Also, I just started as a tour host for Bewitching Book Tours. Interviews, guest posts and reviews will be found on this page.
The Birth of a New Christ
Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Joyce Strand!!
Mysteries engage and entertain. They challenge us to solve a puzzle while we enjoy watching a protagonist remove a villain’s roadblocks and avoid false leads. Sometimes we appreciate a little romance as well. Basically I enjoy reading a challenging, well-thought out mystery. Therefore, I strive to write them as well.
A good mystery offers a puzzle you want to solve, an interesting protagonist you care about—either professional or amateur—, a clever villain, evolving clues to drive a conclusion, red herrings to stifle success, a supporting setting, some humor, a little suspense and tension, and perhaps a touch of romance. I personally prefer less violence, and more puzzle to my mysteries, but the tension of some villainous mischief can add to the fun.
Q: Is Jillian Hillcrest (your protagonist) based on you?
Q: Where do you get your ideas for your mysteries?
I draw Jillian Hillcrest mysteries from real California cases, although I definitely fictionalize the stories. I based ON MESSAGE on a murder of a retired biotechnology executive in La Jolla, Calif. OPEN MEETINGS is centered on a crime network of police and retired police in the San Francisco area, although no murders were committed as part of the real crimes. I am focusing the third mystery (underway) FAIR DISCLOSURE on insider trading and an expert networking firm in Silicon Valley; again no murders were involved in the real case.
I plan to write a historical mystery next about a judge in early 1940s California. I’m intrigued how to solve a mystery without a cell phone and the internet during a war and depression.
Q: Do you outline your stories or do your characters push you around?
When I start to write, I know what the crime is, my opening scene, and the conclusion. I let my characters lead me through the puzzle pieces, introduce us to new characters, and create some suspense. Sometimes I have to cut back on their enthusiasm, which can require a significant amount of rewriting, but on the whole they seem to know what they’re doing.
Q: Do you listen to music when you write? What kind?
I wish I could listen to music while writing. I love Broadway tunes, jazz, and classical music. However, I am one of those people who needs to go to the library to study. Therefore, when I write, I make much more progress if the room is quiet.
Q: What do you do when you're not writing?
If I’m not writing, blogging, facebooking, or tweeting. I enjoy attending live theater – particularly musicals—and movies. I also like eating at nice (and not-so-nice) restaurants, visiting wineries, and reading mysteries. I avoid housecleaning, sewing, and yardwork. As you might anticipate given my love of mysteries, I do watch Castle, White Collar, Bones, NCIS, Mystery Theater, and CSI on TV.
Mystery author Joyce T. Strand, much like her fictional character, Jillian Hillcrest, served as head of corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder. Rather, she focused on publicizing her companies and their products. Joyce received her Ph.D. from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA She currently lives in Southern California with her two cats, a collection of cow statuary and art, and her muse, the roadrunner.
Jillian Hillcrest returns as a PR Executive to join with a local Silicon Valley reporter who is uneasy about the supposed DUI death of an informant. He solicits Jillian’s help along with that of her neighbor, a retired police officer, to look into events in his hometown north of the Napa/Sonoma wine country. Jillian’s ex-husband grows more and more certain he wants to re-marry her. OPEN MEETINGS was inspired by a network of criminal ex- and current police officers in the broader San Francisco Bay Area.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Robin is a fellow Liquid Silver Books author. I think you'll enjoy this historical romance novella.
Talin’s most trusted captain, Nadia d’Arcy, is ordered to abduct Mathis and bring him by force to Noventia for the wedding, a marriage that is not what it seems to be.
Mathis and Nadia’s mutual attraction tests both the captain’s loyalty to her prince and Mathis’ already worn patience. As a rebellion begins to threaten all that they hold dear, Nadia must choose between the life she has always known or surrender to the handsome prince who is determined to make her his.
You Tube Trailer
As if I’d ceased to exist, Tinker Bell blinked her eyes and regained her lovely self, face smoothing, shining once again in sunny elegance. Reboot and resume program. She gracefully stood and glided to the tray, set the bowl precisely in the center, lifted the tray and left the room without hesitation.
Booted footsteps crossed the room toward me. Act II, scene ii. Exit Nasty Tinker Bell, Enter God-Only-Knows-What-Now. My face was sticky with whatever the brothy stuff had been, my hair wet and fouled. I stank. I hurt. I was chained to a bed in a place so completely unknown I couldn’t begin to understand it. I tried to squeeze my legs closer together, but the chains seemed at the limit of their reach. The energy of my brief triumph evaporated, allowing tears to well up again.
Oh, please, please, please, do not cry. The threatening sting worsened. I closed my eyes and one tear leaked out. He stopped next to me, surveying me.
“Let’s try again, shall we?” The man pulled his hands away. I could hear him brush them against his thighs. Soup, tears and blood. Yuck.
He arched his left eyebrow, blueness in the elegant arch, repeating the deep shades of the fanged lines around it.
“Shall we?” he repeated.
I stared at him. What was the question?
Guest blogger every 5th and 19th of the month on: www.downtownya.blogspot.com
Books available online and in print
Book trailers available on You Tube
Rhona has the divvy gift; she can see who is fertile and who is a cursed and outcast Shun. The people of the Deom depend on the divvys for survival, but it is a hard and brutal gift. As long as Rhona’s mother was alive, Rhona had followed the old ways, but now her mother is dead and Rhona is free. She has one last promise to fulfill: to find her mother’s friend Selina and help her.
Rhona finds Selina, only to become enmeshed in Selina’s vengeance against the body-stealing Rider, who has destroyed Selina’s son. Selina’s plan fails and she dies. Or does she? With the Rider pursuing her, Rhona flees across the land of Deo, desperate to keep her word and hide the one thing that might destroy the Rider. Rhona, her son Jak, her lover Matteo the Shun, and the strange girl called Aniles work together to discover the secrets of the Rider — and the true nature of the land of Deo.
You know the story: A knight in shining armor does brave acts of chivalry, with help or opposition from a sorcerer. The knight also serves an unobtainable princess with total devotion. And he's unbeatable in battle.
This fantasy meta-story has been floating around in the European collective consciousness since ... well, if you're well-read, you know that Miguel de Cervantes wrote Don Quixote de La Mancha to ridicule these stories. And that's probably all you know.
Here's your chance to learn the truth.
In the Middle Ages, troubadours circulated stories about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table throughout Europe. In Spain, these stories coalesced around one knight, Amadis of Gaul, who lived before King Arthur and was the greatest knight in the world. The stories were collected and expanded in a novel by Garcí Rodríguez de Montalvo right when the printing press became big business.
This novel became Renaissance Europe's first best-seller. It spawned dozens of sequels and a hundred spin-offs, popular with emperors and peasants alike. Nobles dressed up and re-enacted the stories. A century later it had gotten so silly that Cervantes cashed in with a satire.
And yet, even he insisted that Amadis of Gaul was so good it deserved to be read.
You can do that. I've been translating Amadis of Gaul from medieval Spanish to modern English a chapter at a time at http://amadisofgaul.blogspot.com, and now I've collected the chapters for Book I of the four-part novel into a book.
It's the Middle Ages in its own words, and you might be in for a surprise.
First of all, there's sex. All that repression and chastity belt nonsense was invented in the Renaissance or later. Amadis is born out of wedlock, in fact. And although Amadis is too pure to accept carnal thanks from the damsels he rescues, other knights do.
Then, there's violence. Knights hack each other to death bit by bit with swords as body parts fall to the ground. Or they smite their opponents in one gruesome blow with a lance. Or chop their heads in two with axes. Amadis always wins, but sometimes just barely. At one point, he's trying to hide his identity and is recognized by the scars on his face. This book drips with blood.
As for the sorcerers, even the good ones do creepy things, and the bad ones are arrogant and evil. The worst sorcerer of all, Amadis's sworn enemy, ought to be smote but somehow he keeps getting away while his minions get burned at the stake.
Be prepared for a typical medieval story, too: interweaving plots. This isn't just about Amadis. This book tells the story of his family, his friends, his king, and their families and friends. Everyone has adventures.
Finally, you can discover why women treasured this novel to the point that religious authorities became alarmed. It wasn't just over the love and sex, although the love story between Amadis and Princess Oriana does get scandalous. In the Middle Ages, women filled important roles, and as their lives became more and more restricted in the Renaissance, they could escape to the past with this exciting book.
Sue Burke was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and lived briefly in Austin, Texas, y'all, before moving to Madrid, Spain, in December 1999. She has worked as a journalist and editor, and began writing fiction 20 years ago. She also teaches English to Spanish teenagers, which is an education for them and for her. Her websites are http://www.sue.burke.name and http://mount-oregano.livejournal.com
At night, when the quiet enters and my mind settles, I ask myself the question. My breath is deep and my exhale long and slow. I am tired, my eyes burn with the lateness of the hour and the knowledge that I am not yet done. Again, I ask myself the question. Through the fatigue and the strain, my eyes focus on the answer. They show me that what I’ve been working so hard for is no longer just a dream. At night, when the quiet enters my mind, I ask myself why I write. The answer stares back at me from my shelf. I write in the hopes that one day my work will help or inspire another in need.
I write military/suspense/romance novels because of my intense respect and admiration for our Warriors. It is within the pages of my works that I honor those brave men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice for their country and the civilians they protect. Without their inner strength and ability, our world could be a wounded shell of a former democratic reign. Blessed are we to live in countries where freedom prevails. My gratitude to those brave individuals who keep liberty standing strong runs deep. My need to give thanks in the only form I know how, takes me to dark places in the souls of our heroes. Our countries need to recognize just what the Warriors take on to allow us our complaints on more trivial matters. These men and women serve their country until the day they die. There is no retirement from the demons that haunt a wounded body and mind.
It is with utter respect and humiliation that I write for those who fight. I will tell their stories. I will walk in their shoes. I will offer my support. This is the least I can do. I wish it were more.
‘Love And Liberty’
Captain Jack Parsons can only sit and watch as what is left of his platoon is ordered into the back of a truck. Along with his men, they’ve taken the only woman he’s ever allowed to penetrate his heart. Jack is going to do everything in his power to save them all before it’s too late.
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
Tara travels to Las Alamos National Laboratory, the location of Magnusson’s disappearance. She meets the serious, impatient, and highly attractive Agent Harry Li— and re-encounters her old partner, Richard Corvus. Corvus is now chief of the Special Projects Division, a position Tera might have held, had she not dropped out of investigative work. Corvus considers Tara mentally imbalanced and not to be trusted— but it may be Corvus who is untrustworthy.
Tara’s investigation and Tarot cards tell her Magnusson’s daughter, Cassie, may hold the key to her father’s plans, and that they both are in grave danger. Meanwhile, Corvus and the Daughters of Delphi have their own plans...and the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
Tara Sheridan is the best criminal profiler around - and the most unconventional. Trained as a forensic psychologist, Tara also specializes in Tarot card reading. But she doesn't need her divination skills to realize that the new assignment from her friend and sometime lover, Agent Harry Li, is a dangerous proposition in every way.
Former Cold War operatives, all linked to a top-secret operation tracking the disposal of nuclear weapons in Russia, are disappearing. There are no bodies, and no clues to their whereabouts. Harry suspects a conspiracy to sell arms to the highest bidder. The cards - and Tara's increasingly ominous dreams -suggest something darker. Even as Tara sorts through her feelings for Harry and her fractured relationships with the mysterious order known as Delphi's Daughters, a killer is growing more ruthless by the day. And a nightmare that began decades ago in Chernobyl will reach a terrifying endgame that not even Tara could have foreseen…
Two of Swords: The Balance
Live and Let Fly Blurb:
For a dragon detective with a magic-slinging nun as a partner, saving the worlds gets routine. So, when the US government hires Vern and Sister Grace to recover stolen secrets for creating a new Interdimensional Gap--secrets the US would like to keep to itself, thank you—Vern sees a chance to play Dragon-Oh-Seven.
No human spy, however, ever went up against a Norse goddess determined to exploit those secrets to rescue her husband. Sigyn will move heaven and earth to get Loki—and use the best and worst of our world against anyone who tries to stop her.
It's super-spy spoofing at its best with exotic locations (Idaho--exotic?), maniacal middle-managers, secret agent men, teen rock stars in trouble, man-eating animatronics, evil overlords and more!
A Little About Karina:
f there’s such a thing as ADD of the imagination, Karina Fabian has it—in spades. Craft books, devotionals, serious science fiction, comedic horror and chilling fantasy—she follows her interests and the characters that tell her their stories.
Google +: https://plus.google.com/103660024891826015212
Find Live and Let Fly at:
Two and a half centuries ago, Calisto Terana lost everything when a zealous priest murdered the woman he loved. Now, desperate for another chance to love her, he wants redemption for the mistake that cost her life.
After catching her fiance with another woman, Kate Bradley returns to San Diego to clear her head. The last thing she needs is romance, but after meeting Calisto she’s drawn to him in ways she doesn’t understand.
Calisto has no doubt Kate is the reincarnation of his lost love, but the Fraternidad Del Fuego Santo has a new watcher with dark ambitions of his own. As old enemies reemerge and a new threat arises, the betrayal that enslaved Calisto to the night might destroy the only woman he’s ever loved again.
About the Author:
Lisa Kessler is an avid reader and writer of dark fiction. Her short stories have been published in print anthologies and magazines, and her vampire story, Immortal Beloved, was a finalist for a Bram Stoker award.
Lisa recently signed a 4 book deal with Entangled Publishing to release her Night Series. The first book, Night Walker, is scheduled to be released August 5th.
When she's not writing, Lisa is a professional vocalist, performing with the San Diego Opera as well as other musical theater companies in San Diego. You can learn more at http://Lisa-Kessler.com
Lisa lives in southern California with her incredibly fun husband and two amazing kids.
My guest today is Faye Frost, author of The Haunting of Lovesong House. It is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, Damnationbooks.com, and various other ebook and paperback venues online. Faye's website is www.spiritofthesouth.net
Looks like this book has a strong Gothic flavor for all of you who love that genre!
Available for Purchase At:
Nook - http://bit.ly/tQK7DP
Lyon's Legacy: Catalyst Chronicles, Book One
Sometimes being a geneticist isn’t enough to understand your family....
When scientist-in-training Joanna Lyon learns her rich uncle plans to have their rock legend ancestor, Sean Lyon, cloned, she’s disgusted. Uncle Jack pushed her into music when she was younger, and she hated it. So it’s particularly galling that he wants her to travel through a wormhole to an alternate universe and sample Sean’s DNA. She only agrees to go so she can secretly sabotage the project. But meeting Sean forces her to re-examine her feelings about her family, including her estranged father. Can she protect the unborn clone from her uncle, and will she have to sacrifice her career and new-found love to do so?
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lyons-legacy-sandra-almazan/1106468355?ean=2940013232457&itm=2&usri=lyon27s%2blegacy