CTP Fall Book Sale & Giveaway

We’re one week away from Fall and CTP wants to celebrate with their Bring On Fall Free Book Sale and an Author Sponsored $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway! For one weekend only, they have selected a handful of titles throughout their different imprints that will be listed as free on Amazon from 9/14 to 9/16. This is a limited time promotion as the price will go back up to $4.99 on Monday. Take advantage of this exciting sale this weekend and Fall in love with some new books to cozy up with while you drink your Pumpkin Spice Latte, or tea, or wine, or whatever you love to sip on while reading. Enjoy!

FREE BOOKS AVAILABLE 9/14-9/16:

From YA to steamy romance, witches, queens and everything in between, there is sure to be something for everyone!

This group promo runs from 09/14/2018 to 09/16/2018 ONLY.

Some of the authors listed below are also offering Kindle Countdown Deals on their sequels, which means you can snag sequels or even a few series for the low, low price of $.99 each during this sale!

Get your Kindles ready, or download the Kindle App on your tablet or phone and prepare for an amazing FREE reading extravaganza!

HAPPY READING! LET’S BRING ON THE FALL Y’ALL!!!

Unspeakable - Michelle Pickett Vampires Rule - K.C. Blake The Woodlands - Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Skin And Bones - Susan HarrisResurgence - Sharonlee HolderThe Second Window - Erica Kiefer

Never Forgotten - Kelly RisserPrelude - Nely Cab

Queen of Someday - Sherry Ficklin

Minutes Before Sunset - Shannon A Thompson

Milayna - Michelle Pickett

Lady of Sherwood - Molly Bilinski

Dating An Alien Pop Star - Kendra L. Saunders

Dreamthief - Tamara Grantham

Extracted - Tyler H. Jolley & Sherry D. Ficklin

Crushed - Kasi Blake

Catalyst - Kristin Smith

Broken Fate - Jennifer Derrick

Bait - K.C. Blake

Aftermath - Sandy Goldsworthy

Bad Bloods - Shannon A Thompson

A Shine That Defies The Dark - Jodi Gallegos

 

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

Enter to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card sponsored by our amazing authors!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can’t see the Rafflecopter form? Click HERE to go straight to the form. Best of luck!

Bloodthorn - Tamara GranthamSpellweaver - Tamara GranthamRiven - Sherry Ficklin

Smoke And Mirrors - Susan HarrisCollateral Damage - Susan HarrisSilverwitch -Tamara Grantham

Afterlife - Sandy GoldsworthyNever Back Down - Susan HarrisNight Of The Hunter - Susan Harris

Aftershock - Sandy Goldsworthy

CoverThumb

Milayna's Angel - Michelle Pickett

The Innocent - Michelle PickettCreatura - Nely CabFinding Willow - Michelle Pickett

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Author Spotlight: Annie Sullivan

Name:   Annie Sullivan  

Author of:   A Touch of Gold (HarperCollins Publishing, Available August 14, 2018)

 

 

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? 

I started out writing short poems in grade school, and one even got published in a local poetry book. But the first short story I wrote definitely had a princess in it, so I haven’t strayed far from that! But looking back, I don’t think that story quite holds

up today. I’ve definitely come a long way.  

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

When I was trying to decide what I wanted to major in in college, I remembered how much I enjoyed writing, so I got a degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. I’ve always loved reading stories, so it only seemed natural that I start telling them.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

I had some great advisors at Butler University, where I got my master’s degree in creative writing. I also had a lot of support from everyone at the Midwest Writers Workshop, and it was there I met a lot of my critique partners, who have helped me in more ways than I can count. I’ve also had the opportunity to talk with some great authors like John Green and Brenda Drake, who have both given me great advice over the years. And I definitely couldn’t have done it without my family too!

 Do you exclusively write young adult fantasy or have you written in other genres?

I pretty much write YA fantasy. I would love to do some sci-fi or something set in the old west. I also want to start dabbling in picture books, but my heart will always belong to YA fantasy. I just love everything I can do in that space—like inventing new worlds and creatures.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

I strive to write a minimum of 500 words a day. Some days I can write 3,000, and some days those 500 can be a struggle. Usually when I’m writing, I try to take the weekends off so I can have some work life balance. When I’m on a deadline, like when I’m revising, then it becomes a little harder to maintain a balance. 

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

It takes about 3 months to write a first draft if I’m keeping to my writing goals. I like to then do revisions with a few different critique partners. Then, I revise after my agent has read it. Finally, I revise again after I get an editor. So I feel like I spend countless hours revising. But the better you know your story, the easier it is to revise. So I’ve gotten better at it over the years.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I’m pantser, so I don’t plot out my stories ahead of time; I fly by the seat of my pants. I basically get an idea and just start writing. Granted, I end up doing a lot of rewriting later because I slowly discover how I want the story to go, which sometimes means reworking the beginning over and over again.

I basically consider all the stories and fairytales I’ve read over the years as research, and I do some research as I go along depending on the topic.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

Well, I know it would drive some people crazy, but I like to listen to the same song over and over again when I’m writing. I change the song after a few days, but I’ve probably listened to some of them a few hundred times in a row.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

 I wouldn’t say I’ve done a literary pilgrimage, but I love to travel. I’ve traveled to every single continent—yes, including Antarctica—and to over 50 countries. As a writer, I think I have to take advantage of every opportunity to travel that I can. Seeing the world can inspire new settings, and I’ve even based some characters on people I’ve met during my travels.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

For some of my projects I can, but not for all of them. For A Touch of Gold, I came up with the idea after watching Pirates of the Caribbean. I was thinking about all that cursed gold the pirates had to track down, and that got me thinking about gold and having golden powers. That led me to thinking about King Midas, but I typically write about strong female characters. So I got to thinking about his daughter and whatever happened to her after she was turned to gold. And that was that! A story idea was born.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

Just as I love to write YA fantasy, I love to read it too. Some of the books I’m loving right now are Frostblood by Elly Blake and Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. Some of my other favorite authors include Meg Cabot, Jane Austen, and Madeline L’Engle.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

Haha! Yes, I actually do. I hide family stories, family names, and fun little Easter eggs. I enjoy hiding these little details even if I’m the only one knows they’re there.

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

All of my characters have some small part of me in there, and some have characteristics of people I might know. But I wouldn’t say they ever hold too much a resemblance to real people.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. I know this book published a long time ago, but it has stayed with my since I read it as a kid. And I hope it will affect others the way it did me.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Nicola and the Viscount by Meg Cabot. It was just such a fun short read that reminded me of Pride & Prejudice, so of course I knew I was going to love it. Swoon!

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Ha! I have before, but honestly, if I do it now, it’s mostly to find my blog or my book on Amazon so I can share the link with people. Although, I do have to note that since I share a name with Helen Keller’s teacher who is named Annie Sullivan that I’m just glad I can find myself at all because for years I couldn’t!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

I would choose a goat! I love goats because they have really cool rectangular pupils (Google a picture!). Also, I’ve been told goats are social creatures that like to eat, which pretty much describes me. Desserts are my weakness!!!

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

I love coming up with plots. My characters are always secondary, so I always have to spend extra time making the characters feel real and unique. Luckily, I have an agent who is amazing at characters, so she always keeps me on track!

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Don’t give up. Seriously. I started this book in 2010. I finished it in 2012. It’s coming out in 2018. That’s 8 years from start to finish. There were so many times I wanted to give up during those eight years—times when I was getting rejection after rejection. But I stuck with it. I wrote multiple books while I was waiting. And because I didn’t give up, I ended up where I am today.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Enjoy it. Being a debut author is a crazy, thrilling, confusing time. It’s like everything is happening at once, but the day your book comes out, nothing truly changes. Yes, you have a book out in the world, but it’s not the earth-shattering event you think it’ll be. So just enjoy what you can and then get back to writing the next book.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I try to help aspiring writers any way I can. I judge writing contests, help out in mentoring contests, and guide as many authors as I can through the tricky path to publication. I had to figure out how to write query letters and pitch agents all on my own, and I know how difficult that process was. So anything I can do to make it easier on others I’ll do gladly!

Looking for more information on Annie?

A Touch of Gold

Gold is wealth. Wealth is power. Power is a curse.

King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?

From author Annie Sullivan comes A Touch of Gold, the untold story of the daughter King Midas turned to gold, perfect for fans of Cinder and The Wrath and the Dawn.

 

Order A Touch of Gold from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound

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Author Spotlight: Sonia Hartl

 

 

Name: Sonia Hartl

Author of: Have a Little Faith in Me (Coming from Page Street, Fall 2019)

From: Grand Rapids, MI

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

The first thing I wrote was a book about penguins in the first grade for a school project, but I began writing more frequently in junior high, mostly poetry and short ghost stories.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I started out majoring in creative writing in college and had a huge stash of poetry and short stories I’d written over the years. I didn’t write my first novel until 2005 though (I was 25) because a lot of fear and self-doubt kept me back. My first novel started as a short story, but it begged to be longer, and one day I just sat down and forced myself to try.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

So many people. The writing community is amazingly supportive and helpful to newer writers just starting to find their way. Dannie Morin picked my manuscript for Pitch Wars in 2013 and changed everything for me. She taught me so much about plot, character arcs, organic dialogue, evocative narrative, all the things I needed to take my writing to the next level. I also met my long-time CP Jen Hawkins on the Pitch Wars Twitter feed while we were both hopefuls and she has been a constant source of support and wisdom over the years. And my agent Rebecca Podos is the best. She’s always encouraged me while pushing my writing to the next level, she’s truly my partner in this business in every sense of the word.

Do you exclusively write contemporary YA (young adult) or have you written in other genres?

I mostly write contemporary YA, but I’ve written in a few other genres and categories. My first manuscript was an adult dystopian, my second a YA ghost story, my third a NA romantic suspense, fourth and fifth were YA contemporary, sixth was a YA mystery, and seventh was HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME, which is a YA contemporary.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

When I’m drafting I try to squeeze at least two hours of writing time in a night, and if I’m really into what I’m drafting, I’ll write up to ten hours a day on the weekend. The work, life, write balance is tricky, but I’m fortunate to work at a job that gives me a reasonable amount of vacation and my family is really supportive. Most of my writing time is crammed into the two hours I have free at the end of the night though, usually from ten to midnight.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

That varies so widely from manuscript to manuscript. I had one take six months to draft and a year and a half to revise, and I had another that took a week to draft and two weeks to revise. Both of those are the exceptions though. I’d say average, it takes me about one to two months to draft and about two to three months to revise.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

It definitely depends on how knowledgeable I am about the story I’m going to tell. I’m a big fan of immersive settings that tend to have their own set of rules and norms, so that requires a certain amount of research to write well. I’ve done everything from spending hours reading blogs on certain subjects, to hiring experts to read over my manuscripts for accuracy.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

I don’t know if this is quirky or not, but I have dozens of first chapters for different stories in my Dropbox. I’ll sometimes write five first chapters for five different premises before I find one I want to progress to chapter two with.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

No, but I’d love to have an excuse to visit Ireland or Italy. I did set one manuscript on a remote island off the coast of Boston, and I’ve been to Boston, but I’m not sure if that counts. I’d really love to visit a small town with a quirky festival that the whole town puts their hearts into and write a story based on that.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

A lot of my inspiration comes from things I’m feeling strongly about at a particular time. I tend to create stories based around settings I’m curious about or obsessed with researching, and pair them with themes I’m passionate about diving into and subverting. I wouldn’t say there is an exact moment I’m hit with inspiration, but it’s more a slow growing interest that I need to write when I get to the point where I can’t stop thinking about it

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I mostly read YA contemporary, because that’s what I write, but I’m also a huge fan of YA thrillers/mysteries. I also occasionally enjoy contemporary fantasy, romance, and sci-fi, and historical. I’ll read across all genres and categories, as long as it’s a good story and can hold my attention.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

Absolutely. I think all writers do.

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

No, all my characters exist solely in my head.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

LUCKY FEW by Kathryn Ormsbee is so criminally underappreciated. It was such a fun, warm contemporary, and it’s one of those books that just makes you feel happy while reading it.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

I’d say maybe any book in Nora Roberts’ trilogies, but I don’t feel guilty about it, lol.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Not right now, there probably isn’t much to Google, but I might after my book is released. Just out of curiosity.

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

Probably a penguin, for no other reason than I really like them.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Pacing. I’m constantly second-guessing and doubting my plot points and if they have enough impact to keep the reader turning the pages.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Keep going. It feels like the climb is so uphill and the odds are so long, but if you keep going, keep learning, and improving your craft, you will get where you need to be in your own time.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

I’m in the same boat, but maybe try to enjoy the ride. There is a lot about publishing that is completely out of our hands, so try to enjoy the things you can control.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I would say the biggest way is being a Pitch Wars mentor. I’ve been a mentor since 2015, and it is absolutely the most rewarding way to give back to the writing community. As a former mentee, I know how much it meant to me to be given the opportunity to learn from someone who was a few steps ahead of me on the journey. Being able to do that for someone else means the world to me.

Would you like to find out more about Sonia?

 

Have a Little Faith in Me

(Coming Fall 2019 from Page Street)

When CeCe’s born-again boyfriend dumps her after they have sex, she follows him to Jesus camp to win him back, though she knows nothing about Christianity. But when he shows up with a new girlfriend—a True Believer—she must face the truth about her feelings, and about the night she lost her virginity. Publication is set for fall 2019

Add Have  A Little Faith in Me to your Goodreads list  

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August #Giveaway: Win 1 of 20 free critiques

(*Updated to reflect additional critiques)

My birthday is this month and I’ve decided to give, give, give! (Oh, and I asked some of my friends to help me give)

For my August giveaway I’ve decided to gear it toward those of you out there who are still writing away, editing and polishing your manuscripts, obsessively revising your query letters, and dreaming of the day your efforts are rewarded. That’s right, authors, this one is for you.

At the end of  the month 21(!) free critiques will be given away.

So, what do you do to enter? Click on the Rafflecopter link and follow the prompts. And yes, there are a lot of Twitter profiles that you can follow, but there were a lot of generous authors who volunteered their time to help out, so please show them some love.

Details (and the Rafflecopter link) are below. Best of luck to everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Cover Reveal: The Light At Finnigan’s End (Rum Runners, Book 2)

COVER REVEAL AND SEQUEL ANNOUNCEMENT:

The stand-alone historical romance that stole America’s hearts has a sequel coming out. A Shine that Defies the Dark by Jodi Gallegos released in December 2017 and has received amazing reviews and shout outs from the public. So much so that the author decided to expand the world of the novel and create another sequel or world novel that can be read as part of the series or as another stand-alone Historical Romance. The Light at Finnigan’s End is scheduled to release on November 5, 2018 as book two in The Rum Runners Series. Check out the official cover reveal below and then be sure to leave a comment or two on what you think of the novel. Also, Kindle Unlimited subscribers can check out the first novel for free right now on Amazon.

COVER REVEAL:

 

The Light at Finnigan’s End
Jodi Gallegos
Published by: Changing Tides Publishing
Publication date: November 5, 2018
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance

Cleric’s Cove is home to the most brutal gang of bootleggers in Southern Louisiana, the Moret family. Desperate to find out what happened to her brother Finn, Deirdre Cassidy is determined to use her skills as a healer, as well as her feminine charms, to infiltrate the Moret crime family. Once she’s ensconced in the Moret hideout, she hopes to gather information that will lead her to Finn—or help her destroy the family that caused his disappearance.

But the one thing Deirdre never counted on is Mo Moret. The eldest son and head of the Moret gang, Mo is incredibly dangerous, yet magnetic—the attraction between them palpable. Still, Deirdre doesn’t believe he’ll ever set aside family loyalty for love. And even if he did, Deirdre has vowed to see the end of the Morets—whatever the cost.

The second installment in the popular Rum Runners series by Jodi Gallegos, The Light at Finnigan’s End is a fast-paced romance with elements of historical fiction, set against the gritty backdrop of depression-era southern Louisiana.

Goodreads / Pre-order coming August 8th.

 

READ BOOK ONE TODAY!

A Shine That Defies The Dark
Jodi Gallegos
Published by: Changing Tides Publishing
Publication date: December 5th 2017
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance

Gripping, romantic, and evocative of its time— A Shine that Defies the Dark is a spellbinding story of one woman who will stop at nothing to survive during a tumultuous time in American history.

After a six-year exile, Ophelia Breaux and her mother are overjoyed to return to the Louisiana bayou. But it seems the ghosts of the epic feud that drove them away still haunt Plaquemines Parish, and with the Great Depression sweeping the nation, the two soon find they can’t make ends meet.

Seeing no other option, Ophelia’s mother takes the drastic step of sharing her bed with the town judge in exchange for a reduced rent. The judge has had a life-long obsession with Momma, and Ophelia is desperate to end this arrangement and get her away from him.

When Remy Granger shows up, Ophelia knows it could mean more trouble—and that’s the last thing they need. Handsome and dangerous, he’s the first boy she ever kissed, and a member of the most notorious family in southern Louisiana—but he’s also got an opportunity for fast money in rumrunning. Ophelia goes all in, and it turns out she may have a knack for the business. But she’s going to have to run even faster if she wants to save Momma… dodging the cops, rival gangs, and her traitorous heart at every turn.

Goodreads / Amazon and Kindle Unlimited

 

Author Bio:

Jodi is a YA writer, black belt, and registered nurse. She lives with her husband, three sons and an evolving herd of undisciplined animals in Colorado. She has a well-earned fear of bears, but tolerates the Teddy and Gummy variety. She has been obsessed with books, both reading and writing them, for most of her life and prefers the written word to having actual conversations. The most current projected completion date of her To Be Read book collection is May 17, 2176.

Website / Facebook / Twitter

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The Light At Finnigan’s End (Rum Runners, Book 2) Coming 11/5/18

Why haven’t I posted about this sooner? Honestly, I’ve been talking about it so much I thought I had.

However, this is my official, official announcement that the sequel to A Shine That Defies the Dark (henceforth to be known also as the first book in the Rum Runners series) will be published on November 5, 2018.

There will be an official cover reveal soon (psst—if you follow me on Goodreads you may have some inside scoop!), but for now I can only show you this:

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Author Spotlight: TJ Turner

 Name: TJ Turner

Author of: Lincoln’s Bodyguard; Land of Wolves: The Return of Lincoln’s Bodyguard

From: Yellow Springs, OH

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? 

I remember writing a brilliant piece of science fiction, a short story, when I was in about 5th grade (please note the sarcasm here!) I was devastated that it was not accepted into Isaac Asimov’s magazine! I had a lot to learn. I would love to find that story and to see just how horrible it really was. I wrote it late at night when my father brought home this “computer” thing, and I learned I could write a story, save it, and print it out on our old dot-matrix printer.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

Honestly, it was after graduate school. That experience beat the fun out of me, and I took a long hard look at what I wanted to do with my life. My choices narrowed to astronaut, author, bike racer, or engineer. The first one didn’t work out, even after I chased it to the point of joining the Air Force. The whole bike race thing went pretty good for a while, and I raced at the National level a bit. But the guys who go pro were on a whole other level. I had just finished my PhD in engineering, so I marched happily along that route. When I mentioned to my wife that I wanted to wrote a novel, she told me something like, “that’s way too hard.” Challenge accepted! That first novel is something like that first story—awful!

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

Too many to list! Of course, my wife provided that initial kick (in the posterior). But then I found this really welcoming community of writer’s when I attended the Antioch Writer’s workshop. There I met many other folks on this same struggle to write and become published. In particular, I met Robert Inman as one of the faculty members. He in turn introduced me to his editor, Bill Phillips. Bill read through my second novel, and helped me revise it a few times. Then he delivered the awful news…move on to something else because something in this manuscript is not working. At first I was depressed about that verdict, but then Bill is a man who knows the industry—he worked at Little and Brown as an Editor. And I didn’t have to wait long for inspiration. The idea for LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD struck that very afternoon—for every door that closes! After that, I have several friends who proof-read my manuscripts, to include my wife Nancy, who is brutal in her redactions. Sharon Short, another novelist, has been amazing at giving great focused feedback. And of course, Elizabeth Kracht, my agent is awesome at honing in and finding any flaw. By the time it hits the publisher and my editor, it’s usually pretty clean.

Do you exclusively write historical fiction or have you written in other genres?

So far it’s been just historical fiction. At least all my published works are historical fiction. I know that as writers we sometimes get the advice to “write what you know”, but I think that turns out to be terrible advice. Instead, if you listen to any lectures by Andre Dubus III, I think he nails it. You should write what you are authentically curious about. I love history. In particular, I love American history. I read almost all historical fiction and non-fiction about our nation’s past. So the whole LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD inspiration probably came from that deep curiosity about our own history as a nation.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

Absolutely! It’s really difficult to sleep. I don’t force the writing. If I feel like it, I write. If I don’t, then I leave it be. I find that works for me. But I am most productive between 10pm and 2am. The kids are asleep. Nancy has most likely fallen asleep with the TV on, and I can just zone out and write. I like to get a chapter a night in. Once I start writing, I need to finish that chapter or scene. Then the next day I start by re-reading that chapter, editing, and then pushing forward.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

About 6 months. I find that process is getting smoother, and at 6 months I’m fairly confident in the draft I have. LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD took me much longer, but that was the first real published work. I learned a lot from that process.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

It’s a lot of reading. I can generally narrow it down to a time period, and a general event for background. For instance, with LAND OF WOLVES, I read a ton about the westward migration along the Oregon trail, and then the Lakota wars. So those factor heavily into the second portion of the book. I would say that I spend a good 2-3 months in research up front, then start writing. When I hit walls, I go back to the research.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

And you want me to tell! Well, I never let anyone read a manuscript until it’s all the way done. I let Nancy read one half way once, and she crushed my motivation to keep going on it. So I finish it, then take a couple of passes myself on the manuscript, then I let her read it. Other than that, I keep a list of words (kind of like filter words if you do a google on that term), to search for in my manuscript. That list has been found from experience, and points to places where I need to make my writing more impactful, or closer to the reader.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

I have! Or maybe more truthfully, the background came to me when I was out on a road trip. Our family took a trip a couple years ago to Yellowstone, to celebrate my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary. So we took an extra week and went along a portion of the route of the Ingles family. My oldest is a huge Little House on the Prairie fan, and she loved stopping at all the sites. So when we traveled through the Dakotas, I started feeling the call of LAND OF WOLVES, and that I had to set a portion of the novel there.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

So for LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD, that’s easy. When I received Bill Phillip’s recommendation to let go of my current project and move on, I literally left work early. We talked at lunch, and I think I made it another hour before I drove home. I had sunk so much time into that project, to see it flounder was hard to take. It was even harder to have to go home and admit to my wife that I had been spending hours upon hours of my life writing and it would go nowhere. But on the way home I turned on NPR, and Fresh Air was on one of our local channels. Terri Gross was interviewing someone, and they were talking about presidents. When they got to Lincoln she said something to the effect of: “Wouldn’t it be a different country if President Lincoln had a real bodyguard?” And just like that, the title of LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD flashed in my head.

For LAND OF WOLVES, I don’t know if I have such a singular moment. I knew it had to be a continuation of LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD, and I had the first half mapped out in my head. But it took that trip out west to see the second half of the novel. The pull of the landscape and the history there was too great to ignore. It had to go in the book.

And finally, for ANGEL IN THE FOG (working title), which I just turned in, I knew it would be the prequel that would be all about Molly—my female protagonist. Molly really comes into her own in LAND OF WOLVES, and a few friends and readers were hounding me about her story. I just didn’t know if I could write well for a female character, especially as well as Molly deserves. Then, and this is going to sound corny, I first heard the Kesha song Praying, and that was it. I play that song before each writing session on Angel on the Fog. It put me in the right mood to write Molly, and really try to give her the voice she deserved.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

It’s been a lot of Historical Fiction, and pure history. I might need to branch out! My favorite books? In non-fiction: Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee, April 1865, the Month that Saved America, and XXX. Those books really show you how many stories we’ve lost to time. How many people who suffered, or persevered, or overcame awesome struggles, that we’ll never know about. I want to give them all a voice, even if I can only write a few books. On the fiction side, my absolute favorite is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I wish I could write like him. That was the first book where I NOTICED amazing writing. After that, Red Badge of Courage (an oldie!), Cold Mountain, and True Grit. All great reads.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

YES! But if I tell you…but yes, I do!

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Yes and no. They’re all bits and pieces of real people I meet and characters I make up.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

There’s a few that grab me as being under appreciated. One that comes to mind is True Grit. And I know, it’s wildly popular. But it didn’t win any awards that I can think of, and I think it kind of gets overlooked for one of the principal things it does—places a female character out front as a strong driving lead throughout the book. In fact, she’s the reason the men even take up the whole adventure. If you think about the setting, in the Old West, and when the book was written (1968), that’s pretty interesting. On the truly unappreciated side, there’s this book written by a former aid worker in Afghanistan: Allah’s Angels. If I remember right, it’s self-published, and it could have used some editorial work, but the basic story was very compelling. Again, a female lead in a male dominated world. It may have had its shortcomings in terms of the writing, but the story is something I still think on.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Glory Road by Robert Heinlein. I first picked it up form a discarded pile in Bagram Afghanistan in 2010. I read it, and thought…what the heck was that? Then I read it again. I still have no idea what really happens in that book, but every once in a while, it makes me think about it. Kind of crazy.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

I’ve done it! I admit it…the football player TJ Turner is still way more popular than I am!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

I’ll go with the wolf. I like the quote that you sometimes see around: “The lion and tiger might be stronger, but the wolf does not perform in the circus.” It’s a pack animal and needs a family around to succeed. I’ve certainly needed that and continue to need the support of my pack.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

I think my biggest weakness is truly flushing out my antagonists. Part of that in my first two novels comes from POV. I used the 1st person, so it’s hard to really get into the mind of the “enemy”. In ANGEL IN THE FOG, I wrote it in 3rd person, and that felt more natural. But the more believable and human you can make your antagonists, the higher the stakes. It becomes a better story.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

READ. Then start writing. Then finish writing. Then find someone who loves you to look at it. Then find someone who DOESN’T love you to look at it.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

The same! Being published is just another step in the journey, it doesn’t make you a better or worse writer. Keep striving to improve.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

Probably the biggest way is through the Antioch Writer’s Workshop. I’m currently the President of the board of trustees, who organizes and runs the workshop. It’s a great place, where I got my start. So we’ve implemented many programs, including ones for young writers. If you’re looking for a community, come and check it out! We’re all about empowering writers.

Want more information on TJ and his books?

 

Lincoln’s Bodyguard

In Lincoln’s Bodyguard, an alternative version of American history, President Lincoln is saved from assassination. Though he prophesied his own death the only way he believed the South would truly surrender Lincoln never accounted for the heroics of his bodyguard, Joseph Foster. A biracial mix of white and Miami Indian, Joseph makes an enemy of the South by killing John Wilkes Booth and preventing the death of the president. His wife is murdered and his daughter kidnapped, sending Joseph on a revenge-fueled rampage to recover his daughter. When his search fails, he disappears as the nation falls into a simmering insurgency instead of an end to the War. Years later, Joseph is still running from his past when he receives a letter from Lincoln pleading for help. The President has a secret mission. Pursued from the outset, Joseph turns to the only person who might help, the woman he abandoned years earlier. If he can win Molly over, he might just fulfill the President s urgent request, find his daughter, and maybe even hasten the end of the War.

 

Buy Lincoln’s Bodyguard from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble 

 

 

 Land of Wolves

Land of Wolves finds Joseph Foster with Molly as they settle into a new-found life in the hills of Tennessee. But Abraham Lincoln’s former bodyguard, the man who saved the President’s life, cannot escape the Consortium as they come roaring back, killing his mother, abducting his daughter—all to coerce his Congressional testimony on their behalf.

Instead, Joseph and Molly strike the Consortium in their own safe haven of New York City. In a Bonnie and Clyde-like twist, they rob from the Consortium to draw out their leader—General Dorsey. But the hidden plan reveals more than they counted on, exposing the true intention to steal the Black Hills and the gold underneath from the Lakota Sioux. Land of Wolves traverses the American landscape, where only a full reconciliation with Joseph’s native heritage and a cast of characters ripped from history—including Lincoln—can bring true peace and stop General Dorsey and the evil Industrial Consortium.

 

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Announcement: The Light at Finnigan’s End (Rum Runners Book 2)

I am so happy to announce that my second book, The Light at Finnigan’s End, is going to be published on November 5, 2018. I am again working with the wonderful team at Changing Tides Publishing and this novel will be a follow up to A Shine That Defies the Dark, as well as #2 in The Rum Runners series.

 

Here is a little about The Light At Finnigan’s End:

Irish immigrant Deirdre Cassidy is determined to find out what happened to her brother, Finn. With the Great Depression sweeping the nation, Finn turned to the Moret Gang as a means of earning money and now he’s missing.

Deirdre manipulates her way into the depths of the most brutal bootleggers in southern Louisiana and one thing is clear, nothing happens without the approval of Claude Moret or his brother Jack. Before it’s over, Deirdre is determined to kill them both, even if she dies in the process.

The one thing Deirdre never counted on was Mo Moret. Claude’s son is as dangerous as he is magnetic, but Deirdre isn’t convinced he’ll ever be able to set aside his Moret loyalty for love. And Deirdre is determined to see the end of the Morets, however that end must come.

 

For those who are subscribed to my newsletter you’ll get a special sneak peak within the next week. If you’d like an early look at the first two chapters you still have time to sign up for my newsletter here

Many thanks to everyone who continued to ask for a second book and everyone who helped me along the way.

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Author Spotlight: Lucinda Stein

Name: Lucinda Stein

Author of: Jadeite’s Journey (Inkspell Publishing) and Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

My first writing was free verse, but after all these years, I couldn’t tell you what I wrote about. I went on to write a novella (to be forever buried in a drawer!)

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

In the beginning, I wrote for my own enjoyment. Later I joined a writers’ group and discovered how much I needed to learn about the craft of writing. With the encouragement of other writers, I eventually worked to get my writing published.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

Two gracious people were willing to look at my work and give me feedback. At that point, I took my writing seriously and became committed to learning everything I could about writing. Note: This is a lifelong process!

Do you exclusively write sci-fi/fantasy or have you written in other genres?

Jadeite’s Journey was my first sci-fi/dystopian novel, but I’m definitely a multi-genre author. I’ve written historical fiction, contemporary women’s fiction, a collection of short stories, and young adult fiction. I’m currently working on a YA magic realism novel.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

While I was working fulltime, I would write for an hour or so after work. Now that I’m retired, I don’t have those same time constraints, but I still need to push myself and keep a regular writing routine.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

My rough draft usually takes four to six months. With historical fiction, the process can take a year to two years. Revisions, which includes my own editing and suggestions from critique groups, can take a year or longer.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I usually have a rough idea how the story starts and ends. I do a character study for the main character. One of the most important things is to determine what the MC wants most deeply and why they struggle to attain that desire. This should be an emotional drive (to discover their true worth, find the strength to forgive, etc.) vs. an outward need (such as a job, relationship, etc.) which can be a subplot in the story.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

I don’t spin three times before sitting down to the computer, but I do like to have coffee or a cold drink at my desk. In the beginning, I used music to set the mood, but now I’ve been writing for so long that just putting fingertips to keyboard gets my brain activated!

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

My first novel came out of lone hiking trips in the San Juan Mountains. Twice I took a wrong turn—once my German shepherd led me back to the trail and on another trip, a friendly hiker steered me straight! After coming across old mining ruins, I was inspired to write my first book, Maggie’s Way: The Story of a Defiant Pioneer Woman, published by Western Reflections Publishing.
A few years ago, I traveled with my husband to Oklahoma and visited his grandparents’ homestead. After hearing family stories while we were there, I found one particular event kept coming back to me. Soon I was researching the Depression era in Oklahoma and the Comanche tribe of which my husband is a member. The result was Dry Run, Oklahoma, a 2018 Oklahoma Book Award finalist.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

Usually a very small thing is the seed for my story, but it’s an event that sticks in my mind until I write about it. Jadeite’s Journey, my YA novel, came out of my concern for the trouble in the world. I imagined a “perfect” future society. Of course to make a good story, this world turns out to have its own set of problems.

My adult novel, Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe, was inspired by a young woman who actually lived in the back of her antique store. The setting for my book is my hometown, which made for a lot of fun. The eccentric mother in the story—totally fictional!

 Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

Like my writing, I enjoy a variey of books from YA to adult, contemporary to classics.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

I don’t intentionally hide things, but writers are definitely thieves. Like that old saying among writers—Watch out or you may turn up in one of my books. (Different names and faces of course!)

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Consciously or unconsciously, I’m sure my characters are composites of people I’ve known.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

I loved Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, a National Book Award finalist and a Printz Award winner. The book shows up occasionally on Instagram (bookstagrams, specifically) but for the most part, seems underappreciated. It’s a unique YA book with a great theme.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

This winter, I read Les Miserable, a 900 page classic. I love the theme of redemption and fresh starts. The guilty part? I had to skim and skip the long passages about the French Revolution and other exceedingly long parts of French political history.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Occasionally, I check on the results of a book promotion.

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

Definitely an owl. They’re always watching (for mistakes, improvement, inspiration) and wise in making decisions (revision, storyline.)

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

I struggle with finding where to start the story. There’s always the temptation to give too much information too soon. The reader need to be “hooked” into the story more than they need to know the main character or anything leading up to the story. Start with conflict and an inciting event.

 What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

A healthy critique group is essential for growth. Each member should be committed to improving his/her own work. This includes studying the advice of professional writers from books and workshops, and a willingness to take suggestions. In a good critique group, everyone wants to see each other improve.

If a suggestion is made by two or more people, take serious note of that suggestion. There’s so much to learn about the art and craft of writing that the effort can be daunting. Perseverance is required—it’s hard work—but hang in there and never stop learning.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Prepare yourself to be disappointed with book sales. Promotion is grueling and building a following takes time. Learn everything you can about the business and pump other authors (hopefully gracious ones) about things you should be doing.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

Without any financial compensation, I took on a new writer who wanted mentoring. She was so dedicated to learning she quickly grew in skill, became published, and now we critique each other’s work! I am so grateful for the writers in my life who were willing to share what they had learned that I try to pass it on. I encourage new writers to join writers’ groups and also find a critique group with members dedicated to helping each other in a kind, supportive manner.

Want to know more about Lucinda?

 

Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe 

After growing up in the back of a secondhand store, Liza swore she’d never return home. But twenty-three-year-old Liza has lost all sense of direction after her divorce. Her mother, Minnie, a product of the hippie era, now resides in an antique store, her eccentricity known to all in the small Midwestern town. To Liza’s chagrin, she’s once again living in a store.

When a toddler is abandoned in Minnie’s shop, Liza takes in the child she calls Sweetie, hoping the young woman who left her will return. Liza soon finds her priorities change. She falls in love with the little girl and refuses to report Sweetie to the authorities. When the young woman who abandoned the child returns a year later, Liza’s force to make a decision—give up Sweetie or go the run.

Buy Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe on Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

 

 

 

Jadeite’s Journey 

Jadeite’s perfect world comes crashing down on her. In the futuristic world of United Society, her only problem has been how to act around the cute boy on the air shuttle. But Jadeite’s world changes when she comes across a man who looks alarmingly like her father. Clones were declared illegal years ago. When she sees her father, a robotic engineer, headed to the Dark Edge of United Society, she follows him and uncovers her father’s secret life.

Jadeite shadows her father past the boundary of United Society and into a primitive world of canyons and high deserts. She learns her father is a Ridge Runner passing between the two worlds. Even more alarming, she discovers her younger brother, Malachite, is sick and requires medicine only available from over the Ridge. After her father is arrested, Jadeite takes his place in order to save her brother’s life.

But her world turns even more precarious after she breaks up with her obsessive boyfriend, Mattie. Jadeite soon learns his threats are more than words, and she finds her life is in jeopardy.

Buy Jadeite’s Journey from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

 

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