SORROW’S EDGE TOUR—Interview with Danielle DeVor

[Danielle DeVor]If you’re a fan of all things strange and horror-ific, you’re going to enjoy this interview with the talented Danielle DeVor. A few days ago, I wrote a review of Sorrow’s Edge (The Marker Chronicles Book 2), which you can find here. So, let’s get started!

First, let me say I’m thrilled you decided to spend a little time over at Glass Highway, Danielle. You know what a huge fan of your work I am. Okay, enough with the gushing. Can you talk about some of the things that drove you to pair up a former Catholic priest with a witch? I mean, seriously, that’s pretty inventive.

I wanted to make Jimmy a well-rounded character and to do that he needed some sort of love interest. It had popped into my head early that he’d been forced to leave the priesthood, but I needed a reason that did not make him out to be a bad guy—so thus, plausible to be able to fight the demonic. (You have to have a certain purity of heart to perform exorcisms.)

So, when the idea of a situation with a girl was misconstrued popped into my head, Tabby started taking shape. She’s based on a friend of mine who happens to be a witch. And, I figured, it would be interesting to have a man of God be open minded because the church and its proclamations aren’t perfect. And, of course, having been forced to leave, he would have a more unique view of Christianity and God as a whole.

Like most Catholics, Jimmy is a pretty tortured soul—not as tortured as the possessed, but… When all is said and done, what would you like him to have learned at the end of the journey?

That sometimes things happen, and there isn’t anything you can do about it, and the only person you can truly blame is yourself.

Tabby is an interesting character. I think she plays off Jimmy very well—mainly because she never lets him get away with anything. Do you find a bit of yourself in her?

There’s a lot of me in Jimmy—mostly the getting frustrated and cussing at the creepy things. I am sure there is some of me in Tabby too, but I also try to get inside her head. I wanted a strong female character that wouldn’t be overpowered by Jimmy.

So, what was it like researching the witchy stuff?

Fun. Though, I didn’t do the research specifically for this book. I am a religion nerd. By that, I mean that I find religions, all religions, fascinating. So, I study whatever perks my interest. Witchcraft and Voodoo have been one of my subjects for a long time.

After that hair-raising first book in the series, I thought it was interesting that you decided to take the show on the road. What was your main motivation for doing that?

It is extremely rare to have a bunch of exorcisms in the same close area. Rome is probably the oddball in that respect. Here in the US, they are spread out a lot more. So, having Jimmy and Tabby have to go somewhere clear across the country was a natural thing.

I noticed that you give the reader a little taste of what’s to come in Book Three. Any other tidbits you’d care to share?

Animated dead bodies. Old Latin books. Candy. ;)

Can’t wait for Book Three! Best of luck, and thanks again for stopping by, Danielle.

Book 2 in the fascinating series The Marker Chronicles!

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Sorrow’s Edge (The Marker Chronicles, Book 2)

Uncovering the truth will take an exorcist.
 
Jimmy Holiday, defrocked priest turned exorcist, is trying to get his life in order. With his on-again off-again witchy girlfriend moving in, the spirit of the little girl from his last exorcism hanging around, and a secret organization of exorcists hounding him, Jimmy equals stressed.

When a stranger calls in the middle of the night asking for help with a possession, Jimmy is about to land in a mess of trouble. Especially since the man on the phone claims to have gotten his number from Jimmy’s old mentor. Too bad his mentor has been dead for years.

After a mysterious silver flask arrives at his doorstep, Jimmy is left with two options: either ignore the newest enigma the universe has tossed him, or listen to Lucy and travel to Arizona to solve the mystery before all hell breaks loose…again.
You can buy SORROW’S EDGE at these retailers:

 Amazon     |     Barnes & Noble

tourabouttheauthora

Danielle DeVor

Named one of the Examiner’s 2014 Women in Horror: 93 Horror Authors you Need to Read Right Now, Danielle DeVor has been spinning the spider webs, or rather, the keyboard for more frights and oddities. She spent her early years fantasizing about vampires and watching “Salem’s Lot” way too many times. When not writing and reading about weird things, you will find her hanging out at the nearest coffee shop, enjoying a mocha frappuccino.

You can follow Danielle at these links:

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |   Instagram

Excerpt

I got the phone call at three. Just as Lucy said I would. I was really starting to hate the true “witching hour.” I needed sleep, dammit.
I let the phone ring a few times, hoping that whoever was on the other end would just hang up. I wasn’t that lucky. I dragged my tired-ass body up, grabbed my phone off the nightstand, and swiped the screen.
“Mr. Holiday?” the man asked when I grunted into the phone.
“You realize it’s 3:00 AM, right?” My head hit the pillow. I did not want to be doing this right now.
The man sighed. “It couldn’t be helped. We need you.”
I twitched. Who the hell was this guy anyway? Kind of presumptuous to call somebody at random this late at night when you’d never met the person on the other end. Apparently, manners weren’t his strong point.
I glanced around the room. The lamp in the corner was on. The light glowed just enough to keep my mind at ease. I’d gotten into the habit of sleeping with a light on ever since Sorrow’s Point. Yeah, it was irrational, but hey, I was trying to keep the beasties at bay. From the dim light, I could see Lucy sitting on the floor in front of the TV. I, just barely, made out the program through her. Her hair was as pale as usual and so blond it seemed almost white. She wore the same white nightgown she always did.
“How did you get my number?” I had to know. I mean, I doubted Will would suggest me to someone else. Things hadn’t exactly ended on a positive note.
“You came highly recommended.”
That was news to me. A very small group of people even knew I did something besides graphic design. “By who?”
“That’s not important right now. You’re needed. That’s what should matter.”
I sat up. Not important to him, maybe, but it sure as shit was important to me. I squeezed the phone so hard my knuckles began to ache. If I broke it, this asshole was going to owe me another phone. “Listen. I’m not about to traipse around and do whatever the hell it is you want me to when you won’t tell me who you are or who told you about me.”
“O’Malley said you’d be difficult.”
I froze. Father O’Malley had been the one who allowed me to see the church as a vocation when I was a kid. But there was one problem. He’d been dead since before I left the church. I didn’t care where he got the information. That was a low blow. I clenched my teeth.
“I’m going to hang up now. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t call here again—”
“No, wait!”
The desperation in his voice was the only thing that kept me from hanging up the phone. “All right. I’m listening.”
“O’Malley told me about you in a dream. When I woke up, your phone number was scrawled on my hand.”
Yeah, I knew that kind of weird. I had firsthand experience with it. Having a dead person talk to him in a dream wasn’t that different from a disembodied soul speaking to me in a nightmare. Yeah, my life was really interesting. Though I’d never drawn on myself in my sleep. That was a new one. “Who is it who needs an exorcism?”
The guy hung up. I literally heard the phone hitting the cradle. Who used an old phone like that anymore? I almost threw my cell phone against the wall. I mean, what the hell? Wake me up in the middle of the night for what?
I scratched the sleep out of my eyes and glanced over at Lucy. “Don’t you ever sleep?”
She stared at me and grinned. Her blue eyes almost sparkled. “I don’t have to.”
I shook my head. Of course a kid would think it great to not sleep. I, on the other hand needed my rest—strange phone calls or not. And if someone else called, I’d probably be facing a murder charge.
“Do you think Tabby will like me?” Lucy asked. She stayed dressed in this little white frilly nightgown. I wasn’t sure if it was her favorite or if there was something else at work keeping her dressed that way. When I’d done her exorcism, she sure wasn’t in frills.
Now that was the question, wasn’t it? I’d been toying with the idea of not telling Tabby about my ghostly child, but it appeared that was no longer an option. And with my luck, Tabby would eventually see her, freak out, and the whole thing would be blown out of proportion.
“I’m sure she will…” I hoped that was true. “After she gets used to the idea.”
Lucy stared at me for a bit. I could tell she wasn’t buying it. Best I start remembering there was more to her than to a regular six-year-old.
“It will all work out,” I told her. “Eventually.” Part of that was me trying to convince myself. There was only so much oddness a normal person could take, and I figured I was probably getting close to the threshold.
“Uh-huh,” Lucy said, back to watching the TV. How she could just sit in front of the TV for hours on end, I didn’t know. It was almost like she became somehow hypnotized by it.
I laid my head back on the pillow. Hopefully, I could go back to sleep. Hopefully, I could stop worrying about that odd phone call. Hopefully…who was I kidding? I was seriously screwed. Again.

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11/6/16 Natalia Brothers mycookbookofwriting.blogspot.com
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11/12/16 Christina Mandara http://christinamandara.com
11/12/16 Ronelle Antoinette http://www.redhotbooks.com
11/12/16 Tina Traverse https://writersonthewharf.wordpress.com

Interview with Rebecca Warner, Author of MORAL INFIDELITY

[Rebecca Warner]Recently, I had the pleasure of reviewing Moral Infidelity, a complex political thriller by talented author Rebecca Warner. Today, I am pleased to present my interview with her. In the words of Michael Romano, lucky son of a bitch!

Rebecca, welcome. It’s my understanding that you’ve read an extraordinary number of books in your lifetime. Can you talk about some of your favorite genres and how they have influenced you as a writer?

I began reading at a very early age, which allowed me to read so many books over my lifetime. My mother couldn’t punish me by sending me to my room, because I was perfectly happy just to be left alone to read. Throughout elementary school, junior high and high school, I would check out a new book every day from the library.  I would do my homework, then read the book and return it the next day for another. My earliest real influence, discovered in junior high, was Victoria Holt, who wrote gothic novels. That led me to the classics authors, like the Bronte sisters, Daphne Du Maurier, Jane Austin and Oscar Wilde, to name a few. Though I didn’t read as much in college because I was a business major and had very little leisure time, I always had a book going. After college, as a young single woman in Miami, I went through the Danielle Steele and Sidney Sheldon and Jackie Collins phase. Then I revisited John Steinbeck, and was sort of reborn in terms of seeking out the classics, but this time more of the 20th century classics. Stephen King got my attention in the 1970s, and has kept it, and then James Patterson made me appreciate suspense/thrillers/mysteries, which became—and still is—my favorite genre. So I was especially pleased that Moral Infidelity, my first book, won the Bronze Medal for the category of Fiction: Thriller in the Readers’ Favorite 2015 International Book Contest.

Have you always written, or did you wake up one day after reading another great book and say, “I can do this too!”?

If I may tell a story about a specific incident in my life that influenced me to be a writer…

In the fourth grade, I was in a class that was classified as “accelerated,” though I never stood out in any way among the many truly smart children in my class. One day the teacher put up a picture of a little boy in red pajamas, sitting in front of a fireplace, holding a golden dog in his arms. We were supposed to write something about it—tell the story. I remember very clearly going to another place in my mind (I didn’t yet understand that “zone”) and writing words that seemed to come from outside of me. The teacher then had us read our papers, and as others got up and read theirs, I realized how different mine was, and I felt I had failed in the assignment. When the teacher pointed to me to get up in front of the class to read mine, I was terribly embarrassed. I tried to get someone else to read it for me, but she shook her head ‘no.’ So I had no choice but to read it, and when I finished, the room was very quiet. I looked over at my teacher, expecting a disapproving look, but instead she was looking at me with admiration and astonishment, and then she said, “We have a genius in our class.” Powerful words that kept me writing short stories and poetry and winning awards for them throughout my school years.

In reading your work, I’ve noticed that you like to dig deep into your characters. After reading Moral Infidelity, I feel I know Michael intimately. Is there a particular author who influenced you in this regard?

I mentioned John Steinbeck earlier. In my opinion, he delved into the human heart and mind like no authors before or since, though I must laud Dostoyevsky in that regard as well. Think Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath.  Think Rodya in Crime and Punishment. Stephen King is also brilliant in that regard. The mental and emotional dissection of Andy and Red in TheShawshank Redemption is unparalleled in literature. With all of these authors, I was fascinated with the depth and the complexity they plumbed from their characters.  All subconsciously influenced me in my writing in terms of wanting to write more complex and conscience-driven characters.

You know, this is a great question, because before now, I never really analyzed why it was so critical that I so thoroughly develop Michael Romano’s character in Moral Infidelity—his descent into darkness and depravity even as he functioned on a higher plane in a privileged world. Your question has caused me to do so! Thanks, Steven.

Are you interested in movies and television? If so, do they influence your writing?

I love movies and television, and am fascinated that writers can conceive of such great ideas and then execute them so perfectly through dialogue and action. But I can’t honestly say that any movie or TV show has influenced my writing.

I apologize in advance for the obligatory question, but what are you working on now?

The book I am writing now is a thriller based on a true-life event, though it is fiction. For decades, I had a Russian ballet teacher in Miami, Madam Renee, whom I loved and kept in touch with even after I moved to North Carolina. Every time I was in Miami, I would take her to a lovely restaurant, so befitting her appreciation of fine things which she could no longer afford. One day, I was picking her up to take her to the Biltmore Hotel for an elegant pool-side lunch. When I got to her home and she came outside, I was shocked and horrified by her appearance. Normally so stylishly turned out, she was disheveled, wore virtual rags, was emaciated, and had a big gash on her leg.

The patio attached to her home was encased in roof-to-ground iron bars, for security reasons. She had always come and gone through the keyed iron gate set within the bars, but that day she told me she couldn’t find the key. I knew that a man who had married and divorced her niece had moved in with her, which I always thought a bit odd, but she was glad to have the company and added protection. But because she had obviously declined to such a great degree since he moved in, I became suspicious and alarmed. She was literally like a prisoner, and when—at my urging—she called him at work to ask where the key was, he gaslighted her into thinking she was demented and had misplaced it. Something just was not right, and I immediately alerted my former ballet classmates, including one who is a lawyer, to find out more about this man, and Renee’s circumstances. It became evident through our inquiries and also public records that he had taken over her property and her life, and we all felt she was in danger.

And so the idea of the book I am writing now, Ballet Barres, was born, with the objective of Renee’s devoted students of twenty-plus years coming together these many years later to save her from whatever evil intent this man has. And yes, I delve into his darker side!

Book Blurb

[Moral Infidelity Cover]

POLITICS…LUST…LIES…BETRAYAL

What if an anti-abortion governor, who is determined to enact stricter abortion laws in his state, had an affair that resulted in an unintended pregnancy?

In this two-time award-winning thriller, Florida Governor Michael Romano becomes embroiled in an ethical dilemma that threatens to shatter his marriage and his political career. His mistress wants him and his baby, and she will publicly destroy him if he doesn’t leave his wife to marry her. He finds himself walking a moral tightrope, where a single misstep can irretrievably ruin his carefully-constructed personal and political life.

Choice takes on a whole new meaning for Romano as he attempts to untangle himself from his sticky web of deceit.

Suspense builds as Romano weighs his limited options while fighting to keep his political career viable as he pursues enactment of anti-abortion laws. Caught in the nightmarish consequences of his treachery and duplicity, Romano must make choices that will test the strength of his moral fiber to its limits…But will his choices lead to his salvation, or his ruin?

Where to Buy

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada

About the Author
Rebecca Warner’s educational and professional background was in finance and banking in Miami, Florida. After she and her husband moved to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, Rebecca began writing articles for several local periodicals. Drawing upon her many years of advising the lovelorn and successful matchmaking, she also wrote a romance-and-relationship advice column. In 2014, she published her first book, Moral Infidelity, which won the Bronze Medal in the Readers’ Favorite 2015 International Book Awards’ thriller category, and Top 10 Honorable Mention in the 2015 Great Southeast Book Festival. Her second novel, Doubling Back To Love, was solicited for inclusion in a ten-novel romantic anthology, and her third book, He’s Just A Man, is a non-fiction self-help book for women seeking a mate.

Rebecca is a convivial feminist who blogs on her own sites and for The Huffington Post about topics of interest to women. She enjoys participating in podcasts and forums about women’s social, economic and political issues.

You can find Rebecca on Twitter, on Facebook, and at her website.

Ginger Nuts of Horror—5 Minutes with Steven Ramirez

[Steven - Friendly (Thumbnail)]Hey, check out my author interview over at Ginger Nuts of Horror. And thanks so much to Jim Mcleod for the opportunity. I had a great time doing it.

 

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

In college, I started writing screenplays. I did that for a number of years. If you live in LA, you sort of have to. I managed to sell one that was made into a feature film. At some point, I decided fiction was a better way to go. I’ve published a horror thriller trilogy called TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD and have written another novel and a novella—both of which I hope to publish soon.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Well, I have a family I am devoted to. I love to read, and I also like to watch movies and television.

Other than horror, what other things have been a major influence on your writing?

Crime fiction has always appealed to me. If you think about it, often characters do horrific things when committing crimes. Usually, it’s out of desperation.

Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?

I love the term Dark Fiction because it covers a lot of ground. When some people talk about Horror, they are imagining serial killers. Others prefer demons and the paranormal. And some think of fantasy. In my trilogy I chose zombies.

Who are some of your favourite authors?

There are many, but I will name a few I very fond of: Jack Finney, Richard Matheson, Shirley Jackson, and Patricia Highsmith.

What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?

For book and film, The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. For film alone, The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2.

How would you describe your writing style?

Okay, this is where my ego enters the room. I’ve always wanted a reviewer to describe my style as “visceral and immediate.” Let’s go with that.

Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?

Someone recently reviewed Book One of the trilogy and said, “Very nearly as good as Stephen King.” That means a lot to me because King is a master of the craft of writing.

To read the rest of the interview, jump over to Ginger Nuts of Horror.

Interview with Melodie Ramone, Author of LIGHTS OF POLARIS

[Lights of Polaris Banner]

Today, I’m pleased to have as my guest Melodie Ramone, author of the literary novel Lights of Polaris. Enjoy the interview, and don’t forget to enter the Lights of Polaris Giveaway!

Q. Melodie, you started writing at a fairly young age. What kinds of things did you write back when you were a kid?

A. I’ve always written literary fiction, more or less, but when I was a kid I wrote about weird stuff more than I do now. I was a pioneer of fan fiction (laughs). In 1983 or 1984, I wrote a twenty-page novella entitled The Return of ET, where ET came back to visit and got stuck again or something. I don’t remember, but I’m pretty sure it was awful. I do remember being told that it was unpublishable because of the original story. It was my introduction to copyright laws. But, beyond that, I wrote tons of poetry in junior high school and went into magazine articles and local newspaper when I was in high school. I did that for years. I didn’t really start full-length novels until I was in my thirties, but I wish I had.

Q. Wow, that’s way more writing than I did at that age! I was happy to learn that you had worked in the music industry for a number of years. Can you talk a little bit about that period? What are some of your favorite bands?

A. Oh, yeah. That. Well, my very first job was working for a small public relations firm from Baltimore, Maryland, that supported artists from Chrysalis Records. I was sixteen and had friends who were out in LA making a splash on the 80’s music scene. They introduced me to some people, and I got offered a job as an area representative in Chicago. What I did in the beginning was run around passing out flyers and doing inventory in record stores. I set up a street team, and we’d call radio stations and blow up the phones at MTV. We did snail mail blitzes and all kinds of stuff like that. It was a lot of fun, but it didn’t pay really great. Most of my salary consisted of backstage passes and free dinners, and I got to tag along from show to show on various tour buses with rock stars.

I did meet a ton of people, and I made friends with some unlikely souls. The music business isn’t a far cry from the publishing industry, to be honest. It’s colorful, vicious and wonderful. It’s filled with every type of personality you can imagine. I met people who were larger than life, and I met people who were nothing, but who the PR companies had blown up into something unreal. I think that alone was an education—watching human beings who were filled with real charisma and something magical being set shoulder to shoulder with pretenders. It taught me about the line between fact and fiction that transcends reality, and those geniuses at the PR firm showed me how to present that in a way that people can embrace. I use that spin a lot when I write, and spend a lot of time in that grey area with my characters. I learned from rock ‘n’ rollers that the truth is always in the grey, and I learned to spot it really quick.

My favorite bands? I’m really just so eclectic, meaning that I listen to all kinds of stuff. When I was in the biz, I worked with mainly heavy metal and punk rock bands, but I was raised on 70’s classic rock and folk music. My grandma loved big band and jazz. Now, I hop around a lot. Right now, believe it or not, I’m on a My Chemical Romance vs. 40’s and 50’s standards kick. Like for real. I’ll finish with The Black Parade and flip over to a Tony Bennett mix CD, and then I’ll go to Danger Days, and then pop over to Perry Como. I’m weird like that. But my heart is with punk rock. I mean, I’m old enough to say that I was alive when Sid Vicious was still around, but I really like some of the modern stuff. Cellabration is fabulous. This morning I listened to Stomachache and then put on Mel Torme. Like I said … eclectic. In fact, that may be an understatement.

Q. I would ask you to create a playlist for me, but I’m afraid my head would explode. Which reminds me … Your work has been described as “edgy.” Does this reflect your personality, or does the edginess come from a different place when you write?

A. I get that constantly! I ask the people who know me well to tell me why, and they say it’s because I tell the truth about things I’m not supposed to be talking about in the first place. If that’s edgy, then I definitely am, especially in what I write. I’m certainly not obnoxious, but I tend not to pull punches. If there’s a story to tell, it’s probably got some dirt and grit on it, and I don’t shy away from exposing it. Besides, dirt and grit makes things interesting and once you wash it off, then you can see whatever beautiful was beneath it. And I’m always looking for beauty, especially below the surface.

Q. I’m with you there. Sometimes, the most imperfect people make the best characters. What are the one or two things you would like readers to come away after finishing Lights of Polaris?

A. Well, with Lights of Polaris it was my goal to show what happens to a woman after she makes the decision to leave behind what’s making her unhappy, and does it. The truth is that many people walk around this world nearly dead inside, and only a few get to the point where the fight-or-flight reflex kicks in. Daisy Cade, the pivotal character in the book, desperately wants to live a life and not just survive her situation. So she does what society perceives as the “wrong thing to do” and—more or less—she runs like hell. From her job, from her home, from her relationship … from a life that was killing her. She throws herself at the mercy of her family for solace.

And then I wanted to show how even those who love us most and whom we trust can be doubting and judgmental about that kind of decision, and how society ridicules a woman who is being true to herself. I wanted to show how lives intertwine, too, so there are a couple of plots running through the book to reflect the intricacies of how one life affects another. And, lastly, how life itself can come screaming at us from out of nowhere when we least expect it, and aren’t even ready for it, and can offer us the things we most desperately want and need. It often happens at the worst possible times—when we are under the microscope of a society of people who mostly never had the courage to do what we have done.

So, in the end what I want people to walk away with is a sense of hope and the belief that you can go about your life in the oddest, most misunderstood way, and that if you’re true to yourself you can find your way to someplace livable, where you can breathe, relax the muscles in your neck and shoulders, and just be free. Because it is possible, and I have learned that there are more possibilities in this world than limitations if you accept them, have the courage to leap, and reject the notion of failure.

Q. Well put. Can you talk about what you are working on now?

A. I don’t really like to talk about upcoming projects, but I will say that I’m extremely excited about the one I’m working on. And I will tell you that it’s likely to be a book series in a genre that I have never written in before. But it will have guts and soul. And I will tell the truth like I always do, so it’s bound to be “edgy.” I don’t think there will ever be an escape from that for me.

Book Blurb

[Lights of Polaris Cover]

ENTER THE LIGHTS OF POLARIS GIVEAWAY

Throughout her life, Daisy Cade was a free spirit who tried to fit in, but her struggle to conform was futile. And it was suffocating her. Desperate for air, she would pack up and run, often leaving chaos in her wake. At the age of thirty, weary of being labeled a “wild child,” she descended into a loveless relationship with a man who targeted her with his insidious mental cruelty – a psychological abuse so overwhelming, it threatened her sanity.

On her thirty-fifth birthday, she fled that life, too.

She returned home to Chicago, safe in the refuge of her famous brother’s house, but reeling from the fallout of her latest breakup. What she didn’t expect was for her life to collide with Stuart Adkins, whose piercing blue eyes could see right through her and understand more than she wanted him to know.

An enigmatic woman on the edge. A devoted, but meddling family. An angry ex, hell-bent on payback, and a handsome Irish singer with a troubled past. Only one thing is certain: Daisy Cade’s future is arriving like a train that’s jumped the tracks.

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

About the Author
[Melodie Ramone]First published in literary magazines at the age of twelve, Melodie Ramone is a lifelong writer from the city of Chicago, Illinois.

“Words, words. Pens. Ink. It’s always been this way with me. Sometimes my fingertips get sore and sometimes I go blind, but I’m never happier than when I’m writing or have my nose shoved in a book. I get cranky when I don’t have something to create or feed to my brain.” A lifelong lover of music, she worked in the public relations sector of the music industry from the age of sixteen to twenty-four.

She is now settled into a four-bedroom house on a shady street in Central Illinois and spends her time as a full-time novelist, Certified Kitchen Witch, mother, public speaker, event organizer, stray cat rescue advocate, and community activist.

You can find Melodie on Twitter and at Author Melodie Ramone.

Ally Shields Interviews Me

Ally Shields, author of the Guardian Witch Book series, interviewed me recently and, let me tell you, it was a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy it …

Happy Wednesday, Booklovers!

This week we’re sharing coffee with horror writer Steven Ramirez and his zombies. And these are the blood-thirsty kind, so keep your wits about you. :)

Welcome, Steven. What would you like to drink?

STEVEN: Iced Caffè Americano year round.

Ally: Perfect. Coming right up. It’ll be ready by the time you’ve shown readers your bio.

BIO:
Steven Ramirez is the author of the horror thriller series Tell Me When I’m Dead. He has also published a number of short stories, as well as a children’s book, and he wrote the screenplay for the horror thriller film ‘Killers.’ To hear about new releases, visit stevenramirez.com/newsletter/. Steven lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughters.

Tell me something unique that isn’t in your regular bio: “Many years ago in Pasadena, I ran into the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, who was presumably on his way back to Cal Tech. I babbled something about how great I thought he was. Then his assistant wheeled him away. I’ve always regretted not having been better prepared.”

Author Website: http://www.stevenramirez.com/
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/byStevenRamirez
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StevenRamirezWriter
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/StevenRamirez
Author Google+: https://plus.google.com/+StevenRamirezWriter

Ally: Now we’re settled, let’s start off by talking zombies. How are yours like or different from those in other books and tv shows?

STEVEN: This is the third book in my horror thriller trilogy. When I started out the zombies were of the slow, shambling variety that anyone would recognize from Night of the Living Dead or The Walking Dead. But over the course of the story, the infecting virus evolved, and these creatures became faster and more cunning. By the time we get to the last book, they are blade-wielding sociopaths who like to hunt.

Ally: Needless to say, your zombies aren’t the romantic type. :) Let’s talk about something a little tamer. Tell us about your setting. Is it contemporary, such as in urban fantasy, or have you created an entirely different universe?

STEVEN: The Tell Me When I’m Dead series is contemporary, the first two books taking place in a fictional Northern California town called Tres Marias. For the third book I decided to move the action south to Los Angeles. Although the universe is recognizable to anyone who has lived in LA, there are elements that seem bizarre. For one thing, it rains like crazy throughout the book. Also, the fact that these maniacs are running around carving up people makes the story somewhat apocalyptic. To provide realism I tried using as many actual LA locations as I could. But I did take license with certain scenes for dramatic purposes.

To read the rest of the interview, please visit Ally’s blog.

Coyote Kishpaugh Interviews Me

Coyote Kishpaugh, coauthor (with Lauren Scharhag) of The Order of the Four Sons, interviewed me recently. Earlier this year Lauren wrote a guest post, which you can find here. With each of these interviews I peel away the onion a little more. I’m not sure what I’ll find when I get to the core, but it’s a fun ride. Enjoy …

Coyote: What kind(s) of books do you read? Do you have any favourites?

Steven Ramirez: As a writer, I love to read other peoples’ books. And my tastes vary a lot. On the one hand, I do enjoy horror. But I am also a fan of comedy—especially satire. One of my favorite horror-fantasy authors is Richard Matheson. As for comedy, I am still crazy about Kurt Vonnegut. Considering his rather tragic past, it’s a miracle he was able to produce so much humorous prose. I also love the classics—Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, especially.

Coyote: If you weren’t writing books, what would you be doing with that time and energy instead? Why?

Steven Ramirez: I would probably read a lot more books and watch more movies and television. When I was a kid, there was no Internet, so when I wasn’t outside riding my bike, I liked to read, go to the movies or sit in front of the TV. With the advent of Netflix, though, this tendency is becoming a problem. Writers are famous for procrastinating. Netflix and Amazon Prime are just what I needed!

Coyote: What first first inspired your writing of Tell Me When I’m Dead? How did the project begin?

Steven Ramirez: Well, I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. I’ve always wanted to write a story featuring zombies. But like George Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ I didn’t want to do the zombie apocalypse thing. I liked that he treated his story as small and fairly isolated. So with that in mind, I set my story in a fictional Northern California town.

Here’s the funny part, though. That book was supposed to be a one-off. But when I reached the end, I realized there was still more story to tell. So I continued with Book Two. And of course, you cannot have a series without at least three books, so I completed the trilogy, setting the last book in Los Angeles.

To read the rest of the interview, please visit Coyote’s blog.

Interview with M. J. Williams, Author of the ON THE ROAD Series

[MJ Williams]Today, I’m pleased to have as my guests Peggy Williams and Mary Joy Johnson, who together write under the pen name M. J. Williams and are the authors of Books One and Two of the “On the Road …” mystery series, On the Road to Death’s Door and On the Road to Where the Bells Toll.

Q. Welcome to you both. Mystery is a genre that seems to appeal to both young readers as well as adults. Personally, I love them, though I haven’t written one myself. So, tell us what’s unique about your stories.

A. Our “On the Road …” mystery series features a retired couple, Emily and Stan, who travel in an inherited, second-hand RV. The most frequent comments we get about our main characters are that they are the kind of people our readers would “love to sit and have a drink with.” We’ve sort of flipped traditional roles and put Emily in the lead when it comes to investigating, because of her law enforcement background. Stan, a retired history professor, is research oriented and more contemplative than his action-oriented wife. They are also grandparents, and in our second book, On the Road to Where the Bells Toll, which takes place in Boston, reviewers have consistently mentioned enjoying the interaction between Emily and Stan and their granddaughters, one of whom is a typical—if moody—teenager.

Q. That’s funny. So, it sounds like you are really contrasting the two generations which, I’m sure, makes for some interesting conflict. Since there are two of you, can you tell us a little bit about the writing process?

A. The process of writing is actually an evolving process of learning how to write as a team. We do all our initial brainstorming and plotting together, something we happened onto while writing our first book, On the Road to Death’s Door. We depend hugely on outlining—using a day-by-day and scene-by-scene outline format that we’ve designed. And we’ve just started using Google docs so that we can work simultaneously side-by-side or from wherever each of us happens to be at the moment. However, once we have a detailed enough outline, we each take a chapter and begin writing solo, often leapfrogging one another from one chapter to the next. When the first draft is done, we sit down together again and our individual voices pretty much automatically meld into one voice as we revise and edit subsequent drafts, just as we’ve done for this interview.

Q. Wow, you’re both way more disciplined than I am! In terms of the theme, what are the one or two things you are hoping the reader will come away with in each book?

A. Because we set our stories in colorful, current-day settings with the mysteries having historical connections, we hope the reader comes away with a deeper curiosity of a time and place, as well as the satisfaction that comes with a good whodunit. Relationship is another important theme for us. We find ourselves exploring the transitions that come later in life. However, readers of all ages can empathize with the interactions between Emily and Stan and between the couple and their friends and family.

Q. What are you working on now, and is it in the same vein as your current mystery series?

A. We are hard at work on the third book in our series, On the Road to the Deadly Apostles, which takes Emily and Stan and their RV up to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Lake Superior, just off northern Wisconsin. There they become ensnared in a sting involving Native American artifact trafficking. We are not quite sure how it all turns out yet.

Q. That sounds exciting! Best of luck to both of you, and thank you.

Book Blurb

[On the Road to Where the Bells Toll Cover]

In this second book in the “On the Road …” mystery series, Stan and Emily pack up the RV and head to Boston for some R & R with the grandkids and a chance to immerse themselves in colonial history. But their Fourth of July celebration comes to an abrupt halt when they stumble over a body on the Boston Esplanade and then another hanging in the tower of the Old North Church. Now the couple must unravel a tangle of forged clues and flush out the perpetrator before their own untimely epitaphs are written onto the historical landscape.

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

About the Authors
M. J. Williams is the pen name of sisters-in-law Peggy Joque Williams and Mary Joy Johnson (nee Williams). Peggy is an elementary school teacher and freelance writer. Mary Joy is a retired college professor and professional quilter. Their “On the Road…” mystery series features RVers, Emily and Stan Remington. Both writers live in Madison, Wisconsin.

You can find Peggy on Twitter, and both Peggy and Mary Joy on Facebook, as well as on their Amazon author page.

Meet Samantha Powell from DESIGNING SAMANTHA’S LOVE

[PJ Fiala]Guest post by PJ Fiala

My name is Samantha Powell. I’m in my mid-fifties and have three children—all boys. Joshua is married to Tammy, and they have given me my beautiful, sweet grandchildren—Abby and Dodge. My middle son, Gage, is not married, though he recently started dating, and my son, Jake, is married to Ali. My sons Josh and Jake and my daughter-in-law Ali, all served in the Army. Josh and Jake were both deployed and saw conflict. I’m happy to say they are all home now and doing well. Scary times for us as a family.

I manage a small law office in the Green Bay area and fill in as a paralegal when deemed necessary. The management position is a combination of many functions: HR, scheduling, changing systems and software, overseeing marketing, and so much more. I like the varied tasks built into each day and it’s never dull, which is good and bad. I enjoy my job, but it isn’t without its frustrations.

I was married to my husband, Tim, for close to thirty years. Our marriage, while not a bad marriage, was stressful and unfulfilling. Tim suffered from depression, and it completely consumed us. Each day was filled with the challenge of what Tim couldn’t or wouldn’t do that day. His mother was another story. She constantly meddled in our lives. Because Tim couldn’t break from her strong personality, he would often cave to her many whims. The boys and I were left out in the cold where his attention was concerned.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I was relieved when Tim died in a car accident. I’d thought of divorce many times over the years, but I was worried that, due to his frail mental state, he would do something drastic. If he harmed himself because I left the marriage, I knew I couldn’t live with that. Finally being free from that stress left me feeling giddy one minute and scared the next. I know that sounds foolish, but after nearly thirty years of constant manipulation and dealing with Tim’s constant mood swings, I’d lost my identity. Where had Samantha gone?

I spent the first few months following Tim’s death trying to figure that out. I’m not totally there yet, but I’m getting there. I had decided to sell my house and buy a condo where I wouldn’t be tied to the constant upkeep of owning a home, and I could have time for me. So I contacted my friend, Shelia, a seasoned realtor, and she came out and pounded the “For Sale” sign in my front yard. Instead of immediately searching for a new place, I thought it’d be better to wait until my home sold.

Then I met Grayson Kinkaide.

I was minding my own business at work one day, taking care of one of my favorite clients, Mrs. Koeppel, when he walked in the front door. When our eyes met, he smiled, and I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. Oh. My. God. Feeling like a teenager at my age was a whole new concept for me.

He asked me out that morning before he went into his appointment with one of our attorneys. I was giddy, excited, and scared out of my mind. I hadn’t been on a date in what…about thirty years? I knew nothing of the current dating protocol or proprieties. After all, it’s not like we were both still virgins. Honestly, I hadn’t felt sexual for the past decade or more. Part of me thought those days were over. The butterflies in my stomach immediately came to life, and I could feel my face heating up as I began to sweat. I know, right?

We went on that first date, and I was enthralled while I listened to him talk about his kids, his parents and siblings, and even his ex-wife. I’m sure it sounds corny, but I think I fell in love instantly. He was working on a big project and we had to wait a few days for another date. We emailed and texted each other in the interim, and just as I was feeling as though I could probably handle a relationship…BAM! There it was—he allowed himself to be manipulated by his ex. You know what they say, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Something compelled me to see where it could go though, so I cautiously dipped my toes into the waters of Grayson Kinkaide. There were more surprises to come, and it’s probably a good thing I didn’t have the ability to see the future, because I may have just cut and run. Gray continued to stay strong and he fought hard for us. I’m so happy he did.

Our families are blended—Grayson’s three kids and two grandchildren, Lily and Lincoln, and my three boys and two grandchildren get along well. We spend Sundays at Gray’s parents’ house and we spend Fridays at our house. Now I would say, “If it seems too good to be true, thank your lucky stars!”

Book Blurb

[Designing Samantha’s Love Cover]

Nothing terrifies Samantha Powell more than starting over, but after devoting three decades to a troubled man and an unhappy marriage, Sam finds the courage to seek her own happiness. She imagines a nice quiet life filled with friends, family, and a career that leaves no room for relationship drama. Unfortunately, no one told the alluring Grayson Kinkaide.

After escaping a bad marriage of his own, Grayson realizes his soul mate is still out there and his heart is set on Sam. Their instant attraction begins a steamy affair, but the women of Grayson’s past aren’t ready to let him go. Can Grayson convince Sam that she is the only one for him?

Designing Samantha’s Love is a steamy romance that contains sexual content.

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

About the Author
PJ Fiala is a wife of thirty years, a mother of four grown children and the grandmother of three lovely grandchildren. When not writing a new story, she can be found riding her motorcycle and exploring this fabulous country of ours. Her writing revolves around people anyone would love to spend time with. No self-absorbed billionaires for her. You can find PJ on Twitter, on Facebook, at Goodreads, and at her website, www.pjfiala.com.

Interview with J. Cafesin, Author of REVERB

[J. Cafesin]Today, I’m pleased to have as my guest J. Cafesin, author of Reverb.

Q. Welcome, J. In some ways, your novel seems to defy genre. What would you say makes it so unique?

A. Everything. Reverb is literary romantic suspense about a master musician, initially so obsessed with his own talent that he’s neglected to actualize love. In the tradition of literary fiction, the novel personifies—even amplifies—the foundations of narcissism, particularly rampant among artists, and men, in particular, who are more focused on their careers than their relationships. Reverb is “nothing like I’ve read before,” many reviewers have commented. Unlike classic romantic suspense, Reverb is “raw, brutal, graphic,” according to some reviews, but at its core it’s a love story about a man who learns to love someone other than himself.

Q. Wow! So in terms of the theme, what are the one or two things you are hoping the reader will come away with?

A. I’d love readers to fully grasp James’ awakening—that love is not a concept or an abstraction, but an action we take to show someone that we care.

Q. What are you working on now, and is it in the same vein as Reverb?

A. I’m working on an outline for the sequel to Reverb now. Resonance is (hopefully) coming out Summer 2016, and will take place in real time, picking up over three years after the end of Reverb.

The Power Trip, the first in a trilogy, is about four Stanford students who create an app that helps students manipulate each other with predictive modeling. It’s in editing, and is due to come out late Summer 2015.

I’m also writing another fable for Fractured Fairytales of the Twilight Zone. Virtual Life will be added to the series in Fall 2015.

Q. That’s a busy schedule—and you’ve given us a lot to look forward to. Thank you, J.

Book Blurb

[Reverb Cover]

James Whren is brilliant, beautiful, rich, and taken—with himself, or more precisely, his genius for creating music. Desired by many, committing to no one but his muse, on the eve of his brother’s funeral, his father inadvertently turns his life into a living nightmare, and James is left abandoned in hell with no one real to save him.

His odyssey to freedom takes him beyond the looking glass, to the reflection of friends and lovers. Humbled and alone, James escapes to the Greek island of Corfu. But instead of finding solace there, loneliness almost consumes him.

Until Elisabeth, and her son, Cameron.

Reverb is a love story, a psychological thriller paced with romantic suspense. Told in a new, uniquely “clipped” style, Reverb reads fast. Immediate. Intense, like a sting of texts for today’s reader. Spun from The Magus, also about a man who learns to love someone other than himself, and way beyond 50 Shades of Gray, Reverb is told like Crime and Punishment—modern, clean, edgy verging on sharp. Like nothing you’ve read, guaranteed …

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

About the Author
J. Cafesin is a novelist of taut, edgy, modern fiction, filled with complex, compelling characters so real they’ll linger long after the read. Her debut novel, Reverb, hit #1 in Kindle Store Contemporary Romance, and #4 overall in Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank during a recent BookBub promotion. Recent reviews: “Riveting; Compelling; An original and unique read.” Reverb was also #1 in Read Our Lips Book Reviews—2013 Year In Review.

You can find J. on Twitter, on Facebook, at Goodreads, and at her blog, jcafesin.blogspot.com, as well as at her website, jcafesin.com.

Interview with Jennifer Loiske, Author of Demon’s Touch

[Jennifer Loiske]Today, I’m pleased to have as my guest Jennifer Loiske, author of Books One and Two of the “McLean Twins” series, Black Diamond and Demon’s Touch.

Q. Welcome, Jennifer. Young Adult is a very popular genre—one that even adults enjoy reading. So, tell us what’s unique about your stories?

A. My books are very, very realistic. They’re urban paranormal/paranormal romance stories, but there are so many facts hidden inside of them that even though the creatures are supernatural the story could very well be true. I believe in mixing reality with myths, and making my characters look like they could be anyone you know … the boy next door, your mum, your best friend … In fact, many of my adult readers have said that they couldn’t sleep in the dark for days after reading my stories and that the characters were creepy-realistic. My stories are also fun, a bit sassy, and the ones meant for YA or mature YA, quite sexy. I love cliffhangers, so one of my trademarks is the pacing of the chapters, and ending them in a way that makes it nearly impossible to put the book down before the reader reaches the last page.

Q. Sounds like you really know how to hold an audience. In terms of the theme, what are the one or two things you are hoping the reader will come away with in each book?

A. As said before, there are a lot of facts in my stories. Also, I can’t help but put some of my educational experiences in use whilst writing, so my goal is to challenge my readers. I have very clear values and I’m not ashamed to put them out for my readers to see. So, I’m happy if a reader finds out at least couple of the facts in the story and learns something new whilst enjoying my story. I’d like to think that I’m offering food for the brain as well as entertainment for the soul. Examiner.com described Black Diamond as “mind candy,” and for me it was the best compliment I could have hoped for.

Q. What are you working on now, and is it in the same vein as Demon’s Touch?

A. I’m writing the final part of the “McLean Twins” series so, yes, it’s in the same vein. Hopefully, I will get it done before midsummer so my readers can enjoy it before Christmas. I’m also working on the second part of the “Blood Hunters” series, which is a follow-up to the “Immortal Blood” series. Usually, I have two or three works-in-progress going, so whenever I get bored with one I can easily switch to another. In that way I keep the writer’s block away and will never get bored!

Q. Excellent strategy! Thanks so much, Jennifer.

Book Blurb

[Demon's Touch Cover]

“Magic is all about words and believing. If you believe then anything is possible.”

Shannon McLean had come a long way since she lost her mother. A while ago she’d thought she was alone in the world, a plain Jane with no place to go. Now she knew better. Suddenly she was surrounded by relatives: a crazy talented twin brother, Ian, who literally held the keys to magic in his hands; a demonic father, Connor, who had paid a high price for a one-way ticket to hell; and a wannabe big brother, Simon, who was not only half demon but also a hit man of some sort; and herself … so not a plain Jane but a witch with ancient spells tingling on her fingertips.

Oh, and if that were not enough of a burden for a thirteen-year-old girl, her father had sent her to London on an impossible quest. Truth be told, she might have volunteered, but only because she naively believed that the world was beneath her feet and she was capable of performing a miracle as long as her brother stood beside her. She’d been so wrong.

No matter what she did, or who tried to help her, she kept failing time and time again, and time was not something she had. If she ever intended to save her father from becoming the next king of hell, she had to act fast. She had to find a way to do the impossible and save a demon. After all, every witch knows the hard truth: demons cannot be saved.

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

About the Author
Jennifer Loiske lives in Finland in Naantali, which is a small sunny town on the southwest coast. She is a Teen/YA paranormal fiction author, with four exciting series available worldwide: the “McLean Twins” series for teen readers, the “Immortal Blood” series for mature young adult readers, the “Blood Hunters” series—also for mature young adults, and a follow-up to the “Immortal Blood” series, and the “Shape Shifter” series for anyone ages sixteen and up.

Jennifer’s stories are full of creatures of the night—vampires, demons, witches and shape shifters … but even if they are mostly fiction you can find a hint of a truth in every story. Jennifer loves to research, so every time she gets an idea for a new story, she does a crazy Google session looking for places, old myths, names, folklores and magical items—anything that could spice up her story and make it more real for the reader. Jennifer is also part of Authors for Charity, an international author alliance, and team member in Epilepsy FI magazine. She is a pre-school teacher by profession.

You can find Jennifer on Twitter, on Facebook, at Goodreads, and at her blog, jenniferloiske.wordpress.com, as well as on her Amazon author page..