Thursday, July 29, 2021
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
How did you come up with the concept and/or characters for the book?
My daily journal entries are the foundation of everything I write. All of my characters are based on real people, and the central characters are all strong, successful women who have beaten the odds and broken the glass ceiling. Holly Schlivnik, the main character, is based on me with some poetic license taken, of course. The plots and premises of my stories all take place in the fast-paced ladies' apparel industry.
What’s your favorite genre and why?
The cozy mystery genre is my favorite because I love solving puzzles. My parents would certainly confirm I have always asked a lot of questions, and I am naturally curious (some narrow-minded people say I am nosy…go figure…LOL).
Tell us something about yourself and how you became an author.
As a sales exec in the ladies’ swimwear industry, I am a trained observer of human nature. Over the course of my career, I have encountered many interesting, quirky, and sometimes quite challenging people and witnessed the crazy situations they get themselves into and out of. A combination of people watching, solving puzzles, and asking what if was the perfect mixture of ingredients to writing humorous, cozy mysteries.
When the elevator doors opened, I had to stop myself short not to step on her. There was Bunny Frank-the buying office big shot-lying diagonally across the car. Her legs were splayed out and her back was propped against the corner. Her sightless eyes were wide open and her arms reached out in a come-to-me baby pose. She was trussed up with shipping tape like a dressed Thanksgiving turkey ready for the oven with a bikini stuffed in her mouth. A Gotham Swimwear hangtag drooped off her lower lip like a toe tag gone lost. Naturally, I burst out laughing.
Before you label me incredibly weird or stone-cold, let me say genetics aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. If you’re lucky you inherit your Aunt Bertha’s sexy long legs or your father’s ability to add a bazillion dollar order in his head and get the total correct to the last penny. Without even breaking into a sweat, it’s easy to spout at least a million fabulous traits inheritable by the luck of the draw. Did I get those sexy long legs or the ability to add more than two plus two without a calculator? Noooooooooo. Lucky me. I inherited my Nana’s fear of death we overcompensated for with the nervous habit of laughing. A hysterical reaction? Think Bozo the clown eulogizing your favorite aunt.
I craned my neck like a tortoise and checked around. Then I clamped a fist over my mouth. Cripes, how could I possibly explain my guffaws with Bunny lying there? The disappointment was simultaneously mixed with relief when there was no one else in the parking lot. Where was security when you needed them?
I toed the elevator door open and bent over Bunny. I’d seen enough CSI episodes to know not to touch her. She was stiff as a board and I attributed the bluish tinge of her skin to the bikini crammed down her throat. I was no doctor, but I didn’t need an MD after my name to make this diagnosis. Bunny Frank was dead as the proverbial doorknob. It was no surprise Bunny Frank had finally pushed someone beyond their limits. The only surprise was it had taken so long. The question wasn’t who wanted Bunny Frank dead. The question was who didn’t?
She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn't be worth living, she's a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she's also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.
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Thursday, July 22, 2021
Everyone loves a good mystery, and I'm thrilled to have mystery writer Steve Kolbe with me today. He also shared an excerpt from his book. So without further ado, I'll dive right into the interview.
Please share with us something about your writing.
The heart of this story for me, what drove me throughout, was the initial attack. I wanted to create something worthy of my detective. A student-teacher is found unconscious in the snow beside a bell tower, an electrical burn on her neck and a thin noose around her neck. Her phone data follows her to the bell tower, but the phone is nowhere to be found. What happened? The most likely suspects have solid alibis. The school teems with rumors, but none of them agree. I wanted to force my detective to discover the only logical explanation.
What books stayed with you?
Reading F. Scott Fitzgerald and J. D. Salinger in high school had a profound effect on my intellectual and emotional development. I first read The Great Gatsby while attending a private school in New Orleans, a setting that informed the setting of my novel, although I moved it from New Orleans to Chicago. What I have taken and incorporated into my work from Salinger, especially his Glass stories and novellas, are the complexity and quirks of his characters. The Glass children hurl their massive intellects at the universal problems of happiness and meaning, often with abysmal results. My protagonist, Ezra, runs up against the same issue.
Can you tell us something about you>
I'm definitely a language nerd. My mother was born in Panama, my father's father emigrated from Germany, and my older sister went through a lengthy Francophile phase. In the process, they exposed me to a number of different languages early on. By the time I graduated from college, I had formally studied four languages other than English and informally studied a handful of others. This love of languages frequently creeps into my writing.
Gorecki raised a hand. “I’m sure you’ve seen a lot, Mr. James, underage drinking, detention duty, and such, but this here’s serious.”
“You’re a cop, you said? Not in Evanston PD. What precinct?” Vargas asked. “I’m a special agent, actually.”
Both detectives raised their eyebrows.
“DEA?” Gorecki guessed.
Now he did produce his badge. “FBI, Chicago field office.”
Gorecki inspected it. “Special Agent James,” he said mostly to himself. Then a glimmer of understanding came over his face. “I—” he started to say but stopped abruptly. This happened sometimes. Ezra would be having a perfectly normal conversation with somebody, but then a headline would flash through their mind, and their whole demeanor changed. For an entire year, Ezra’s name appeared in the Chicago Tribune, sometimes making the front page.
Eventually people remembered seeing one of those headlines.
His jaw clenched as he waited for Gorecki to continue.
“You’ve helped a lot,” the detective said, biting his lip. “You can rejoin your friend inside.” Ezra didn’t move. As an FBI agent, he technically outranked them both, but that didn’t mean they wanted or needed his help.
He lives in Southwest Kansas with his wife and three children. His debut novel How Everything Turns Away is forthcoming from The Wildrose Press.
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Fairies and Frosting
(Fairy Tales of the Magicorum, #7)
Published by: Monster House Books
Publication date: July 20th 2021
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
At last, Elle (never call her Cinderella) is reunited with Alec, the Prince of Le Charme Jewelers. Yay! But the pair soon discovers that Alec’s gemstone empire is about to go bankrupt. Boo. So our favorite couple devises a kick-ass scheme to save Le Charme. To announce their plan, Elle and Alec will hold a Glass Slipper Festival complete with music, dancing and cake. Lots of cake.
There’s only one problem. The Unseelie fae have returned.
Talk about bad news. No one combines lovely looks with dark intentions better than the Unseelie. Now, those nefarious fae want to destroy Elle, Alec and any hope for Le Charme. It doesn’t end there, either. The Unseelie are also targeting Elle’s stepsister, Agatha, as well as her old friend, Jacoby. And when will the Unseelie launch their deadly schemes? The Glass Slipper Festival.
Because fairies and frosting don’t mix.
“I thought the Angelbound series was my favorite, but Fairy Tales of the Magicorum may have stolen my heart.” – Smada’s Book Smack Blog
FAIRY TALES OF THE MAGICORUM
1. Wolves And Roses
2. Moonlight And Midtown
3. Slippers And Thieves
4. Shifters And Glyphs
5. Bandits And Ball Gowns
6. Fire and Cinder
7. Fairies and Frosting
8 Towers and Tithes
FAIRIES AND FROSTING Except
Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #7
“It’s a tricky thing about living by the so-called Cinderella life template,” I explain to Elle. “Everyone knows that the Cinderellas have it rough. That evil stepmother alone is enough to break even the strongest person.”
Elle raises her hand. “Testify.”
“But guys like me? The princes? It’s never easy for us, either. I’ve looked into the lives hundreds of Prince Charmings. Here’s the bottom line. If your parents are forcing you into a choosing a random bride at a ball, then something is wrong.”
“I never thought of it that way.” Elle fixes me with a look that overflows with understanding. This is hard stuff to talk about, but with Elle here, anything is possible. “What about your mother and father?”
“The funny thing is, my parents actually got their happily ever after. Not with each other, though. They were both deeply in love with Le Charme Jewelers. The name… the money… the glamour… they couldn’t get enough. My parents met as strangers and stayed that way.”
Elle frowns. “I don’t get it. If they cared that much about the company, then why is the company in such rough shape?”
“They treated Le Charme the way they treated themselves. As long as things looked right, they didn’t have to be right. Does that make sense?”
“It does. They just took out more loans and kept going.”
“My father always had these grand schemes, like building the L Center. Those weren’t real business opportunities that he mapped out and researched, though. He just thought it was fun to have a huge building named after you in the middle of Manhattan.” I shiver. “And everyone around them played by the same rules or they were fired. I was surrounded by a world of beautiful illusions… and I was the only one who saw the truth underneath.”
I take Elle’s hand in mine. “Then I saw you at the loading dock for the L Center. You were all things gorgeous and bright. That Rae light from your mother shone all around you.”
Elle blushes. “I was a sweaty mess dragging a broken wagon of knickknacks.”
I pull her closer on the bench, guiding her legs across my lap. “You were perfect in your imperfection. Same as when I saw you later on the security cameras, un-stealing jewelry from my office. For me, Le Charme is a responsibility… a broken machine that I inherited and must fix. I’d sell it off if I could, only there’s too much debt.”
“And too many dwarves.”
“Yes, I can never forget the dwarves. They’re my family.” I set my knuckle under her chin. “But you? You’re my dream. And not because you’ll magically make everything better, either. It’s more that I trust you to my marrow. You’ll fight at my side to make everything the best it can be.”
Elle blushes. “And I love you, too, Alec Le Charme.”
—end of excerpt—
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Christina Bauer thinks that fantasy books are like bacon: they just make life better. All of which is why she writes romance novels that feature demons, dragons, wizards, witches, elves, elementals, and a bunch of random stuff that she brainstorms while riding the Boston T. Oh, and she includes lots of humor and kick-ass chicks, too.
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.
Be the first to know about new releases from Christina by signing up for her newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/CBupdates
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Thursday, July 15, 2021
Of Gilded Flesh
Publication date: June 22nd 2021
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Clockmaker Josef Kronecker makes more than just clocks.
In his study in Salzburg, he crafts lifesaving clockwork appendages for clients, including a famous pianist, a count who loves to dance, and his very own assistant, Anna, who suffered a harrowing attack before coming to work at Kronecker’s Timepieces.
When Josef meets Klara, a beautiful party attendee, he’s entranced and soon becomes unknowingly entrapped in a web of lies. His infatuation positions him as the victim of a royal bully, who presents an impossible challenge and requests an unthinkable sacrifice should Josef run out of time.
While Josef falls for Klara and is held to a deadline he can’t possibly make, Anna keeps the shop afloat as she faces her past trauma, proving that the number of limbs does not make a person whole, but rather the will to live.
Sustaining life is Josef’s calling, but now it’s his life on the line. As the clock ticks down, he realizes that while infatuation is a powerful thing, love is deeper and sometimes goes unseen, and it seems adopting Anna’s unwavering will to live is the way to survive.
Honest, inventive, and both heartbreaking and heartwarming, OF GILDED FLESH is a captivating story about resilience and how much we have to live for.
The clinking of tools and the orange light of candles trail from the workroom in the back of the shop. Anna enters the space through the open curtain. Expecting to see Josef hovering over Duke Brunner’s artificial heart, she’s surprised to find the clockmaker tinkering with the mechanical boy, Joop, instead. Josef inserts the Rainbow Moonstone-and-marble balls into its vacant eye sockets.
The clockmaker leans back and moves a burning candle from one side of Joop’s head to the other. “Come see,” he says.
Anna moves to Josef’s side—close to him, but not too close.
“They catch the light with such brilliance,” he says. “Thank you, Anna.”
He reaches for her hand, yet she finds herself pulling away. Piano music comes from the other side of the shop and hovers between the two of them. Josef gives a curious look.
“Pascal is here already?”
“He came by last night…and never left.”
Josef turns to her, taking in the warmth she emits like a gently burning hearth. “I see.” He turns away and disappears into the darkness of the shop.
Anna moves closer to Joop and rests her left hand beside him. She lowers herself to a stool.
“Oh, Joop. What have I done?”
The boy stares vacantly back as a tear rolls down her cheek.
“I killed a man. He was so very horrible—a demon—but who am I to pass judgement and execution? My vengeance has made me no better.”
Another tear falls.
“I’m worse, even. For I’ve gone and lain myself with a man I do not love.”
Joop’s hands slips from his lap and rests upon hers. The comforting, humanlike gesture from the unhuman boy sparks a faint grin to her lips and then a flood of tears.
“And worse still…I want to again.”
Gordon Gravley has been making up stories all his life. As a child, they would take the shape of rudimentary comic books, and Super-8 movies. As he was drawn to stage-acting in high school his stories became one-act plays, and then feature-length screenplays - none of which ever saw the light of the big screen.
It wasn't until his thirties that he finally decided to take the plunge, and like a real writer he made his stories into, well...stories. And just like a real writer, his efforts garnished multiple rejection letters. Twenty years later, those efforts would culminate into his first self-published novel, Gospel for the Damned.
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Gordon moved around - California; Colorado; Alaska; Northern Arizona - before eventually settling in Seattle, Washington. Having called the Northwest his home since 1998, he doesn't expect to be moving elsewhere anytime soon. There, he continues to make up stories, write novels, and live with his wife and son.
Subscribe to the author's monthly newsletter, "from...Another Writer", via his website www.gordongravley.com.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2021
I'm excited to have Diane O'Neill author of this charming picture book with me today. This charming picture book has a big message. But I'll let Diane tell us more. So without further ado, I'll dive right into the interview.
What inspired you to write this book?
I grew up on food stamps, and I remember my surprise and hurt when I learned that my classmates looked down on "food stamp people," that their moms would look in our carts and complain if they saw anything as frivolous as a sweet roll. One classmate said, "I guess I just think they should be more humble."
In December 2019, I read a letter to the editor that complained about people on SNAP buying energy drinks. All my adult life, I've been able to work and not need benefits, thank God, but I still felt that childhood pain.
I wrote a letter to the editor in response, and it was published. I expanded it into an op-ed, which was also published. I shared my good news on the Illinois Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) listserv, and Andrea Hall, Albert Whitman and Co. editor, reached out: Did I have any ideas for picture books about food insecurity?
No, none at all--until I did. I remember my mother feeding us chili for weeks, I remembered us going to the Wonder Bakery thrift store, as old baked goods were filling and cheap. I remembered a visit to a food pantry, running to the dessert shelves and my mother's embarrassed "No!" She said "they" would want us to take sensible food.
So I wrote SATURDAY AT THE FOOD PANTRY, whose main message is that everybody needs help sometimes, and that that's perfectly OK. And that everybody deserves a treat now and then, too.
What book stayed with you long after you finished reading it.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith, has been my favorite book since I was fourteen. It had a profound impact on me--it was the first book I'd read that featured an imperfect family with problems--the dad deals with alcoholism, and they are poor. I love the book's messages: Every "tree" is important and beautiful, no matter how poor. If you climb out of poverty, remember where you came from. The characters don’t feel like fictional creations to me, but like friends I’ve known all my life.
Tell us something about you.
I grew up as an only child but met five half siblings in adulthood. I'm so happy that we're part of each other's lives and that I can be an aunt to nieces and nephews! I have a wonderful son who's a school social worker--he's my first reader for most of my stories, and I dedicated SATURDAY AT THE FOOD PANTRY to him. I love when he and his fiancé visit and we enjoy Harry Potter movies together!
About the author: Diane O'Neill is a Chicago writer who fell in love with books at age eight, and like Molly, she went to a food pantry as a child. She holds an MFA from National University, and her works have appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, LADYBUG Magazine, the South Side Weekly, the Journal of Modern Poetry, Solstice Literary Magazine’s blog, The Chicago Tribune, and It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure.
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
In the spirit of Christmas in July, I'm sharing a sneak peek and first look at the cover of my upcoming holiday romance, Merry Little Wishing Spritz. I'm impatiently... er, I mean patiently waiting to find out the release date and for eARCs. I'll keep you post!