Interview: Pam Kirst, winner of the EFC Short Story Contest

We are pleased to have Pam Kirst on the blog today. She is the winner of the first EFC Short Story Contest. We loved her story, “Estate Sale.”

You can read it here.

 

efcinterviewHow did you come up with “Estate Sale?” A very dear friend’s elderly parents are moving from a huge house to a much smaller apartment, and they are struggling with issues of downsizing.  Witnessing that brought back how challenging it was for my brothers and me when we had to close up our parents’ apartment after my dad’s death.  Maybe writing the story was wish fulfillment—I remember thinking, as I watched people toting items from their apartment, “Boy, I hope you treasure that!” Part of me wanted to do what Mindie did–buy some precious things back.

According to your bio, you are a freelance writer, a middle manager for a college, and a former English department faculty member. Which job is your favorite—freelance writing, teaching, or management? Not to sound like Pollyanna, but I have loved each stage.  Teaching was my passion for over 25 years.  My current position allows me to support instructors and help them grow as teachers; I moved into that role at just the right time in my career. I’ve always freelanced, but sporadically, as a stringer for local papers, as a contributor to the New York State Encyclopedia, collaborating on custom textbooks, doing articles for education magazines, etc.  This year, one of my goals was to develop a writing practice.  I have two blogs . . . a book blog and a kind of creative/reflective blog.  I post every Wednesday and Saturday.  The discipline has been great, I feel like I’m moving forward, and I really love the creativity and challenge.

What types of pieces do you write as a freelancer? As a columnist and contributor to local papers, I wrote mostly personal interest features. I love digging into local history and writing about the fascinating and unique people and facets that give a place its character. I just finished a year as a community member of our local paper’s editorial board; that gave me the opportunity to write op-ed pieces. I love reviewing books.

I am fascinated by creative non-fiction; I love the shape and discipline of a well-structured personal essay.  And I find, as I work on my blog, that fiction keeps pushing forward, too.

What was your favorite class to teach? Why? I really enjoyed teaching English composition—I think a good comp teacher can shape a student’s attitude toward writing in college.  How satisfying is that???

Why do you enjoy reading and writing? I wrote an essay called “Reader Girls” not long ago, about girls who have a passion for reading.  (I suspect that you and your colleagues at EFC all fall snugly into this category.)  I think I was writing to figure out why it is that some girls plunge passionately into books, have to have a book going at all times.  Here’s a line from that essay: But the urge to open that door and plunge into that other world still throbs. That’s what reading and writing are for me: passports into other worlds.

What is your favorite genre to read? I think I’m in a transition time.  I have always loved well-written contemporary novels, but lately I find myself drawn more and more to honest, well-written memoirs.

Who is your favorite author? This is a really, really difficult question, but I would have to say Laura Z. Hobson, who, sadly, is not very well-known anymore, is at the top of my list. She wrote some incredibly brave, ground-breaking work—her Gentlemen’s Agreement attacked the issue of hidden anti-Semitism in the US after WWII. Against all odds, it became a bestseller and was made into an award-wining movie.  I love her autobiographical novel First Papers, too.  She was just a wonderful writer.

In your opinion, what is one book that everyone should read? Ouch.  This is another tough question!  On a very practical level, though, I think Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin’s Your Money or Your Life should be required reading for everyone.  It challenges us to examine our relationship with money. I’ve found that being mindful and intentional about money can change one’s whole trajectory!

 

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Pam KirstPamela Ann Kirst’s route to Zanesville was via a grand family adventure.  Because her husband, Mark Zanghi, had dreamed all of his life of becoming a lawyer, he, Pam, and their sons decided in the early 2000s it was time to make the dream come true.  Mark attended Ohio Northern University Claude W. Pettit School of Law, graduating with his juris doctor degree in 2003.

Mark, Pam, and Jim fell in love with the state of Ohio, and scrapped their original plan to return to western New York.  Mark accepted a job as a public defender in Knox County, Pam began to teach as an adjunct at Muskingum Area Technical College (MATC) and other colleges, and the family settled in.  Pam became a full time instructor as MATC morphed into Zane State College; three years ago, she accepted a position as Coordinator of Adjunct Services there.  In 2012, the family moved to Zanesville.

During the Great Law School Adventure, Pam worked in different roles, but she continued a labor of love she’d begun in western New York: writing for her local paper.  Throughout the ONU years, Pam wrote for the Ada Herald and was a regular columnist for the Lima News. Recently, she completed a year as a community member of Zanesville’s Times-Recorder’s editorial board. She believes in the power of the local paper, and she knows the need for a forum for local news and local thought will never be defunct.

Pam is a graduate of SUNY College at Fredonia, New York, with bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English Literature, and additional graduate work in education and administration.  She has a stepson, Matthew, who lives with his family in Jamestown, New York.  Her 24-year-old son James is a film aficionado who has Asperger’s Syndrome.

Mark has settled into his position as assistant prosecutor for Licking County, and he, Pam, and Jim, celebrate Zanesville, OH, as their new home town.

Pam has two blogs.  At Shelved, she writes about working her way through all the books waiting on her shelves to be read: pamkirst2014.wordpress.com.

Her creative/reflective blog is at pamkirstblog.wordpress.com.

She is on Twitter at @KirstPam.

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Spotlight: Feast For Thieves by Marcus Brotherton (interview, giveaway)

Feast For ThievesFeast For Thieves (A Rowdy Slater Novel)
written by Marcus Brotherton
published by River North

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: Sergeant Rowdy Slater is the most skilled-and most incorrigible-soldier in Dog Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne, an elite group of paratroopers fighting for the world’s freedom in World War II.

Through a bizarre set of circumstances, Rowdy returns to the States after the war, turns his life around, and falls into the only job he can find-preacher at the sparsely populated community church in Cut Eye, Texas, a dusty highway town situated at the midpoint of nowhere and emptiness.

The town’s lawman, suspicious that Rowdy has changed his ways only as a cover up, gives an ultimatum: Rowdy must survive one complete year as Cut Eye’s new minister or end up in jail.

At first Rowdy thinks the job will be easy, particularly because he’s taking over for a young female missionary who’s held the church together while the men were at war. But when a dark-hearted acquaintance from Rowdy’s past shows up with a plan to make some quick cash, Rowdy becomes ensnared due to an irrevocable favor, and life turns decidedly difficult.

Rowdy’s a man used to solving problems one of two ways: with his rifle or with his fists. Will he be able to thwart his old friend’s evil schemes while remaining true to his new higher calling?

This is a wild ride of a book bursting with a bank robbery, kidnapping, desperate prayers, and barroom brawls. Before the smoke clears, all sides just might end up getting exactly what they want.efcinterview

Marcus, you just released your debut novel, Feast for Thieves. Tell us about it. The book starts off with a bang, and the action continues nonstop. It’s the story of a paradoxical hooligan named Rowdy Slater, told in first person through his eyes.

He’s an elite incorrigible paratrooper from WWII who comes home to Texas, changes his life around, and through a bizarre set of circumstances is forced to become a preacher for one year in a small town called Cut Eye.

So, where did you get the idea for the book? My inspiration came from a real life paratrooper from WWII named Wayne “Skinny” Sisk. Sisk was highly skilled but incorrigible. After the war, Skinny turned his life around, and eventually became a preacher. He died in 1999 in West Virginia.

None of the specifics of Sisk’s life were used in this novel. Yet that big idea sat in my mind a long time. An elite incorrigible paratrooper becomes a minister. Here’s a man used to solving problems with a rifle or his fists …

What sort of wild-hearted minister might such a man make?

With all the barroom brawls, flying fists, and other crazy antics, it’s seems like the kind of story that would appeal primarily to men. But you’re getting a lot of positive feedback from women. Absolutely. Women love the book too. The characters are rich, and there’s a strong romantic plotline running through the book.

Reverend Rowdy Slater would be hard-pressed to admit it, but he’s falling in love with Bobbie Barker, the church’s willowy missionary who held the church together while the men were at war. She’s smart and funny and has a penchant for quoting horrible poetry.

Rowdy needs to stick close to her, because she’ll turn out to be exactly what he needs in the end.

Rowdy makes a lot of crazy decisions but somehow, readers can’t help loving him. Why do you think his character appeals so much to readers and what do you hope they learn from him? Rowdy’s a lovable scoundrel, through and through. He’s tough yet tender, wayward yet upright. Rowdy understands what it means to be broken, to have a past life that’s full of mistakes. He enters his new job with a humility for the frailty of humanity. He’s compassionate for the underdog, for the person who’s made desperate choices.

Overall, this is a book about a soldier coming home from a war and the journey he takes in his soul toward change. Rowdy encounters this gift from Providence, this feast of undeserved favor, and is invited to come and dine.

The story contains layers of meaning. It makes you think and feel and contemplate life. You could read it once, set it aside for a year and then read it again, and see new nuances in the narrative.

You’ve written more than 25 books, including a New York Times bestseller, but this is your first novel. What motivated you to give fiction a try? Fiction offered me a big blank canvas that allowed me to be as creative as I could be. With a novel, I found I needed to bring alive everything. The characters. The story. The world they live in. The conflicts and challenges that arise. How the characters overcome those obstacles. How everything resolves satisfyingly at the end.

What’s next for you? Rowdy’s world is populated with a wild mix of ex-military men, women of ill repute, jail house bandits, guys who like to fight, cranky church secretaries, orphans, sheriffs, nearly-dead store owners, beautiful smart women who can handle rifles, and good cooks.

There’s plenty of potential to keep Rowdy going and turn it into a series.

About the author: Marcus Brotherton is a journalist and professional writer known internationally for his books and literary collaborations with high-profile public figures, humanitarians, inspirational leaders, and military personnel. He has authored or coauthored more than 25 books, including the New York Times bestseller, We Who Are Alive and Remain.

Find Mr. Brotherton here: web, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

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Blog Tour: Wild Iris Ridge by RaeAnne Thayne (spotlight, interview, giveaway)

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Wild Iris Ridge CoverWild Iris Ridge
written by RaeAnne Thayne
published by Harlequin HQN

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: A big-city, high-powered advertising executive and a small-town firefighter learn that no matter where you started or what you’ve lost, if you open your heart, you can find joy and love again. WILD IRIS RIDGE is the latest book in USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne’s charming Hope’s Crossing series.

Lucy Drake and Brendan Caine have only one thing in common.And it’s likely to tear them apart. Because it was Brendan’s late wife, Jessie—and Lucy’s best friend—who’d brought them together in the first place. And since Jesse’s passing, Brendan’s been distracted by his two little ones…and the memory of an explosive kiss with Lucy years before his marriage. Still, he’ll steer clear of her. She’s always been trouble with a capital T.

Lucy couldn’t wait to shed her small-town roots for the big city. But now that she’s back in Hope’s Crossing to take care of the Queen Anne home her late aunt has left her, she figures seeing Brendan Caine again is no big deal. After all, she’d managed to resist the handsome fire chief once before, but clearly the embers of their attraction are still smoldering…

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Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Wild Iris Ridge is a heartwarming story about community and family and two lost souls finding each other after being separated by their choices and circumstances.
Why did you decide to write Wild Iris RidgeI almost finished the Hope’s Crossing series with Christmas in Snowflake Canyon, my December 2013 book, but I had many loose ends I hadn’t yet tied off so persuaded my publisher to let me write one more book. Brendan Caine, the hero of Wild Iris Ridge,was a character I felt great sympathy for when I introduced him in previous books and I couldn’t wait to give him a happy ending.
What was your favorite part about being a reporter with your local newspaper? I loved interviewing sources. I discovered everyone has a story, if you only take a moment to ask them about it
With 40 books under your belt, do you have any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? I always have new ideas spinning around. Right now I’m working on the second book in my new series, Haven Point. The first book, SNOW ANGEL COVE, comes out in November. The book I’m working on (tentatively called REDEMPTION BAY) will be a July 2015 release and I’m having so much fun coming up with the story and characters. I love this “discovery” part of the writing process, when all the possibilities are open to me.
Why do you enjoy reading and writing? It’s part of me, part of who I am. I’ve always been an avid reader, from the time I was a young girl reading everything from cereal boxes to our family’s encyclopedia collection. Writing was a natural offshoot of that. The ability to be a storyteller for a living feels like an amazing gift, one I never take for granted.
What is your favorite genre to read? I read a wide variety of genres. My favorite has always been romance novels. I love Regency historicals, in particular.
Who is your favorite author? Oooh. Too many to put it down to only one. I’m discovering new authors all the time. I would say my top five right now are Mary Balogh, Kristan Higgins, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jane Austen, and J.K. Rowling. How’s that for an eclectic mix?!
In your opinion, what is one book that everyone should read? I can’t pick just one (other than Scriptures. Is that a cop-out?!). I just wish everyone found as much joy through books as I do.
What did you want to be when you grew up? So many things. At one point, I wanted to be an actress on Broadway. I also wanted to be a teacher or an attorney. After I took a journalism class in high school, I realized how much I loved telling stories, which pushed away all my other dreams.
What did you end up being? I have dual undergraduate degrees, one in journalism and one in liberal studies. I spent ten years as a newspaper reporter and editor, writing romance novels on the side for about five of those. The week we had our second child I sold my fifth book and quit the newspaper business to be a full-time mom and writer. Both of them were the best possible job choices for me.
Tell us three things about yourself that cannot be found on the internet … at least not found easily.
  1. I love to travel and was once caught in a flash flood in Marrakech.
  2. I am not a great cook but do have a fabulous recipe for Sunday roast.
  3. I am happiest when I am surrounded by my family.

 

Best-selling author RaeAnne ThayneAbout the author: USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words. This led her to a fifteen-year career in journalismas a newspaper reporter and editor. But through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best, romance, and has since published more than 40 titles. RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains, where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website, RaeAnneThayne.com.

Find Ms. Thayne here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

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Spotlight: Defective by Susan Sofayov (interview, giveaway)

Defective by Susan SofayovDefective
written by Susan Sofayov
published by Black Opal Books

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Book Depository, Goodreads

Belinda reviewed Defective and gave it 5 stars!! Check out her review here.

About the book – from Goodreads: University of Pittsburgh law student, Maggie Hovis, battles an enemy she cannot escape-her own brain. Her family calls her a drama queen. Her fiance, Sam, moves out after she throws a shoe at his head. Maggie knows there is only one way to get him back-control her moods. So she takes the step most of her family is against: therapy. After a diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder, Maggie begins to investigate her family tree-which is plagued by mental illness and hidden relatives-and develops empathy for her deceased Great Aunt Ella, who lived her life in a mental institution. But Maggie’s journey leads her into fear and insecurity, afraid she’ll end up like Ella and never get Sam back. But what about Nick, her super-sexy old flame, who wants to reignite their passion? And does it even matter, anyway? Won’t mental illness stop any man from loving her?efcinterview

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. It is for anyone who has ever wondered what they really wanted in life, and if they’d be able to overcome the obstacles in front of them, no matter how steep.

Why did you decide to write Defective? I decided to write the book for two reasons. I wanted to give normal people a glimpse into a mentally ill mind. And I wanted to make readers understand that mental illness is not always the drama we see on TV. There is a spectrum of mental illness, and there are people who suffer to an extreme degree. But there are also many people like me—regular people with regular lives. We just face an additional obstacle.

Your bio makes me laugh. Being from Pittsburgh, I agree that Pittsburgh is scenic. I love the skyline. But tropical? Why do you say that? I regret writing that. When my Editor asked for my bio, it was the dead of winter—cold, dark at 4:30. I think I was dreaming of being in the Caribbean. It was just me being sarcastic. But, Pittsburgh is very beautiful, just replace palm trees with oak trees.

Tell us about your fear of punctuation. And how do you feel about the Oxford comma? I’m a fan. Hold on a minute, I have to look up “Oxford comma.” I looked it up on Wikipedia. Since I tend to be a bit of a middle-of-the-road person, I use it on some pages and not on others. But, seriously, punctuation terrifies me. I spend more time worrying about commas than plot. My fear goes back to my seventh-grade English teacher—Mrs. Davis. She terrified me and instilled in me an awful fear of grammar and punctuation.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? I have two in the works. One is just about ready. The first draft of a women’s fiction novel is complete, but I am rethinking some plot points right now. I don’t mean to sound like a downer, but my only brother passed away about eight weeks before Defective was released. Since then, it has been a struggle to focus, but I am trying.

Why do you enjoy reading and writing? My answer to this question has changed over the last five years. When I was a kid, my mother used to yell at me to put down the book and go outside and play. When I took up writing, my reading appetite slowed. I think it’s because I have to allocate my free time and writing takes precedence now. Why do I love to write? As I have stated, I took an online writing class to beat the winter blues. Before that, each winter, my mom and I would build jigsaw puzzles. My husband thinks it’s ridiculous to rip apart something that required so much time to complete. Writing isn’t much different than jigsaw puzzles. It’s all about putting the pieces together—that is without having glued together jigsaw puzzles hanging from my walls.

What is your favorite genre to read? I go through periods. Like the rest of the planet, I’ve been into YA for a few years. I’ve always liked contemporary fiction and spent a few years reading spy novels. I’ve never been into Science Fiction or Fantasy, yet I am working on a YA fantasy.

Who is your favorite author? Tough questions. I’m not sure I can answer this. It has changed a lot over the years. 

In your opinion, what is one book that everyone should read? I can’t speak for everyone. Two of my favorites are James Michener’s The Drifters and The Source. I think A Thousand Splendid Suns gives the reader an important view into the lives of women not just in Afghanistan, but in the Muslim world.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Taller. Actually, if I was still in college, I would be changing my major monthly.

Tell us three things about yourself that cannot be found on the Internet . . . at least not found easily. 

  1. My husband is an Israeli, and we spent the first two years of our marriage in Tel Aviv. My daughter was born there.
  2. I really hate shopping for anything that is not groceries.
  3. When my husband and I got together it was like a scene from Big Fat Greek Wedding. When I brought him home to meet my family, our first dinner consisted of me, him, my mother and my brother. When I met his family, it was his parents, six of his seven siblings and their children.  Pandemonium—Israelis are loud.

Susan SofayovAbout the author: Susan Sofayov lives in scenic, tropical Pittsburgh, PA with her husband, a tenth grade son, and the most hated dog in the neighborhood.   She is the mother of two college students and lives for the weekends they come home, and the whole family is together.

She is a former vice president of child care for a large non-profit organization.  Currently, she partners with her husband to run their real estate development/management company.  She has a BA in English Literature and Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh and an MA in Teaching from Chatham University.

Find Ms. Sofayov here: web, Goodreads

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Blog Tour: Aqua Alaskan Nights by Amanda S. Jones (spotlight, interview, excerpt, giveaway)

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Aqua Alaskan Nightsaqua-alaskan-nights-225x300
written by Amanda S. Jones
published by Blue Moon Publishers

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Goodreads

About the book: After losing her job, Hayley struggles to make ends meet and allows her career status to define her. She finds inspiration in successful photographer Trevor Tott, but their professional aspirations clash when she experiences his questionable ethics along with unwanted advances from her overbearing boss. With the help of the ship’s crew, stunning Alaskan backdrops and a leap of faith, they might find business can be mixed with pleasure.

With cameos from favourite Aqua characters Harry and Casey, Amanda Jones weaves a plot that keeps the pages turning.

Love happens on The Aqua…

Have you jumped in yet? The Aqua series is the ongoing story of the cruise ship Aqua, where crew members such as Chef Amber and Captain Hallmann appear frequently, and other favourites, such as Harry and Casey, make cameo appearances. With each book in the series, the familiar characters and their stories grow and weave cleverly together. You’ll meet Hayley and Trevor again in books for the upcoming Alaskan and Caribbean series as well. Read along the entire series to get to know and understand the cruise ship, its passengers and regular crew members.

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HAYLEY’S PONYTAIL bobbed from side to side as she walked toward the bow. Trevor watched her kneel next to her backpack and remove a filter. Even though she was tiny, her fiery curls gave her away from across the boat.

She rested her elbows on the railing and took a photo, then checked it in the viewfinder. A smile spread across her face and she turned to him with a thumbs-up. She walked further down the deck and took more pictures.

He knew the pressure of getting a good photo and could sense it a mile away. Besides, he had watched her for a while that afternoon. She seemed to be a perfectionist, muttering to herself and criticizing each shot she took. In time, she had stressed herself so much that it seemed nothing was working.

And then, the iceberg drifted by and she lowered her camera in awe. He heard her talk to it as if it were a human, and then she murmured over and over, “Stay strong,” and, as she did, her shoulders dropped. Trevor edged closer to her, drawn to the exclamation and the wonder in her expressions. She wasnt the only one susceptible to the iceberg – the lower deck was crowded the moment the iceberg calved with a loud boom, and when he looked down all he witnessed was a maze of hands pointing, and then the gasps and shouts. But among that chaos there was a sense of peace with this woman, as if she had stepped into a bubble of calm. She said, “Stay strong” one more time and at that moment, he felt a warmth spread through the palm of his hand. The unthinkable had happened to Trevor. The entire time the iceberg had drifted by, he hadn’t taken one photo. Not one.

It seemed she had come to the realization at the same moment and fumbled with her camera. He focused his zoom lens and took a few photos, then turned back to her. It was then that he mentioned the tripod, and in doing so, seemed to pop her out of the magical bubble she was in. It didn’t surprise him when she got defensive – perfectionists always did.

Trevor looked back toward the woman who now leaned her chin on the far railing, watching. He zipped up his bag and jotted down a note, then speared it on the hook of her tripods center post. It read: “Play with the camera this afternoon. I’ll see you around. -T”

He hadn’t signed his name – he wanted to leave her with an air of mystery.

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Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.You will feel like you’ve been on a trip to Alaska!

What is the inspiration behind the Aqua series? I love the idea of a series where we get to know characters intimately over a number of books. I thought it would be fascinating to follow characters as they explore their own lives and the Mediterranean via travel. The Aqua series is the ongoing story of the cruise ship Aqua, where crew members such as Chef Amber and Captain Hallmann appear frequently, and other favourite passengers make cameo appearances. With each book in the series, the familiar characters and their stories grow and weave together more and more. Each story in the series stands on its own, but the more you read along the entire series, the more you get to know and understand the cruise ship, its passengers and regular crew members.

This format is partly because I fell in love with some of my characters and didn’t want to see them go, so in having the staff return in each series, I can continue to share their ongoing story. That’s where the cruise ship setting works so well as the staff are on the boat, even as it travels to new destinations. In this latest book, I’ve even had two of the favourite characters from my first book, Venetian Nights, return for a cameo appearance. And you’ll meet the characters from this fourth book in the series, Hayley and Trevor, in all upcoming books for the Alaskan and Caribbean series as well. And there are so many romantic destinations coming up that the cruise ship will be travelling to. And the food, oh God the food! I wanted to create a series that covered my love of travel and love of food. I’m fascinated by the power food holds over all of our senses. I want readers to be hungry for love and for food, and to realize how the two go so well together, after reading the book.

Why did you did you decide to write Aqua Alaskan Nights? It was a natural extension from the Aqua series. I decided Alaska would be the next destination because it holds a wildness and raw beauty, and is also a popular cruise destination. The destinations play a key component in the series – the destination, and the cruise ship itself, is like a character in my mind. The first book in the series was inspired by a romantic trip to Venice so the Mediterranean was the focus in my first two books. I wanted to take readers to a destination that was very different.

As far as the story itself, holding onto your own self worth is a key theme that often emerges. The first book in my series was important to me because it reflected a woman’s life as she faced the looming question of a mastectomy. With the rising rates of breast cancer and the serious implications women (and their supporting loved ones) face, I wanted to show women that they still are beautiful and can find love despite what is waiting for them. Each book has a different scenario. In Alaskan Nights, Hayley has just lost her job, and while struggling to make ends meet, she allows her career status to define her. She finds inspiration in a successful photographer, Trevor Tott, but their professional aspirations clash when she experiences his questionable ethics along with unwanted advances from her overbearing boss. With the help of the ship’s crew, stunning Alaskan backdrops and a leap of faith, she touches upon her own self worth, and, finds business can be mixed with pleasure 😉

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? I’m continuing to write the Aqua series – there’s another book coming out for the Alaskan cruise and then there is an upcoming new cruise destination: the Caribbean. Aqua – Caribbean Nights will be out during the winter, for a tropical escape while many readers are steeped in snow!

As far as future projects, I do have another romance series in the works. It’s not travel based but has a strong place setting. I’m excited to start writing is as it’s very different from this current series, but I know I’ll keep returning to the Aqua and writing more stories for the series as I’m really enjoying it.

Why do you enjoy reading and writing? Reading places me in another person’s life and often in another country. I feel like I’ve lived more! And writing does the same thing for me. I’ve travelled to all of the places I write about, and it’s my way of sharing the experience of this place with my readers.

What is your favorite genre to read? I love to read romance but also fantasy – it’s a great escape. At the same time, I love memoirs, mysteries and historical fiction. I just love reading in general 🙂

Who is your favorite author? I have many but I love Jodi Picoult.

In your opinion, what is one book that everyone should read? Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t know it would be romance but I loved reading from an early age on and used to tell stories to my dolls.

 

Tell us three things about yourself that cannot be found on the internet … at least not found easily.

  1.  I write in the morning.
  2.  I get excited about colours and layout, as you can tell from my Pinterest board 🙂
  3.  I don’t drink coffee, even though I’m up very early in the morning!

 

About the author: Romance author, Amanda S. Jones, loves travel, chocolate and red wine. You’ll find all of these elements in the books she writes! Her first romance series, “Aqua” takes place on the cruise ship, Aqua, a slow-burning pleasure dome of food and attraction that spurs the reader’s imagination. Each book has exotic locations, sumptuous foods, seduction, enticement and true love, so open the pages and step aboard to see what’s in store for characters with the help of the ship’s crew, a romantic destination and a leap of faith.

If you’re interested in updates on Amanda and her book series, sign up for the Aqua Club newsletter on her website!

Find Ms. Jones here: blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Google+

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Spotlight: Nip It: Stop Negativity Moment by Moment by Kristen Fredricks and Jeanie Wade (excerpt, interview, giveaway)

nip itNip It: Stop Negativity Moment by Moment
written by Kristen Fredricks and Jeanie Wade
published by Krispective Inc.

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Goodreads

About the book: “Every person’s life has room for more positivity, and positivity is always your choice. The personal stories and real-life situations in Nip It challenge you to see your life as a series of individual moments over which you have control. Then you can choose to “nip” the negative moments and turn them into something more positive. The authors provide hints and tips to help you recognize the negative situations you encounter, find ways to change their impact, and help you shift the outcomes from negative to positive.

By the end of the book, you will have a toolset that will allow you to act rather than react when faced with a negative moment. When you apply the techniques that are outlined, you can begin to experience more positive life moments. And with practice, you’ll find that your positive moments turn into positive hours, then positive days, weeks, and months, which can lead to an overall life of greater positivity.”

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From Chapter 1: Introduce It

You are about to begin a journey of learning how to “nip it” and “flip it.” What is the “it” we are talking about? “It” is simply a negative moment, person, or situation that you are faced with at any point in your life. And just what do we mean by “nip it” and “flip it”? To “nip it” is to stop the negativity from growing. And to “flip it” means turning the negative situation around into something more positive. For example, how do you feel when…

the dog eats your shoe?
the kids dump cereal on the kitchen floor?
you get a flat tire driving to work?
you drop a glass jar of pickles at the grocery store?
someone in the parking lot takes your parking spot?
a team member at work doesn’t pull their weight?
someone cuts in front of you in the line at the deli?
a fellow worker criticizes you?

Do you get a twinge in your stomach? Do you curse? Do you yell? Does your head hurt? Do you cry? Reactions like these most likely indicate you are dealing with something negative.

And how about when you interact with people? Do you find that some leave you energized and others sap your energy? Do you understand why different people affect you differently? Have you ever found yourself dreading going somewhere but you weren’t quite sure what caused that feeling? This learning adventure will show you how to shift those negative moments in your life so that they will appear to be more positive.

We’re going to help you explore all of those questions and provide you with the tools to transform your everyday negative moments. The techniques are simple to apply, and with some practice, will become habit. If you choose to implement some of our suggestions, you’ll be able to change your overall attitude about life, which can help you feel more at peace on a daily basis.

 

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Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Our personal stories and the techniques offered in the book will provide you many ways to help your moments, hours, days and overall life be more positive.

Why did you did you decide to write Nip It: Stop Negativity Moment by MomentKris has always been known as an extremely positive person, and she wanted to spread that positivity. What better way than to write a book about it!

Kris started to write the book and then asked Jeanie to collaborate on it. It evolved many times over two years. There were lots of ups and downs throughout the process as we had to learn a lot about a whole new industry for us. Through it all, we remained focused on one thing: “As long as we can help at least one person, then all the effort will be worth it.”

What is one piece of advice from your book that you would want to share with our readers? 

  • Jeanie- You have to practice positivity everyday!
  • Kris- Take a deep breath and pause before you react in any negative moment.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?  Yes. We have three more books planned. We are actively working on Flip It. In this book, we have captured over a hundred examples of people helping other people to flip their moments from being negative to being positive.

We also have Bigger Than  a Moment outlined. That book will focus on staying positive through life events that are “bigger than a moment.” Challenges like cancer, losing a child, and having a crippling disease will be explored. We have interviews lined up with ordinary people who have extraordinary positive attitudes.

Finally, we plan to write a leadership book focusing on what it takes to lead “it,” negativity in the workplace.

These three books should keep us busy for the next few years!

Why do you enjoy reading and writing? 

  • Jeanie- I like reading to learn things.  I like writing because there is a possibility I might be able to help someone else.
  • Kris- Reading is an escape for me because I love getting lost in a good book. Writing has given me an outlet for my creative side and given me a new sense of purpose.

What is your favorite genre to read?

  • Jeanie-  Business and Historical fiction.
  • Kris- Mysteries

Who is your favorite author?

  • Jeanie- Stephen King
  • Kris- John Lescroart

In your opinion, what is one book that everyone should read?

  • Jeanie- De la démocratie en Amérique (Democracy in America) by Alexis de Tocqueville
  • Kris-  You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

What did you want to be when you grew up?

  • Jeanie- A veterinarian
  • Kris- A lawyer

Tell us three things about yourself that cannot be found on the internet . . . at least not found easily.

Jeanie-

  • I played little league baseball and there was only 1 other girl in the league.
  • I was a drum major in the marching band.
  • I am a tea connoisseur.

Kris-

  • For two summers during college, I delivered mail for the United States Post Office.
  • I have seen a large sturgeon up close while SCUBA diving in the Niagara River.
  • I am a Reiki Master.

About the authors — Kris Fredricks and Jeanie Wade

Kris FredricksKris Fredricks has more than twenty years experience guiding groups to enhanced teamwork and more effective performance. She uses her naturally optimistic attitude to help others create a positive vision for how they will work together more effectively. Her natural enthusiasm is contagious. Jeanie Wade has spent more than thirty years leading teams and understands how one negative team member can impact an entire team. She, like many people, is not a naturally positive person, so she enjoys sharing her insights on how practicing positivity every day can change your life.

 

Jeanie WadeJeanie Wade has spent more than thirty years leading teams and understands how one negative team member can impact an entire team. She, like many people, is not a naturally positive person, so she enjoys sharing her insights on how practicing positivity every day can change your life.

Find the authors here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads – Kris, Goodreads – Jeanie, Tumblr

 

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Book Blitz: More Than Music by Elizabeth Briggs (spotlight, excerpt, interview, giveaway)

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More Than MusicMore Than Music (Chasing the Dream #1)
written by Elizabeth Briggs
published by Elizabeth Briggs

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Goodreads

About the book: Music major Maddie Taylor seems to have her life all figured out. She’s just finished her junior year of college, has a summer internship lined up with the LA Philharmonic, and plans to go to grad school to write movie scores. Only her roommates know she practices guitar every night and secretly dreams of a louder life. But geeky girls like her don’t get to be rock stars.

Tattooed singer Jared Cross has a new girl every week, but when he catches Maddie playing one of his songs, she attracts his attention in an unexpected way. His band needs a fourth member for The Sound, a reality TV show competition—and he wants her. Though Maddie refuses to be another notch on Jared’s bedpost, she agrees to risk everything for the chance to be a rock star.

Once on the show, Maddie discovers there’s more to Jared behind his flirty smile, and with each performance their attraction becomes impossible to ignore. When the show pressures Jared to flaunt his player image, they’re forced to keep their relationship secret, but Maddie can’t help but want something real.

As the competition heats up, Jared will do whatever it takes for his band to win, and Maddie must decide if following her dream is worth losing her heart.

More than Music Teaser 1

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“Do you know this one?” Jared asked and then started up “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones. It was one of those songs most rock guitarists learned since it was simple but a lot of fun to play. I reluctantly joined in when the chords repeated again. When he got to the chorus, I sang along too, and he grinned at me.

As the song went on, I loosened up and let myself get into the music with him, tapping my foot to the beat. We jammed on our guitars and grew louder and more ridiculous, not caring if the people in the rooms next to us complained. It was the kind of song you could easily be silly and over the top with, and by the end, we were bouncing around and belting out the words like we were drunk.

When it ended, I fell back on the bed and laughed, my pulse racing. Playing with Jared like this, banging on our guitars and singing at the top of our lungs without caring what we sounded like, it was different from playing alone or with the band or even in front of Julie and Carla. With one song, Jared had reminded me why I loved playing guitar in the first place.

He crashed on the bed next to me, and we stared at the ceiling as we caught our breath. After a minute, he propped himself up on one arm to look at me. “I’m impressed you could sing all the words to that one. Who knew piano player Maddie had this hidden punk rocker inside her?”

“No one. Before I joined the band, guitar was a secret, a guilty pleasure. Something I only did when I was alone in my room.”

He raised an eyebrow. “And yet you picked up my guitar at a party and played one of my songs like you had written it yourself.”

I covered my face with my hands and groaned. “I knew you’d bring that up eventually.”

“Hey, I’m flattered. Besides, it worked out in the end.” He trailed a finger across my arm, his touch soft, making me shiver. “I saw the real you that night, and just now I saw her again. That’s the trick. When you’re on stage, play like you do when you think no one’s watching.”

I dropped my hands to stare up at his face, so close to mine I could smell the shampoo he’d used. I wanted to kiss him so badly my body ached with it. It wasn’t just how his hair was still wet, framing his blue eyes and dark lashes, or the way the tattoos on his arms stood out against his otherwise flawless skin or how his voice made me forget everything but him. It was the Jared I discovered every time we were alone together, the one who somehow found the real me and set her free.

His hand cupped my face and his head dipped lower, lightly brushing his lips across mine. Little warning lights flashed in my head. What was I doing, lying on a bed with Jared, about to kiss him? This couldn’t happen. Not only because of what Dan had said about the producers and the show, but because I knew if I fell for Jared, I might never recover.

More Than Music Teaser 2

 

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Where did you get the idea for More Than MusicI went to high school for a short time with Adam Levine and Maroon 5, back when they were called Kara’s Flowers. They played at our school dances and I sat behind them in class and was completely in love with them. Of course, they had no idea I existed! Many years later I saw Adam Levine on The Voice, and had the idea of a geeky girl joining an up-and-coming rock band at her school and going on a show like The Voice, and the book grew from that.

What kind of research did you do for More Than MusicMost of the research I did was on the music in the book, because I really wanted to get that right. I play the guitar but I’m not great at it because I don’t have time to practice regularly. Still, I tried to learn many of the songs that Maddie performs so I could describe the way it feels when you’re actually playing them. I studied a lot of guitar tutorials, live performances by the original bands, and covers by other bands. I also watched documentaries on what it’s like to be in a band, especially in high stress situations. And of course, I watched many episodes of The Voice!

How did you pick the songs in More Than MusicI tried to pick songs that are well-known because I wanted anyone who is a fan of rock music to recognize most of them by name (especially since I couldn’t include lyrics due to copyright issues). I also chose songs that reflect what the characters are experiencing in the book, so that each song is like background music for what Maddie and Jared are going through.

The show in More Than Music is obviously based on The Voice, but were any of the characters based on particular celebrities? None of the characters were based on any particular celebrity, but many characters were loosely inspired by them. The most obvious one is Jared, who was named after Jared Leto, the singer of Thirty Seconds To Mars. Both Jareds are flirty, talented, and hard-working, but also pretty down-to-earth – and both have brothers in their bands, too. And the mentors on the show were inspired by lots of different musicians all rolled into one. For example, Dan was loosely based on Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, and Chris Cornell, but also had a little Adam Levine and Blake Shelton in him, too.

What’s next in the Chasing the Dream series? First up is Kyle’s prequel novella, More Than Exes, set at the Battle of the Bands that leads to the gig at the beginning of More Than Music. Next will be Hector’s novella, set a week after More Than Music at Comic-Con. After that, I’ll be writing books about Maddie’s best friends Julie and Carla, but you’ll have to wait a little longer for info on those, sorry!

 

Elizabeth BriggsAbout the author: Elizabeth Briggs is a full-time geek who writes books for teens and adults. She plays the guitar, mentors at-risk teens, and volunteers with a dog rescue group. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a pack of small, fluffy dogs.

Find Ms. Briggs here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

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Blog Tour: Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton (spotlight, interview, giveaway)

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Cinderella's Dress coverCinderella’s Dress
written by Shonna Slayton
published by Entangled Teen

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: Being seventeen during World War II is tough. Finding out you’re the next keeper of the real Cinderella’s dress is even tougher.

Kate simply wants to create window displays at the department store where she’s working, trying to help out with the war effort. But when long-lost relatives from Poland arrive with a steamer trunk they claim holds the Cinderella’s dress, life gets complicated.

Now, with a father missing in action, her new sweetheart shipped off to boot camp, and her great aunt losing her wits, Kate has to unravel the mystery before it’s too late.

After all, the descendants of the wicked stepsisters will stop at nothing to get what they think they deserve.

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Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Cinderella’s Dress is a fun 1940s fairy tale for those who like a bit of mystery and a sweet romance.

Why did you did you decide to write Cinderella’s DressI’d been reading a lot of fairy-tales and was trying to come up with something similar, yet different, to distinguish my books from other retellings. I thought a blend of history and fantasy would be fun, and my first attempt was an original 1930s fairy tale. I was looking for another fairy tale/historical idea to write, when I stumbled across the two story sparks for Cinderella’s Dress. I talked about it more in-depth here: I is for Inspiration.

In your bio, you say that you find inspiration in reading vintage teen diaries. Where do you find these diaries? And how did you know to look for them? Because I was writing a historical setting, I wanted to get my history as accurate as possible. What would a girl in the 1940s be like? What would she think about, what would she say, what would she do? I knew I needed primary sources to help me accurately form the setting and the culture of the times.

The easiest/cheapest way to find diaries is online and excerpted in printed books. Museum archives also hold diaries. However, my favorite way to get them is off eBay. I cringe as I type this, wondering if my diaries might end up being sold online one day! It also makes me wonder what some of these girls would think about having their personal thoughts put out into the world like they are. One of my favorites that I own is from the 1930s and was a school project, written on loose-leaf paper. This girl was a character, probably trying to give her teacher a good read. It could become a book in itself. In her case, I think she would get a kick out of her diary being used as inspiration for a YA author.

Taking a look at your blog, I saw that you participated in the Blogging From A–Z Challenge. What was your favorite post? I have to say, I liked the Fishing for Ostriches post. Ha! Yes, O is for Ostrich Fishing. I love that one. It’s such an odd roadside attraction. It’s one of those cases where you drive by and you look at one another and ask, “Should we?” And then you are so glad you did. We go every year now. That post has a companion piece: L is for Lorikeet Forest. I’d never heard of the Blogging from A-Z Challenge until a few days before it started. It was a lot of fun and gave me an excuse to visit new blogs.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? Why, yes. I’m hoping since I’ve broken through that first-book barrier, that I’ll be able to sell some of my other historic fairy tales. And, of course, I put in a few plants and left a few strings lying around in Cinderella’s Dress that I hope Entangled Teen will ask for more. I have ideas for both a sequel and a prequel in this series. But while I wait on news for those, I’m polishing a novel set in the 1890s.

What is your favorite genre to read? It’s tough to pick one. I will read any fairy tale that comes along. I also like historicals, but the time period has a lot to do with whether or not I’ll pick it up.

Who is your favorite author? Ack, all this making me choose one. Modern author? Gail Carson Levine. I love her imagination. Inspirational author? L.M. Montgomery.

In your opinion, what is one book that everyone should read? Again, with the one book. I’d have to say the Bible. There are so many references to the Bible in literature that you are really missing out if you haven’t read it. The overarching story of a lost people and a suffering Savior is the pinnacle of all redemption stories. And then, all the mini-stories within! Joseph being a slave in Egypt. Queen Esther saving her people. King David’s highs and lows (Goliath, Bathsheba, his troublesome sons!) I could go on and on. So much is packed within those pages.

Modern book? Well, a memoir that I would never have read if I hadn’t stumbled across it in the nonfiction section is Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. She and her best friend landed jobs in New York, the summer of 1945, and is it a hoot! The two of them were the first girls to work as pages on the main floor at Tiffany.

Tell us three things about yourself that cannot be found on the internet . . . at least not found easily. They’ll be found now. *grin*

  1. I was a camp counselor for many summers in my 20s.
  2. My trip to England in fourth grade hooked my interest in castles.
  3. I was a figure skater as a kid, but quit as soon as I reached competition level. Couldn’t get up that early in the morning for practice.

 

Shonna SlaytonAbout the author: Shonna Slayton finds inspiration in reading vintage diaries written by teens, who despite using different slang, sound a lot like teenagers today. While writing Cinderella’s Dress she reflected on her days as a high-school senior in British Columbia when she convinced her supervisors at a sportswear store to let her design a few windows—it was glorious fun while it lasted. When not writing, Shonna enjoys amaretto lattes and spending time with her husband and children in Arizona.

Find Ms. Slayton here: web, Pinterest, Twitter, Goodreads

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1 Signed copy of Cinderella’s Dress, an Amber sun pendant set in sterling silver a Tatting shuttle and thread, a dress form ornament and bookmark swag. US Only.

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TOUR SCHEDULE

Week One:

6/2/2014- Zach’s YA Reviews– Review

6/2/2014- Dark Novella– Excerpt

6/3/2014- Angelic Book Reviews– Review

6/3/2014- Pages From My Thoughts– Interview

6/4/2014- YA Book Madness– Review

6/4/2014- The Cover Contessa– Guest Post

6/5/2014- Crossroad Reviews– Review

6/5/2014- Such a Novel Idea– Guest Post

6/6/2014- The NerdHerd Reads– Review

6/6/2014- Fire and Ice– Excerpt

Week Two:

6/9/2014- Racing To Read- Review

6/9/2014- Paranormal Book Club– Interview

6/10/2014- The Phantom Paragrapher– Review

6/10/2014- Addicted Readers– Guest Post

6/11/2014- Creating Serenity– Review

6/11/2014- Every Free Chance Book Reviews– Interview

6/12/2014- Si, Se Puede **link with YA Books Central review– Review

6/12/2014- A Backwards Story– Guest Post

6/13/2014- The YA’s Nightstand– Review

6/13/2014- Curling Up With A Good Book– Excerpt

 

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Spotlight: French Toast by Glynis Astie (interview, giveaway)

FRENCH TOAST COVERFrench Toast (French Twist #2)
written by Glynis Astie
published by Tikinou Publishing

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: Sydney Bennett is back! And her pursuit of perfection is alive and well. Naïve to the core, Sydney believed that when she finally married the man of her dreams, the hard part was over. Following a civil ceremony as a means to keep Louis from being deported, Sydney continues to plan the fairytale wedding that she had dreamed of since the age of five. Much to her chagrin, she discovers that her mother-in-law is planning what seems to be a rival wedding in France that SHE has been dreaming about for her only child since before he was born. How will poor Sydney be able to ensure two perfect weddings in the midst of Louis’ fruitless job search? Especially when her mother-in-law’s idea of perfection appears to be having Sydney embarrass herself in front of hundreds of French people that she has never met?

As if she didn’t have enough on her mind already, Sydney finds herself faced with the trials and tribulations of being a wife. Sydney had always heard that marriage was hard, but she thought that this was just a ruse that married couples portrayed in a bid to make single girls feel less desperate. But as the bills pile up and emotions run high, she realizes that there may just be some truth to this statement. And as she watches Louis’ perfection fade away before her very eyes, she begins to wonder if she made a rash decision in marrying a man that she had known for a mere six months. With all of the obstacles that Sydney and Louis will encounter, will they be raising their glasses in celebration or watching their impulsive marriage crash and burn? One thing is for certain, Sydney and Louis Durand are headed for one hell of a toast… efcinterview

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. French Toast will make you laugh out loud, shed a few tears and thank your lucky stars that you are not as crazy as Sydney Durand.

Why did you did you decide to write French Toast? The story begins with the origin of the first book in the series, French Twist. About a year after I became a stay at home mom, I had a dream that I wrote a book. Initially, I thought that the idea was insane, since I had never aspired to be a writer. But the story of how I met and married my husband in six months was just too good not to share. Three months later, I had a draft! And thanks to my very talented family, eight months later, I published my first book. I am still amazed that it happened so quickly!

Since there is so much more to Sydney’s story, I decided to write a trilogy. French toast shows us what happens after the happily ever after of French Twist. A very complicated story indeed!

I love the covers of your books. How did you come up with the design? Thank you! For French Twist, I chose the Eiffel Tower as a nod to the gorgeous Frenchman, Louis, and the engagement ring to signal the reader that there may be marriage in the cards for Sydney. For French Toast, the champagne bottle and glasses allude to one kind of toast, while the book blurb indicates that Sydney and Louis’ marriage may be toast. (I love a good play on words!) My sister, a true genius of cover designing, took my ideas and created the gorgeous images that you now see atop my books.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? I am currently writing the third and final book in my French Twist series, French Fry. After that, I will leave the world of truth based fiction and find my way through full-fledged fiction. Wish me luck!

Why do you enjoy reading and writing? I enjoy reading because I love hearing the stories that other people have to tell. I am constantly amazed by the depth of imagination that exists out there in the world. I become so invested in a good book that find myself hiding in the kitchen just to get in a few more pages. (My boys always find me!)

I enjoy writing because I like providing an escape from the stress of everyday life. I hope to give readers a good chuckle and to show them that it is ok to struggle sometimes. We all figure it out in the end.

What is your favorite genre to read? That is a tough call to make. Chick Lit is my favorite, followed by Mystery/Suspense as a close second.

Who is your favorite author? Chrissy! You are full of difficult questions! I can’t pick just one. If I had to narrow it down to three, I would say Jane Green, Agatha Christie and J.K. Rowling. (Yes, I am a HUGE Potterhead.)

What did you want to be when you grew up? I was the kid who had absolutely no idea. In fact, I’m still not sure . . .

Tell us three things about yourself that cannot be found on the internet . . . at least not found easily.

  1. I wore a back brace for ten years of my life to correct a large curvature in my spine caused by scoliosis. That was a character building experience!
  2. My sister’s nickname for me when we were kids was “Turkey Face.” No, I don’t think that I look like a turkey, either.
  3. Going to the gym a few times a week saves my sanity – followed by a little chocolate or a nice glass of red wine. Positive reinforcement is a good thing!

 

Glynis Astie Author PhotoAbout the author: Glynis never expected in her wildest dreams to be a writer. After thirteen years in the Human Resources Industry, she decided to stay at home with her two amazing sons. Ever in search of a project, she was inspired to write the story of how she met and married her wonderfully romantic French husband, Sebastien, in six short months. The end result became her first novel, French Twist.

As this novel is only the beginning the story, Glynis has just released the sequel, French Toast, and has begun writing the final chapter in the trilogy, French Fry. When she is not writing, she is trying to keep the peace amongst the three men and two cats in her life, finding missing body parts (Lego pieces are small!), supervising a myriad of homework assignments and keeping a tenuous hold on her sanity by consuming whatever chocolate is in the vicinity.

Find Ms. Astie here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

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Book Blast: Book Reviewer Yellow Pages (spotlight, interview, giveaway)

Book Reviewer Yellow Pages Front Cover

Book Reviewer Yellow Pages
written by Christine Pinheiro

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonGoodreads

About the book: Are you trying to promote your books? Are you a writer, publisher, or agent?

Promote your book with this bestselling author’s reference, the Book Reviewer Yellow Pages. Make your book promotion easier, and get the publicity you need from book reviewers. Learn how and where to submit your book for review. There are hundreds of new book reviewers listed in this book. Each listing details the individual book reviewer’s:

  1. Contact information,
  2. Pet peeves,
  3. Preferred genres, and
  4. Submission guidelines

Reviewers are rated for quality and influence. This new edition includes several blog tour sites and their submission guidelines. Learn how to get the exposure that your book deserves! Authors and book reviewers can sign up for alerts at: http://www.stepbystepselfpublishing.net

*Note: This book is enrolled in the Kindle MATCHBOOK program. If you purchase the paperback from Amazon, the Kindle edition is free. The paperback has a genre index, which makes searching for accepted genres easy. The Kindle version has clickable website links (which is impossible to do in a paperback), so you can click directly to the reviewer’s site and contact page. The publisher of this book recommends purchasing the paperback and then downloading the Kindle edition for free using Amazon’s Matchbook program, and using both versions to maximize your promotion efforts.

PROMO TIP: This is a reference book with active hyperlinks in the e-book. It is easier to view and use the Kindle edition of this book on a computer using Amazon’s free Kindle app. That way, you can use the full screen to check genre preferences and submit your query right from your desktop.

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Book Reviewer Yellow Pages EditorInterview with Christine Pinheiro, Editor, Defiant Press

The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages is a bestselling author’s promotional reference, designed specifically for authors who need book reviewers for their books.

Where did you get the idea for the Book Reviewer Yellow Pages?

At first, I did it purely out of self-interest! I wrote a nonfiction book in 2007, and I had a very difficult time finding book reviewers. It seemed like an impossible task. All of the regular outlets were closed to me—where do you go when you can’t get a review in the New York Times? Where do the “little guys” go when they need to promote their books? So I started the Book Reviewer Yellow Pages out of my own frustration. At first, the Book Reviewer Yellow Pages was just a big list on a simple website. I added to the list when I had spare time. Book reviewers started seeking me out, and asking to be put on the list, and it just grew from there. In 2009, I published the first “Book Reviewer Yellow Pages,” and the rest is history. The list just grew organically. Now we have hundreds of book reviewers on our list, and thousands of authors subscribe to the newsletter.

How about the book reviewers themselves, what do they get out of it?

Many book reviewers just do it for fun, and they get the benefit of free books and ARCs (advance review copies). Quite a few of them also earn money, either from sidebar advertising, blog tours, or other author’s services. There are so many self-published authors out there right now, trying to promote their books without the help of a traditional publisher, so there’s a lot of little business ventures cropping up to serve them.

Many reviewers list their “pet peeves,” is this something that the authors really want to know?

Yes! It’s the most popular part of the questionnaire—all the reviewers have their own horror stories. Sadly, many authors have terrible etiquette when they request book reviews. Many don’t take the time to even spell-check their queries, or find out if the reviewer is a man or a woman, so they can address them correctly! I used to review books myself, and it’s amazing how many times I’ve gotten a review request with nothing but a link to the book. No signature, no salutation, nothing! Why would I review your book, when you aren’t even willing to take a few minutes to send me a proper review request? We also added an “author etiquette” section to the front of the book, and that seems to help a bit.

Do book reviews really help sales?

They’ve helped my own book sales tremendously, and I know hundreds of authors who would say the same. Look, everyone knows that book promotion is boring work. Contacting dozens of book reviewers is time consuming, and you have to deal with rejection, but the payoff from a positive book review is enormous. That’s been the case in my own writing career. Reviews really help sales, and it’s nice to have a public testimonial that customers can refer to when they purchase. On the flip side, many of the reviewers accept ARCs and also work as beta-readers, so if you can get a few good reviewers to read through your manuscript before publication, they might be able to give you valuable feedback. I found a big plot hole in one of my novels that way—a reviewer found the problem, and I was able to fix it before the book went to publication.

Do reviewers ever drop off the list? Can authors get updates?

Yes, on our website. Reviewers get added and removed on a regular basis—and the list goes through a complete overhaul once a year. I do a formal update every April. That’s when we put out a new edition of the book, as well as update the reviewer list on the website. The abbreviated list on the website is free, and authors and publishers can sign up for updates to the list here: http://www.stepbystepselfpublishing.net. The newsletter is also free.

Do you have any advice for authors?

Be polite to book reviewers, always. Not everyone is going to like your book, that’s just the nature of game. But publishing is a business, and it pays to be professional. It’s just like any other creative business. Reviewers are our critics, and they give us valuable feedback that we need to improve. One of the best reviews I ever received on the Book Reviewer Yellow Pages was mildly negative. The writer gave me tons of feedback on how to make the book better. I followed his advice, and the book has been more profitable since. Book Reviewers really want to help authors—I’ve never met a single book reviewer that was interested in just tearing an author down. We are all in this business together!

 

For more information visit:
The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages
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