Thursday, October 23, 2014

Interview: Judith Starkston

Today I'm pleased to Welcome Judith Starkston to the blog to talk about her new book, "Hand of Fire." 

But first, a little about "Hand of Fire." 

The Trojan War threatens Troy’s allies and the Greek supply raids spread. A young healing priestess, designated as future queen, must defend her city against both divine anger and invading Greeks. She finds strength in visions of a handsome warrior god; will that be enough when the half-immortal Achilles attacks? Hand of Fire, a tale of resilience and hope, blends history and legend in the untold story of Achilles’s famous captive, Briseis. 

In the Iliad, Homer gives only a few lines to Briseis, the captive woman who sparked the bitter conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon. Hand of Fire brings Briseis to life against this mythic backdrop. Thrust into leadership as a young woman, she must protect her family and city. Sickness and war threaten. She gains much-needed strength from visions of a handsome warrior god, but will that be enough when the mighty, half-immortal Achilles attacks? 

  1. What inspired you to write this book?
It may sound strange, but I began to write in order to answer a question that had bothered me for a long time. For years I’d taught the Iliad, Homer’s epic poem of the Trojan War, and kept wondering with my students how Briseis, the captive woman who sparked the bitter conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon, could possibly have loved Achilles.

The Greek had killed her husband and brothers, destroyed her city and turned her from princess to slave—hardly a heartwarming courtship. She is central to the plot and yet she gets only a handful of lines. In those few words, the one clear notion expressed is her sorrow when she is forced to leave Achilles.

I should say I always liked Achilles, the existential hero who calls the whole war into question—which shows he’s no brainwasher—so the answer wasn’t some ancient version of Stockholm Syndrome.

  1. Would you classify your writing more as plot driven or character driven?

Hand of Fire is very much character driven. I wanted to figure out who Briseis could have been—after a while she became very real to me and when I found myself struggling with a scene it usually meant I was trying to make Briseis do something that simply wasn’t in her nature.

Achilles stumped me for the longest time. He’s larger than life, half-immortal and deeply conflicted. In an early version I had him as one of the point-of-view characters, but it didn’t work. I couldn’t hear his voice. I finally wrote his part of the story as epic poetry in iambic pentameter, which is the closest I could get in English to the hexameter verse of Homer. Once I used a medium that was mythological and writ large, he gradually revealed himself. Later I used that understanding to remove the poetry and slide in his character in the more standard format of scenes.

The manuscript I’m working on now is a mystery and for that I find I had to develop a plot outline early on, but even so the characters keep shifting that plot around to suit themselves. Characters are a very bossy lot once you let them get into your imagination.

  1. Can you tell us a little about your main character?
Briseis is essential to the plot of the Iliad, and yet we only know that she was a princess captured by Achilles. To develop who she was I needed both an understanding of what she could plausibly have done in the course her life and her inner psychology.

Intriguingly, the world Briseis lived in—the details of its everyday life, religious beliefs, language, etc. have only come to light recently—dug from the earth by contemporary archaeologists. The cuneiform libraries of ancient Anatolia (modern Turkey) and the Hittite Empire, where Troy and Briseis’s city of Lyrnessos were situated, have begun to be translated and provided the material I needed. I discovered in the evidence a powerful role for Briseis, that of a healing priestess, called in Hittite a hasawa.

That role made perfect sense for a woman who fell in love with Achilles, the warrior who is also a healer and a bard. The stories—one taken from clay-recorded history and one from mythology—meshed and a strong-willed redhead began to form in my imagination.

Briseis is a smart young woman in an ancient culture that, counter to our modern stereotypes of the past, expects her to be powerful, literate and a leader. Briseis succeeds in rising to those expectations despite the circumstances arrayed against her—and she’s strong enough to take on the mightiest of the Greek heroes.

  1. Without giving away too much, tell us a little about the main conflict in this book.
There’s conflict on two levels, as is often the case. A Greek army attacks and destroys most of what Briseis holds dear—battles, raids and rape make for vivid external conflict, but there’s the inner side of that violence also. I was very interested in how some people, women especially, can survive great tragedy and violence against them, even managing to take delight in what life still has to offer. Part of that inner survival for Briseis involves coming to terms with Achilles—the man who slaughtered her loved ones and yet offers her love. Can she return that feeling without destroying herself?

  1. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
Despite being a book about war with a lot of death and violence, the fundamental theme of Hand of Fire is one of hope. I think people will come away with a renewed sense of the resiliency of humanity and of women in particular.

Also, my aim was to build the Bronze Age world of these Greeks and Trojans vividly enough that readers feel like they’ve lived there. For most people, that’s a new and exotic world and yet it will feel surprisingly familiar in some ways. I guess you could call Hand of Fire historical escapism with a positive message.

  1. Now for a few fun questions! What song best describes your writing style?
Instead of a particular song, I guess I’ll go with a jazz improvisation. You hear familiar tunes from other times and places—I use mythology and history throughout—and as far as how I compose, I meander all over and then find my rhythm eventually.

Follow the Hand of Fire Tour!
  1. Night Owl or Early Bird?
Definitely an early bird. By evening I’m brain dead. It takes some serious caffeine to fire my mental and physical engines in the morning, and walking my golden retriever helps jiggle me awake, but I get my best work done first thing in the morning.

  1. Skittles or M&M’s?
I would be thrown out of my family if I ever sided with anything other than chocolate.

  1. Who are your favorite authors?
I dread this question because it’s like choosing among your children. The truth is frequently that my favorite author is whomever I’m reading at the moment.

Major influences include Victorian writers like George Eliot, Wilkie Collins and Charlotte Bronte, and in Greek lit, the Iliad, obviously, and there I’d recommend the Lombardo translation to anyone giving Homer a try.

Among contemporary writers here’s a somewhat random list of authors I’ve really loved that also reveals my various reading personalities: P.D. James, Priscilla Royal, Ellen Feldman, Rhys Bowen, Kelli Stanley, Rebecca Cantrell, Nancy Bilyeau, Elizabeth Speller, Geraldine Brooks, Jacqueline Winspear, Alice McDermott and Isabel Allende.

  1. Can you tell us about your future projects?
I’m in the middle of a historical mystery featuring the Hittite Queen Puduhepa as “sleuth.” She would be as famous as Cleopatra if she hadn’t been buried by the sands of time. Her seal is on the first extant peace treaty in history next to her foe, Pharaoh Ramses II. Now that she’s been dug out, I’ve taken her remarkable personality, which seems perfectly suited for solving mysteries, and I am writing a series. She ruled from her teens until she was at least eighty, so I think this series may outlast me.

Hand of Fire will be followed by at least one sequel and possibly a prequel of sorts focusing on Iphigenia and Achilles. This spring I made a research trip to Cyprus because the sequel to Hand of Fire will end up there—but it’d be a spoiler if I revealed how or why. (Also I’d have to know the answer to both of those and I’m not entirely sure yet…) Suffice to say Cyprus is a beautiful and dramatic island with a density of Bronze Age archaeological sites that is almost alarming. My husband and I had a delightful trip and maybe that’s reason enough.
  

Meet the Author

Judith Starkston writes historical fiction and mysteries set in Troy and the Hittite Empire. Her novel, Hand of Fire (Fireship Press September 2014), tells Briseis’s story, the captive woman who sparked the bitter conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon in the Iliad. Starkston is a classicist (B.A. University of California, Santa Cruz, M.A. Cornell University) who taught high school English, Latin and humanities. She and her husband have two grown children and live in Arizona with their golden retriever Socrates.


An excerpt from Hand of Fire, book reviews, ancient recipes, historical tidbits as well as on-going information about the historical fiction community can be found on Starkston’s website www.judithstarkston.com. You can also connect with Judith Starkston on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/judy.starkston) or on Twitter (https://twitter.com/JudithStarkston).

Get Your Copy of Hand of Fire


Follow the tour here: Hand of Fire Tour

Praise for Hand of Fire

Advance Praise:

But what is the difference between a good historical novel and a brilliant one?
I suggest you read Judith Starkston’s Hand of Fire and you’ll discover the answer." Helen Hollick, 
Historical Novels Review Editor and author of Forever Queen

"In Hand of Fire, Starkston's careful research brings ancient Greece and Troy to life with passion and grace. This haunting and insightful novel makes you ache for a mortal woman, Briseis, in love with a half-god, Achilles, as she fights to make her own destiny in a world of capricious gods and warriors. I devoured this page-turning escape from the modern world!" -- Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of The World Beneath

“In her portrayal of Briseis, Judith Starkston has cast a bright light on one of the Iliad's most intriguing sub-plots. With her fast-paced story, three-dimensional characters, and fascinating cultural details, Starkston has given historical fiction fans a tale to remember.” –Priscilla Royal, author of Covenant with Hell

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New Release: Shark Out Of Water by DelSheree Gladden

Celebrating the Release of
Shark Out of Water
Date Shark Series (Book 2)
by DelSheree Gladden


Guy Saint Laurent is too busy cursing his sister for roping him into taking over Eli's Date Shark business to prepare himself for the slew of bizarre women he's about to get involved with. This is the last venture he intended to take on, but somehow he's just become Chicago's newest, most reluctant Date Shark. 

On top of dealing with bug-toting, mothering, obsessive women, Guy faces personal tragedy that changes his outlook on life, whether he wants it to or not. He's not sure what it is about Charlotte Brooks that draws him in, but getting her off his mind after a brief encounter proves impossible. 

As Charlotte tries to help Guy deal with his loss, he begins to get the impression she's hiding something from him. He knows he could simply walk away, continue as he always has, but he suspects whatever she's hiding, she won't be able to face it alone. 

Charlotte is the one woman who can capture his attention, but she may also be the one woman capable of breaking him.




Charlotte was breathless when he pulled back, and the plaintive expression on her face killed him, but he had accomplished his goal. He gestured to the IV hooked to her arm and Charlotte stared at it in surprise. “I didn’t even feel it!”
“I told you I could distract you.”
“Damn near distracted me, too,” the nurse muttered. 




Excerpt

Vance was smart enough to see signs that Guy was now on the defensive. He redirected, asking, “Tell me about Charlotte. Why are you having deep conversations with her instead of flirting and seducing her back to your flat?”
Sulking like a child, Guy muttered, “Je ne sais pas.”
“You don’t know?” That seemed to truly surprise Vance. “Well, I suggest you find out.”
“What?” Guy snapped. “That is your advice to me? Find out?”
Vance nodded. “Oui, mon ami. Find out why Charlotte has done what it has taken me years and years to do. Why let down your barrier between public and private for someone you barely know when I had to practically force you to do the same thing today.”
“Why?”
“Why?” Vance repeated. “Because you need to know. You won’t stop obsessing about her until you do.”
Obsédé? Who says I am obsessing over her?”
Vance folded his arms across his chest. “She is in your thoughts so much that you mentioned her name when you clearly had no intention of revealing her to me.” Leaning forward, he looked at his friend seriously. “Guy, I have known you for a long time. You have surprised me today, but I know how you can be like a dog with a bone. You’ll drive yourself crazy wondering what it is about Charlotte that got past your defenses until it either drives you crazy or you figure it out. Given the line of work we’re in, I’d suggest figuring it out.”
“I thought I was here to talk about Patricia,” Guy grumbled.
Leaning back with a smirk, Vance said, “We are. Just had to find something you wanted to talk about even less to spur you on, apparently.” He shook his head when Guy rolled his eyes. “Something else is bothering you when it comes to Patricia. The funeral is tomorrow. You’re avoiding talking about it. Why?”
Guy did not respond right away. His breathing escalated to the point that Vance reached forward and put a hand on his shoulder. “Her parents… they came to see me at the hospital.”
“How did they react?”
Shaking his head, he still struggled to understand their reaction. Instead of answering Vance’s new question, he answered the original one. “They requested I stand as a pallbearer.” His head fell into his hands. “I don’t know if I can. It is too difficult.”
“It will undoubtedly be difficult,” Vance said with compassion, “but it is difficult for Patricia’s parents as well. They see you as the one person who truly tried to help her. I think it comforts them to think of you being there to help her on this one last transition.”
“I don’t know if I can do this for them.”
Vance squeezed Guy’s shoulder. “You don’t have to if it is too much.”
“Not doing it feels like a betrayal of Patricia.”
“Guy, don’t make this about Patricia or her parents. What do you feel comfortable with and how do you want to say goodbye to Patricia?”
That was not an easy question. Guy sank back into the chair. Vance waited with the patience of a saint as Guy forced himself to confront the answers. He had been through so much with Patricia, watched her move forward only to fall so far again and again. She never stopped trying, and he never stopped trying to help her. “I want to help her this one last time,” Guy said finally.
“Then call Patricia’s parents when you get home and tell them you’ll be there.”
Feeling more at peace, Guy nodded.
“Stephanie and I will be there as well.” Vance held his friend’s gaze for a moment longer, making sure he knew he did not have to face the funeral alone. When Guy’s shoulders relaxed, Vance sat back. “Now why don’t you tell me about the day you met Patricia?”
As Guy began recounting the first time Patricia came into the crisis center wanting to talk about everything from the side effects of the medications she was taking to how her puppy would not stop peeing on her kitchen floor, his thoughts returned to Vance’s earlier challenge. Patricia had struck a chord with him, and so had Charlotte, in surprisingly similar ways. He understood why he has connected with Patricia, a struggling and confused young woman, but Charlotte was more of a mystery. What would it take to find out why Charlotte had affected him so much? 


FREE ON AMAZON
Date Shark (Book 1)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DelSheree Gladden
DelSheree Gladden lives in New Mexico with her husband and two children. The Southwest is a big influence in her writing because of its culture, beauty, and mythology. Local folk lore is strongly rooted in her writing, particularly ideas of prophecy, destiny, and talents born from natural abilities. When she is not writing, DelSheree is usually reading, painting, sewing, or working as a Dental Hygienist.

Interview: Tekla Dennison Miller

Today I'm pleased to welcome Tekla Miller to the blog!



1. What inspired you to begin writing?



Authors are always asked when they knew that they wanted to be a writer. It never occurred to me that I would one-day be a published author. When I retired early my friends urged me to write about my twenty-year career with the Michigan Department of Corrections including as a warden of a men’s maximum security prison. But I brushed them off. After all the most exciting material I had written all those years were my monthly reports and annual budgets. Trust me, these don’t make best-seller material.

The transition from a challenging work world to retirement might have been easier if I had mapped out my future. The only plan I had made, however, was when I could access my retirement money. Yet all that agonizing about what I would do with the rest of my life didn’t foretell the direction my future would take. That revelation came to me after one specific event. Tired of staring at the walls in my home, I determined to do what so many of my predecessors had done–I became a consultant. Within a month of that decision I got my first job. I was hired to be a keynote speaker at the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association conference on the female offender. I was flown to Boston, put up in a nice hotel, chauffeured around and paid $500 for a thirty-minute speech. I was delighted and knew I had made the correct choice. I couldn’t make that much money for a half hour of writing, especially when I didn’t have the skills.

When I got home I promptly deposited my $500 check and made plans on how to spend it. Shortly after, the bank notified me that the check bounced. “How can this be?” I asked the teller. “It’s written on the Sheriffs’ Association’s account?”

Little did I know that by the time I had contacted the association, the executive director was under investigation for mismanagement of funds. When I discovered this, I told myself, “Perhaps consulting isn’t meant for me. I should try writing. What did I have to lose? I couldn’t have a worse experience.” But first, I bought a computer, learned how to type and took creative writing classes.

Now at seventy-one I have published three memoirs: The Warden Wore Pink, A Bowl of Cherries, and Mother Rabbit and several non-fiction articles, essays and stories, and 2 novels in the Chad Wilbanks series, Life Sentences, and Inevitable Sentences,



2. Would you classify your writing more as plot driven or character driven?



Most of my writing is about women’s struggles and their courage to overcome obstacles. So I believe my plots are character driven.



3. Can you tell us a little about your main character?




Mother Rabbit is the true story of Alyce Bonura, the Bunny Mother for Chicago's famous Playboy Club in the tumultuous 1960s ...this could be the dream job of a lifetime or the toughest challenge.

Alyce is a single mother who takes a position as the Bunny Mother of the Chicago Playboy Club to not only flee from a negative relationship but to pursue a career that guarantees financial freedom and upward mobility. Unfortunately, all is not what is assured or expected.



4. Without giving away too much, tell us a little about the main conflict in this book.



Mother Rabbit is the story about a woman like so many in the 1960’s, caught between living according to traditional social mores and pursuing the promises of the feminist movement. Alyce’s stint as the Bunny Mother is set during a particularly turbulent era when such a secluded environment as the Playboy Club is affected by the Viet Nam War, the Apollo 1 tragedy and back alley abortions. Alyce’s story pays tribute to the women who had the courage to break free from the oppressive standards of the day while also dealing with the universal dilemmas of single mothers including abuse, financial crises, the special difficulties of parenthood and the quest for self-fulfillment.



5. What do you hope readers take away from your book?



There are several reasons Alyce’s story is important. Foremost is for all women, especially the younger generations to recognize the struggles women had to survive and the battles they had to fight so they could have the “equality” with men they have today. The second reason is to inspire women to be confident, accept oneself, to be resilient and not to give up on their dreams regardless of the constraints and limits society still tries to place on us as women. The third reason is tied somewhat to the second. We need to be aware that what women have achieved since the 1960’s can easily be eroded if we are negligent in our resolve to maintain our position. Each day we are confronted with attempts to wear away what has been hard fought for and achieved. If we let this happen we not only won’t continue to move forward, we will regress.


6. Night Owl or Early Bird?


Early Bird. I am up at 5:30 am every day and walking my dogs by 6am.


7. Skittle or M&Ms?


M &M’s—or anything chocolate.



8. Who are your favorite authors?



I love Donna Leone and her Brunetti mysteries set in Venice. Other favorites are: Anne Lamott, Anne Tyler, Maya Angelou, Louise Erdrich, David Gutherson, and Ernest J Gaines. And my favorite memoir is Too Close to the Falls by Catherine Gildiner


9. Can you tell us about your future projects?



I have completed another work of fiction titled Ten Hours in July that still needs some tweaking. It is a suspense inspired by my experiences during a twenty-year career with the Michigan Department of Corrections. It is a weave of fiction with the true crime. The antagonist, Lily Hood has manipulated her four sons as her accomplices during a lifetime of spectacular scams. Now, having bankrupted her family and run out of suckers to con, she resorts to a violent, murderous payback. This time the victims are the police. But the African-American Police Chief Jefferson Quarles and the Lebanese-American hostage negotiator Nadia Barakat are determined that for once, Lily Hood won’t be calling all the shots.





Author Links: 

www.teklamiller.com

I am also on Facebook



Book Links:

Amazon

www.teklamiller.com


Other Books by Tekla: 

The Warden Wore Pink

A Bowl of Cherries

Life Sentences

Inevitable Sentences

Monday, October 20, 2014

Interview: Nicky Peacock @NickyP_author


Today I'm pleased to welcome author, Nicky Peacock, to the blog to talk about her new book, "Bad Blood."

What inspired you to begin writing?


I've always wanted to be a writer, so I have been chasing that dream all my life. I have quite a dark and twisted imagination, so find that writing really helps to purge it.

Would you classify your writing more as plot driven or character driven?


I'd like to think a bit of both. I like action in my books and hate to read stories that make the promise of nail-biting hard hitting action, but don't deliver it, or do then spend the next 100 pages talking about what just happened. I do find though, that when I write, characters almost develop themselves. They organically grow out from a good plot - more often than not, I end up with a character that I didn't start with!

Can you tell us a little about your main character?


Britannia is really fun to write. She has a very dry sense of humor and an interesting outlook on life in general. Being a vampire, she's been around for a while and although lives in the world, feels very much apart from it. She's very protective (which is a good trait for the story) but has a stubborn streak a mile wide. Oddly I can find myself in a battle of wills with her to make her do something I need to happen in the book to move the story forward, even worse, sometimes I lose that battle.

Without giving away too much, tell us a little about the main conflict in this book.


The vampires in the book are enemies, but are forced to work together so the initial physical conflict starts there. But through the book things start to change and the main character, Brit realises that a lot of what she thought happened in the past, didn't really happen - which then spirals her into more of an emotional conflict. There's also her personality in general. She's used to be alone, but now has to work as part of a team. She's also never thought much about the humans around her, and now that she's interacting with them more, she starts to find herself as part of a 'family' which is something she's wanted, but thought she couldn't have.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?


I hope they finish the book wanting to read the next one. That they like Brit and can identify with her as a leading character. I've tried to make it so that the reader has more of an insight to what is going on, than the characters themselves. I enjoy writing action scenes and firmly believe that they shouldn't just be the crescendo at the end of a book, but should be throughout. To be honest, I just hope that readers enjoy it, because without readers who want to read your work - a writer has no one to actually write for.

Now for a few fun questions! What song best describes your writing style?


I think the song changes depending on what I'm writing. For Bad Blood, it would have to be Linkin Parks' 'A Light That Never Comes' as I listened to this a lot when writing it, and for me is Britannia's theme song.

Night Owl or Early Bird?

I'm an odd hybrid of both.

Skittle or M&Ms?


I can't have both? I guess if I was made to choose I'd go M&Ms (especially if they are the coconut or crispy ones)

Who are your favorite authors?

I have soooo many. Here's a just a few: Charlaine Harris, Laurell K Hamilton, Laura Whitcomb, Poppy Z Brite, Cherie Priest, Jenn Bennett, Kelley Armstrong, Charlie Higson and Roald Dahl.


Can you tell us about your future projects?

They are all top secret. I'll never tell... okay you twisted my arm! I've just finished a horror novella and am beavering away on the second book to Bad Blood, Bad Timing and also an adult urban fantasy re-telling of a Hans Christian Anderson fairy story.

Stalker and Book Links:


Buy Bad Blood: http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Blood-Battle-Undead-Book-ebook/dp/B00N3GYIWE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412949419&sr=8-1&keywords=bad+blood+nicky+peacock
Blog: http://nickypeacockauthor.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/nickyp_author
Face Book Page: https://www.facebook.com/NickyPeacockYaBooks
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Nicky-Peacock/e/B007UH2ACW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_4
Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/list/4958833.Nicky_Peacock
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/nickypauthor/
Tumblr: http://nickypeacock.tumblr.com/
Website for my Writers' Group: http://creativemindswriting.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cover Reveal: Orion's Curse by Amy Bartelloni


COVER REVEAL

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ORION'S CURSE
Author: Amy Bartelloni
Genre: YA Dystopian
Series: Andromeda series, Book #2
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
~ SYNOPSIS ~ 
It's been two months since the blowout with President Vise. 

The Valley is rebuilding and elections have been planned, but things are about to change when a new group of refugees arrives seeking the cure. They've brought with them someone Anyon never thought he'd see again, but he's not the only one who's surprised.

While Anyon sorts out the new arrivals, Malachi's loyalty will be tested when Dax and Raven, old friends from his time on the streets, show up baring secrets he's tried hard to keep hidden. He's never shared that part of his past with anyone, and finds himself going along with Dax to prevent anyone, especially Sera, from learning what they did on the streets to survive. 

But how far will he go to keep his past hidden?

Things take a turn for the worse when Dax and Raven pit Malachi against his friends. Will Sera's love be enough to prevent him from sliding back into his dark past, a past that's more brutal than even she can imagine?



~ RELEASE DATE ~
November 11th





~ TEASERS ~




~ The Andromeda Series ~




ANDROMEDA
Series: The Andromeda Series, Book #1

Genre: YA Dystopian
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
~ SYNOPSIS ~

Ten years after a pandemic swept the globe, survivors were forced into factions and camps in order to survive.

Jade and Sera are two orphans who have found refuge in a government camp. It's there where Jade falls in love with a young soldier, Anyon. But Anyon has his own secrets, carefully guarding a past that involves Sera. Before Jade and Anyon admit their feelings to each other the camp is attacked and they're separated.


Jade knows to lead Sera to Albany, the last free camp in the east, but the road is dangerous.

Not only must they dodge pockets of infection, but they're threatened by drifters and gangs. When they arrive in Albany, they find it deserted.

Anyon and his friend Malachi are close on their heels, but not close enough. The Provisional Government is on a mission, and no one is quite prepared for what lies ahead.



~ PURCHASE ~



~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~
Amy Bartelloni

Amy Bartelloni is a reader, writer, & coffee addict who lives with her husband, 3 children, and various animals in the northeast US. When she's not playing mom-taxi, you can find her with her nose in a book or her head in the clouds. A people watcher and science fiction junkie, she still believes dreams can come true. Some of her favorite authors include Neil Gaiman, Jasper Fforde, Paulo Coelho, and Stephen King.

Social media links:




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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Guest Post: Carolyn Niethammer

 Why Writing Historical Fiction Is So Much Fun

By Carolyn Neithammer


While readers can learn a great deal from historical fiction, the genre is even more of a treat for writers. What a great opportunity to dive deeply into all sorts of  handwritten manuscripts and forgotten books to search out the perfect gem that will bring our characters alive.

My novel The Piano Player features two female characters making their way in the turn-of-the-century West. The story begins in 1882 Tombstone, a small town in Arizona Territory that served the nearby ranchers and silver miners. I wanted my readers to smell the dust that the horses kicked up, to feel the heat of an Arizona summer, experience what it was like for a single woman to live in a dusty frontier town full of men. To steep myself in what it was like for these women, I read every extant copy of The Tombstone Epitaph the newspaper of the day. The original copies are too fragile for much handling, so I scrolled through microfilm.

Gunfights are the first thing that comes to mind regarding Tombstone history, but in fact there were very few. What people don’t know was that Tombstone at that time had the best food between St. Louis and San Francisco. The menus published in the paper confirmed the fact that French food ruled with offerings of fresh oysters, lobster, six salads, five roasts, four different pies and three puddings all at one restaurant on one Sunday. Because one of my characters, the historic Nellie Cashman owned the renowned Russ House, the food she cooked figures prominently in the novel.

Since stagecoach travel was still common during that period where the railroads didn’t reach, I had to try that myself  in Tombstone and wherever else I could find an old stage operating. It might have been a little touristy, and just going around the block in no way approximated what it would have been like to have been stuffed into one day after sweltering day, but it was great fun.

The second character, the piano player of the title, is Mary Rose, a fashionable young woman who needed to support herself and found a job playing the piano at the Bird Cage Theater. We learn the story through her “memoir.” Discovering what might be in her wardrobe led to an enjoyable afternoon in the historical society library looking over old ladies’ magazines with pictures and descriptions of bustles and bows and laces. Then there were the fabulous hats. And that was just the outerwear. The under garments were even more fascinating calling for layer upon layer of fine batiste and corsets with whalebone and laces.

Nellie Cashman had mining interests in Alaska and Yukon Territory where the second half of the novel takes place. I visited a friend in Fairbanks and went to look at the old mining records. Down in a locked cage in the courthouse basement, in huge dust-covered books no one had looked at in decades, I found my character’s signature when she signed for her claims. Here was her actual handwriting. A chill went down my back. Did it ultimately make a difference to what I wrote about her? Probably not, but it sure was fun.

After leaving Fairbanks, I took a bus east across Alaska to Dawson City, and out to Nolan Creek
where Nellie Cashman mined. Each claim on those creeks was entitled to only so many feet, so I figured out approximately where her claim was. I sat on a rock in the summer sun and willed her spirit to speak to me, to help me make her character come alive. Alas, no appearance from the other side with guidance on my project

When I was a young newspaper reporter, I used to tell people that I liked the job because it gave me a license to be nosy. With writing historical fiction, it’s the same thing except dialed back a hundred years. Now all this research has been woven into  The Piano Player in which well-bred Mary Rose follows her dream to Tombstone and quickly discovers that her sheltered life has not prepared her for the challenges of being a saloon piano player. She becomes Frisco Rosie and finds help comes from her landlady, Nellie Cashman, who runs the boarding house where she lives. It is an unlikely friendship. Years after each has left Tombstone, they join up again to seek their fortunes during the Alaska gold rush. Together they deal with a lover who turns out to be a murderer, imprisonment in a Mexican jail, near death falling into the icy Yukon River and disappointment when their quest for gold is dashed. They postpone romance with the men who love them until for one, it becomes too late.

Apparently I managed to use my research to evoke the era as one reader wrote in a review: “The main character in The Piano Player is the wild West itself….”

More About the Author


Carolyn Niethammer grew up in the territorial capital of Prescott, Arizona, and now lives in Tucson in a downtown historic district. She has lived in Africa three times with her professor husband but remains firmly rooted in the West. She is the author of nine nonfiction books on southwestern subjects including five cookbooks, two biographies, a travel guide, and a book on Native American women. The Piano Player is her first novel. Find her at www.cniethammer.com and on Facebook.

(sorry, no twitter.  My blog deals with Southwest food and is related to my earlier works, haven’t got one started on the Old West yet.)


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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cover Reveal: Blind Sided by T. Hammond



Blind-sided: Team Red, Book 5. 


Excerpt


“… but, that wasn’t the biggest surprise,” Red paused dramatically, inadvertently re-gaining my wandering attention.

Not one to miss my queue, “What?” I asked, turning my head in his direction, even though I was limited to his current view: Hunter’s ass poking out from underneath the monitor console. Thanks Red.

Red’s head swung around so I was staring at myself as he shared, “Dexter finally asked her out on a date.”

“A date? Tara?” I guessed; although, it wasn’t too big a stretch. They’d been making goo-goo eyes at each other for a few weeks now.”

“What about Tara?” Dex asked suspiciously from a couple chair-lengths away, cementing my guess. My dog’s attention swiveled to follow the voice. Dexter squinted suspiciously toward Red.

“Red Report,” I explained. The mustangs were familiar with Red’s daily commentary to me over my first cups of morning coffee. “I’m getting the scoop on your upcoming date.”

“Dude,” Dex chided, “you promised. Bribes were given—your acceptance implied you had my back.”


Be sure to add Blind-sided to your Goodreads List.


Blurb




Teresa is buffeted by a whirlwind of activity.


Marcia and Wes have moved to Spokane, and the cancer vigil begins; her final wish is to see her son

celebrate his 10th birthday. Compassionate friends, Janey, Ken, Tara, and Jason, take over Marcia’s care in an effort to relieve stress as Teresa wages her relentless struggle against PTSD nightmares and paranoia.

Bastian is at an undisclosed East Coast location doing PreClan military software upgrades. At home, David is exerting subtle, yet unrelenting, pressure to give him a second chance, proving how little he understands the woman he professed to love. Will David’s obsession and persistence completely destroy his tenuous relationship with her and Bas?

Teresa takes comfort in Red’s constant and supportive presence. His antics and doggy wisdom keep her smiling as she waits not-so-patiently for Bastian to return. Tank bonds with Wes as the sad little boy watches his mom slip away.

The house is full of Mustangs, and the Wild Horse Compound, now affectionately referred to as Mustang Ranch, is only a few weeks away from completion. There is a feeling of security, yet not—Teresa’s anxiety attacks seem to disregard logic. Thankfully, the Team Red detail understands and supports her as she battles unseen demons.

WARNING: This book is a Laugh-Out-Loud paranormal extra spicy romance (A bold mesh of military tech, humor, and sex). The Team Red series contains a feisty blind woman; a snarky German shepherd who stalks low flying objects (and the occasional cat); two sexy retired Navy men with a talent for tactical planning; a man-cave with secret tunnels and classified military toys; Marilyn Monroe and other celebrity voices; and a herd of Mustangs. This book is INTENDED FOR MATURE ADULTS OVER 18. Contains sexual situations. Adult language was used, which is unfortunate, as the dog repeats everything. 


Don't miss out on the rest of the Team Red Series!


Blind Seduction, Book 1

Can a blind woman who shares a very special bond with her dog gain her independence and choose between the love of TWO sailors?

Download a free copy of Blind Seduction: Team Red, book 1 by T. Hammond from Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, or iTunes



Color Blind, Book 2

Blinded and scarred in an accident a year ago, Teresa has finally found love, and a new career with the help of her companion dog, Red. Red appears to be a typical German shepherd, but he shares a mental communication link with his owner that is anything but ordinary. He’s articulate, sassy and opinionated - he’s also scary-smart, and has a talent for tracking. 

Teresa and Red, have partnered with David, and Bastian, to form Team Red. This unique Team helps the local police department sift through evidence to find forensic clues that only Red's sensitive nose, and Teresa's ability to ask the right questions can uncover. A twist of fate brings Team Red to the attention of the Military, and the Team gets ready for their first undercover mission (we can only divulge at this point that Red looks adorable in his tux).

Blind Faith, Book 3 Blurb

What do you do when your greatest truth is proven a lie?

Fourteen months ago, an accident left Teresa March scarred and completely blind. 

Teresa is reeling as her life comes crashing down around her. Betrayal of the worst kind has left her struggling to put on a brave front, setting aside shocked confusion, for the sake of those she cares about. Her telepathic sight dog, Red, and Bastian, help to anchor her against turbulent emotions.


Blind Rage, Book 4

Fifteen months ago, an accident left Teresa March scarred and completely blind. Having chosen David after a lively Siege to win her love, Teresa was stunned by his admission, and subsequent desertion, on Christmas Eve.

Bastian Declan, David’s business partner and Teresa’s childhood friend, has loved Teresa for years. He wastes no time seizing this new opportunity to finally win her heart.




About the Author

T. Hammond feels writing is not a calling so much as a compulsion. No one is more surprised than her when characters take over the plot and dialog, (re)directing stories in directions she had not (consciously) intended. Although she starts with a basic framework, she finds that one or two chapters into each novel, not only have characters shredded her outline into tiny unidentifiable pieces, they use the resulting confetti in a nose-thumbing parade. She is fully convinced the writer is merely the tool a story uses to tell its tale.
T. writes two concurrent versions of the Team Red series for both the Adult and New Adult audiences. Blind Seduction, Color Blind, Blind Faith, Blind Rage, and Blind-sided are part of the Blind series - featuring adult-themed erotic romance combined with a humorous paranormal storyline. The Red series featuring Red Rover, Red Zone, and Seeing Red (coming soon) is a funny paranormal romance series with a lighter less explicit storyline. While both series contain the same character names and a lot of shared dialogue, the Red series is stripped of sexual content and contains modified innuendo and language.
T’s first Urban Fantasy, Posse: Legends, is scheduled for Spring 2015, and will be her first book outside the Team Red series.

Connect with T. Hammond Online

Amazon Author page: www.amazon.com/author/thammond
Twitter: @THammondwrites

Find all the Team Red books here:


Blind Seduction (Book 1): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C8UB0JK
Color Blind (Book 2): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E652OTK
Blind Faith (Book 3): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H8IH80W

Red Rover (Book 1, of PG version): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BQEUEFA
Red Zone (Book 2, of PG version): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EOZFSM2
Seeing Red (Book 3, of PG Version):  (Coming soon)

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