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Book Review ~~ Marry in Scandal by Anne Gracie

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Delicious from the first page to the last. Anne Gracie is one of my favorite authors and it’s always a pleasure to read and review her latest offering. Marry in Scandal was no exception. It’s always a hit for me when Gracie adds old people or young kids as characters in her stories. Lord Galbraith, grandfather to the hero,  is painted with subtlety and quiet humor. Edward has dark secrets from the war, that block him from enjoying his family. Lily has secrets of her own that she must divulge if she is to find and keep love.

The writing is superb as always. The ‘Marry in...’ is an entertaining series and should not be missed. 

Did you miss my Interview with Anne Gracie?

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Interview with Patrick Canning, Author of The Colonel and the Bee

TS. I first ‘met’ Patrick when I stumbled across The Colonel and the Bee. Something made me order it and read it. Then review it. I don’t generally read fantasy but this was different…and beautiful…and my favorite character in the book was actually the three-story basket attached to the hot-air balloon. I ask, as I do all of my interviewees, for a short bio to begin the interview. Here is Patrick’s answer. 

PC. I’ll try to do it all in one breath: born in Milwaukee, grew up in Chicago suburbs, came to LA for film school, worked in film/entertainment throughout my 20’s, now trying to spend increasing amounts of time writing because I love it and I think I could be good at it with enough sweat/luck/coffee.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

PC. I rotate between a shared workspace, coffee shops, libraries, and my own apartment (where I get the least amount done). I live alone so being around people part of the day is nice. My dream work space has electrical outlets, a chair comfy enough to be in for hours but not so comfy you can fall asleep in it, ample people watching, low music, a bathroom, and if we’re aiming high, free refills.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

PC. Coffee and tea are almost always involved, but other than that I try to keep it as un-exotic as possible. Recently I started making the background of my Word docs legal-pad yellow. I heartily recommend this to writers who get sick of staring at bright white all day.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

PC. I’m exceptionally bad at foosball, but above average at ping-pong and pool.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

PC. Morning session/afternoon session, both 3-4 hrs. I’m still working on a more solid process and seeing what works. I heard one writer’s schedule (Dan Brown maybe?) is 4 am-11 am. That sounds weirdly alluring to me but I have yet to wake up at 4 am to give it a try…

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

PC. I think if you’re really procrastinating a lot, over and over again, it could be a case of wanting to be a writer more than actually wanting to write. I think a lot of people torture themselves over this when in reality they might just be chasing the wrong vocation. Some days are better than others to be sure, but if they’re all bad days, there’s no shame in career/hobby course correction.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

PC. Usually they’re a part of the initial idea but I love the revision stage when they start to crystallize and sound more like themselves in the dialogue. I try not to panic if elements like that are less than perfectly clear early on because they usually arrive by the time things wrap up.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Ballooning over Africa

PC. I came to novel writing through screenwriting, which I came to through a love of movies. I’ve always loved any kind of creative storytelling and the more I write, the more I enjoy it (for the most part), so that’s reassuring to me. Beyond that, it can be a matter of ‘why isn’t anyone talking about this’, or ‘this could be a nice way for people to escape’, or the ol’ reliable: ‘what if’.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

PC. The situation, followed very closely by the characters, and they become inextricable almost immediately (though both bend and change as the story takes shape).

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Join us March 22nd for the  conclusion of this interview with the talented Patrick Canning.

Did you miss my review of The Colonel and The Bee?

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz. March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese

 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz. March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese

 

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Interview with Actor PLaywright, Rick Lenz (part 2)

…with wife

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

RL. I sure do. I don’t think I’d stop sometimes, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve got a body and that it gets tired, hungry, thirsty, and sore from remaining in the same position too long.

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

RL. I wrote a book last year that is now complete except for some editing. I’m not yet sure when it will be published, but I hope soon. It’s about an old actor, devoted to his wife, who made a few mistakes during his younger years. He gets a chance to redo those years, but discovers all he really wants to do is get back to his wife.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

RL. I switched my acting career from first priority to second about 15 years ago. Writing took its place as my great passion.

Q. How long after that were you published?

RL. It took me eight years to write some books that were publishable.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

RL. I don’t believe that will happen.

Q. What makes a writer great?

RL. Since writing is very much a craft (plus inspiration, of course) I think the major factor is wanting—no loving—to write and doing it until you get good. I’d add one thing to that: nothing you write is sacred. If it’s not exactly what pleases you, throw it away and rewrite it until it does.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

RL. It is never the same for me. The book I wrote last year unfolded itself within a year. My first two novels took me over 10 years to get right. My memoir, North of Hollywood, took only about a year. I really can’t say what the whole process looks like. I think if I knew that—and this is speaking only for me—I wouldn’t be a very good writer.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

RL. I came from a very dysfunctional family. It was often painful at the time, especially during my teenage years. So, that was certainly a factor. After that, I spent most of my life as a professional actor; my show business life, as a theater actor in New York, and a Hollywood actor, living in Los Angeles, has had a big influence on my writing.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

RL. I read, exercise, meditate, and spend my most joyful times with Linda and my children and grandchildren.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

RL. I have been a playwright (as well as an actor) for most of my life. I prefer writing books now. As to the genre of my writing, some people call it fantasy, but I do like to try to make it as a literary as I possibly can.

…with grandson

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

RL. I think life is meant to be joyful. But in order for that to be the case—again, speaking for myself—I have to constantly practice kindness, forgiveness, and the continual understanding that God loves me no more than He loves everyone else.

Don’t miss Part I of this wonderful interview.

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Book Review ~~ A Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

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5 out of 5 quills   ~~  A Review

Everything you want when you sit down and open the cover of a new book. Friendship, hardship, love, heartbreak, history and finally…hope.  Rhys Bowen’s writing never disappoints whether I am reading her Royal Spyness series or her Molly Murphy series or her stand alone fiction (all excellent). 

Just a hint of the story as I do not write spoilers. Emily Bryce  is a debutante who never had a ‘come out’ as World War I rages in Europe. She is stuck in time, in place, with nothing worthwhile to do except follow her society-ladder-climbing mother around.  The opportunity to join the Women’s Land Army  and become a ‘land girl’ frees her from her stifling existence and her mother.  And this is where her adventures begin. 

I was a little put off by the title of this book as I read along. There isn’t one victory garden (in the traditional sense of the term) in the entire book.  But then I realized Bowen’s ‘victory garden’ were all the gardens in the story combined making it ultimately The Victory Garden. Sneaky Devil!   I highly recommend this book. 

Available: February 12th
Did you miss my Interview with this author?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Interview with Author, Molly Gloss (part 2)

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

MG. Yes, absolutely. The best part of writing is “getting lost” in the story you’re telling. My own words can (pathetically) make me cry, or make my heart race from the stress I’ve put my character under. But then I do have to pull away and look at it objectively, cooly, so I can revise, revise, revise.

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

MG. I have three previous novels returning to print, soon—Outside the Gates (Jan), Wild Life (Feb), and The Dazzle of Day (Mar) from Saga Press/Simon & Schuster. And in July from the same press, my first collection of short stories, titled UNFORESEEN. Sixteen stories, including three written just for this collection.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

MG. I had written bits and pieces of things while my son was little, but had never finished anything. Then, when he started kindergarten and I had big unclaimed blocks of time, I buckled down and wrote a whole novel. It wasn’t very good, but I learned a lot by writing it…and I also learned that I wanted to keep on writing. That was 1980. My husband and I had earlier agreed that I’d return to the workforce after our son was in first grade, but now we agreed that I should give “this writing thing” a serious try. And I never looked back.

Q. How long after that were you published?

MG. My first short story was published in 1981, and several more in the following years. My first novel—Outside the Gates, a fantasy marketed as young-adult—in 1986.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

A. Never! People will always want to hold a book in their hands, turn the pages, feel the paper, leaf back to reread favorite passages, leap ahead to read the last paragraph! The e-book craze has already peaked, and paper book sales are holding steady. Don’t worry, books will always be with us. But any way you choose to read—e-book, paper book, or audio book—is fine by me. I listen to a lot of audio books, myself, because I have a daily 30-40 minute commute each way to my horses. Is an audio-book “reading”? Yes, of course it is!

Q. What makes a writer great?

MG.  Huh. I may not have an answer for that question. What does “great” mean? Best-selling? Admitted to the “canon” by literary gate-keepers? In print more than 100 years? (Think how few writers are still being read, who were popular in 1918?) There are books and writers I have not loved, though everyone is calling them great, and I have loved books that disappeared quickly without anyone else seeming to notice, and loved writers who fell out of print and were forgotten. (This has happened especially to women writers.) So I think “greatness” would be defined differently by every reader and every generation. As perhaps it should be.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

MG. Slow, difficult, daily grind. Revision, worry, uncertainty, more revision, groping and mucking through the middle, then skating to the end in a joyous rush, or inching up to it in an agony of doubt, feeling fragile as you hand it off to a couple of trusted readers, and later, holding a hardbound copy in your hand, a mix of elation and disbelief. Oh, and then all the new worries, will anyone read it? will anyone like it? will it sell, will it be reviewed, will it stay in print? and will I ever write again? Ah, the bittersweet writing life.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

MG. Long road trips back to Texas when I was a young teen, reading cowboy novels in the back seat of the car, absolutely imprinted on me and is the reason I’ve so often written about the history, mythology and culture of the ranching west.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

MG. I write poetry, does that count? And I’ve written one fanfiction for the television series Person of Interest. (I have ideas for more.) My novels and stories range from historical/western fiction to science fiction/fantasy, though to my mind these are all on the same spectrum. (That’s for another essay.) I love a good, well-written detective novel, so maybe someday I’ll try one?

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

MG. Life is so short. Tell your friends and family you love them, every time you see them. And get over your reluctance to hug, even if you grew up in a family of non-huggers.

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Book Review ~ The Best of Us by Robyn Carr

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5 out of 5 quills   ~~  A Review

 

Robyn Carr writes with a casual flaire that makes the reader feel like they’re sitting in a comfy chair, by a crackling fire, wearing warm socks.

I am a huge fan of the Sullivan’s Crossing series and this latest contribution is a winner. At least three love stories are woven together like a fine tapestry in The Best of Us. Catching up to what’s been happening to the recurring characters in her stories is like running into some good friends  you haven’t seen in a while. While a new character drives the whole story when she meets and falls for Rob Shandon, the pub owner.

And the writing is without a misstep. A perfect blend of encounters, conflicts, reunions and  happy endings. Bubbling along like a happy creek, you hardly know you’ve finished the book and are left wanting the next in the series….right now!

Released January 8th so get your copy now!

Did you miss my Interview with Robyn? Click here
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss. February:  Patrick Canning and March: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Interview with author, Molly Gloss

TS. Molly likes to brag (just a little) that on her mother’s side, she’s fourth generation Oregonian, from German immigrants. On her father’s side she’s fourth-generation Texan, as her great grandmother  was the first white child born in Irion County, Texas. She is widowed with one son and was recently blessed with a new grandson!  She says, “Why didn’t anyone tell me how magical this would be?! Oh, right, they did tell me, I just wasn’t listening!” She’s been writing full-time since  1980. “I’m a slow writer, but I’ve managed to eke out six novels and about 20 short stories.” She currently lives in Portland, Ore. 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (please provide a photo of you at work in your shed, room, closet, barn, houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

Writing….

MG. I like to be comfortable. I wrote The Jump-Off Creek in longhand while sitting in my favorite overstuffed chair. When desktop computers became the thing, I wrote while sitting at a desk, but I never loved it, and now I write on a laptop, sitting on the living room sofa with my feet propped up on an ottoman and the laptop literally in my lap.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

MG. Nope. I open the file I’m working on, reread the last few pages, and go to work wrestling with the next sentence. But I do have to have my favorite Roget’s Thesaurus close to hand. And also The American Thesaurus of Slang. Good for finding just the right period-perfect term for historical fiction.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

MG. I have never lived on the “dry side” of the West where many of my novels and stories are set. I grew up on the “wet side” and live here still, in a suburban townhouse at the edge of Portland.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

MG. I try to write from post-breakfast to pre-dinner, with a short break for lunch, but that schedule can vary greatly now that I live alone and have no children or husband or dog to contend with. Now sometimes I surprise myself by writing late at night. But it’s a sad irony that I do have more trouble sticking to a set schedule now that I have more time to write. When I had a family at home and had to keep up the housework, the grocery shopping, the gardening, making meals, etc, I was more disciplined about squeezing my writing into the available time. Now I’ve become a procrastinator!

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

MG. Speaking of which! I’m not the best person to give this advice, as I’ve become a terrible procrastinator myself, horribly addicted to the lure of the internet. I had to go away to a place without wifi in order to finish my last novel. Perhaps that’s my advice? Disconnect from wifi!

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

MG. More often than not, a new character arises out of research for a previous novel. In researching for The Jump-Off Creek, which is a novel about a single woman homesteader, I came upon Teresa Jordan’s book of oral histories, COWGIRLS: WOMEN OF THE AMERICAN WEST, and there for the first time heard about young girls traveling the countryside breaking horses during the nineteen-tens, and my character Martha Lessen in THE HEARTS OF HORSES arose out of that research. And then while I was researching the history of horse training for that novel, I fell into a cache of material about how horses were trained (and misused) in the Western movies of the 1930s, and that was the beginning of my character Bud Frazer, a Hollywood stunt rider in FALLING FROM HORSES.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

MG. I’ve always wanted to write. I was a voracious reader and I think I’ve often been driven by a desire to write the story I couldn’t find on the library shelves.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

MG.They are intertwined. The character doesn’t exist for me until I know what sort of situation they are in. And the situation doesn’t mean anything to me unless I can see how it impacts a particular person.

Don’t miss Part two of this Interview on January 25th
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss. February:  Patrick Canning and March: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Book #9 in the World of Murder Series

This series, beginning with Brush with Murder follows two seasoned murder cops through the five boroughs of New York City. True crime in the tradition of the old masters of mystery.  But with excellent forensics and twenty-first century policing.  Add to that a shiny, new detective for the team.

Triad of Murder is Book #9 and while it stands alone the author recommends that the reader start at the beginning. 

In this newest offering, two lovers are shot in the head but there’s no gun at the crime scene. It can’t be murder/suicide with no gun. This looks more and more like a double homicide. Or does it? Then Detectives O’Roarke, Garcia and Sneed are called to a potential homicide with no victim.  Liquor, jealousy, machismo and a few rocks…but does it add up to murder? Phoebe Sneed is a bright and shiny new detective taking over as the lead detective for the first time. Her case has too many bullets, too many perps and too many witnesses.

Inspired by true crime case files.  “You can’t make this stuff up!”

Available in all fine bookstores and online. 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and February:  Patrick Canning.
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Interview with author, Jayne Ann Krentz (Part 2)

Q:  How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

A: Before I got this cool writing gig I did time in the corporate and academic worlds so I often use elements from those experiences in my plots.  I’m convinced that every writer has a core story. We spend our careers exploring it.  My core story is romantic suspense—a murder mystery entwined with a passionate relationship.  I love that combination.  The love story raises the stakes in the suspense and the danger raises the stakes in the romance.  When I plot I try to make sure that every twist in the suspense affects the relationship and vice versa.  This is true across the three time zones in which I set my stories:  historicals, contemporaries and futuristics.

When I was growing up my formative books included Nancy Drew and Andre Norton.  But it wasn’t until I graduated from college that I came across the book that changed my life:  Anne McCaffrey’s RESTOREE.  Looking back, I think it’s clear that she pretty much invented the futuristic romantic suspense novel with that one book.

Q: Have you or do you want to write in another genre? 

A: There has always been plenty of room for my stories in the romance genre. In my opinion it is the least confining of all the genres. The others all seem to have rather strict conventions and expectations—writers violate them at their peril.  But there is plenty of scope for storytelling within romance.  The settings can be historical, contemporary, futuristic or paranormal. The sexuality can be sweet or intense. The suspense can be anything from a serial killer thriller to a cozy plot.  Romance writers are  free to deal with almost any social issue.  No limits, really.  All that is expected is a romantic relationship and the HEA.  Works for me.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

JAK. I was recently introduced to boxing as a workout and fell in love with it. Which is a good thing because  I love to cook AND eat and, therefore, I need the workout!

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

JAK. Nope.  As has been noted, the paper book is still the simplest and best way to preserve information and stories because it can survive hundreds of years.  Our technology, on the other hand, evolves so fast that anything preserved in that format will probably be impossible to read even a hundred years from now. 

Q. What makes a writer great? 

JAK. Voice. It’s impossible to define but in the end it is the only thing that really matters.  If the writer’s voice is not compelling readers will not finish the book.  But here’s the sticky part — no two readers respond to a book in the exact same way.  Everyone brings something different to a book and everyone takes something different away.  Readers will fall in love with a lot of different voices over the years. 

Q. and the all-important:  What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?  

A. One scene at a time. 

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

A:  Figure out your core story early on.  Every writer in every genre has one.  It has nothing to do with a particular fictional landscape.  It is all about the emotions and themes and values that compel you as a writer.  Once you truly understand your core story you will realize that you can take it into any genre.

Did you miss Part I of this wonderful Interview? Click here

Untouchable will be on sale January 8, 2019
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and February:  Patrick Canning.
To receive my posts sign up for my   On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

 

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