Thursday, April 28, 2022

Chatting with author Linda Griffin

I'm delighted to welcome Linda Griffin to my blog. She's chatting about her new sweet romance BRIDGES. Without further adu...

What inspired you to write this book?

As often happens with me, it took the combination of two ideas to create the spark. I saw a French film about a chauffeur and noticed that his job involved a lot of waiting time, so I thought it would be a good fit for someone who loved to read. The character of Mary Claire came to me, through a process I can’t explain, pretty much the way she is in on the page, right down to her brothers’ names and fates. I brought the two characters together, and they took it from there. The tone, more old-fashioned and formal than my other novels, was largely due to my reading classic novels, including Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope, before I began writing it.

Tell us about a book that stayed with you long after you finished reading it.

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard. I think it gave me PTSD the first time I read it. For a while afterward, I couldn’t seem to read or write anything except captivity stories. One of them, Rumpelstiltskin, was published in Eclectica and can be found here: (Reader discretion advised!) I even wrote a science fiction story about traveling back in time to rescue Jaycee. I admire her so much for choosing to live a positive, purposeful life.

Tell us something about yourself and how you became an author.

My very first Dick and Jane reader ignited my passion for the written word. I read it out loud to everyone in the house, including two captive kittens, one under each arm, and then I read it backwards. As soon as I figured out that somebody had to create the words I was reading I knew I wanted to be a “book maker” when I grew up. I wrote my first story, “Judy and the Fairies,” with a plot stolen from a Little Lulu comic book, at the age of six and never looked back.

About the Book

Author: Linda Griffin
Genre: 20th Century Historical Romance
Heat level: Sweet


In 1963, Neil Vincent, a middle-aged World War II veteran and “Christian atheist” is working as a chauffeur at Westfield Court. He spends most of his spare time reading. Mary Claire DeWinter is a young, blind, Catholic college student and reluctant heiress. To secure her inheritance, she has to marry within a year, and her aunt is pressuring her to marry a rich man who teased and bullied her when she was a child. Neil and Mary Claire shouldn’t even be friends, but the gulf between them is bridged by a shared love of books. Can they cross the bridge to more?

Grab your copy today

Peek between the pages

On the drive to Brierly Station, he didn’t speculate about who Miss DeWinter might be. It wasn’t his job to know who she was, only to meet her train and take her safely back to Westfield Court. She wouldn’t be the last of the friends and relatives who would gather as the old man’s life came to its long-awaited and peaceful end.

Brierly was bustling today, as restless as the St. James household. He was in plenty of time for the train and sat in the car reading. The car was a Bentley Mark VI, as well-maintained and highly polished as it was the day it was purchased. The book he was reading was Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native.

When the train rumbled in, he got out of the car. He stood patiently on the platform as the passengers disembarked, holding up a small slate on which he had chalked DEWINTER in large capitals. There weren’t many passengers, but they were briefly delayed while the conductor helped a blind woman navigate the steps. Neil’s gaze fell expectantly on a woman in her thirties, with an awful hat, but she was immediately met by a portly man and a teenage boy. No other likely prospects appeared, and he waited for someone to respond to the sign. No one did.

Finally, only two passengers were left on the platform—a small, homely man and the blind woman. Blind girl, really. She couldn’t be more than twenty. She had a jointed white cane, and her large sunglasses didn’t cover the edges of the scars on her face. She would not have been beautiful even without the scars—too thin, for starters, of average height but with small bones. On the other hand, her face might once have been pretty, and her hair was clean and shining, raven black, and well brushed. She was too pale, and the scars around her eyes were red and ugly. She looked a little lost.

Feeling foolish, he lowered the slate. “Miss DeWinter?” he asked as he approached her.

“Yes,” she said, turning toward his voice with a smile.

About the author
Linda Griffin is a native of San Diego and has a BA in English from San Diego State University and an MLS from UCLA. She retired from a position as fiction librarian for the San Diego Public Library to spend more time on her writing. Her stories have been published in numerous journals, including Eclectica, Thema, The Binnacle, Orbis, and mostly recently The Adirondack Review. Bridgesis her fifth novel published by the Wild Rose Press, following Seventeen Days (2018), The Rebound Effect (2019, Guilty Knowledge(2020), and Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking (2021).

Connect with Linda

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Damned When I Didn't Book Tour & Giveaway


I'm super excited about this tour. A huge thank you to Bewitching Book Tours and the amazing tour hosts. The tour includes excerpts, interviews, guest posts, and a giveaway. Plus, DAMNED WHEN I DIDN'T is on sale on Amazon. See below for the tour schedule. Visit a tour host to enter the giveaway.

The tour kicks off at Paranormalists with a Guest Post. Full tour schedule is below. Hop over to one of the stops to participate and enter the giveaway.

Praise for Damend When I Didn't

Winner Best Paranormal Romance 2021

"Damned When I Didn’t is such a fun paranormal romance, I loved every minute of it. ... If you’re looking for a paranormal romance with a fresh take and snarky dialogue, pick up Damned When I Didn’t. Highly recommend!" - N.N. Light, Amazon Vine Voice

"Damned If I Didn't is the perfect mix of romance, drama, and friendship. You won't be disappointed!" - Goodreads Reviewer

"This novel serves up a unique story that brings many different characters together in a breathtaking read." - InD'Tale Magazine

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Spotlight: Life's Too Short for White Walls by Liz Flaherty

Joss stopped under the canopy of trees that led back to the campground, opening her car window so she could breathe in the scent of early autumn. It was a hard thing for a person as busy as she’d always been to stare the future in the face with no idea what she was going to do with it. She would give herself time to decide, time to take more deep breaths and get over the feeling of dread that seemed to accompany her everywhere. Although she didn’t have enough money to last forever, it would carry her for a while. 

She looked up at the trees, noting that the colors of the leaves were already changing and that the air smelled different—it wasn’t just the day’s lack of humidity. It was, she supposed, the scent of things dying, but she wasn’t going to think of it that way. To her, it was going to be all about starting over. Starting new in this beloved place that still felt like home.

A word from the author...

I worry a lot about my stories sounding alike, my heroines being paper-doll-cutouts of each other. I’m afraid I’ve written too many heroes with dimples in their left cheeks. Do I have too many people with crooked grins, one raised eyebrow, or a shrug that somehow defines their personalities?

I hope not, but a few of the things that are the same from book to book are starting over, new beginnings, home, friendships, tenderness. And I’m good with that.

They are there in Life’s Too Short for White Walls, when forty-something Joss Murphy and Ezra McIntire find themselves in the same place, but searching for different things. They know a few things about themselves by now—Joss is determined she will have color wherever she goes and Ez is committed to always being one step ahead of things that are dangerous or hurtful to anyone around him.

There are no white walls on their journey, but danger and emotional landmines make themselves known. And maybe the things they’re searching for aren’t so different. – Liz Flaherty

About the book

Life's Too Short for White Walls
by Liz Flaherty
Genre: Contemporary Romance


Still reeling from her divorce, Joss Murphy flees to Banjo Bend, Kentucky, where she'd been safe and happy as a child. The family farm is now a campground. Weary and discouraged, she talks owner Ezra McIntire into renting her a not-quite-ready cabin.
With PTSD keeping him company, Ez thrives on the seclusion of the campground. The redhead in Cabin Three adds suggestions to his improvement plans, urging color and vibrancy where there was none.

Neither is looking for love, yet the attraction they share is undeniable. Can the comfort of campfires, hayrides, and sweet kisses bring these two lost souls together?

Get it today!

Liz has a Giveaway!

Bio: Liz Flaherty is rather bewildered by where she’s at in life. She doesn’t feel…er…elderly, but the truth is that she is. The Magnificent Seven grands have grown up on her, her own kids are all now older than she is, and her husband Duane has the same firm hold on her heart he’s always had. And it’s all good.

Connect with Liz

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Book Tour & Review: Relatively Normal Secrets by C. W. Allen

I'm dlighted to be a tour host for the Relatively Normal Secrets book tour. C. W. Allen will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Relatively Normal Secrets
by C. W. Allen
GENRE: Middle Grade Adventure Fantasy


Tuesday and Zed Furst are perfectly normal children with perfectly strange parents. Their father won’t discuss his job, their mother never leaves the house without her guard dog, and the topic of the family tree is off limits.

When a last minute “business trip” gets the adults out of the way, Zed and Tuesday decide to get to the bottom of things once and for all. Too bad some thugs with shape-shifting weapons have other ideas. Their escape leaves them trapped in the modern-meets-medieval Falinnheim, where everyone insists their father is a disgraced fugitive. They hope whoever is leaving them coded clues may have some answers, but they’re not sure they’re going to like what they learn.

If they ever want to see their parents again, they’ll need the help of a smuggler with a broken compass, their unusually talented dog, some extremely organized bandits, and a selection of suspiciously misquoted nursery rhymes.

Zed and Tuesday may not have all the answers, but one thing is certain—when it comes to normal, everything is relative.

Grab your copy!

Peek between the pages

At lunch, her father was the headlining topic of conversation. Perhaps, everyone joked, he was some kind of secret agent—if anyone found out what he really did all day, he'd have to erase their memories or have them deported to Jupiter. Tuesday made a hasty decision: better to ride the wave of laughter, than drown in it. This was ridiculous, of course!

Of course it was.

Tuesday heaved her backpack onto the lunch table and made a production of searching for a missing paper until the cafeteria’s collective attention bounded on to a new distraction. She retrieved last week’s History assignment and tried to look intensely interested in reviewing it, staring through the page with unfocused eyes while zoning out to the satisfying snapping sound her carrot sticks made, the pitch falling rhythmically as her teeth chopped each one shorter and shorter.

The newly-hatched suspicions about her parents’ routines burrowed in with the rest of the doubts nesting in her brain. It wasn’t just the way they sidestepped any mention of their lives before they had children. It wasn’t just their odd taste in names. It was just—oh, everything.

Her last name should have been different, for one thing; Tuesday was sure of it. Her father wouldn’t say what it might have been, but anything else would have been fine with her, really. Anything that wouldn’t make her a walking punchline. If her parents hadn’t been so weird, her mother would have taken her father’s last name when they got married, like normal people. Then Tuesday could have inherited his name, instead of just his face.

My Thoughts

Relatively Normal Secrets is a creative fast-passed adventure children are sure to enjoy. Siblings, Tuesday and Zed, know their parents are hiding a secret. Tuesday has several theories about what this can be, and Zed is skeptical of them all. Neither are ready for the truth. 

The kids are quickly separated from their parents and then transported to an alternate world. This entertaining and quirky story follows them as they try to find answers about their parents and what is happening. I like how the author uses nursery rhymes as puzzles, and I think children will enjoy trying to figure the clues out right along with Tuesday and Zed. (I know I did.) Their dog is such a playful character and a big help to the kids. There's magic woven throughout the story, always a plus!! I especially like how the weapons changed forms. C.W. Allen has a wonderfully descriptive writing style that made it easy to imagine the action and surroundings.

While the crisis in this story is resolved, there are a lot of questions purposely left open for the next book. Fans of sequels are bound to like this. 

Enter the Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author:
C.W. Allen is a Nebraskan by birth, a Texan by experience, a Hoosier by marriage, and a Utahn by geography. She knew she wanted to be a writer the moment she read The Westing Game at age twelve, but took a few detours along the way as a veterinary nurse, an appliance repair secretary, and a homeschool parent.

She recently settled in the high desert of rural Utah with her husband, their three children, and a noisy flock of orphaned ideas. Someday she will create literary homes for all of them. (The ideas, not her family.)

Relatively Normal Secrets (Cinnabar Moth Publishing, Fall 2021) is her debut novel. She writes fantasy novels for tweens, picture books for children, and short stories and poems for former children. Her work will appear in numerous anthologies in 2021. She is also a frequent guest presenter at writing conferences and club meetings, which helps her procrastinate knuckling down to any actual writing.

Keep up with her latest projects at her website:
She is much funnier on Twitter than in person:
Author’s page Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Chatting with author Lis Angus

I'm delighted to have Lis Angus with me today. I love how NaNoWriMo and the question "What if" helped start her fiction writing journey. Please help me welcome Lis!

Can you tell us something about your writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a child. I always dreamed of writing a novel, but I hadn’t written any fiction since I was a teenager. As an adult, my writing was primarily business-related. Later I took some fiction writing courses, but I hadn’t really worked at it. Then in 2017 I heard about NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. I said to myself, “if not now, when?” I decided to grab that impulse, not let the moment pass me by.

I love suspense fiction, and knew that I wanted to write something in that genre. The central idea for the novel is one that came to me some years ago, in the form of a “what if” question. What if someone showed up and claimed that your child was in fact not your child?

To make that idea into a story, I had to figure out how such a development might happen: what characters might be involved, how would they react and what could develop from there? I ended up writing from three different points of view, showing events through the eyes of the three key characters.

I finished a first draft that November, but it was far from a finished product. I did a total of six rewrites and received 81 rejections (I kept count!) from agents and publishers before finally receiving an offer from The Wild Rose Press last summer. Since then the process has gone pretty quickly though, with the book about to be published next week.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on another novel now, and it started with another “what if” question: What if you learn that your deceased father had another family, with another wife and other children? And as I started writing it, a second “what if” occurred to me: what if you learn that your family is the second one, secret from the first?

I’ve written a first draft already, but it’s still sketchy. I’m working now to round out the characters and deepen the plot, feeling my way: how and why might that happen? How would the characters react?. And since it’s another suspense novel, what kind of peril do the main characters encounter?.

My first novel deals in part with the evolving relationship between a woman and her young teen daughter. In my second, my key characters are once again women at different stages of life. Though the circumstances they confront are unusual, the feelings and emotions they experience are ones we all share, and I try to portray those as vividly as I can.

I really love learning where authors get their ideas, and you have such intriguing what-if questions! What do you enjoy reading?

Though I read a wide variety of fiction, I mainly read crime fiction. Within that, I enjoy many sub-genres (police procedural, private eye, legal thriller) but I confess that it’s the suspense novels I come back to. There are too many terrific suspense authors to list here, but as just a few examples: Lisa Unger, Lisa Gardner, Gilly MacMillan, Ruth Ware—I am in awe of their writing.

There are a few writers whose writing puts me in even greater awe: I would read anything they write, regardless of genre. These include Emma Donoghue, Kate Atkinson, Ann Patchett.

Can you tell us something about you?

I grew up on a farm in Alberta till I was 16, when I finished high school. Then I went to Germany for two years; at first living with an aunt and uncle, and then attending university. I came home for the summer then and decided I wanted to stay in Canada. I ended up moving to Ottawa to attend Carleton University for journalism and social sciences. That’s also where I met my husband. After graduating, I spent several years working with children and families in crisis and completing a Masters degree (and most of the requirements for a PhD.) in psychology. That got me interested in research, leading to a second career as a market researcher and telecommunications policy advisor, writer and editor. Along the way we had two daughters, and I completed a second Masters degree, this one in Business. That second career included working with governments at several levels as well as with business clients in Canada and Europe. Since retiring , I’ve now launched into a third career as a fiction writer, which is taking me along another fascinating learning curve and introducing me to an amazing community of writers. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s important to be open to new experiences and challenges, and to never stop learning.

And the thrill of receiving a box of book!

Now for the speed round!

Coffee or tea? Coffee!

eBook, paperback, or audiobook? Paperback

Plotter or Pantster? Plotter AND Pantser

Dogs or cats? Cats, for sure

Night on the town or cozy evening in? Cozy evening in
Last book read? The Maid

Favorite thing to do to relax? Reading, of course

Favorite vacation? Loons, books, chef. OR London, walking.

Beach or mountains? Mountains. OR verandah, lake.

About the book

Author: Lis Angus
Genre: Suspense
Possible triggers: violence, there is an attempt to kill a child.


Ottawa psychologist and single mother Susan Koss discovers that a strange man has been following her twelve-year-old daughter Maddy. She fears he’s a predator, but it’s worse than that. The man, Daniel Kazan, believes Maddy is his granddaughter, abducted as a baby, and he’s obsessed with getting her back.

Susan insists on a DNA test to disprove Daniel’s claim, but the result is one she can’t understand or explain: it says she’s not Maddy’s mother.

Then Maddy vanishes. Susan’s convinced Daniel has taken her, but he has an alibi, and two searches of his house turn up nothing. The hunt is on—police are on full mobilization, and Susan fears the worst.

Get your copy

Peek between the pages

As I was putting on my coat, the doorbell rang. I looked out the window.

What the hell?

Daniel Kazan stood on my doorstep.

I went cold. How dare he? I flung open the door. “What are you doing here?” I exploded.

Confronting him, I saw that he was a few inches taller than me, and exuded a tense energy that raised my hackles. He raised his hands, palms out, a placating expression on his face. As if he were trying to calm me down or reassure me.

“I just want to talk to Hannah. I came early to catch her, before she leaves for school.”

I squared my shoulders. “Get out of here! You've been told to stay away from us!”

His face was in shadow. “I think it’s fair to want to see Hannah. I’ve waited a long time.”

The guy is nuts. “She’s not Hannah—she’s my daughter. Maddy.”

“You’re keeping her from me.” He was leaning toward me, and I had to keep from falling back. I couldn’t let myself seem weak. If he thought he’d intimidated me, what would be his next move?

My heart pounded. My hands were curled tight, my nails biting into my palms. “Damn right I’m keeping her from you. Now get off my porch before I call the police!”

What if he wouldn’t leave? I should call for help—but my phone was inside, and I didn’t want to leave him on the porch unattended.

About the author:

Lis Angus is a Canadian suspense writer. Early in her career, she worked with children and families in crisis; later she worked as a policy advisor, business writer and editor while raising two daughters. She now lives south of Ottawa with her husband. In her spare time she can be found walking, reading, or watching too much Netflix. And, lately, trying to solve Wordle.

Connect with Lis

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Anatomy of a book cover - Friends to the End

I've received a lot of positive feedback for the cover of Friends to the End, and then I saw other authors break down their covers' anatomy. What a fun idea!

The covers of my books are always a surprise. Sure, I share my vision and give random thoughts on what might be included. Then I wait excitedly (and a bit nervously, if I were to be completely honest) to see what the cover artist will come up with. I was delighted when I saw what Diana Carlile, the amazing cover artist for this book, designed. She even managed to find a rare picture of the vanishing house!

Did you know?

Friends to the End is touring the blogosphere. Each stop has something new from interviews, guests post, to reviews. Plus, I'll be giving away a $15 Amazon or BN gift card at the end of the tour. 

What the Avid Reader had to say...
"Friends to the End held on tight to its secrets about the disappearing house which gave me a run for my money from beginning to end. Oh, man I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough." 
Reader the full review on her blog (link below).

Enter the giveaway at any of the tour stops.

Tour schedule:

January 31: Lisa Haselton’s Reviews – Interview
February 7: Literary Gold – Interview
February 14: All the Ups and Downs – Guest Post
February 21: Rogue’s Angels – Interview
February 21: Books in the Hall – Interview
February 28: Sandra’s Book Club – Review
March 7: Gina Rae Mitchell – Inspiration Behind the Book
March 14: Kit ‘N Kabookle – Interview
March 21: Eye-Rolling Demigod’s Book Blog – Interview
March 28: The Avid Reader – Interview & Review

Are you enjoying spring? What's the weather like where you're at? Did you enter the giveaway? 

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Chatting with author Alex J. Cavanaugh

I'm delighted to welcome Alex Cavanaugh to my blog. His newest book CassaDark is out and Alex shared a peek between the pages. But before we get to that, let's get to know Alex.

Speed round.

Favorite food? Thai food followed closely by Chinese.

eBook, paperback, or audiobook? eBooks. Cheaper and they take less space.

Favorite season? Winter! Yes, I like snow and cold.

Favorite holiday? Christmas! And the reason for the season.

Favorite movie? So many to choose from, but I’ll stick with Aliens.

Night on the town or cozy evening in? Cozy evening in every time – I’m such a homebody.

Favorite fictional world? Living in a Hobbit hole would be cool, but I’m going with Narnia.

Favorite TV show? Do I have to pick one? Firefly, Stargate SG1, and Stargate: Atlantis.

Beach or mountains? Mountains! Did I mention snow…?

About the Book

By Alex J. Cavanaugh

His world is unraveling…

Bassan’s father is stepping down from command. His best friend almost dies when Bassan freezes. Now, he’s being sent across the galaxy to speak at an important conference. Despite saving the eleven races years ago, he’s paralyzed by fear and doubt. Could things get any worse?

Once there, new acquaintance Zendar convinces Bassan to visit his planet for a humanitarian mission. Bassan’s special connection to ancient technology is the key to saving Zendar’s people. One problem though—it’s a prisoner planet.

On Ugar, he discovers things aren’t so straightforward. As each secret reveals itself, the situation grows more desperate. If he can’t find the right answers, he might die along with Zendar’s people. Can Bassan summon the courage to be a hero again?

Trade paperback, 226 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, LLC
Science fiction - Adventure (FIC028010) / Space Opera (FIC028030) / Space Exploration (FIC028130)
Print ISBN 9781939844842 $16.95 / eBook ISBN 9781939844859 $4.99

Grab your copy today
iTunes – Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Kobo – Scribed – Goodreads 

Peek between the pages of CassaDark

A moment later, Witz pointed. He began to move, and Bassan fell in behind the man. They crept to the end of the pallets. The three gathered and grasped the garbage cart. Zendar swung his pack atop the heap of tangled metal and wires.

Three attendants might seem odd, but with this cart loaded to overflowing, hopefully no one notices, Zendar thought. We’re going to have to hustle though. Those garbage rigs move fast. Get on board the ship and head for the entry door. Anyone stops us, show them your badge.

If it gets weird, I’m prepared to take action, Witz thought, patting his left hip.

Witz was carrying. Bassan dropped his gaze to the hangar floor.

Please don’t let it get weird…


The cart lurched forward, and Bassan stumbled to catch up. Witz and Zendar moved with a purpose across the hangar floor, aiming for the ramp. Bassan pumped his legs in earnest to keep pace. Every nerve tingled. He cast a sideways glance at the big rigs loading into the ship. The last one lurched toward the ramp, threatening to fill the width of it. If they didn’t reach it first…

Move! Witz thought.

They picked up the pace. His feet threatened to tangle from the sudden inertia. The cart hit the ramp and Bassan pushed with every ounce of strength in his body. Each step carried them closer to their ticket to Ugar. Bile rose in his throat. Their goal grew closer. And yet it spelled his doom.

What am I doing?

Bassan continued forward, clinging to the car. His chin dipped and he got a decent look at the rig rising up the ramp behind them. Rising fast. Much faster than their current speed.

We’re about to be crushed, he thought, ramming his chest into the cart’s handle.

Go, go, go, go! thought Witz, throwing his weight against the cart.

Bassan pumped his legs harder, spurred by mortal fear. The rumble of the rig behind them grew closer. The grinding of its gears filled the air. The sight of Drent’s bike tumbling toward the cliff’s edge filled Bassan’s mind. He couldn’t stop it. Nor could he stop the garbage rig from overtaking them.

We’re dead!

The cart’s front wheels went airborne. Momentum took them forward before the cart slammed against the floor. The very flat floor. They’d reached the interior of the ship.

About the author:
Alex J. Cavanaugh works in web design and graphics, and he plays guitar in a Christian band. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is known as Ninja Captain Alex and he’s the founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

Connect with Alex:

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Book Tour & Giveaway: The Undine's Tear by Talena Winters

I’m excited to be a part of The Undine's Tear by Talena Winters' Book Tour and to have had the chance to interview Talena. She will be awarding a hardback copy of The Undine's Tear (Rise of the Grigori Book 1) and also The Sphinx's Heart (Rise of the Grigori Book 2) to a randomly drawn winner (International Giveaway) via rafflecopter during the tour.

Let's meet the author first!

What inspired you to write this book?

The initial idea for the world of the undines (UN-deens) came while watching the Australian young adult mermaid show H2O: Just Add Water in 2010. What happened to all the mermen? I wondered. Why must mermaids in most tales find human husbands or drag sailors beneath the waves?

My brain wouldn’t leave that alone, and, for the first time ever, I had an idea for a fiction novel. The only problem was that I didn’t know how to write fiction! This was the idea that inspired me to learn how.

Over the next seven years, I did a ton of research about mermaids, matriarchal societies, ancient myths, the Atlantic Slave Trade, and more, while also taking a course about novel writing and publishing my first two novels (both contemporary). After all the practice and research, I finally had the groundwork in place to tackle this epic fantasy about an all-female mermaid culture that had to capture human men to survive. It would be another two years before I published it. Two years later in November 2021, I published the next volume, The Sphinx’s Heart. I’m currently taking a short break to write some sweet small-town romance before tackling book three.

Tell us three things we’d find if we looked under your heroine’s bed?

Not much, not even dust bunnies. My heroine, Calandra, is a practical, utilitarian sort who likes working with her hands, but she was also raised in a palace. So the servants make sure her room stays spic and span at all times. She has a stone working hobby, though, so I bet she has some interesting crystals and rocks she’s found stashed in the back of her wardrobe, which she doesn’t bother filling with something as frivolous as fancy clothes. And a few data stones, which is her culture’s equivalent of books—she loves to read and learn.

Tell us about a book that stayed with you long after you finished reading it.

My dad gave me the first three books from the Chronicles of Narnia for my ninth birthday, which was probably the beginning of my love affair with fantasy novels. I bought the rest of the series myself, and have spent the rest of my life looking for books that revive the wonder and magic I felt reading those for the first (or second, or third) time.

Another was The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. I read that many times. I was enamoured with the bravery and determination of the female protagonist—she was my Moana. I especially loved that it was based on a true story.

These two novels (and many others) contributed to my lifelong love of both history and fantasy, and to my belief that being a girl didn’t have to be a limitation.

We all have guilty pleasure, do you have any books you can’t get enough of?

Right now, it’s paranormal women’s fiction. I got hooked by Lindsay Buroker’s A Witch in Wolf Wood series, in which I’m all caught up, and I just recently started trying other authors in this genre. Wit, witches, and wolf shifters—I’m hooked.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Besides read? Lol. My “day job” is as a developmental editor and copy writer, so I get to play with stories and help other writers all the time, which I love. I’m also a mom of three teenage boys and a wife to my Prince Charming. We live a quiet life on an acreage in northern Alberta, Canada in a really amazing community. Oh, and I design knitwear patterns in my spare time—my “hobby business.”

What makes you laugh out loud?

Practically everything. Seriously, I’ve been known for my quick, loud, and distinctive laugh my whole life. I see the humour in almost everything, even very serious moments. However, I’m also deeply affected by other people’s pain, so it’s not like I laugh when I shouldn’t—most of the time.

My husband and kids know how to tickle my funny bone best. But I’m also particularly fond of word play, clean stand-up comedy, and sitcoms like Brooklyn Nine-Nineand The IT Crowd. And did I mention the witty paranormal women’s fiction I’ve been reading lately?

Is there anything specific you want to tell readers?

The standalone prequel for the Rise of the Grigori series is available as a free digital download when you sign up for my newsletter. The Waterboy is a novella that tells the origin story of Calandra’s brother, Zale, the male protagonist of the series—the first undine male born in three thousand years. His mother raised him in England, away from her people, and when he discovers his powers, bad things happen that set him on the path of his destiny. You can grab the free eBook by signing up at It’s also available to purchase on audiobook at that link or on your favourite audiobook platform.

About the Book

The Undine's Tear
by Talena Winters
Genre: Young Adult epic historical fantasy

She's destined to save the world . . . if she doesn't destroy it first.

Calandra’s destiny is also her doom. As the most powerful healer since the woman who sank Atlantis, she’s been raised to restore the Heartstone that protects her island from humans . . . before she goes Mad like her mother and all the powerful undine healers before her. When she learns she needs both male and female magic to succeed, she becomes desperate—there hasn't been an undine male born for over three thousand years. Instead, she's being pressured to use the siren mind-bond to enslave her childhood friend, the one man she's sworn to risk a death sentence to free.

When Calandra discovers a cryptic message that shows her exiled mother was not only sane but pregnant with a boy, she questions everything she’s been taught to believe. But revealing the horrifying truth of the bonds could tear her island apart—and concealing it could unleash the Earth’s oldest, most destructive enemy. With insanity looming, can Calandra find her brother and save the Heartstone, the man she loves, her people, and the world . . . before she loses control and destroys them all?

The Undine's Tear is the first book in the mind-blowing young adult epic historical fantasy series Rise of the Grigori. Packed with complex characters, lush world-building, gritty action, and impossible odds, this intricately woven tale presents mermaids like you’ve never seen them before. Join Calandra in a search for redemption that will threaten the very fabric of the universe. Dive into the adventure today.

Grab your copy today!

Peek between the pages…

“You are wondering how to gain control of your powers,” Damon said without preamble.

Calandra thought about ignoring him or denying it, but what was the point? This was nothing more than a dream, and the slippery logic of dreams fuzzed her will to keep her more rebellious thoughts to herself.

“You know, I shouldn’t even be talking to you. An Unredeemed male. I could get in big trouble.”

The corners of his mouth curved under his trim goatee.

“And who will report you?” He indicated the blackness around them. “Certainly not I. I exist only in your mind.”

She crossed her arms and cocked her head, studying him. “Have you ever been Redeemed?”

His expression became stony. “Redemption is for humans.”

“Redemption is for men. To make them safe. It just happens that the only men are human.”

Thinking of Osaze’s dread, she wondered again at the morality of it. Uncrossing her arms, she shifted her gaze from Damon’s face to his bronze chest.

“And one of them is my friend.”

“All humans should be controlled,” he replied nonchalantly, drawing nearer. “They have not the patience nor discipline to control themselves. And I am not human, yet I am male.”

She looked up at him, eyes narrowed. “I can see that. What are you? I’ve never seen an undine with golden eyes.”

He smiled knowingly. “Not human. But I could be your friend.”

That same feeling of security and warmth from their first encounter enveloped her, as though he were projecting it from himself intentionally. She frowned, wanting to accept it and shake off her heavy heart, but not daring to trust him yet.

“What do you want from me?”

“I want to help you.”

Damon came near enough to touch her but didn’t, pausing before her with his arms to the sides in a placating gesture.

She wrapped her arms around herself and glared into the blackness beyond him. “Yeah, well, you can’t. Not unless you can tell me how to control powers that could sink an island and heal the Heartstone without going Mad.”

“Little lark,” he said, amusement dripping from his voice like honey from a spoon, “that is exactly what I intend to do.”

Enter the giveaway

About the author
Talena Winters is addicted to stories, tea, chocolate, yarn, and silver linings. She writes page-turning fiction for teens and adults in multiple genres, coaches other writers, has written several award-winning songs, and designs knitting patterns under her label My Secret Wish. Master of the ironic GIF response. She currently resides on an acreage in the Peace Country of northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, three surviving boys, two dogs, and an assortment of farm cats. She would love to be a mermaid when she grows up.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Chatting with author Lisa Sukenic

I'm excited to have Lisa Sukenic, author of Miles from Motown, with me today. Her delightful historical middle-grade novel is written in verse and has such a pleasant cadence to it. Check out the peek between the pages and see for yourself! But first, let's get to know Lisa!

Tell us about the research you did before writing the book.

The research that I worked on was multifaceted. Although I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, I wanted to revisit the time period with historical accuracy, looking at the arts, music, pop culture and politics during that time period. Some of the resources I used included The Detroit Free Press Archive and visits to The Detroit Historical Society, and Hitsville USA (Motown).

Georgia’s idol and judge of the poetry contest in my novel was Gwendolyn Brooks. Living in Chicago, I researched the life and work of Gwendolyn Brooks. From 2017-2018 Chicago celebrated Gwendolyn Brooks’ 100th birthday and there were events at the University of Chicago Logan Center, The Poetry Center, and museums in Chicago.

What is your favorite genre and why?

My favorite genre to read is historical fiction and novel in verse so it is no surprise that this is the format that I chose for Miles from Motown. Historical fiction is important in order to learn about the past and to inform the future. As a teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, I use historical fiction to support my Social Studies and Language Arts curriculum.

I have loved the form of novel in verse for years before my book was published. I feel that verse novels allow the reader to get right into the emotional impact of the story. Since few words are used, the author needs to choose them wisely. I love the lyricism and rhythm of poetry as well as being able to play with poetic devices and form. As a teacher, the novel in verse can be more accessible for students who may have a harder time finishing a traditional book since there are less words per page. I have seen many students who did not consider themselves confident readers, but were excited about reading after finishing a verse novel.

Tell us something about how you became an author.

My interest in writing began with reading and writing poetry. I began writing early in college and was later fortunate to be surrounded by poets such as Diane Seuss, Elizabeth Kerlikowske, and John Rybicki who visited as guest poets to the school where I taught at in Kalamazoo, Michigan. My first poem was published in a small student/adult chapbook there. I moved to Chicago to work at The University of Chicago Lab Schools and enrolled in the Graham School of Professional Studies and received a poetry certificate. My writing life continued with many wonderful opportunities as I attended A Room of Her Own Retreat for many summers at the Georgia O’Keefe Ranch; initially writing poetry and eventually branched out to story writing. At Story Studio’s Novel in a Year programs I planted the seeds for Miles from Motown. Through the Society of Children Writers and Illustrators I was fortunate to learn from experienced authors and writers who would support my writer’s journey including my writing coach Esther Hershenhorn.

About the book

Author: Lisa Sukenic
Genre: Middle Grade Historical Novel in Verse


Twelve-year-old Georgia Johnson is sure she can win the “Spirit of Detroit Poetry Contest” judge by her idol, Gwendolyn Brooks. After moving from her beloved Detroit neighborhood to an unfamiliar suburb on the outskirts of the city, Georgia lies to prevent becoming disqualified from the contest (which is for Detroit residents only) by using her aunt Birdie’s address. With her older brother deployed to Vietnam, and her family-worried about when—or if—he’ll make it home, Georgia tries to settle into her new life. But she misses the old—her friend Ceci, the cracks in the sidewalk that used to catch her skates, and the hide—and—seek tree. She wonders if she’ll ever make new friends or fell like she belongs. To make matters worse, she must also find a way to intercept the contest finalist announcement that will be mailed to Aunt Birdie’s mailbox before her family uncovers her deception. During that summer, Georgia discovers her own resiliency in the face of upheaval and the power of truth when lies ring hollow.

Grab your copy!
Peek between the pages...

The Tree

Daddy has promised me trees.
I cross my fingers on my one hand,
Remember that two is bad luck,
like the time that I crossed twice when I
wanted to do a project with Ceci and
ended up with Wanda instead.

Mama pulls up to the curb and parks the car.
I look down.
The address painted on the curb 1020 Pennsylvania.

“Look, baby, our new house. Look.”
Mama’s hands is on my shoulder feeling
warm, but I don’t want to feel it.

My shoulders are still hunched with unhappy.
The oak tree from our old backyard
is in the front yard.
Daddy dug it up last week.
It seems to be barely planted, some roots
sticking up and leaves wilted.

It looks as uncomfortable as I feel.
I turn toward Mama, my eyes hard, like
marbles. “Transplants barely ever make it,”
I say under my breath.
Mama rolls the window down
and gathers up her purse
as Daddy comes to the door.
“You talk to her…I’m going in.”

Daddy slides into the front seat.
I decide to stay in the car.
I don’t plan on budging.
I sit in the car feeling like the tree.
It wants the dirt of home and I want it too.
I know the familiar house feeling I get when we park
on our street
or when we pull into the alley.
I can’t find my familiar.
I need a way to get back,
but right now I am stuck here, just like the tree.

About the Author:

Lisa Sukenic is a poet, author, and fourth-grade teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. Her fiction and poetry appears in Everyday Haiku and two Off Campus Writers Workshop anthologies. Miles from Motown placed first in the 2016 SCBWI-IL Prairie Writer’s Day Manuscript Contest and was a finalist in Fitzroy Books’ 2019 Kraken Book Prize. Miles from Motown was named a 2022 Michigan Notable Book for the Library of Michigan and was recently listed on the School Library Journal’s 21 Middle Grade and YA Novels in Verse for National Poetry Month.

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