theater, telling a story through acting and then, I fell in love with screenwriting and started writing for the screen. But alas, it can be a long time waiting for films to get produced. So then, I became an author to sustain my screenwriting ‘habit.’ So, it was less about a roadmap for success and more like the song ‘I knew an old woman who swallowed a fly.’

CH: You have 500+ 5-Star reviews. What type of feedback are you receiving from readers of this book?

SK: On the whole, I have had fantastic reviews. I love the way that so many people have connected with these wild and wooly characters on a very deep level.  Also, I love reading the review when people have laughed till they cried or the stories of husbands that have been woken by their wife suddenly laughing out loud in the middle of the night as they read through my book.

CH: What can we expect next from you?

SK: I have a very exciting year coming up; my first book just got published in German, (10th January).  I also have the second book in the Southlea Bay series, Rejected Writers Take the Stage, coming out June 6th and also the third book in the series—a Christmas novella—is being published in October. So, this is a busy writing year for me.

CH: How to Find Suzanne Kelman:

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

SK: My book is available on Amazon, as a paperback, eBook or audio book.

CH: Any closing remarks?

SK: Thank you so much for giving me this chance to share my work with your readers. Also, my book is on sale for $1.99 until the end of January or if any of your readers are Amazon Prime members they can download my book for FREE, right now.

CH: Thank you so much, Celebrity Suzanne Kelman, 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 and Suzanne Kelman.

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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’s Blog Giveaway Reminder

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January 17-27, 2017

Three Lucky Winners

Win Two eBooks by Author Cheryl Holloway and $10 Starbucks Gift Card

To Celebrate this milestone of 500 Blog Posts and 500 Tweets, I am going to giveaway these prizes to three lucky winners! All you have to do to enter this amazing giveaway is to:

  1. leave a comment below to win and email me your email address;
  2. after you win, review the books on Amazon

It’s just that simple!

Rules:

  • No Purchase Necessary
  • Provide an email address
  • Limit One entry daily
  • Void where Prohibited by Law
  • US, Canada, and Worldwide, 18+ years of age
  • Winners will be notified via email

Winners will be randomly selected on Jan 28. Winners will be announced and prize delivered on Jan 31. 

Thank you for helping me to celebrate this accomplishment.

Cheryl Holloway, Author

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A Special Thank You to Those who Participated in the Blog Giveaway.

Guest Author Interview – Elaine Cougler

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Title: The Loyalist Legacy (The Loyalist Trilogy Volume 3)

Genre: Historical

Synopsis: After the crushing end of the War of 1812, William and Catherine Garner find their allotted two hundred acres in Nissouri Township by following the Thames River into the wild heart of Upper Canada. On their valuable land straddling the river, dense forest, wild beasts, displaced Natives, and pesky neighbors daily challenge them. The political atmosphere laced with greed and corruption threatens to undermine all of the new settlers’ hopes and plans. William knows he cannot take his family back to Niagara but he longs to check on his parents from whom he has heard nothing for two years. Leaving Catherine and their children, he hurries back along the Governor’s Road toward the turn-off to Fort Erie, hoping to return home in time for spring planting. With spectacular scenes of settlers recovering from the wartime catastrophies in early Ontario, Elaine Cougler shows a different kind of battle, one of ordinary people somehow finding the inner resources to shape new lives and a new country. The Loyalist Legacy delves further into the history of the Loyalists as they begin to disagree on how to deal with the injustices of the powerful “Family Compact” and on just how loyal to Britain they want to remain.

Elaine Cougler, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Elaine Cougler, a Canadian historical author writing about settlers who remained loyal to Britain during the American Revolution. Welcome to my blog, Elaine.

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

EC: The Loyalist Legacy (Loyalist trilogy #3) sees the Garners face the unjust ‘Family Compact’ and question their loyalty to Britain.

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?

EC: The only thing formulaic about my plots is my insistence in rising action which leads to a striking and satisfying conclusion. I like the idea that ordinary people can rise to conquer in extraordinary circumstances. My ideas come to me from studying the history of the times of the Loyalists. They first appeared as those who wanted to stay loyal to Britain at the time of the American Revolutionary War. In my second book the Garners escape to what is now Canada (Niagara area) and fight through to the end of the War of 1812. The third book brings them and their children into present-day Ontario where they question their loyalty to Britain as they struggle to build a country. For each book in the trilogy the story of my fictional characters is woven into the actual history of those terrifying times and that all comes together as I write the first draft.

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

EC: Both. In my research, I look for nuggets of truth that make my skin tingle and figure how I can incorporate them into my book. One such was a personal story passed down from my father about a lynx attacking a Native child sleeping on my family member’s porch while her mother visited inside. I just had to use that in my fiction.

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

EC: I love reading historical fiction and always knew I was descended from Loyalists who fought for Butler’s Rangers in the American Revolutionary War. So, the idea was easy. Researching for this trilogy became dual purposed, as I realized I was researching my own father’s family history. Talk about being close to home!

CH: Where do you get inspiration for your characters?

EC: Everywhere. Lately, I named one of my minor characters after my singing teacher over 50 years ago. A few weeks ago, I was at a New Years’ luncheon and studied the stranger opposite me and the way his mouth moved when he talked and the little raised bump above his upper lip which seemed to bounce as he became animated. I look for unique and interesting features, both physical and emotional.

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

EC: In my current book, The Loyalist Legacy, I found the main male character harder to write, because I had to find a way to create tension yet keep my readers sympathetic to William. His brother was easier as he is a bit of a black sheep, whose reasons for what he does come out as the story progresses. William’s wife, Catherine, epitomizes a strong pioneer woman for me and I enjoyed starting the book with her taking out her frustrations on the bread dough she is pounding into the table.

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

EC: Not much historical fiction has been written about the 50,000 or so Loyalists who came into Canada at the time or the other 50,000 who went elsewhere in the world in order to follow their own wish to remain loyal to Britain. As I wrote this trilogy over the last nine years, the bravery and the helplessness under differing governing bodies (King, President, Patriots, Governors, etc.) in those times was just so clear to me. I felt for those people caught up in all of this and wanted to bring their stories out. I also wanted to emphasize how families were split, fighting on opposite sides. Americans do a fabulous job of knowing their own history and know all about their side of the Revolutionary War. Here is the story of the ‘other side.’ Interestingly, we are not so very different.

CH: Did you have to do a lot of research on the war?

EC: Oh, yes. The heart of historical fiction is good research and in the few places where I’ve needed to change a small fact, I diligently mention it in the notes. While I do write fiction, I want to be true to the history. For the first two books, the revolution and the War of 1812 provided strong bones on which to flesh out my fictional story of people. I wondered what would happen in the third book, which starts just after the end of the War of 1812, but I needed have worried. The ‘Family Compact’ here in Upper Canada proved that there was absolutely no democracy which fact provided me with loads of fodder. Also, the Native peoples faced the reservation system and blacks were escaping to Canada at that time. All of that unrest provides me with lots of tension in my plot, as my characters move toward the Rebellion of 1837 where the Canadas rebelled against Britain.

CH: This book seems to have a lot of family love. Are you from a close-knit family?

EC: What an interesting observation! I am one of thirteen children whose parents knew how to raise us and I’m thankful for that. Having just celebrated Christmas and New Years at various family events, I’d have to say we’re pretty close. We learned it from our parents.

CH: You seem to enjoy writing historical fiction. What draws you to history?

EC: You know the funny thing is I didn’t like history in high school. It was all about memorizing dates and the six reasons for blah, blah, blah and I found it extremely boring. As an adult, I found my interest in history through reading historical fiction. The stories of people just seem more interesting when integrated into real events with real people. I’m still not much for memorizing facts, but I love to know how people did what they did and reacted to the events around them.

CH: Can you tell my audience where are you from? Does your background have any influence on this book?

EC: Absolutely, my background has influenced these three books. I grew up on a farm in Ontario and today live about ten miles from that spot. My parents were great community people both in volunteer organizations and in government. My third book is set on the two hundred acres northeast of London, Ontario, where my great-great-great grandparents settled after the War of 1812 on a military grant land for her father’s service in Butler’s Rangers in the American Revolutionary War. Their names were William and Catherine Garner and I used them in this third book. Of course, most of what I have them doing in the book is speculation but it was fun for me to imagine what their lives must have been like.

CH: Since this is the last book in the trilogy, what can we expect from you next?

EC: Just now, I’m taking a bit of a break—I know, sacrilege to a writer!—and catching up with the business side of being a writer. On my desk, though, I already have two books to read which may be the beginning of an entirely new series, the substance of which is still a secret. I do a lot of speaking both in person and over Skype and I’ve got the first book ‘in the can’ for an audiobook. I hope to have that on Audible by the end of January. Never a dull moment or year!

CH: You’ve written this trilogy, so what contributes to your success as a writer?

EC: People have been very kind wherever I’ve gone to speak and with helping me get the word out. I would say people are my greatest help and for that I’m most thankful. Also, my background, as a singer and high school teacher, have made me comfortable talking about my books on stage or in small groups.

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

EC: I get a lot of people emailing me and telling me how much they loved the books and some of them write reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Many of my readers, though, are not comfortable on those media, so that is an area where I intend to focus in the coming months. We, authors, really need those reviews. I should tell you about an acquaintance who, I am sure, bought the first book to be a good friend and support me. One morning my husband and I were heading home from our early morning walk, when this man came running out of his house after us, to tell me how much he enjoyed the book. When I speak I am lucky to get the same reaction. Life as an author is so great with supporters like that.

CH:  How to Find Elaine Cougler:

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

EC: On Amazon

CH: Any closing remarks?

EC: Thanks so much for these insightful questions, Cheryl. It is a pleasure to be a guest on your lovely blog. I hope you and your readers will consider coming to visit me on my Facebook author page. Happy New Year, Everyone!

CH: Thank you so much, Elaine Cougler, 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 and Elaine Cougler.

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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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Celebrity Guest Author – Melody Carlson

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Celebrity Melody Carlson

Title: I’ll Be Seeing You (The Mulligan Sisters Book 1)

Genre: Romance/Historical

Synopsis: December 7, 1941, San Francisco is on high alert following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Mulligan family is grappling with the news that Peter, beloved son and brother, is among the missing.

Each of the Mulligan sisters Bridget, Margaret, Colleen and Molly strives to find her place in the rapidly changing world in these early days of World War II. With their father ailing, Margaret takes over management of the family’s grocery store trying to keep hoarders at bay while daydreaming of a June wedding. Meanwhile Bridget focuses on her board exams and hopes to be accepted as an Army nurse. Beautiful Colleen, the “family flibbertigibbet” just wants to have fun despite the dire news of the war. But it’s the “baby” fifteen-year-old Molly who seems to be the glue that holds the family together.

With siblings, friends, and beaus being shipped out weekly, the remaining Mulligans quickly realize that this war will be fought on two fronts at home and overseas.

Each of the strong, hopeful Mulligan sisters will do their part if they hope to see victory and the end of the war.

Melody Carlson, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Celebrity Melody Carlson, who has written over 200 books. Welcome to my blog Melody.

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

 MC: I’ll Be Seeing You is set in the World War 2 era and will transport you to an important, unforgettable, and exciting time in history.

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?

MC: Ideas come randomly to me—and in all shapes and forms. Sometimes, a character with a distinct voice and an interesting problem will show up in my head. Occasionally, a great location or intriguing era will call out to me. I’ve even written books that were inspired by dreams. Usually, the story is only partially there when I start to write—and I’m compelled to go looking for the rest of it. That’s my favorite way to create a book, not knowing what’s around the next corner and being surprised along the way. It’s what keeps me going back to my computer, after more than 200 books.

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

MC: My World War 2 trilogy (The Mulligan Sisters) is partially inspired by family stories that I heard as a child. Whenever older relatives spoke about the ‘war era,’ I could tell that it had played a huge part in all their lives. My uncles both served overseas—one in the European front and one in the Pacific. And my mother’s family, like the Mulligan’s, had owned a small grocery store on the home front. The women dealt with things like rationing, volunteering . . . and even painting “nylon seams” on the backs of their legs, when shortages called for creativity.

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

MC: I think I secretly envied my older relatives for getting to live out the challenges and rewards of the World War 2 era. And I must admit to an ongoing fascination with 1940’s fashions. But writing about the war from the perspectives of four sisters living in San Francisco (which is my birthplace) was hugely appealing. Plus, it felt like a story that was too big to be told in just one book—thus The Mulligan Sisters series was born.

CH: Since this is the first book in the series, have you decided on how many books will be in this series?

MC: I only planned on three books. Each one is titled after a popular song during WW2. I’m about to start the third (and I think final book) but there is still a lot of story to tell. I hope I can fit it all into one book. Or maybe I can talk my publisher into adding a fourth. 🙂

CH: A reader said that the book is full of rich history, family drama, and war-time romance. How did you decide to write about World War 2?

MC: World War 2 is so full of story potential. And the idea of writing about young women serving (for the most part) on the home front intrigued me. I probably wanted to live vicariously through them. Plus, it’s a great way to learn history—the research has been interesting and fun. And so many stories have surfaced (thanks to the internet) in recent years that it’s not hard to find inspiration.

CH: Where do you get inspiration for your characters?

MC: Some pieces of the characters are extracted from people in my life. Some that have passed, and some that are living. Bridget Mulligan is similar to a niece whose name is also Bridget and she’s a nurse too. Margaret is a bit like an aunt who’s passed on. Colleen is a morph of a couple of glamorous people. And Molly, the youngest, is a sweetheart that you can’t help but fall in love with.

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

MC: Margaret is probably the hardest to write. She’s simple, but complicated in that she only seems interested in becoming a wife and mother—and at the same time, she struggles with feeling a bit jealous of her sisters for wanting more than that. Plus, she’s saddled with a lot of responsibility in running the store, when her dad gets sick. Colleen is fun to write because she’s somewhat unpredictable. She’s the glamour girl and family “flibbertigibbet” but she actually has some surprising layers and strengths that show up later—when she’s faced with some severe trials.

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

MC: I hope readers will feel like they’ve been on a journey with me—going back in time and seeing up close how lives were changed, strengthened and challenged during World War 2. I hope these women’s stories will remind each of us how sacrifices were made . . . and how many rewards followed. Life wasn’t easy for them and yet, it was fulfilling.

CH: Did you have to do a lot of research on World War 2?

MC: I’m constantly researching as I write. I keep maps and timelines handy, and I’m always pulling up true stories from the internet. Sometimes they’re so interesting, that it’s a distraction (although a good one!). And fashion research gives me a good excuse to watch classic movies from that era—something I love to do anyway. All in all, it’s given me even more respect for the people who lived through that time.

CH: Did you find anything challenging while writing this book?

MC: The biggest challenge is keeping it true to the era—and yet, relevant to contemporary readers. I hope that I’ve managed to do that. So far, the comments I’ve received from all age groups is encouraging.

CH: You’ve written over 200 books. What contributes to your success as a writer?

MC: I’m not sure how you define “success.” But I’ll admit that I’ve written a LOT of books and I like to think I’ve improved over time. I never meant to be this prolific, but I write extremely fast—it’s just the way I work—and that’s resulted in many stories, which translates into many readers (about 7.5 million) . . . as well as some nice awards. So, if that adds up to success, well, then I’m very grateful!

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

MC: If there’s a specific message . . . it’s probably simply to encourage all of us to remember that good things come out of hard times. The WW 2 era was an extremely dark time in history for most of the world. Horrific things happened. Millions of lives were lost. It could’ve felt utterly hopeless . . . and yet, good people rolled up their sleeves and worked hard to get through it victoriously. This encourages me a lot.

CH: You seem to have quite a following. What type of feedback are you receiving from readers?

MC: So far, the response to the start of this new series has been positive. I’ve been hearing “when’s the next book coming?” a lot. And it will be released this spring. And the third book in the upcoming fall.

CH: How to Find Melody Carlson:

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

MC: Print and e-books are available on Amazon and several other online bookstores.

CH: Any closing remarks?

MC: Thanks for taking time to ‘visit with me’ today. If you get a chance to ‘meet’ my Mulligan Sisters, I hope you’ll like them as much as I do. They really feel like family members to me. I think we can all learn a thing or two from them.

CH: Thank you so much, Melody Carlson, 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 and Melody Carlson.

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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 is Featured on Jan Romes’ Blog

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Cheryl Holloway is Featured on Jan Romes’ Blog

Today, I am Featured on Jan Romes, the Romance Writer, Author Spotlight on her Blog.

Here is the link: http://jantheromancewriter.blogspot.com/2017/01/cheryl-holloway-is-my-guest.html

I’d love for you to read the information about me and my books. Please Enjoy the blog post and gather a little insight into my writing life and the featured book, A Sisterhood of Women Living Life.

Cheryl Holloway

A Special Thanks to Jan Romes, Author at www.jantheromancewriter.blogspot.com

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet 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 – Kevin T. Craig

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 Title: Burn Baby, Burn Baby

Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary Romance

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Francis Fripp’s confidence is practically non-existent, since his abusive father drenched him in accelerant and threw a match at him eight years ago. Now badly scarred, Francis relies on his best friend Trig to protect him from the constant bullying doled out at the hands of his nemesis, Brandon Hayley—the unrelenting boy who gave him the dreaded nickname of Burn Baby. The new girl at school, Rachel Higgins, is the first to see past Francis’s pariah-inducing scars. If Brandon’s bullying doesn’t destroy him, Francis might experience life as a normal teenager for the first time in his life. He just has to avoid Brandon and convince himself he’s worthy of Rachel’s attentions. Sounds easy enough, but Francis himself has a hard time seeing past his scars. And Brandon is getting violently frustrated, as his attempts to bully Francis are constantly thwarted. Francis is in turmoil, as he simultaneously rushes toward his first kiss and a possible violent end.

Kevin T. Craig, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Kevin T. Craig, a Canadian author, poet and playwright. Welcome to my blog, Kevin.

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

KTC: Sure, I’ll give it a shot. Francis Fripp is badly scarred by fire. He attempts to navigate school life, while being bullied and falling in love.

CH: The topic is unique. Where did you get the idea for this book? 

KTC: I often write about abuse and bullying. For this book, I wanted to give the main character a noticeable, undeniable physical scar. I often have characters flawed on the inside, with no noticeable scars but plenty of unseen ones in their souls. The idea just took off from there. I knew that if Francis had to deal with heavy scarring from an abusive incident (his father set him on fire in his childhood), he would be set up for the less sympathetic kids in high school to make fun of him and cast him aside. I have this thing with flawed characters scraping their way through life attempting to survive. This story, with a visibly scarred hero, was just a natural progression.

CH: Why did you decide to write this book?

KTC: I am always attempting to write young adult books that would have somehow saved me, were the teen me to pick them up. Teen-life is a struggle at the best of times. When you’re struggling with not fitting in, feeling like a freak or a cast out, it feels like it will never get better. I like to put characters into the thick of horrendous circumstances and give them a glimmer of hope, either in a love interest, a friend, or their own perseverance. I want to show readers that challenges, destruction and despair can be overcome, if they just hold on to that one shining glimmer of hope. I decided to write this book, in particular, because I wanted to see if I could give one of the most marginalized people—the deformed, scarred cast-out—a good life. I wanted to try to write my main character into happiness.

CH: A few of your books are about fires. Is there a reason this topic is high priority on your writing list?

KTC: This is actually the only one with an actual burn victim, but fire played a huge role in my first novel, Summer on Fire. A barn fire was the impetus to the whole novel, but the kids escaped burning…although, one of them ended up with an awful leg break. I do, however, tend to discover themes in my novels. Usually, at times like this, when they are pointed out to me. Most of my novels have twins. Something, I didn’t even realize.

CH: The main character had low self-esteem due to burn scars and was being bullied at school. Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

KTC: I was bullied my entire school life. The bully just has to see one thing out of place on his victim in order to zone in on them and choose them as the object of their scorn. It was easy writing about bullying, coming from the place I came from. What I worried about was people thinking the bully would consider someone like Francis off-limits because his deformity was so horrendous that the reader couldn’t imagine a bully choosing Francis as his victim. But I knew, a bully would declare open season on such a deformity…because they are often incapable of empathy. Making Francis a target was both difficult and easy.

CH: Where do you get inspiration for your characters?

KTC: They kind of just appear. Whoever speaks the loudest is heard. They are probably all amalgamations of people I have known. I think most writers do that, borrow from real life. My supporting character, Trig, was modeled after one of my own childhood friends. He was a guy who could move between the hierarchy of school cliques with ease. I always admired the magic of people like that. I wanted to honor that by creating a character with the same trait. The cliques, camaraderie and detestable behavior of high school figures inspire my characters. High school is like a microcosm of the people you will meet in life.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

KTC: In this novel, the bully—Brandon. I sometimes think, I could have explored him more, explained the impetus surrounding his anger. But I held back from doing that on purpose. I found it difficult to hold back, but I was afraid in doing so, that I would put him in too much of a position to be empathized with. I didn’t want the reader to feel empathy towards him. I wanted it all to take place from Francis’s viewpoint. He wasn’t getting insight into Brandon’s anger and hateful behavior, so I felt the reader shouldn’t get insight either. But it was difficult for me not to elaborate on Brandon’s character.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

KTC: Trig was my favorite to write. Basically, because of what I said earlier about him. He was one of those magical beings who either don’t see the constructs of the high school hierarchy or don’t care about them. He was heroic, but oblivious. He was there for Francis at every turn and managed to be the one person in his life, who shined and refused to acknowledge his deformity in a negative way. I just loved Trig for being able to accept people for who they were. There ARE people in the world like him.

CH: Where are you from? Does your background have any influence on this book?

KTC: That seems like it could be a loaded question, where are you from? Geographically, I am from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I’m also ‘from’ the 80s. Being born in the mid-60s, my coming-of-age occurred in the 80s. Those were times of blatant bullying and ostracizing anything and everything that was different, whether that be intentionally different, or different in ways like Francis, who had to carry the burden of his scars for everyone to see. I suppose growing up struggling to fit in and then, later, being okay with not fitting in, has given me a context from which to write the books I write. So, I write for the young adult who struggles in the miasma of their own blistering zeitgeist. I tend to believe that, although, on the surface, things seem to change, but they don’t really. Teens still struggle with the hierarchy that existed 10, 20, 30, or 40 years ago. The Breakfast Club…it’s as relevant today, as it was when it came out. The nerd, the punk, the jock, the cast-out, the beauty queen…these groups still exist. They still influence my writing. I like to explore the belief that LIFE GETS BETTER after high school.

CH: How long did it take you to write this book?

KTC: Actually, I wrote it over the course of a three-day weekend. Every year I take part in the Muskoka Novel Marathon. It’s a three day novel writing marathon. 40 writers are put into the same room for 72-hours. We each attempt to write a novel in that time. We break bread together, we laugh, we talk, we cry, we write frantically into the night, into the morning, and into the night…We also collect money in the form of sponsorships for literacy programs in the community in Northern Ontario, Canada, in which it takes place. This year, we collected $36,000.00. Of course, I tweak my books after the weekend, expand upon what I come out with, edit, edit, edit…but the most of the novel is written in the 72-hours. I finished Burn Baby, Burn Baby at the marathon, actually. I didn’t add to it after the weekend…it was edited, but it came out completed.

CH: This book is a couple of years old. What kind of feedback are you getting from readers?

 KTC: For the most part, the reviews have been incredible! I’ve received a lot of positive feedback. I’m thrilled with most of what I’ve heard. It actually was awarded a place of honor on the American Library Services for Youth in Custody’s 2016 In The Margins Book Award List. Titles are chosen for this list that are by, for, and about kids living in the margins.

CH: Wow, that is a nice award/honor. This book starts with him making a movie of his life. What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

KTC: I started the book that way because I wanted to show that Francis dreams of being a director. He sort of held the camera and took us through the opening scenes that way. I wanted my writing style for this particular book to be as close to the POV character, as possible. I wanted the reader to slip into Francis’s body and feel his pain. The fade-out at the end of the book is written in this same style, as Francis imagines the end of the movie of his life. I wanted that style to frame the story, and I wanted to attempt to remain tight in the camera’s eye throughout…without depending too much on the movie metaphor. I suppose I was attempting a cinematic viewpoint for the reader. I hope it worked!

CH: You have won several awards for your writing and briefly told us about one award. Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

KTC: I wrote when I was a child. But somewhere along the road, I came to believe that I didn’t deserve to write, that I wasn’t a ‘writer.’ I didn’t have the schooling to be a writer, or the wherewithal. I put myself into this box of Not-Writer and disallowed myself the joy. But I kept writing lines of poetry on cash register receipts, slips of paper, notepads. It bled through and eventually I couldn’t contain it any longer. In 2003, I began to write things. I found a local writing group and I joined it and then I feared attending their meetings for several months, knowing that they would discover I was a fraud…that I was not a card-carrying member of the writing elite. When I finally cracked and attended a meeting, my real writing journey took off. The first real piece I wrote, a memoir, was accepted for Canada’s National newspaper, the Globe & Mail. That gave me confidence to chase the dream of writing. I have since had 10 short plays produced for the stage, poetry published internationally, 5 novels published, articles, and the memoir published. The passion stuck.

CH: How to find Kevin T. Craig:

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

KTC: Burn Baby, Burn Baby can be found at Amazon, both as a paperback and as a Kindle. It’s also at Barnes & Noble, and Chapters here in Canada. It’s basically found wherever books are sold…but they might have to order in the paperback.

CH: Any closing remarks?

KTC: I just want to thank you so much for inviting me to blather on about my book and my writing. I really appreciate it! If any of your readers happen to pick up a copy of Burn Baby, Burn Baby, or any other of my books, I certainly hope they enjoy it! Thank you!

CH: Thank you so much, Kevin T. Craig, 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 and Kevin T. Craig.

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

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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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