Friday, September 28, 2012

Guest Blog post by Patricia Harman author of The Midwife of Hope River

Today's special feature is by a debut fiction author who is not new to writing, although all the "before" products have been non-fiction. 
It's always intrigued me about the difference between fact and fiction and Patricia's guest blog post is about just that. So sit back sip your coffee or tea and enjoy a story.

Memoirist to Novelist

       Book touring for my new novel, The Midwife of Hope River, (William Morrow) across the South and in the Midwest, I’m often asked what it was like to change from writing memoirs to writing my first novel.
       There are some unique challenges in writing a memoir, especially when you are a nurse-midwife or other health care provider.  You have to be so very careful to protect patient privacy.  In both my memoirs, The Blue Cotton Gown and Arms Wide Open: A Midwife’s Journey (Beacon Press), all my patients were deeply disguised.  They were also asked to read their own chapters to be sure they were ok. 
        “You are more important to me than my book,” I told them as we sat in the exam room.  “If you want me to change anything I wrote about you or if you don’t want to be in the book at all, I’ll take you out.”  Fortunately, not one patient said no.
       “If my story will help someone to not feel alone, I want it to be in there,” is what one woman said and I was touched.
        In writing the memoirs, I also had to weigh concerns that friends, family members or colleagues might disagree with my account of our mutual experiences.  This was a challenge at first, until my husband gave me encouragement to speak the truth as I saw it.  “It’s your story,” he told me.  “If they want to tell their story, they can write their own memoir.” 
         Writing a historical novel is quite different.  For one thing, you don’t have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings!  You don’t have to carefully disguise every character.  You are making them up!   For another, there is meticulous research to do, but that was fun and could mainly be done online or by reading books at home.  I also used photographs to get the feel of the period. 
       They say, “Write what you know,” and I began my book, The Midwife of Hope River, by thinking about that.  As a midwife, I knew about delivering babies.  I have performed home and hospital births for over 30 years.  I lived off the land much like a pioneer on rural communes for over a decade.  I was a political radical back in the 1970s when we protested the war in Vietnam.  I’ve even been in jail for peace protests. 
       Thus Patience Murphy was born, 36-year-old midwife living during the Great Depression on a broken down farm, not by choice, but necessity.  She’s a widow twice over, an ex-radical from Pittsburgh and also wanted by the law in two states!  (Now, for sure, you have to read the book!) 
       The story, told in the first person, opens on the day Wall Street crashed.  The midwife is sitting at the bedside of Katherine MacIntosh, the wife of a wealthy mine owner, writing in her new leather bound journal.  Maybe that’s why writing a novel about a midwife, as if it was her account, wasn’t that hard.  The Midwife of Hope River is a memoir, Patience Murphy’s memoir.   
      Once I started writing, Patience and the others of the Hope River Valley, Bitsy, her young black assistant, Mrs. Kelly, her benefactor and Daniel Hester, the local vet, took on a life of their own and the story unfolded like a movie behind my eyes. 
      The characters have now all become real to me and apparently to readers too.  More than once I’ve received the comment, “While reading The Midwife of Hope River, I forgot I was reading fiction, I began to feel that the people of the Hope River were real.”  In my mind they are.

Here is a trailer for the book  

Here are Patricia's other works

Buy the book here visit the author's website here

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review of new release Immortal Surrender & Interview w/author Claire Ashgrove

Here's the blurb from the book:
(Farran de Clare, loyal member of the cursed Knights Templar, wants nothing to do with predestined mates. Even the Almighty won’t turn him into a fool again—he’d rather sacrifice his soul. Yet in the scientist Noelle Keane, a devout atheist, Farran meets the seraph designed for him.
Ordered by the archangel Gabriel to protect Noelle, the possessor of a sacred relic that could give Azazel incredible power, Farran swears to do his duty—but in name only. Fighting an attraction that grows with each day, he’s determined that he’ll never pledge himself to her.
As they war over her future, their mutual passion ignites a conflict far more damning. But before Noelle will agree to eternity with him, she demands the ultimate sacrifice – his heart.)

 Interview with Claire Ashgrove

Immortal Surrender

It’s my pleasure to bring to the forum another favorite Claire Ashgrove, I first became aware of Claire’s work when I reviewed for Long & Short Reviews and only read her contemporary romance and believe me they were excellent novels.
Now she’s entered into a vastly popular genre of paranormal romance with her new The Curse of the Templars series and the novel coming out today is the second in this series.

Debbie - Claire welcome to the B&N forum, tell us a bit about the new series and the novel Immortal Surrender too.
Claire - Thanks for inviting me over, Debbie!  I’m really excited to be here.
Okay… where to start.  The Curse of the Templars is a dark paranormal romance series, based on the premise that the Templar Knights discovered a document written by Azazel.  For their forbidden digging they were cursed to spend eternity battling Azazel’s demons.  But with each death they claim, their souls absorb a portion of evil.  Eventually, they’ll turn into the nightmares that they fight.
Now, as the Templar struggle to survive, Azazel’s might grows, and if he obtains eight holy relics, he will have the power to overthrow the Almighty.  An ancient Templar prophecy declares the seraphs will return, female descendents of the Nephilim who will turn the tides of war.  But the power they possess to heal the knights’ dying souls makes them more than tools to victory, they are salvation.
Immortal Surrender continues the struggle over the relics and tells the story of Farran and his intended seraph, a devout atheist, Dr. Noelle Keane.  It’s really an emotional struggle, with both of them needing to grow and move beyond obstacles from their past.  Of course, the longer they delay, there’s the ever-present threat of Azazel looming over their heads. If they can’t find a common ground, the Templar will lose yet another relic, and Azazel’s power intensifies.

On your blog info page it says in your spare time you like studying ancient civilizations does that have anything to do with this series and where did this interest come from.
Oh, absolutely!  I am a huge Medieval fanatic.  And the Templar are simply fascinating.  I can’t really begin to pinpoint where my interest started, other than to point to a Western Civ class in college.  But long before I discovered European history, I was an American history buff.  Now that love has been replaced with older, more imposing civilizations.

Are there a certain number of novels planned in this series?
I have a target I’m striving for.  But I’m not committing to a precise number – you never know how things go!  I can say this concretely, whatever number we end up with, there will be an end to the series.  It is not designed to continue perpetually.

You write in several genres Claire do you have a favorite?
Gosh… no… not really.  The more I can plot and subplot, the happier I am as a general rule.  I really have to hold myself back sometimes or I’ll get way too epic.  So in that vein, right now the Templars and my other pen name, Tori St. Claire fulfill that passion.

Do you have a favorite work?
A Broken Christmas is probably one of my most favorite stories.  And Immortal Surrender runs a very close second – I’m not just saying that cause it came out today, either!  The heroes in both have a lot to overcome and both of them really get me in the gut.

Tell us how you felt when you sold your very first book, and how does the excitement of that release day compare to this one.
Laugh!  Truth?  I had mixed feelings about selling my first book.  It was still back before small press was readily embraced, and I did some serious ruminating on whether I wanted to go that route or not.  I wasn’t caught up in that release day – I don’t think my family and I even really celebrated. 
Conversely, about a month ago, when I started planning the blog tour and all the giveaways I’m doing on my blog for Immortal Surrender, I really, really, got excited.  I’m thrilled to be here, to be talking about the book, and to be celebrating with everyone for the next few weeks.  It’s really almost like the first book should have been!

Now writing isn’t your only passion, you also train Thoroughbred and Arabian Horses.
Tell us a little how that came to be.
Well, first – that’s presently on hold.  I still have the herd, but two children pre-empted a lot of that.  However, when I was a junior in high school I started taking riding lessons in exchange for chores at a local stable.  A couple months later, I had a horse of my own – who still lives in my front yard! – and from there I went nuts with jumping over everything that was solid.  Eventually, I discovered it was young horses I enjoyed the most, not finishing out a seasoned competitor.  And while I simply don’t teach people how to ride, I love teaching an uneducated horse.  It’s challenging and rewarding and… just exhilarating. 

Are you a reader, who are some of your favorite authors/genres?
 I read.  Lately not as much as I’d like to.   I used to be able to finish a book in a day.  Now?  I’ve been working on finishing a book I adore for the last two weeks.  I’m a fantasy reader foremost, though I actually prefer non-fiction to fiction.  R.A. Salvatore has been a long-time favorite, and more recently, Kevin J. Anderson.  Romance wise, I’ll always be a Johanna Lindsey fan; I drool over anything Meredith Duran.  Karin Tabke and Shayla Black are hugely inspiration to me – and I cried when Karin cover blurbed for me J  And on that note, Maggie Shayne also really inspires me.

If you could vacation anywhere in the world or out of it what would your dream vacation be?
Ireland.  Take me there and I’ll never come back.  Laugh!  Seriously… I don’t think about vacationing to Ireland.  I think about going to live there for extended periods of time.

I’m sure that your fans here would love to meet you in person, do you have any B&N events or signings planned
I’ve been trying to work that out.  It seems to hiccup every time.  But, I do announce my signings on my blog, and on my website.  And coming up relatively immediately, on the 29th and 30th of September, I’ll be at the Kansas City Ren Fest.  I’d love to see people there!

Claire thank you so much for taking the time from your schedule to chat with us and good luck with Immortal Surrender.
Thank you, again, Debbie!  This was fun!  And readers—do keep in touch! I love to hear from all of you.

My review of Immortal Surrender

Immortal Surrender
Claire Ashgrove
Tor Publishing
448 pages
The curse came when Farran de Clare and his brother knights of the Templar went against orders and discovered a forbidden scroll. For their act of disobedience they were given immortality to fight the evil demon Azazel and his minions. And with every kill of evil they made they would absorb some of that evil. But all is not lost; there is a prophecy that tells of the return of the seraphs that will redeem them.

Farran is not looking for redemption; he doesn’t believe he deserves it so when it knocks on his door in the form of an unbeliever he does everything in his power to deny it and her. But she’s in grave danger from the demon Azazel who wants the artifact she’s responsible for and it’s he who must protect her. But at what cost, his life, his immortality or his heart.
Dr. Noelle Keane is a firm unbeliever in a higher power; she’s relied on the science of fact for all of her life. When she and her bodyguard Farran are attacked she suddenly finds the black and white of her beliefs in question. When Farran tells of prophecies, demons and immortal knights she’s convinced he’s crazy until fiction becomes fact and she has a choice to make and the choice becomes more difficult the more she learns about this knight, his past and their future.
Farran and Noelle are one of the fated pairs of seraph and immortal knight and are stronger together but they each have their own reason to fight against divine promise and must make their own path and live with their choices. Will those choices save them or lead to their demise.

Claire Ashgrove has given me many hours of happy reading starting with her contemporary romance novels and now with her newest and fantastic series about the Templar Knights and the women who save them. It’s inventive, imaginative, epic and a fantastic mix of medieval fact and fiction encompassed by a beautiful romance complete with all the obstacles I’d expect from this doubting Thomas fated pair. Her hero and heroine fill the pages with their personalities and keep the pages turning with their antics and their deeds. The dialogue flows with a hint of the old amongst the common language of today and the narrative is fast paced, action filled and at times nail-biting terror along with the very tempestuous and sensual love scenes.
If you’ve never read Claire it’s time you did, if you’re looking for a new look in urban fantasy/paranormal or the Templar legend give this series a try. Even though this is novel two of a series it stands well on it’s own.
Claire thank you for this journey into myth and lore, I can’t wait to see where you take me on our next trip.

Buy the book here visit the author's website here

here are some of Claire's other novels

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Release Feature 9-18 Low Pressure plus Q&A with #1 NY Times bestselling author Sandra Brown

New Release Feature 9-18-2012 Low Pressure
Plus Q&A with #1NY Times bestselling author
Sandra Brown

Debbie - Sandra welcome to the B& General Fiction forum, excuse me while I pinch myself as you are one of my most beloved authors.
Sandra - Thank you!  My pleasure.  Thank you for inviting me to participate.

Please tell us about your new release Low Pressure
In a nutshell, an F5 tornado ravages Austin, TX, wreaking havoc, taking lives. . .and destroying a murder scene.   The victim was a sixteen-year-old girl.  Now, eighteen years later, her younger sister, Bellamy Price, has written a novel based on the crime and subsequent investigation.  The instant bestseller earns her thousands of fans.  But those who were involved in the case aren’t so happy with the book’s success and the hoopla surrounding it. . .especially not the murderer, who, thus far, has gotten away with it.

You started your writing career in 1981 after leaving a career in TV, had you thought about writing fiction before then.
I had thought about writing, but not too seriously.  I mean, at what point do you hang out your shingle and announce to the world that you’re a novelist?  It seemed unthinkably presumptuous.  But, in essence, that’s what I did.  On a challenge from my husband – “Are you going to keep talking about it, or are you going to do it? – I set up a typewriter (That’s how long ago it’s been!) and began writing down the daydreams I’d been entertaining for years.

I saw your episode of Court TV Murder by The Book where they featured the murder of Betty Gore in Wylie Texas, I can see why you were a successful anchor as you looked great and very comfortable in front of the camera. Why did you deicide to do this program and will there be another guest appearance on it.
I loved doing that!  I did another for “Hardcover Mysteries.”  Same producer, same crew, and it was an equally enjoyable experience.  They do a great job of visualizing the story.  Be it known that I’m available any time to do another show of that kind.  They continue to be re-run, so I believe there’s definitely a television audience there.

Your novel French Silk was made into a made for TV movie, how was the overall experience, were you pleased by the end result, did you play a role in the production.
The adaption of FRENCH SILK was a long time ago!  There have been two since then, SMOKE SCREEN on Lifetime, and RICOCHET on TNT.  When I optioned those books, I had to reconcile that a novel and a movie are two different things entirely.  Each book is mine, mine alone, pure Sandra Brown.  A movie is a collaborative effort.  Everyone involved brings to the project his/her own creative impulses and vision.  So it’s never going to be 100% as I imagined it.

You have received many awards in your career as an author is there one that means more than the others
I’ve treasured them all.  RWA honored me with their top award.  So did ThrillerWriters.  And my university gave me an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.   All left me feeling slightly lightheaded !  I still can’t get used to Dr. Brown, in reference to myself! 

Your novels are all so unique in characters, style and content I have to ask where do your ideas come from.
From anywhere,  everywhere, and nowhere.  That’s the most truthful way in which to answer that question.   With most books, I don’t know where the idea came from.  I don’t know the origin of the character who walks out of my subconscious and says, “Write about me.”  I think if I knew the answer to that, that’s what I’d sell.

Speaking of the difference in your novels I have to say that Rainwater is a perfect example and has remained one of my favorites even though it’s not your usual type of novel, will there be more novels set more historically, did Rainwater have a special reason behind it.
RAINWATER was a special book for me because it was loosely based on an event that occurred on my grandfather’s dairy farm in 1934, at the height of the Depression.  My daddy was six years old and witnessed an armed standoff between my grandfather and federal agents who had come to his dairy farm with an order that he pour his surplus milk into the ditch rather than distribute it among starving families.  (Destroying the surplus of commodities was part of the government’s economic program to create a demand.)  Grandpa refused to comply and stood his ground until the agents gave up and withdrew.  Naturally this made a lasting impression on my daddy. 
And the characters of Ella and Rainwater are examples of those who came out of my subconscious and insisted that I tell their story.  They didn’t leave me alone until I did.  

Sandra thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to give us a small glimpse into your life, I’m sure that the fans here at B&N would love to meet you in person, do you have any Barnes & Noble events or signings planned.
None are planned at this time, but fans should regularly check my website for scheduled appearances, articles, interviews, etc.  or
Thank You again Sandra and good luck with the new novel.

My Review of Low Pressure

Low Pressure
Sandra Brown
Grand Central Publishing
480 pages

Sandra Brown once again gives an award winning storytelling performance in her latest thriller Low Pressure. She took me on twists and nail biting turns as she weaves her tale, leaves puzzle pieces unaccounted for until the very last minute and gave me characters who were unforgettable, enigmatic and who’s villain is the stuff of nightmares. She uses dialogue that flows throughout the entire read and kept me eagerly turning pages. Her protagonist Bellamy is a complex woman who I had no choice but to feel for, while her slightly noir-ish Dent was stud worthy yet still of questionable character to keep me wondering of his guilt. The romance is as imperfect as her couple and worth every heart-stopping page.

Bellamy Price has never gotten over the murder of her sister eighteen years ago, the body was discovered in the rubble of a rare F5 Tornado that slammed into Austin Texas on that fateful Memorial Day, a day that Bellamy would love to forget if she could only remember. Hoping to help her memory lapses she’s written a crime novel under a pseudonym but thanks to the digging of a tabloid reporter her secret is out, the novel is a bestseller and Bellamy soon discovers she’s opened a lethal can of worms when she herself is the target of an unknown assailant. With her father on his deathbed she feels she must act now and her only recourse is to dig deeper into the case and the original people of interest in the murder, one being her sister Susan’s bad-boy boyfriend Dent Carter. She and Dent form an uncomfortable partnership as it becomes even more apparent that she is in real danger and her stalker is becoming violent. While they’re racing against a ticking clock they’re also discovering feelings for each other. Will they discover the truth, will they survive to find where those feelings will lead, will fact once again be stranger than fiction.
Buy the book here visit the author's website here

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review of Dakota Blues and guest blog post by author Lynne Spreen

 A few weeks ago I hosted a guest blog post by debut author Lynne Spreen and after reading and really enjoying her novel I wanted to share not only my review but revisit the blog post too.

Deb, thanks so much for asking me to write for the General Fiction Forum. I’m honored. I’d like to talk about the writing life, and also about my just-published novel.

Dakota Blues is about a middle-aged woman who thinks she's got the world figured out, and then it explodes and she has to discover not only what to do now, but who she IS now, at age fifty. Since all her carefully-constructed lifetime strategies didn't work, what now? Where might she go, what might she do, now that she's free to recreate her life? 
I love this theme of coming alive in midlife, but it wasn’t until I reached my own middle age that I discovered it.
Ever since I was an adolescent, I wanted to be a writer, but life interfered with that dream. Like most of you I had to work. In my twenties and thirties, I raised my son, climbed the career ladder and endured several divorces. All of this really interfered with writing!
When I reached my late forties, I was able to cut back to part time and start my novel, but I didn’t realize how much a person had to know to write a whole flippin’ book! It took me about ten years to write Dakota Blues because I learned while writing. Now that the book is published and people are saying nice things about it, I feel like I've graduated. 
About the time I started to write, the publishing industry began to change. New writers were told not to query an agent until we had a platform. By platform they meant thousands of ready customers for when your book was finally finished. We were told that we had to do all of our own selling and marketing because unless you were John Grisham no publisher would spend any money to publicize your book.
Most of us writers panicked. I was very discouraged. But I vowed to do what was necessary to launch my writing career, so I started platforming. I built my own website using Dreamweaver. I get a headache just remembering that! It wasn’t very good. Then somebody invented WordPress and things got easier. I started a couple of practice blogs but eventually figured out my niche.
I could be mad at the traditional publishing industry for kicking us new writers to the curb, but it’s not their fault. Everything is changing. Because I worked so hard to develop a platform, I discovered my passion: the idea that we are more powerful in the second half of our lives than we ever knew. I began to write about the strengths of old age, like not getting swept away by drama (because you've seen it all before), and having more resilience in the face of adversity.
            I began to write about this and other benefits of maturity in my blog,, and the response has been tremendous. It seems I'm not the only one celebrating the glory of being older. Of course that means you have to shout back at the commercials featuring 17-year-olds demonstrating the latest anti-aging products! Or magazines that run articles about how not to look old, because old is bad and young is good, right?
            Well, old is good in some ways. If I were a lamp, I'd be a priceless antique!
            But back to platforming. In her book, Get Known Before the Book Deal, Christina Katz proposed we figure out what we love and then write, speak, blog, and tweet about it. She said a book is only one form of media, but the idea is the big deal. What is your passion, the thing about which you must speak? It was a moment of awakening for me, because like most writers, I thought it was all about the book. It isn't about the book. It's about what you believe in.
            I wrote Dakota Blues because I'm obsessed by the idea that we create our own prisons. Some men, but particularly women do this. We sleepwalk through our lives, not realizing that were basically throwing away a great gift. We have more freedom than we can imagine. Roll the world off your shoulders. Create a new life for yourself. Walk away feeling light. This is the message of my writing – the good news about the second half of life.
            My next book is a collection of short stories about that very thing. It’ll be called, “The New Country – Stories of Midlife and Beyond.” I hope to have it out just before Christmas. After that, a novel about a smug CEO who retires to an affluent, age-restricted community, thinking she’s going to enjoy her leisure time, only to receive a surprise package – an infant to raise, courtesy of her estranged and newly imprisoned daughter. The working title is, Golden Years, My Ass. But I’ll probably have to change that.
            Deb, thanks again for inviting me to blog for the General Fiction forum. I hope we’ll get lots of questions and comments.

My Review of Dakota Blues

Dakota Blues
Lynne Spreen
306 pages
While attending her mother’s funeral in her North Dakota childhood hometown 50 year old Karen Grace is facing some interminable changes in her otherwise carefully mapped out life, her marriage is falling apart and her highly stressful job of many years is in question, when she misses her flight home she decides to take a small break and get to know the family that remains and the friends she left behind. This impromptu visit causes a domino effect of actions and reactions in Karen’s life so when the opportunity for an adventure arises Karen decides to go for it. Thus begins a journey that will have ups and downs, joys and danger and one that under normal circumstances Karen would never have taken. But at the end of this endeavor will she have learned anything or will she continue on the same safe path as before.
I would have not thought it possible for a 50 year old woman to star in a coming of age novel, but thanks to debut author Lynne Spreen that’s exactly what Dakota Blues is. And among re-learning attitudes and readjusting approaches she gave me a delightful look into what one woman does to re-invent herself at the age where most of us “of a certain age” are just settling into the more comfortable second half of our existences. She tells her story with uncomplicated, straightforward dialogue that flows effortlessly with characters who are enigmatic, eclectic and interesting and from one 50 something to another I saw much of myself in her protagonist Karen and I wonder if given the same situation I would be as courageous as she was, but then they say that fact is stranger than fiction so maybe I would.
Thank you Lynne for the gift of the novel, the gift of your time on my B&N forum and this very precious gift of your story.
Buy the book here visit the author's website here

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New Release Feature Reduced plus Q&A w/author Robin Tidwell

Q&A with Robin Tidwell
author of Reduced

Today we have a very special guest author talking about her debut novel Reduced, it’s
my pleasure to introduce my stepsister Robin Tidwell.

Robin welcome to the B& General Fiction forum.

Debbie - Tell us a little about the novel
Robin - REDUCED is a story about what-ifs. What if the government continues on its present course? And what if that were amplified to the extreme? And what if one young woman was caught up in that turmoil and what if she refused to give up?
That’s it, in a nutshell. The human side of destruction and disease, relationships, and survival along with, of course, good versus evil.

Why apocalyptic fiction
I’m not entirely sure! I had this dream, of one of the scenes near the beginning of REDUCED, and I thought, sure, this could be a book. How to develop it was the question but, when Abby began to develop and evolve, the story just wrote itself. I certainly never sat down and said, “Okay, today I’m going to write…dystopian fiction! Yeah, that’s it!” Nope, it just happened.

This is your first novel but it’s not your first effort as a professional writer, could you tell us what got you started writing and what made you consider writing a novel.
When I was little, as in 3-4 years old, I was always scribbling “stories.” Then, about four decades ago if anyone’s counting, my grandmother told me she’d take me to see to Gone with the Wind – AFTER I read the book! I was eight years old. I read it, and I was hooked. I wanted to be Margaret Mitchell – well, and Scarlett!
So, in spite of dabbling in non-fiction – I’m published online and in print – I finally got around to the first book. And it totally is NOT the “great American novel” I had envisioned! Although that one has been started too.

Are you a reader, which genres and authors do you like
Oh yes! I read everything, and more than once. I like mysteries, and spy stories. And horror – and apocalyptic fiction, of course. I suppose all those King, Koontz, and Saul books I’ve read over the years have had more influence than I realized!

Do you belong to a writer’s group
why or why not
Yes, I do. Our bookstore, All on the Same Page, has a monthly writers’ seminar. There are usually 4-5 of us, talking, reading, giving advice and encouragement. We have a lot of fun. It actually started out early this year as a seminar for new writers, but evolved into more of a casual thing. We meet on the second Wednesday of each month at 6:00 p.m., and anyone is welcome.

What are you working on now
Right now, mostly promotion and marketing for REDUCED, plus events and things for the bookstore. But, yes, there is a sequel: REUSED. I’m hoping to have it finished and ready for publication by the end of the year.

Let’s leave writing behind for a while and tell us what would your dream vacation be
I really don’t care for traveling, that is, the actual travel part, so my dream vacation would start with being teleported – to Aruba. And of course, arriving with all my parts intact and attached in the right places!

Are you planning any more events or signings for your novel.
Oh yes! I’ll be signing in December at our store, and we’re having an authors’ party on October 6 there as well. I’ve been in touch with several local indie stores and of course, am hoping to appear at some local B&Ns. I’ve a number of interviews scheduled over the coming weeks as well.

Robin thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions and good luck with your novel.

Visit Robin on her website here buy the book here visit her bookstore's website here

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


On a day much like this one the day started like any other for New Yorkers and for the rest of the citizens of the United States and the world, it was in fact a Tuesday too. In just a moment the country went from calm to shocked, from peace to terror and at the end of that fateful day we lost so much more than two buildings and nearly three thousand lives we lost our innocence and perhaps our arrogance as well. In the aftermath of the attacks the country became united never mind what party you voted for, where you went to pray or what color your skin was, we were all Americans and we all mourned for our lost brethren and our loss of sanctuary.
But it didn’t end that day, it had just begun. Our men in uniform are continuing the fight against terror and we’re loosing our precious sons, daughters, wives, husbands, sisters and brothers in numbers that are always too many if the number is one, we’re also loosing in too great a number those selfless first responders and volunteers that are falling victim to illnesses in these years following the clean up of ground zero.
On this the eleventh anniversary let’s take a moment to reflect to remember but also to look forward, see not only evil around you but the beauty of cities, farmlands, mountains and oceans and of the hopeful faces of our sisters and brothers of not only fellow Americans but our family of the human race. Take a moment to do one act of kindness, say one kind word, do one kind deed, lend a hand, give a hug or just listen to someone in need.
We should never forget what brought us to this anniversary, but we should not let it makes us victims either, it should not dictate how we live or how we love. That is in our own hearts, it’s what makes us who we are, who we could be and who we want to be.

Here is the original poem written by Katherine Lee Bates an English professor at Wellesley College in 1893.
O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!
O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife,
When once or twice, for man's avail,
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain,
The banner of the free!
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Review of Off The Grid by PJ Tracy

Off The Grid
P. J. Tracy
G. P. Putnam’s Sons
320 pages

In total uncharacteristic style Monkeewrench partner Grace McBride traded in her usual armor of boots, black and guns for attire more appropriate for sailing off the Florida Keys where she ended up after solving a case and taking former FBI agent John Smith up on his offer. But just when she’s feeling safe danger appears in the form of assassins targeting John.
About the same time back in Minneapolis homicide detectives Magozzi and Rolseth are investigating the murder of a Native American girl who was kidnapped from the reservation, which leads to rescue of the other girls kidnapped with her who are found hidden in the house where a double murder has been committed, soon after another blood bath occurs which has the cops scrambling and the FBI not far behind.
With John Smith “Off The Grid” and Grace back at the Monkeewrench headquarters leading the charge to find out what’s going on, things are back to normal after her months at sea, back with her associates and her conflicting relationship with Leo Magozzi. The  investigation is telling them that these incidents are related and there’s a much bigger threat on the horizon and the connecting dots are all leading back to John Smith, which puts the Monkeewrench team smack dab in the middle of the bulls eye.
The mother/daughter writing team that makes P.J. Tracy produces one of the most exciting, entertaining and terrifying series of crime drama out there and this is one of their best. This novel deals with real threats we’re under today and they’ve dealt with it in their usual irreverent style. Their dialogue is fast paced, nail biting action that took my heartbeat from zero to sixty that’s a mix of intense drama and humor. Their starring characters of Monkeewrench are a group of misfits that made a family from tragedy that always win my heart, along with the cop duo of Magozzi and Rolseth that are a fitting tribute to all they represent. Their villains are some of the most terrifying and degraded I’ve ever read.
So if you’re looking for an exceptional crime drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat this should be your next must read.
P.J. Tracy thank you for this incredible journey and I can’t wait for the next one.
Buy the book here visit the author(s) website here

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New Release Feature Hemingway's Girl plus Q&A w/author Erika Robuck

Q&A with Erika Robuck
New Release Feature 9-4-2012

Erika thank you for visiting with me and the members of the B&N General Fiction Forum

Debbie - First tell us a little about your new novel Hemingway’s Girl.
Erika - Hemingway’s Girl is the story of a half-Cuban young woman living in Key West in 1935 who secures a job as a housekeeper for Ernest Hemingway and his family, and becomes more involved in his personal life than she could have anticipated. As the writer’s second marriage begins to crumble, she finds herself torn between the larger than life writer and a WWI veteran and boxer building the Overseas Highway.

This is your second novel, tell us how you felt when you sold your first book.
I actually self-published my first novel, Receive Me Falling. During the querying process for that novel, many of my friends in book clubs wanted to read it. I decided to self-publish, knowing I could continue to query agents since I owned the rights to the book. Thirty book clubs later, that novel is still going strong.
When I did get an agent and a publisher for Hemingway’s Girl, however, I was overwhelmed with joy. I still get a thrill when I see email messages from my agent and editor. Traditional publishing was always my goal, and I’m honored and grateful to be where I am today.

Tell us about how you came to be an author, did you always want to write, how did it happen?
I’ve written as long as I can remember. I started with plays, poetry, and songs. In middle and high school I wrote two terrible novels and even more terrible diaries. I minored in literature in college and taught elementary school until I had my first son a decade ago. While staying home with my son I was finally able to use my free time (naptimes and bedtimes) to work on novels. I’ve been committed to the form ever since.

So far both your books are historical in nature, are you planning to always write historical novels?
I have always been drawn to the past in art, architecture, music, and literature, and I anticipate that I will always write historical fiction. I’ve been thinking about a memoir, but even that will utilize the history of Ireland. I’ve always felt a deep connection to the past, and find it both relevant to the present and important for inspiring empathy in readers.

Are you a reader, fiction or non-fiction, who are some of your favorite authors?
I love to read anything and everything, but especially historical novels. The research phase of writing is one of my favorites because I get to immerse myself in nonfiction like biographies, autobiographies, letters, and other writings on or from the past.
A. S. Byatt, Toni Morrison, Tracy Chevalier, Ian McEwan, Susan Vreeland, and Margaret Atwood are some of my favorite contemporary writers. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, and the Brontes haunt me.

Do you belong to a writers group?
I do, and I don’t know how I would exist without them. First, I have two critique partners on opposite ends of the globe. Kelly McMullen lives on the west coast and writes narrative nonfiction and poetry in the style of Kerouac and DiPrima. In Prague, Jennifer Lyn King writes multi-period upmarket fiction. I exchange work with these women once a month and conference afterward by phone or Skype. I am deeply connected to them, and my work is better because of our exchanges.
I also belong to a writer “support” group of sorts called Book Pregnant. We are authors publishing in 2012 and 2013 who share the joys and heartbreaks of the journey, offer advice to each other, or just give a listening ear when one of us needs it. I am grateful for the camaraderie. 

Tell us about a normal day in the life of Erika Robuck.
This question made me smile. It’s hard to describe a normal day with three sons ranging from ages four to ten, a husband, a dog, piano lessons, hockey practice, soccer practice, and on and on.
Generally, mornings have various boys in school and others out, and trips to the park, library, grandparents’ houses, and the Annapolis city dock. Afternoons mean naptimes, coffee, and work time for me. Evenings hold homework, sports, music, dinner, and chaos.
The night waits, smiling, with decaf, darkness, classical music, and time to shape words and worlds.

You have many events planned for your release and your launch as well as others are at Barnes & Noble Bookstores-I hope you meet many fans who read about you here and good luck with the novel.
Thank you so much. It was my pleasure!
Here’s the launch information
Friday September 7th 7:00pm
Barnes & Noble
2516 Solomon’s Island Road
Annapolis, MD 21401
For a complete list of Erika’s events and signings click here buy the book here

My review of Hemingway's Girl

Hemingway’s Girl
Erika Robuck
Erika Robuck gave me a fly on the wall look not only into the great novelist Ernest Hemingway’s  personal life in Key West, but the relationships he made and broke, the ruined economy of post WWI Key West and the multi-cultural  residents who populated the area. With simple easy to read dialogue she painted a real picture of the area, the time and it’s people that was both informative and imaginative. Her protagonist Mariella Bennet was a fascinating specimen of fortitude, attitude and humility and she will long be remembered in this reader’s mind and along with her multitude of wonderful eclectic characters made this novel a definite keeper as she educated and entertained me. It’s a hard to put down read so make sure your chores are finished before you pick this one up. Know that this journey was more than worth it’s time and I’m anxious for the next place this incredible storyteller wants to take me.

It’s 1961 Key West Florida and after a day of deep sea fishing with her son Mariella learns of Papa Hemingway’s death. The news sends her back in time to 1930s Key West where the living was anything but easy, where left over depression still lingered in the Keys, in the shanty homes and the gaunt hopeless faces of it’s residents, to the year she met Papa, where only months before her own father had died. She was almost 20 the first time she met him, bigger than life and full of himself and he left an impression that never would or could die. She remembers that tumultuous year of her life and the role Hemingway and others played in it, she remembers falling in love, she remembers joy and sadness. She remembers the best and worst of times, she remembers just what Papa meant to her and she to him.

Photo by Catherine Pelura of KC Photography