Maritza Martinez Mejia–Vanilla and Chocolate

maritza-mejia-sw_1_orig

Maritza Martinez Mejia, a bilingual educator, author, and translator born in Colombia, lives in Florida with her husband and their two teenagers. For her active participation to the community, she obtained the Crystal Apple Award 2006. For her literary work, she received The VCB Award 2015, and Latino Book Awards 2016. 

Maritza published her memoir Hazel Eyes (2010), Vanilla and Chocolate (2012), Grandma’s Treasure (2014), Poems, Thoughts and More (2015), and Ojos Avellana (2016). 

Tell us about your latest book. How did it come about?maritza-martinez-mejia-vanilla-and-chocolate-2017-sw

Vanilla and Chocolate was published in October 2012 by WRB Publishing. This book was written to help children understand the virtue of tolerance and appreciate each other’s differences. In 2017, my illustrator and I, created new characters and fresh drawing to celebrate its five years of publication.

What is the story behind the creation?

Vanilla and Chocolate is an honor to all teachers who dedicate their lives to education. The story behind the creation is to reflect the hard work teachers endured and the responsibility behind teaching. This is the first book of Lessons for Living Collection. In summary, the tale is about a concerned teacher who helps two friends be together after their parents refused to let them play because of their skin color.

Was your book research intensive? Did you find some fun facts?

The research was not intensive, but the editing process was. The topic required a careful approach and delicate words to make the message clear to children ages 5 – 10 years old or Kindergarten to 4th graders.

Did you find not so fun facts while researching your book?

I didn’t find not so fun facts, but did find not enough children’s books about the topic to research. For this reason, I felt an important topic to address even though, racism, it is not an easy topic to discuss with young children.

Does coincidence play a role in your book? If so, what was strangest coincidence you experienced and did you use it in your book?

I didn’t experience coincidences in writing Vanilla and Chocolate first edition. I had a clear picture of my goal since the moment I wrote the first draft. The second edition was written as student’s request. The more I visited school classrooms to read the story, the more I noticed the need to include more characters in the story that represents them. I listened to my young audience and worked together with my illustrator to please their demand.

What do you like most about writing?

As a mother, educator and author, my motivating passion is to help children and teenagers through inspiring and creative stories. I write monthly reflections and quotes on my blog and social media “LuzDelMes” to inspire people to be good and do well.

What do you like least?

My writing style may be rejected since English is my second language after Spanish, but I love to write in both languages. What I like least is to translate from one language to another. Each tongue has its particular music and rhythm difficult to reflect in both languages.

Are you working on the next book?

Yes, I am working on my next book, it is a rhyming picture book. This is new to me, but I love writing challenges. I wrote Grandma’s Treasure, the second book of Lessons for Living Collection in 2014. Now, it is the time for the third tale: “Grandpa’s Box.”  I expected the book to be ready in the summer 2018.

Tell us how long it took you to write your book.

Vanilla and Chocolate took me a year from the first draft to the final, but the story was in my drawer for several years. I wrote the tale to my children who are now in College.

Tell us something fun you like to do.

This is not an easy question to answer. What I used to like the most, and have fun with it, was traveling. Now days, it is getting too complicated and the fun experience is turning into a scary situation. So, I think for me writing and presenting my books in different locations are my fun experience for the moment.

What’s next for you in writing?

My next projects are to complete the six tales of Lessons for Living Collection, and write the continuation of “Poems, Thoughts and More” a second bilingual poetry book (English & Spanish).

Thank you for visiting us today. Let us know when the new book is released.

 Be sure and drop by Maritza’s website and say hello and follow her on social medias. You can reach Maritza in all social media as LuzDelMes.
www.luzdelmes.com

Advertisements

Diane Burton~Adventure and Romance

diane burton

Welcome to Authors Visits Diane. We love your books. I especially like the title on your website, Adventure and Romance–in this world and beyond. It intrigues my imagination. Thank you for coming today.

I won’t to know about your series. How they started, why you write different ones and why you’ve added two new genres-mystery and romantic suspense? 

Switched started as a fun story because I’d felt beaten down by rejections of my romances. My heroine is very fond of Star Trek. So when she’s transported aboard an alien starship and thinks it’s a gag pulled by her brother, she sees everything in terms of the TV show and movies. Switched was supposed to be a stand-alone book, not a series. When readers started asking when I would write Scott’s (a secondary character) story, I had to and that became Switched, Too. The 3rd book, Switched Resolution, wrapped up everything.

switched 1                                switched2                           switched3

My second series, Outer Rim, explores what strong women have to do to survive and flourish on the frontier of space. Each story is a stand-alone. Secondary and tertiary characters eventually get their own stories. This series was a lot of fun to write while exploring the heroine’s relationships—with their parents, best friends, romantic interests. I chose a different “world” for this series because I couldn’t do what I wanted to do in the Switched world.

outter1                     outter2           outer3

When did you join Romance Writers of America? How do you feel your association with them helps you as an author?

I joined RWA when I decided to write for publication in 1993. I learned a lot from the national conferences and the magazine Romance Writers Report. At the same time, I joined the local chapter, Mid-Michigan RWA. My fellow writers are super-supported. They are my rock when my confidence is shaken.

 

What three things do you do to make yourself successful in your writing?

I’m visible online—I blog (my own plus as a contributor to two others, Paranormal Romantics and The Roses of Proses), Facebook, Twitter, my website—I’m active in online writers’ groups and offer other authors spots on my blog.

 

One of your newest books is The Case of the Meddling Mama. This is book 3 in your Alex O’Hara Novels series.  Tell us a little about this book.

meddling1

Well, once again, Alex O’Hara is up to her ears in mysteries. After surviving an attempted murder, all she wants is R&R time with Nick Palzetti. But his mother leaving his father (“that horse’s patoot”) and moving in with Alex puts a crimp in their plans. Then Nick leaves on assignment and the teen she rescued from an abusive father believes his buddy is doing drugs. Meanwhile, Alex has two easy cases to take her mind off her shaky relationship with Nick—a philandering husband and a background check on a client’s boyfriend. Piece of cake.

This is great Diane. Can’t wait to read it.  I thank you so much for visiting with us today.

Every one can go to Diane’s website and keep up with her events. Just go to

http://www.dianeburton.com/home.html

Kay Chandler~Southern Fiction Author

kay chandler

Welcome to Authors Visits Kay, we are excited about your latest book, The Keeper.

Tell us this book.

The Keeper is about a young woman, an abusive man, and the lies that bind. Mandy drifts from one homeless shelter to another, sometimes sleeping under bridges or staying in shady motels with the man she calls “Daddy,” although the affectionate term begins to stick in her throat. Wylie Gafford is obnoxious, cold-hearted and mean. Some folks have book sense and some have common sense, but Wylie appears to have neither. He forbids her to have friends.

When Mandy falls in love at seventeen, Wylie’s furious and takes her away. He compares her to a trash-fish and says a trash-fish is as much fun to pull into the boat as a nice bream, but at the end of the day the trash goes back into the cold waters, while the bream—a keeper—goes home with the fisherman. “When that ol’ boy gets ready to pick a wife, he won’t be picking the likes of you. You ain’t no keeper, girlie.”

Mandy’s goal is to become a Keeper and return to Alabama to the love she left behind. But fear, guilt, and a false sense of loyalty are the invisible chains that bind her to her domineering father. IMG_3541

How did it come about?

My husband and I had the privilege of getting to know a unique homeless couple who drifted into our lives several years ago. We listened to their stories of being without a home, and rejoiced when they moved into an old rental house, even though the only furniture was a mattress they found at the dump for their children to sleep on. He had a fourth grade education, had been in prison, but eventually joined our Sunday School Class. I learned through that experience that there is indeed a little bad in the best of us and a little good in the worst of us.

What is the story behind the creation?

The couple we befriended had three children, but one little girl looked very different from the parents and the other two children. When we first met them, the thought ran through my mind, “What if this child isn’t theirs?” After I came to know them, I knew it was a foolish notion, but the idea for a book lurked in the back of my mind. Mandy desperately wants to believe Wylie can’t be her father. After all, how could a daddy be so cruel to his own flesh and blood?

Was your book research intensive?

A great deal of information was gleaned from previous experiences. Years ago, I visited a single mother with a newborn who was staying at the Rescue Mission in Mobile, Alabama. When I wrote a scene that takes place at a shelter, I drew from that experience.

Did you find some fun facts?

Yes, I did. A character in the book wants to convince Mandy that her father is wrong, and she is indeed a Keeper. He takes her to a seafood restaurant and tells her the chef attends a Trash Fish Festival each year, because they’ve discovered previously labeled “trash fish,” are actually delectable dishes—real keepers. I had never heard of a Trash Fish Festival, but out of curiosity, Googled. Guess what? There really is a Trash Fish Festival, and I found some wonderful information that I was able to use in my book.

Did you find not so fun facts while researching your book?

I did. But to share it would give away a portion of the book that I’d prefer to let the readers discover for themselves. My books are called Southern Secrets, so some things must remain hidden. J

Does coincidence play a role in your book? If so, what was the strangest coincidence you experienced and did you use it in your book?

Actually, it happened after I wrote the book. There was an article in the newspaper, where a young woman gave her story, and it was as if my character had come to life and had written the article. It was eerie how much it sounded like Mandy speaking—same experiences, same thoughts and actions. It was confirmation to me that I got it right.

What do you like most about writing?

I love hearing from readers. I’m in constant awe at how God uses fiction to touch lives.

What do you like least?

I’ll have to come back to that one. At the moment, I can’t think of anything about writing that I don’t enjoy.

Are you working on the next book?

Yes. Book 4 in the Switched Series.

Tell us how long it took you to write your book.

I wrote The Keeper in three or four months several years ago, but put it away to write Lunacy, when the Publishers were asking for Historicals. I pulled it back out recently, tweaked it, and now I’m glad I did.lunancy

Tell us something fun you like to do.

I enjoy taking spontaneous road trips with my husband, stopping along the way to explore Mom and Pop shops, while getting to know the locals.

What’s next for you in writing?

I’ve had readers wanting to know what happened to Ludie, a character in Mercy, so I’m working on Kinfolk, Book 4 in the Switched Series.mercy

rick barry  If you haven’t met Rick Barry, then you definitely need to. He’s authored three novels: Gunner’s Run, Kiriath’s Quest, and most recently The Methuselah Project. In addition, he has hundreds of published articles and short stories to his credit.

But that’s not all, Rick speaks Russian, and served in the home offices of two ministries aimed at the former USSR. preaching

By God’s grace, I have visited Eastern Europe over 50 times and worked in Christian camps for children and teens.

His experiences have included skydiving, mountain climbing, rappelling, camping in Russia, kayaking, wilderness hiking, white-water rafting, visiting World War II battlegrounds, even prowling deserted apartments in the evacuated Chernobyl district of Ukraine. He believes that all experiences in life provide fuel for a writer’s imagination. And, he has also served multi-terms as president of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) – Indiana Chapter.

In your newest book, The Methuselah Project, was your book research intensive? Did you find some fun facts?

rick barry book

Definitely. In my experience, writing a novel set at any point in past history requires research, especially if the time period is World War II, which continues to interest the public widely. If your details are inaccurate, there are amateur historians who will shoot you down. As bad as that feels for the author, I believe it hurts worse for the reader, who can no longer enjoy the story knowing that the author hasn’t done the homework and doesn’t really know what he or she is talking about. Fun facts that I learned might bore others, but they include flight characteristics of a P-47 fighter plane and historical details concerning Plainfield, Indiana, the childhood home of my hero.

Did you find not so fun facts while researching your book?

The premise for The Methuselah Project involves a hush-hush German experiment that used Allied prisoners as guinea pigs. Although the actual experiment in my novel is fictitious, Nazi scientists truly did experiment on captives, particularly Jews in the concentration camps. Reading accounts of those experiments qualifies as “not so fun.” The experiment in my own story is much less gruesome.

Does coincidence play a role in your book? If so, what was strangest coincidence you experienced and did you use it in your book?

I’m not a big fan of coincidences in fiction, although some authors and scriptwriters lean heavily on coincidence. (For example, the first Star Wars movie. I mean, really? Princess Leia hides blueprints of the Death Star in an android, which “just happens” to end up in the possession of–of all people in the galaxy–her biological brother, whom she has never met or heard of? That’s a biggie. But fans swallowed it.) The closest thing to a coincidence in my book is the fact that Captain Roger Greene ends up in Atlanta, Georgia, where he meets the main female character, Katherine. But because they are not related in any way, and because the shadowy “organization” manipulates Katherine into keeping tabs on Roger, I don’t see this as coincidence. The organization simply used her proximity to give her a mission. If Captain Greene had been in New York, they might have put another member on his tail.

What is the story behind the creation of your book?

Since I grew up in the home of a pilot, I’ve had a lifelong interest in aviation. Also, WW II has interested me since 7th grade. A third spark for this tale is my interest in a well-told story about time travel. These three elements combined in my imagination. Even though Captain Greene doesn’t literally travel in time, he does end up looking young and still athletic many decades after the war, but with a biologically reasonable explanation that satisfies readers who don’t like sci-fi.

What do you like most about writing? What do you like least?

There’s a special literary adrenaline that feels great when the words and inspiration fuse to produce a hot stream of words flowing from my imagination to my fingers and then onto the computer screen. It’s a wonderfully satisfying experience. The least enjoyable? When I’m stuck in the Sahara Desert of imagination. My trail has led me thus far, and I know of another point in the journey I must reach, but am not sure how to get from this dry valley to that point in a way that will intrigue the reader to stick with me.

Are you working on the next book?

Yes, although with frequent delays as I (too often!) must set aside that project in order to freelance edit, or write an article, or translate something from Russian to English to keep money coming in to pay the bills.

Tell us how long it took you to write your book.

About a year. I wrote it in spurts–a half hour or so in the early morning. Fifteen or twenty minutes during my lunch break. Sometimes an hour in the evening. It’s frustrating to close the Microsoft program when you know exactly what the next line will be, but that’s the life of a part-time writer. Anyone who assumes authors are specially entitled people with huge blocks of spare time for writing is kidding himself. To get started as a writer, you must carve writing time out of your day, protecting and using minutes other people will fritter away with Facebook or Solitaire or TV.

What’s next for you in writing?

Many readers have wished for a sequel to The Methuselah Project. I plan to answer that wish.

Well, please keep us updated and let us know the release date. Thank you for visiting with us today. We have enjoyed learning more about Rick Barry.

Please be sure and check out Rick’s website and social medias.

http://rickcbarry.com/

facebook.com/AuthorRickBarry, or on Twitter (@WriterRickBarry)

Niles Reddick-A Real Storyteller

Niles Reddick head shot Niles Reddick is the author of a collection of stories titled  Road Kill Art and Other Oddities which was a finalist for an Eppie award, his novel Lead Me Home was a national finalist for a ForeWord Award, a finalist in the Georgia Author of the Year award in the fiction category, and a nominee for an IPPY award. His work has appeared in anthologies, and  been featured in many journals. His new novel, Drifting too far from the Shore, releases in September 2016.

We are delighted you could join us Niles. 

drifing4,203,200_ (1) Winston Groom, author of Forest Gump  said, “Chocked full of humor, “Drifting Too Far From the Shore” is a beautiful story that makes you feel like you have been transported back to small town America.”

That is quite a compliment. Tell us about your book.

I think readers will fall in love with my character Muddy “Charlotte” Rewis, a sassy yet reserved southern woman who has a cane and ain’t afraid to use it. Muddy believes she is in her last days and longs to reunite in heaven with her deceased husband, Claude, But when Muddy’s grandson shoots out a neighbor’s front window, an old friendship is renewed, and troubling mysteries irresistibly revived.

Can’t wait to read it. I like the character already.

I understand Drifting too far from the Shore has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, a PEN-Faulkner award. So I want to congratulate you on the nomination. That is quite an honor. And it has also been nominated for a ForeWord award in fiction.

You’ve written several books..

Yes, I have Easy Loving which is a short story about college friendships;easy loving517I4e0fMKL

lead me home51-Uwe7F6zL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_ Lead Me Home . A glimpse of a pragmatic, surreal and spiritual Southern journey back to his roots shows Max Peacock that one can come back home.

Then there is Road kill Art and Other Oddities.road kill51XKWLyLGrL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ It’s a collection of short stories. I’m told people  laugh out loud at the eccentricities of the characters and their peculiar situations. Set in the rural past and the strip mall world of the New South. These stories offer readers glimpses into every day experiences through the eyes of a manic narrator who survives and thrives on the oddities of the modern American South.

I have to tell you, I have read some of your post on your blog, and I love them. I am putting your blog link here so others can check them out.  http://nilesreddick.com/gallery/

I am so glad you visited with us today Niles.  Having read a number of things you’ve written, I think you are going to be one of the writers people will gravitate to. You give your reader enjoyment but most important you give your reader that feeling of realness.

Congratulations. I look forward to this new book. Come back and visit.

Be sure and visit Niles at his blog and also on his website http://nilesreddick.com/ He loves to hear from his readers.Don’t miss reading one of his books or his blog, it give you that certain something we all need each day.

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/niles.reddick.9

Elaine Marie Cooper on Road to Deer Run

elaine marie cooper 451MtQNdo0qL._UX250_We are delighted to have Elaine Marie Cooper visiting with us today. Elaine is an author and speaker who became fascinated with the American Revolution growing up in Massachusetts. 

I describe myself as a history geek. You will find my bookshelves filled with volumes about the American Revolution.

Your  book, Road to Deer Run, tell us about the story and the books in the series.Road-to-Deer-Run-Cover-197x300

It’s a historical romance set in Colonial America in 1777. This book was published in December 2015. The war has already broken the heart of Mary Thomsen, a nineteen-year-old colonial woman from Massachusetts. Her brother, Asa was killed by the King’s army, so when she stumbles across a wounded British soldier, you can imagine her sense of right and wrong is challenged. Inside she’s battling the “Should I help a soldier of the enemy who took my brother’s life, or let him die, cold and alone?”

The war has  broken the British soldier Daniel Lowe’s spirit. He’s severely wounded and a prisoner of war, he escapes his rebel captors while on a death march to Boston. As the pain in his injured leg worsens, he wonders if the young woman looking down at him is an angel or the enemy.

So the question becomes, what will they find on the Road to Deer Run? This book was highlighted in Southern Writers Magazine.

The second book, Promise of Deer Run was just published in June of this year.

promise of deer run

It is set in 1790 and the American Revolution is over, but a battle still rages in the hearts of survivors. Painful memories of war haunt one young veteran. He still waits for a father who never returned from battle and feels the sting of betrayal from a former love. Withdrawing into his own world, he clings to one hope — perhaps his father still lives.

There is only one person in Deer Run who seems to understand him, Sarah Thomsen. She’s nineteen- year- old who struggles to bury her own war memories. The veteran’s search for his father touches a chord in her, as she feels the loss of a father she never knew. While the couple begins to find hope in a mutual affection, others are determined to destroy it. Slander and misunderstandings ignite a fire of doubt and mistrust, destroying any faith they had in each other.

The next book, the third one in this saga will be released in December, 2016.  Can’t wait to hear more about the third book. We hope you will come back and visit and share information on this book and also information about the new historical novel that will release in October, 2016 which is Saratoga Letters. I understand that book is set in 1777 and 1977. Can’t wait to hear more about that one.

You also wrote a book called Fields of the Fatherless.

Yes and it won a few awards.

It won the Winner of the 2014 Selah Award, YA Fiction, right? 

Yes and it won the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Award, Best Religious Fiction
Winner of the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award and Best YA Religious Fiction .

The  Fields of the Fatherless is based on a true story.

fields of fatherless51yq+jk+SsL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_  In the early months of 1775, war is brewing in the American colonies. Although frightened, eighteen-year-old Betsy Russell (an ancestor to actor Kurt Russell) of Menotomy Village, Massachusetts, wants to be prepared in case of attack by British troops. Her father, prosperous farmer Jason, is the fourth generation of Russells on this land yet their very rights as British Colonials are being stripped away one by one. Will the King of England take their land as well? Tensions are growing here in the countryside west of Boston and the outbreak of battle seems a certainty. Jason desperately wants to protect his family–– his wife, children and grandchildren and their future. Betsy makes every attempt to be prepared for the worst. But not even the American militia could have predicted the bloody massacre that was about to occur right on the Russells’ doorstep. If Betsy loses everything she holds dear, are the rights of all the Colonists endangered?

And this is based on a true story?

Yes, on the first day of the American Revolution, the worst battle did not occur at Lexington or Concord. It took place at the home of Jason Russell in Menotomy Village, MA. “Fields of the Fatherless” brings this true story to light as seen through the eyes of Jason’s daughter, Betsy.  Although written for a YA audience, it has received positive reviews from its many adult readers.

No wonder this novel has received several awards and continues to find new readers more than two years after its release. Thank you for sharing this with us.

It was great having Elaine here today to share her books. Be sure and check out her website

http://www.elainemariecooper.com/

and visit her blog

http://www.elainemariecooper.com/blog/

 

 

 

Diane Kelly Romance Writer

Diane-Kelly-headshot-e1427808949837  We are so pleased to welcome Diane Kelly today. Her books have been awarded the prestigious Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Award and a Reviewers Choice Award. Currently she is the president of Romance Writers of America. 

Tell me about your work as a former tax advisor and how you went from that to becoming an author.

I inadvertently worked with white-collar criminals.So I wouldn’t  end up in an orange jumpsuit, I decided self-employment would be a good idea. My fingers hit the keyboard after that and thus began my“Death and Taxes” romantic mystery series.

death taxes and a french manicureDTAFM-Cover-flat-cover1-115x188My first book in that series was Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure released in November 2011.Eleven books have been released in that series. Book number twelve, death taxes51yjnUJ0pXL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Death, Taxes and a Satin Garter, will release in August of this year.

Diane is also a graduate of her hometown’s Citizen Police Academy and writes the funny K9 Cop “Paw Enforcement” series. 

PawEnforcement_300-114x188The first book in that series, Paw Enforcement, released June 2014. Five books in that series have been released.

against the paw In May, Against the Paw was released. The next book in the series  is due out in December of this year, titled, AboveThePaw-115x188Above the Paw.

Sappy love stories513D-sZaKFL._SX311_BO1204203200_-118x188Your book, A Sappy Love Story is a stand alone was released in January of this year. Tell us about it.

A Sappy Love Story is a short story inspired by my breakfast of banana pancakes and maple syrup one Saturday morning. Occasionally, you’ll hear someone call a love story “sappy.” The play on words with “sap” and “sappy” popped into my head, and developed into an idea for a romance centered around a maple syrup business.

Was it fun to write?

Definitely! I performed a lot of research on how maple syrup is made. It’s an interesting process. And since I live in the south, it was fun to virtually venture into the snowy northern woods with my characters. 

How long did it take to write?

Only about ten days, since it’s a shorter story. 

Is there a purpose behind it?

To entertain and warm a reader’s heart, much like the spiked hot cocoa the hero and heroine drink in the story. 

Where did the idea for a series with police dogs come from?

After I began my IRS agent series, I realized how much I enjoyed writing female characters in law enforcement. The idea of a female cop came to mind, so I signed up for my town’s citizen police academy to learn more about police work. The night a handler did a demonstration with his K-9 partner, I was hooked. I’ve been a dog lover since my family got our first dog when I was an adolescent, and I have three dogs now, each with their own quirky personalities. I realized how fun it would be to write a female K-9 team, especially when I could write from both the police officer’s and dog’s points of view. 

What kind of research did you have to do to write this series?

I attended a conference for K-9 handlers in law enforcement and also interviewed police K-9 handlers in my hometown. They gave me all kinds of great information and let me try on the suit they use for bite demos. They were incredibly helpful. 

The books in the series, do you develop plots so the cases encountered in each book stands alone?

Yes, I write each book so they can be read as a standalone crime/mystery novel. However, there is a romantic arc that spans the books, so for those readers who enjoy the romantic angle of the series, reading them in order is a good idea. 

What is the most fun about writing these books?

Writing the chapters from K-9 Brigit’s point of view is an absolute blast. I love getting into the mindset of a smart, somewhat snarky dog, and telling the story from her viewpoint. I often find myself laughing out loud as I develop her chapters. 

Okay, I’m hooked now. I have to read these books. 

We thank you Diane for visiting and for you readers be sure and drop by Diane’s website site and Facebook page and say hello. She loves hearing from her readers.

may cover 2See her in May/June 2016 Southern Writers Magazine issue.

 

http://www.dianekelly.com/

https://www.facebook.com/DianeKellyBooks/

PHYLLIS MCMANUS TURNS LOSS TO RAINBOWS

Phyllis McManus  We welcome Phyllis McManus today. She is an author who turned painful loss into rainbows. Will you share with us your story?

My writing started as therapy when I lost both my parents in a car wreck in 2002. My world stopped and I wanted to stop with it. Finally, I went to my doctor and he suggested I start writing every emotion I was having down on paper. I took his suggestion to another level and decided to write about my momma and daddy and the things they had shared with me all my life.  There were more tears falling on my paper than words.  I kept my parents’ names, but changed the book from nonfiction to fiction.

My writing came  from my heart. I’m told this shows in my characters.

How long did it take to finish?

 

forever girl51C81saeIIL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Within six months, my first book, Forever Girl was finished. This first book turned into seven books, and I am still writing. Eventually I learned my journey of writing had turned into a passion.

Writing has been the rainbow in my cloud that God has given me, and I thank Him every day.

Was it hard for you to begin speaking?

Several organizations asked me to share my experience. I never thought I could stand before a group and talk about my feelings, but soon learned I enjoyed helping other people find themselves once again, as I did.

I understand you wrote a poem.

Yes, I wrote a poem titled, “The Edge of Darkness”. It focused on Alzheimer’s which is what my mother had to live with. It won 1st place nationwide in a poetry competition.

Congratulations, that’s wonderful.

Tell us about book Southern Patchwork Quilt.

quilt 51wseJKv61L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Southern Patchwork Quilt is a mixture of short stories, flash fiction, poetry, memories, recipes and quotes. Even though the majority of the work is fiction many are written straight from my heart and as true as our sweet Southern breeze on cool afternoons.It released in May of this year.

What about Do I Know ME? 

Sunny Miller enjoyed a top paying business career in New York until she received a letter letting her know her momma, Tessa, needed her. She got on a plane and rushed back to her home town of Monroe, North Carolina. Arriving home and talking to her momma,
she realized her momma’s mind was changing. She had Alzheimer’s. A lifelong friend and sister by choice of Tessa, was determined to stand by her side. They told Sunny about secrets they had hidden away. This book is filled with laughter, understanding secrets, rebuilding relationships, and finding true love. It also deals with the understanding of Alzheimer’s and how it takes a group of caring people to help deal with the journey of this dreadful disease. It was released in November 2016.

The book you released in February 2015. What about it?

southern secretsSouthern Secrets is a sequel to The Southern Belle Breakfast Club. The ladies had no idea how their life was going to change after they buried their best friend, Gracie. Gracie had been called by the others the “mystery lady,” and this was certainly true, even after her death. She had written letters to the others that could only be opened when she died. Each letter held a secret that she had kept her entire life. She needed her friends to help her take care of unfinished business. The mystery that followed Gracie to her death was soon to bring a challenge to her friends. Their friendship of over thirty years would continue even after death.

These all sound heart-felt and the type of book I would like to sit down and have a whole day to read all of them.

Thank you for stopping by. Let us know when your next book releases. Be sure and get her books if you want to truly have a wonderful reading experience.

You can reach Phyllis at:

https://www.facebook.com/phyllis.mcmanus.54

 

TERRY SHAMES-THE SAMUEL CRADDOCK SERIES

 

Terry Shames 3 photo by Margaretta K. Mitchell Terry Shames is the author of the award-winning best-selling Samuel Craddock series, set in the fictitious town of Jarrett Creek, Texas. MysteryPeople named Terry Shames one of the top Five Texas Mystery authors of 2015!

Welcome Terry, I am excited you are here and anxious to hear about this series. 

What brought about the writing of this particular series?

 I had been struggling to find a publishing niche for several years. I took time off when my son was in middle school and high school and when I went back to writing, I took a weekend workshop that changed my writing life. In it, one of the workshop leaders spoke passionately about the need to find your own voice. I had heard this advice before (“Find an empty space on the bookstore shelves and fill it,” and “Write the book that only you can write.”). Maybe I was ready to hear the advice, but a month later I sat down and thought about the book only I could write. I had written a few short stories set in the fictitious town of Jarrett Creek, which was based on the town where my grandparents lived when I was growing up, and I thought it would be a natural setting for me. And when I thought of a main character, there was really no question. I was very close to my grandfather. He was no angel, but he had a strong sense of fairness and responsibility. I thought those qualities would be excellent in a protagonist who solved crimes. The first book in the series poured out of me as if it had been waiting to be told.

I love the rural life you create your story in and the Texas setting. It’s that small settlement feeling, where everyone knows everyone. And the characters you create just come to life.

killing-at-cotton-hill-175  This book, A Killing at Cotton Hill, was a finalist for numerous awards and won the Macavity for Best First Mystery, 2013.

For those who don’t know The Macavity Award’s name is the “mystery cat” of T.S. Eliot (Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats). Each year the members of Mystery Readers International nominate and vote for their favorite mysteries in four categories.

Is there a purpose behind the story that you want your readers to know?

I have heard it said writers have one main story to tell, or one main idea to explore. I am always interested in the way secrets affect people. The person keeping the secret isn’t able to fully be part of a family and community. I’m not talking about small secrets (when you stole a lipstick from the drugstore when you were nine), I’m talking about the big ones. Big secrets ripple all the way through the community. Sometimes an entire community has made the decision to ignore an open secret. When I was growing up, there was a woman in our community who was a kleptomaniac. Everyone knew it and was complicit in allowing her husband to quietly return purloined items.

nonie-blake-175    Families sometimes simply don’t talk about the family member who is a little “off.” In my latest book, The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake, the family has chosen to hide a family member who did something terrible by sending her to a mental facility. But as the book reveals, there’s more to it. Liars keep secrets in order to save face. And sometimes they even kill to make sure the secret doesn’t overwhelm them.

What was the most challenging part in writing this story?

For some reason The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake didn’t present the challenge I talked about in the prior answer. It seemed to unfold easily. But in that book most of the challenge was in researching how mental illness would have been described and handled twenty years ago.

dead-broke-175  Every book seems to present a challenge at some point. Usually for me it’s the plot resolution. I know how I want it to end, but I don’t know exactly how to get there. My third book, Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek, lead me astray until I had a complete mess. Finally I went back to the middle and realized where I had gone wrong. Sometimes it’s when you try to force your characters into roles they don’t want to inhabit, but sometimes it’s not exerting enough control over your story. It’s a delicate balance. 

death of jacklast-death-175 The Last Death of Jack Harbin was a Macavity finalist for Best Mystery, 2014 and named one of the top ten mysteries of 2014 by Library Journal and top five of 2014 by MysteryPeople.

Tell us about this book.

 Right before the outbreak of the Gulf War, two eighteen-year-old football stars and best friends from Jarrett Creek, Texas, signed up for the army. But Woody Patterson was rejected and stayed home to marry the girl they both loved, while Jack Harbin came back from the war badly damaged. The men haven’t spoken since.

Just as they are about to reconcile, Jack is brutally murdered. With the chief of police out of commission, it’s up to trusted ex-chief Samuel Craddock to investigate. Against the backdrop of small-town loyalties and betrayals, Craddock discovers dark secrets of the past and present to solve the mystery of Jack’s death.

Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge When I finished my fourth book, A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge, which came out last May, the end didn’t satisfy me. It was empty and didn’t give me the resolution I wanted. My editor told me to keep thinking about it. Finally I appealed to my agent, and she told me that one scene didn’t quite work for her. I immediately realized that what was in my head hadn’t fully made it onto the page. Fixing it required a whole new scene and a big expansion of another scene. When I was done, I knew it was right.

 I read A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge. Could not put it down. Loved the twist you created in the story. In fact, I liked it so well, my husband decided he wanted to read it. He too could enjoyed reading this book and liked your story style.

Did the writing require a lot of research and if so what kind?

All the books require some kind of research. I do “backwards” research, which I fear one day will get me in trouble. I usually write my books the way I “think” things would go. If I have a question about the way law enforcement works, how an autopsy would be handled, or the type of gun someone would carry, for example, I write it the way I think it would be and put big stars around it. When the first draft is done, I go back to find the stars and research how it would really happen—to make sure I haven’t made any glaring mistakes. In a couple of books, I’ve had to go back several years to find out how things would have been done.

In book three, I relied on an official website for information about law enforcement. After the book was edited, I had the good fortune to attend a talk at Heart of Texas Sisters in Crime, given by a veteran detective. I asked him about the protocol. He laughed and told me that officially it was supposed to work that way, but in reality it was handled much differently. I instantly phoned my editor. Fortunately, it wasn’t too late to make the few lines of changes. Here’s the thing: it wouldn’t have really mattered if the book had been published with the error. I doubt that anyone would have quibbled. But I knew that it was wrong, and I wanted it to be right.

Thank you Terry for visiting with us today. We have enjoyed learning more about your writing and books. I recommend them for other readers, knowing they will enjoy your stories and writing style.

Be sure a visit Terry Shames at:

http://terryshames.com/

http://terryshamesbooks.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Elaine Marie Cooper

Elaine Cooper   If you like to read historical fiction, you will enjoy reading Author/Speaker Elaine Marie Cooper’s novels 

Welcome Elaine. I read where you described yourself as a geek.

Yes, I’m definitely a history geek because delving into the little known facts of our American History is pure fun for me. My bookshelves are filled with volumes about the American Revolution. I became fascinated with this era when I was growing up in Massachusetts.

You have two award-winning books, Fields of the Fatherless, a Young Adult historical book and Bethany’s Calendar, which is a memoir of your daughter’s battle with brain cancer.

Before we talk about your historical writing, tell us about your book, Bethany’s Calendar. This book released in December 2014, correct?

Bethanys Calendar Cover Yes.  My world was turned upside down in January of 2002 when my then 23-year-old daughter was rushed to the local emergency room and subsequently diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. My husband and I took care of her for a year and nine months in our home. While we hoped and prayed that she would recover, the Lord had other plans. Bethany’s Calendar covers each month of her illness, what she went through and what our family went through. I did not hold back on the fears we experienced nor the faith that God helped strengthen in us during that time. It was an emotional journey that still brings tears to my eyes. Yet I know someday I will see her again. Praise God.

That must have been a hard book to write. Your passion for your family and your faith played a big part in this time of your life I am sure. 

Without my faith in the Lord, I’m not sure I would have survived this event. It was very painful to write Bethany’s Calendar yet the Lord made it clear to me that He wanted me to do so. Since it’s release, I have heard from numerous readers who thank me for sharing this story. That’s when I realize how important my daughter’s testimony is and how her legacy still lives on.

Your most recent publication is Road to Deer Run, a historical romance set in Colonial America in 1777. It is Book 1 of the Deer Run Saga and this will be followed by Promise of Deer Run in June 2016. Legacy of Deer Run in December 2016 and Saratoga Letters will release in October 2016 and will be a historical romantic suspense set in both 1777 and 1977.

This is very exciting to learn what you have in store for your fans.

Tell us about your book, Fields of the Fatherless.

fields of the fatherliess9781938499920_cvr_v2-193x300  This book was the winner of the 2014 Selah Award, YA Fiction; the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Best Religious Fiction; and winner of the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, Best YA Religious Fiction. It is also based on a true story.

The real events depicted in Fields of the Fatherless actually occurred right down the street from where I grew up in Arlington, MA. I never forgot the old house on the corner and, as an adult, decided to find out about its history. Well that piqued this writer’s interest and I knew it was a story worth telling.

Here is the synopsis:

In the early months of 1775, war is brewing in the American colonies. Although frightened, eighteen-year-old Betsy Russell of Menotomy Village, Massachusetts, wants to be prepared in case of attack by British troops. Her father, prosperous farmer Jason, is the fourth generation of Russells on this land yet their very rights as British Colonials are being stripped away one by one. Will the King of England take their land as well? Tensions are growing here in the countryside west of Boston and the outbreak of battle seems a certainty. Jason desperately wants to protect his wife, children and grandchildren and their future. Betsy makes every attempt to be prepared for the worst. But not even the American militia could have predicted the bloody massacre that was about to occur right on the Russells doorstep. If Betsy loses everything she holds dear, are the rights of all the Colonists endangered?

 

Road to Deer Run - Cover  Next Road to Deer Run Released. Give us some background on this one.

This book is actually inspired by my own 4th great grandparents during the American Revolution. It definitely made the writing a personal endeavor! Here is the synopsis:

 The year is 1777 and the war has already broken the heart of Mary Thomsen, a nineteen-year-old colonial woman from Massachusetts. Her brother, Asa is dead — killed by the King’s army—so when she stumbles across a wounded British soldier, her sense of right and wrong is challenged. Should she help a soldier of the enemy who took her brother’s life, or let him die, cold and alone?

The war has also broken British soldier Daniel Lowe’s spirit. A severely wounded prisoner of war, he escaped his rebel captors while on a death march to Boston. As the pain in his injured leg worsens, he wonders if the young woman looking down at him is an angel or the enemy.

Need and compassion bring these two young lives together, but will the bitterness of war keep them apart? Or can they find their way to love and forgiveness on the Road to Deer Run?

These were great books, especially for those of us who like historical fiction set in these periods.

Thank you so much. I personally love to read historical fiction as well!

Thank you so much for dropping by to visit with us. I know your fans are excited to hear you have books coming out this year.

Thanks so much for having me as your guest!

Keep us posted on your books.

Elaine would love to hear from you so be sure and catch up with her on her blog:

http://www.elainemariecooper.com/blog/

And her website:

http://www.elainemariecooper.com/

Until next time, Happy Reading.