Guest post: Series Playlist by Jus Acardo, author of ALPHA, Book 3 in The Infinity Division Series

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If there was a soundtrack for my life, it’d be diverse. Everything from Elvis – I can’t help falling in love with you to Five Finger Death Punch – Battle Born. Other than books—and food—music is my thing. Oh. And animals. And the outdoors…

I have a lot of things.

When I think about my husband, it’s Vain – Without You. He played it for me one of the first few times we hung out. When I hear Loudon Wainwright – Dead Skunk—yes, I have this on my phone—I think of the trip Hershey Park when I was a kid. There was a skunk, a Nun, and some candy bars. Don’t ask.

When I hear Muse – Supermassive Black Hole, I think about vampires. Playing baseball.

You know you do, too. No one’s judging.

But music is more than inspirational for me—it’s essential, an integral part of my writing process. Scenes play out in my head like a movie. And everyone knows all good movies need a killer soundtrack. The right song can help set the appropriate mood and put me in the headspace that I need for a particular scene. Anything from a high-octane chase scene or blood pumping epic battle, to those tragic backstory moments or heartwarming, awe inspiring declarations of love.

I have playlists for each book, many scenes, and most characters. Usually I start off with a few general songs. Ones that fit the overall mood of the book and the picture I have of it all in my head. From there, I add as I go along. As relationships develop, the list continues to grow.

Each of the three main couples in the Infinity Division series have their own song. Usually it takes me most of the first draft of a book to pick the perfect one, but when it came to this series, I had songs chosen for all three couples right after the first draft of the first book!

Infinity – Kori and Cade: Hozier – Take me To Church

Omega – Noah and Ash: Hailee Steinfeld Ft Zedd – Starving

Alpha – G and Sera: Stone Sour – Song #3

Each character had their own playlist, but also a key song. Something that, to me, embodied their personality, situation, and/or struggles. Since the books are all told from different points of view, these songs helped me get inside the head of each narrator.

Kori: Raise Hell – Dorothy

Cade: Dangerous – Shaman’s Harvest

Noah: Do I Wanna Know – Arctic Monkeys

Ash: Roots – In This Moment

G: Bury Me With My Guns – Bobaflex

Sera: Supposed to be – Icon For Hire

Dylan: Bad Man – Bobaflex

I can’t fathom living—or working—without music. I’d be utterly lost. What about you? Do you have a particular artist or song that’s your go-to? What’s your current fave?

**You can view the entire playlist for the Infinity Division series here!**

 

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Sera has no memory of her life before. Before captivity, before experiments, before the only lifeline she had was the voice of a boy in the cell next to hers. Before G.

G wishes he could forget everything before Sera brought him back to life. Forget his memories as a ruthless mercenary on an alternate version of Earth. Forget that he was part of an experiment simply known as Alpha.

Now on the run from their captors and in need of an antidote to save his life, G and Sera’s clock is ticking. And they’ll have to gamble everything on the bond they forged in captivity if they want to survive.

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JusAccardo
Jus Accardo spent her childhood reading and learning to cook. Determined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps as a chef, she applied and was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America. But at the last minute, she realized her true path lay with fiction, not food. Jus is the bestselling author of the popular Denazen series from Entangled publishing, as well as the Darker Agency series, and the New Adult series, The Eternal Balance. A native New Yorker, she lives in the middle of nowhere with her husband, three dogs, and sometimes guard bear, Oswald.
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Interview: Ann Mah, author of THE LOST VINTAGE

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A Conversation with Ann Mah, author of The Lost Vintage

You were inspired to write The Lost Vintage after volunteering for the wine harvest in France, which you documented in a travel piece for the New York Times. When did you know you wanted to write this novel?

I first visited Burgundy in 2010 to research an article on Thomas Jefferson’s favorite vineyards in France. The minute I set foot in the region, I was captivated by the vine-covered slopes and charming villages. And if I sensed ghosts there, hovering amid the beauty, they only added to my fascination. I think the seed for this novel was planted then. A few years later, I volunteered to pick grapes at the harvest in Champagne. Harvest volunteers are often given free room and board, and I was put up in an empty attic apartment at the vineyard house. The rooms hadn’t been touched since the 1960s: they were sparsely decorated with mid-century hospital furniture; the floors creaked; the wallpaper was peeling; and at night the rural silence was deafening – and bone-chilling. Even though I was exhausted from long days of physical labor, whenever I lay down to sleep, my imagination would cartwheel. And so, I slept with the lights on, and when I woke, I wrote in my journal. This story was born from those wild scribblings.

Kate, the protagonist in The Lost Vintage, is a wine expert and is studying for the prestigious Master of Wine exam. What is your own history with wine? Do you consider yourself an expert?

It was important to me to be able to write accurately about the wine world, so as part of the research for this book, I took classes through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, which is the same organization that administers the Master of Wine program. I learned just enough to know I’m definitely not an expert! As part of the class we did blind tastings, in which we smelled and tasted different wines and identified flavors from the wine aroma wheel. People would call out things like “dill,” “petrol,” or “green peppers,” and everyone would argue until the teacher came down with the final verdict. My fellow classmates were really competitive. I used to joke that it was like a blood sport.   

As a food and travel writer, of course, you’re always weaving narrative into evocative sensory descriptions of what you’re tasting or seeing, and that skill is apparent in The Lost Vintage, as well. How did you find writing about food and wine different in fiction, if at all?

When I’m writing an article, I’m trying to accurately relate an experience. But for fiction, I can’t imagine two better metaphors than food and wine – they speak to our deepest desires (or disgusts), our most visceral memories. You can communicate so much through a character’s favorite foods. As well, the dinner table remains my absolute favorite setting to write a scene of family conflict – everyone is tidily in one place, but each person has their own motivations and distractions.  

Much of your book deals with history, in particular that of World War II in Europe, and how people reconcile their family legacy with their own values. What prompted you to challenge your characters in this way?

As I mentioned, I was captivated by the beauty of Burgundy – but I felt something ominous there, too. I didn’t really understand it until I started researching World War II and learned more about the “épuration sauvage,” the spontaneous “wild purge” that punished thousands of women throughout France in the days and weeks following the Liberation. Accused of “horizontal collaboration,” or sleeping with the enemy, these women were targeted by vigilante justice and publicly humiliated. Their heads were shaved, they were stripped, paraded through town, smeared with tar, stoned, kicked, beaten, and sometimes killed. Yes, some of them had slept with Germans. Some of them were prostitutes. But some had been raped. Some were women who merely worked for German soldiers, as was the case with one cleaning lady. Some were framed and falsely accused out of jealousy. Many were mothers desperate to feed their starving children. In almost every case, their punishment was far worse than their male counterparts. These women – over 20,000 of them! – were the most vulnerable members of society, and they became scapegoats for a humiliated nation. I felt it was important for their story to finally be told.  

The Lost Vintage shows that though there were many French résistants acting during the war, there were also many French people who essentially supported the Nazis through complicity, often for survival’s sake. As Rose says at one point, “It’s much safer to do nothing.” Do you think these actions are wartime phenomena, or are there ways in which we can show courage or remain complicit in a similar way in day to day life?

I think World War II is ultimately a morality tale and so many years after it, we’d all like to believe we’d have fought for the right side. Of course, the reality is always more complicated – and wartime complicates things even further. I think a lot of regret and shame about the war still lingers in France. If I learned anything while researching this book, it’s that small actions can have unforeseen and lingering consequences.

Aboutthebook

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About THE LOST VINTAGE

Kate has spent years building her career as a sommelier in San Francisco, despite a weakness for identifying Burgundian vintages. While she’s carefully managed to avoid them thus far, she can no longer do so as she faces her final attempt at passing the notoriously difficult Master of Wine Examination. With the test only a few months away, she travels to her family’s vineyard in Burgundy—a place she has purposefully avoided for nearly a decade—to help with les vendanges, the annual grape harvest. While there, she does everything she can to bolster her shaky knowledge of Burgundian wine, while also ignoring both the bittersweet memories of her childhood and Jean-Luc, her first love.

While Kate helps her cousin, Nico, and his wife clear the enormous basement of the vineyard house, she discovers a hidden room containing a cot, dozens of Resistance pamphlets, and an enormous cache of valuable wine. As Kate digs into her family’s history, her search takes her back to the dark days of WWII and introduces her to a relative she never knew existed: a great–half aunt who was a teenager during the Nazi occupation. As she learns more about her family, the line between resistance and collaboration blurs, driving Kate to question who, exactly, her family aided during the difficult years of the war and the fate of six valuable bottles of wine that seem to be missing from the cellar’s collection.

 

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abouttheauthor

The Lost Vintage Ann Mah authorphoto_credit Katia Grimmer-Laversanne

Ann Mah is a food and travel writer based in Paris and Washington, DC. She is the author of the food memoir Mastering the Art of French Eating and Kitchen Chinese, a novel. She regularly contributes to the New York Times’ Travel section, and has written for Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue.com, BonAppetit.com, Food52, and others.

You can learn more at www.annmah.net.

 

Interview: Terri-Lynne DeFino, author of THE BAR HARBOR RETIREMENT HOME FOR FAMOUS WRITERS

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Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
I write in several genres–literary/contemporary fiction, fantasy fiction, romance, and women’s fiction. I even wrote an original fairy tale. I write in the genres that interest me. As far as I’m concerned, there are no lines that can’t be crossed. All my romance/women’s fiction have “ghosts” in them. My fantasy has a literary bend. My contemporary has a bit of whimsy in it. Anything goes.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?  What was least useful or most destructive? The most useful thing for me was honesty. Complete, brutal, ultimately kind honesty. No matter how innate your knowledge, how lovely your natural voice, no one comes into this writing thing an expert. And no one learns anything about this craft by having one’s ego stroked. Back in the beginning, I had plenty of friends, family, and critique partners telling me what a good writer I was. Nice? Yes and no. I was blind to my own shortcomings–until a pro who’d gotten one cringe-worthy manuscript too many opened my eyes to all I was doing wrong. He shredded the fifty pages I sent, pointed out every single mistake, and explained why it was oh-so-wrong. He didn’t have to do that. A form rejection would have sufficed. Whether he’d finally snapped or saw something worth his time, he was brutal. It hurt like hell. I’m grateful to him to this day. The least helpful for me, as you might guess, was the praise. It got in the way of learning. There was no room for my ego in this process. I let it go, and whew! Was it liberating. My motto in life is “Modesty is for suckers,” largely because of that literary ass-kicking. I know what I’m good at–show me what I’m doing wrong.

What do you like to read in your free time?
Mostly Women’s Fiction, Literary/Contemporary Fiction. I do love dystopia, and fantasy of all kinds. I’ll read anything by Sarah Addison Allen, Fredrik Backman, and Patricia McKillip. Anything.

What projects are you working on at the present?
Currently, I’m working on Thirty Days Dancing on the Edge of the World. It has a dual timeline, 2009 and 1947 (and continues through the 1990s.) After the financial crisis of 2008, Mallory, a fifty-two year old Financial Advisor, has lost everything. After two suicide attempts, she winds up at Seaside, a mental rehabilitation facility (a once-upon-a-time beach resort) in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Seaside is nothing like the psychiatric ward; it’s a place to land, and to launch. There, Mallory meets others in need of a safe place to regain their balance, including Vonnie, the old woman who owns the place. Her past is the 1947-1990 part of the novel, showing the then and now differences between how mental health–and women–was viewed and treated.

What do your plans for future projects include? Since finishing The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) I’ve completed three novels. I’m hoping one (or more!) of these will be on my publishing horizon. I write nine to four, every day, five days a week, and have no plans to change that. Once Thirty Days is finished, there are several more sitting in files waiting for their turns. I’m leaning towards one about dragons in New York City–real or imagined? That’s what the reader gets to decide.

FUN STUFF

What is your go-to method for getting rid of hiccups?
Sugar on the tip of my tongue. Works every time.

If I gave you a pencil and piece of paper and told you to draw something funny, what would you draw?
There’s a little character I’ve drawn on restaurant placemats since my kids were little–a hillbilly guy with a big nose, looking over a fence. You only see his eyes, nose and straw hat. He’s always saying, “yo-ho!” like a pirate. I have no idea why I do that, who the hillbilly is, or why he’s my go-to doodle. Maybe a past life experience trying to express itself.

How many friendships have you ruined because you refused to play a game of Monopoly mercifully?
0. I’m the least competitive person of all time. I’d rather you win than upset you. Unless it’s Scrabble. Then, I will annihilate you if I can.

Do you have a favorite Girl Scout Cookie? Tagalongs!

Finally, and this one is important, so please pay attention What do you think cats dream about?
World domination. At least, household domination. They whisper in our ears as we sleep. No, really! I’ve caught them doing it. They pretend they were innocently cuddling close, but I’m savvy to their wily ways.

This or That? 

Dogs or Cats? Cats (my furry overlords are not making me say that. Send help. Please!)

Marvel or DC Comics? Marvel!

Winter or Summer? Winter

TexMex or Italian? Italian! As if there is any other rational answer.

Vintage or New? Vintage

 

Aboutthebook

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Alfonse Carducci was a literary giant who lived his life to excess—lovers, alcohol, parties, and literary rivalries. But now he’s come to the Bar Harbor Home for the Elderly to spend the remainder of his days among kindred spirits: the publishing industry’s nearly gone but never forgotten greats. Only now, at the end of his life, does he comprehend the price of appeasing every desire, and the consequences of forsaking love to pursue greatness. For Alfonse has an unshakeable case of writer’s block that distresses him much more than his precarious health.

Set on the water in one of New England’s most beautiful locales, the Bar Harbor Home was established specifically for elderly writers needing a place to live out their golden years—or final days—in understated luxury and surrounded by congenial literary company. A faithful staff of nurses and orderlies surround the writers, and are drawn into their orbit, as they are forced to reckon with their own life stories. Among them are Cecibel Bringer, a young woman who knows first-hand the cost of chasing excess. A terrible accident destroyed her face and her sister in a split-second decision that Cecibel can never forgive, though she has tried to forget. Living quietly as an orderly, refusing to risk again the cost of love, Cecibel never anticipated the impact of meeting her favorite writer, Alfonse Carducci—or the effect he would have on her existence. In Cecibel, Alfonse finds a muse who returns him to the passion he thought he lost. As the words flow from him, weaving a tale taken up by the other residents of the Pen, Cecibel is reawakened to the idea of love and forgiveness.

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Terri-Lynne DeFino was born and raised in New Jersey, but escaped to the wilds of Connecticut where she still lives with her husband, and her cats. If you knock on her door, she’ll invite you in and feed you. That’s what Jersey Italian women do, because you can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take the Jersey out of the girl. She is the author of the Bitterly Suite romance series published by Kensington Lyrical.

 

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Interview: Vivienne Lorret, author of HOW TO FORGET A DUKE {giveaway}

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Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

I come from a long line of storytellers, all gathered around a huge harvest table at my grandparents’ house. On Sundays (when I was a child), my dad and uncles would tell story after story of all the mischief they got into when they were younger. As a young spy in training (my chosen profession at the time), I was a stealthy eavesdropper and found myself enthralled (and sometimes horrified) by their tales. Even so, I was hooked. A child story-addict. I guess I never outgrew it.  

What do you like to read in your free time?

Romantic comedies, mysteries, poetry, nutrition labels (I always have a good laugh over those), and the Starbucks menu.

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m currently writing my 2019 release (book #3 in the Misadventures in Matchmaking series), tentatively titled THE ROGUE TO RUIN.

In addition, I’m putting together a proposal for a sub character in a previous book. I’ve received a slew of emails from readers, asking for Lord Holt’s book (he appeared in the novella, Just Another Viscount in Love). It’s such a wonderful blessing!

What do your plans for future projects include?

This December, TEN KISSES TO SCANDAL (book #2 of the Misadventures in Matchmaking series) will be available. And in October, I’ll be hosting a table at the Buns & Roses Tea for Literacy at the Hyatt in Richardson, Texas. So exciting! http://www.bunsandroses.org/

Fun Stuff…

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

Well, I don’t think it’s strange, but I typically wear a black sweater (my son calls it my “writing cloak”), and I start off my day with two big mugs of chai tea. I’ve also been known to partake in the sacrificial ritual of the scone, on occasion.

What is your go-to method for getting rid of hiccups?

Holding my breath while drinking water in a bent over position, from the opposite side of the glass. Works every time.

If I gave you a pencil and piece of paper and told you to draw something funny, what would you draw?

I’d probably write the words “something funny” next to a smiley face. : )

Do you have a favorite Girl Scout Cookie?

Thin mints, fresh or frozen.

Finally, and this one is important, so please pay attention What do you think cats dream about?

World domination.

This or That?

Tea or Coffee?  Tea, always.

Winter or Summer? Fall

TexMex or Italian? Italian

Chocolate or Vanilla?  There is only chocolate. What is this “vanilla” you mentioned?

Bond or Bourne? Bourne

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All Jacinda Bourne wants is to find a bride for a handsome, enigmatic duke. There’s only one problem: she’s certain he’s hiding something. Determined to discover what it is, she travels to his crumbling cliffside estate. Yet, by the time she washes up on his beach, she can no longer remember who she is, or why the duke is so familiar to her. All she knows is that his kisses are unforgettable—and she intends to use every skill she can to discover what’s in his heart . . .

When Miss Bourne can’t remember what brought her to his ancestral home, The Duke of Rydstrom intends to keep it that way. Yet as the days pass, his true challenge will be safeguarding his secret while resisting this woman who—confound it all—may well be his perfect match.

Praise for HOW TO FORGET A DUKE

“Lorret’s Misadventures in Matchmaking series starter and print debut sparkles with wit and passion. … A smart, fun charmer!” —RT Book Reviews

“…captivating, passionate, well-crafted … Simply divine!” — Romance Junkies

“This book is absolutely going on my top 10 of the year list.” — Book Besties

“Full of laughter, passion and some characters that fairly leap off the page in their need to be understood and cheered on – this new series from Lorret is sure to please many this summer.” — I Am, Indeed


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USA TODAY bestselling author Vivienne Lorret transforms copious amounts of tea into words. She is an Avon author of The Wallflower Wedding series, The Rakes of Fallow Hall series, The Season’s Original series, and the Misadventures in Matchmaking series. 

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Review: THE WIDOW’S WATCHER by Eliza Maxwell {giveaway}

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THE WIDOW’S WATCHER

by

ELIZA MAXWELL

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publisher: Lake Union Press

Date of Publication: March 29, 2018

Number of Pages: 286

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From Eliza Maxwell, the bestselling author of The Unremembered Girl, comes a gripping novel about the mysteries that haunt us and the twists of fate that can unravel them…

Living in the shadow of a decades-old crime that stole his children from him, reclusive Lars Jorgensen is an unlikely savior. But when a stranger walks onto the ice of a frozen Minnesota lake, her intentions are brutally clear, and the old man isn’t about to let her follow through.

Jenna Shaw didn’t ask for Lars’s help, nor does she want it. After he pulls her from the brink, however, Jenna finds her desire to give up challenged by their unlikely friendship. In Jenna, Lars recognizes his last chance for redemption. And in her quest to solve the mysteries of Lars’s past and bring him closure, Jenna may find the way out of her own darkness. 

But the truth that waits threatens to shatter it all. When secrets are surrendered and lies are laid bare, Jenna and Lars may find that accepting the past isn’t their greatest challenge. Can they afford the heartbreaking price of forgiveness?

PRAISE FOR THE WIDOW’S WATCHER:

“There was a moment I had to tell myself that this is just a book…”

– Goodreads reviewer

 

“A well-paced story of healing, forgiveness and tragedy, with enough unexpected twists to keep readers guessing.”

— Amber Cowie, author of Rapid Falls

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Review

Eliza Maxwell hits one out of the park with THE WIDOW’S WATCHER.

A tale of the bond formed when two lost souls find strength and redemption in one other.

 

Jenna Shaw has lost everything in one tragic moment.  Hopeless and defeated, she sets out across a frozen pond to meet the darkness.

Lars Jorgensen has spent half a lifetime in the shadows of an unsolved crime that took two of his children from him, and put his wife in a mental institution.  The curmudgeonly and reclusive Lars spots Jenna on the ice and stops her from ending her life, despite her determination to rid herself of guilt and grief.

Lars is undeterred by Jenna’s resentment for putting a halt to her plan, and the two form an unlikely friendship as she learns about his past and works to help solve the mystery of his missing children, all the while working through her own guilt and grief.

The twists and turns as Jenna begins to unfold the mystery of Lars Jorgensen’s missing children bring the story full circle and face to face with the truth, and learning forgiveness.  It is a roller coaster of emotions and satisfying tale of redemption.  Highly recommended to those who love a mystery with a lot of heart.

 

 

Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever-patient husband and two kids. She’s an artist and writer, an introvert and a British cop drama addict. She loves nothing more than to hear from readers.

Twitter ║ Facebook  ║ Instagram ║ Website

 

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Interview: Jan Reid, author of SINS OF THE YOUNGER SONS

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SINS OF THE

YOUNGER SONS

by

JAN REID

Genre: Literary Fiction / Romance / Spy / Thriller

Publisher: Texas Christian University Press 

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Publication Date: February 28, 2018

Number of Pages: 296 pages

Sins of the Younger Sons has received the Jesse H. Jones Award for Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters! Luke Burgoa is an ex-Marine on a solitary covert mission to infiltrate the Basque separatist organization ETA in Spain and help bring down its military commander, Peru Madariaga. Luke hails from a Basque ancestry that came with the Spanish empire to Cuba, Argentina, Mexico, and, seventy-five years ago, to a Texas ranch. Neighbors consider the Burgoas Mexican immigrants and exiles of that nation’s revolution, but the matriarch of the family speaks the ancient language Euskera and honors traditions of the old country. Luke’s orders are to sell guns to the ETA and lure Peru into a trap. Instead he falls in love with Peru’s estranged wife, Ysolina, who lives in Paris and pursues a doctorate about an Inquisition-driven witchcraft frenzy in her native land. From the day they cross the border into the Basque Pyrenees, their love affair on the run conveys the beauty, sensuality, exoticism, and violence of an ancient homeland cut in two by Spain and France. Their trajectory puts Luke, Ysolina, and Peru on a collision course with each other and the famed American architect Frank Gehry, whose construction of a Guggenheim art museum seeks to transform the Basque city of Bilbao, a decrepit industrial backwater haunted by the Spanish Civil War—and a hotbed of ETA extremism. Ranging from the Amazon rain forest to a deadly prison in Madrid, Sins of the Younger Sons is a love story exposed to dire risk at every turn.

 

PRAISE FOR SINS OF THE YOUNGER SONS:

“Reid’s story is a fascinating blend of page-turning thriller and vivid tableau of Basque culture and the movement that battled the Spanish establishment for many decades. A reader can’t ask for more—a book that’s engaging, entertaining, educative, and unique.”  —Thomas Zigal, author of Many Rivers to Cross and The White League

“What a fine book Jan Reid has written!  At once history—both cultural and political—and sensual love story, it reaches beyond genre to make for a magical and profound reading experience.  Don’t start reading it at night unless you want to stay up until dawn and then some.” —Beverly Lowry, author of Who Killed These Girls? and Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life

“Page by page, Sins of the Younger Sons invites the reader to dwell for a while within its unique world, to suffer and celebrate with its unforgettable characters. It’s a trip that, if taken, is well worth the effort.” —Ed Conroy, San Antonio Express-News

“Sins of the Younger Sons vividly takes us into a world few of us have seen and into a bitter conflict most of us have never considered nor understood.” —Si Dunn, Dallas Morning News

 

 

AuthorInterview

What kinds of writing do you do?

The first decades of my career were defined largely by wide-ranging magazine non-fiction, most of it for Texas Monthly. I’ve now written or collaborated on twelve nonfiction books and three novels. First with The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock, three of my nonfictions concern music and the lifestyle and craft of musicians. I’ve written much about football and boxing. I believe my best nonfiction books are Let the People In, a biography of Texas governor Ann Richards, and a memoir of friendship, love, personal crisis and challenge, and Mexico, The Bullet Meant for Me. I’m proudest of my novels Comanche Sundown, about their last war chief and a freed slave cowboy, and Sins of the Younger Sons, a love story and thriller set among the Basque separatist conflict in Spain.

What was the hardest part of writing Sins of the Younger Sons, and what did you most enjoy about it?

The hardest part was shelving a false start for twenty years. I loved the settings and the three major characters—a Basque separatist leader named Peru, his wife Ysolina, and Luke, a covert American intelligence agent who falls in love with her. But I didn’t have enough story to make the novel work, at least to my satisfaction. My greatest enjoyment on returning to the novel was a plot breakthrough that led me to fictionalize as supportive characters the celebrated American architect Frank Gehry and Spanish king Juan Carlos, who led his nation out of the darkness of their civil war and the long fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

Which character from your book is most like you?

The protagonist Luke Burgoa.  He’s an ex-Marine, a onetime boxer, and a Texan. He knows the rain forest of the Amazon and its tributaries. He knows horses and mules. And he comes to love el País Vasco, the Spanish-ruled Basque Country and its showpiece coastal city, San Sebastián.

What projects are you working on now?

Both draw on my past experience and in different ways are sequels. A nearly completed novel, The Song Leader, is narrated by an Austin-based rock and roll singer who changes his name to Haid Pecos to hide from his past: an aggravated assault conviction in a Marine court martial and a year of brutal infantry combat in Vietnam. Haid’s marriage to a lawyer has its extreme highs and lows. In his youth he was a gospel song leader in a small church in his hometown Deerinwater (the setting and title of my first novel) and then a state Golden Gloves boxing champion.  First as a sparring partner in the Marines, Haid overcomes the obstacles of his origins and American racial barricades and forms a long friendship with the black heavyweight champion of the 1970s, Ken Norton—and through Norton’s perspective, Haid gains an entertaining sense of Kenny’s great rivals, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Beyond that, involving two characters in Sins of the Younger Sons, I plan to start a novel pitting the separatist rebellion in Catalonia against the Madrid government’s military-style assault on the Catalans and their great city Barcelona.  An infant and little girl in the earlier novel, the protagonist Enara is now a 22-year-old woman. Her father, the ex-spook Luke, is scared to death about what she’s getting herself into.  

What book do you wish you had written?

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy.

What is something funny about you that most people don’t know about you?

Even in my old age people still tell me I look like Jimmy Carter.  I consider it a compliment. When he was president I first heard it while traveling in Mexico. “Jeemy!” people would yell. “Jeemy Carter!”        

Author Reid

Jan Reid’s highly praised books include his novel Comanche Sundown, his biography of Texas governor Ann Richards, Let the People In, his memoir of Mexico, The Bullet Meant for Me, and The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock. Making his home in Austin, Reid has been a leading contributor to Texas Monthly for over forty years.

 

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Interview: Kat Martin, author of BEYOND CONTROL {giveaway}

BNR Beyond Control JPG

 

BEYOND CONTROL

The Texas Trilogy, Book 3

by

Kat Martin

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Publisher: Zebra

Date of Publication: May 29, 2018

Number of Pages: 368

  

Scroll down for the giveaway!

 

Present Danger

When Victoria Bradford got engaged, she told herself to give love a chance. Six months later, she’s on the run from her angry, abusive ex-fiancé with her four-year-old daughter and nowhere to go.

Seventy miles north of Dallas, the Iron River Ranch is pretty much nowhere. That’s what its new owner, Josh Cain, wanted when he came back from Afghanistan. Big skies, quiet nights, no trouble.

One look tells Josh the pretty redhead with the adorable little girl will give him trouble of the most personal kind. But he’s seen trouble before, and he doesn’t scare easy. Not when “accidents” start happening around the ranch. Not when Tory’s best friend back in Phoenix is abducted and brutalized. Not even when it looks like their current problems are only the tip of the iceberg.

But if he gets too close to fierce, determined Tory, Josh knows his nights are going to be anything but quiet. And that’s one possibility no amount of training can prepare him for…

 

PRAISE FOR BEYOND CONTROL:

“As the excitement in Iron Springs continues, two strangers with tragic pasts form an unbreakable bond. Beyond Control is the last installment in the Texas Trilogy. It’s delightfully fast-paced, riveting, and amazingly compelling. Martin has outdone herself with unpredictable twists and suspense that will leave readers panting for more. Definitely a must-read for readers who enjoy mystery, thrills, and romance to spice up their life.” – RT Reviews Top Pick

“Bestseller Martin brings her Texas Trilogy … to a hair-raising finish with the gripping tale of a single mother on the run and the Marine veteran who offers her a second chance at happily-ever-after. Martin has a consummate skill for developing the most loveable and the most despicable characters; readers will cheer when sadistic Damon meets his well-deserved end. Martin’s finely described Texas is a delight.” – Publishers Weekly

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AuthorInterview

Interview with Author Kat Martin

Part Two

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I write full-time, two novels a year, and have almost from the start.  It’s a ton of work, but it’s helped me build my readership.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  Have any of them impacted your writing?

I had a lot of jobs before I started writing full-time.  Everything from a cleaning job in a convenience store, grocery checker, retail clerk at J.C. Penney’s (in the men’s department!), worked as a PR person in a real estate title company, then went into real estate in sales and finally as a broker.  I think every job I ever had helped me as a writer. Tons of material for stories!

How has your formal education influenced or impacted your writing?

I graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara.  Santa Barbara was a far different place from Bakersfield, California, the country town that was home to Buck Owens and Meryl Haggard.  Very sophisticated. I learned a lot about the lives of the wealthy, much of which pops up in my books. Beyond Reason, the first book in the Texas trilogy, centered around Lincoln Cain, a multi-millionaire from Dallas.  I’m comfortable writing people who live in those surroundings.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

I’m known for fast-paced, high-action adventure novels with a deep and abiding love story.  I try to create a page-turner with lots of plot and romance.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?  

As with all of my books, Beyond Control was difficult start-to-finish.  There are sections that come together effortlessly, but they are rare.  I spend a lot of sleepless hours working on the storyline, the characters, the romance; but it’s very rewarding when the puzzle pieces all come together.   

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I like writing the action scenes and the dialog.  I like the hero and heroine and writing romantic sex scenes that bring them together.  Work but fun.

How do you decide if your main character will be male or female?

In my books, the male and female characters have equal parts in the story.  They learn to work together to solve the mystery and, as they are forced into danger, learn the strength and value of each other and come to realize they are perfectly suited to be together.

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m very excited about my next project–a series of hardcover novels set in Dallas around the Maximum Security detective agency.  In Until Midnight, Chase Garrett is the owner, a private investigator, former military, very wealthy family, a high-action adventure set around Colombian cocaine smuggling.  The heroine, Harper Winston, also comes from money–unfortunately, her father is a criminal. A definite problem for Chase. It’s out in January. I’m really hoping readers will enjoy the book and the ones about Chase’s brothers and other men and women in the office.    

  

Till then, all the best and happy reading!

 

fa66f-abouttheauthor 

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.

 ║Website ║ Facebook ║ BookBub

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Guest Post and Cover Reveal: HARMON GENERAL by Kimberly Fish

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HARMON GENERAL

Misfits and Millionaires #2 

by

KIMBERLY FISH

Genre: Historical Fiction / WWII / Spies 

Expected Date of Publication: June 16, 2018

Number of Pages: 330

ABOUT THE BOOK: 

Harmon General is book two in the WWII historical fiction series entitled Misfits and Millionaires—set in Longview, Texas. The novel picks up about two months after the story line in The Big Inch ended.

Familiar characters and locations get a shot of adrenaline from the biological hazard espionage going on at the U.S. Army’s new medical hospital treating diseased and wounded soldiers—a 156-acre pop campus created as part of a master plan to place U.S. Army hospitals around Texas specializing in long-term wound care for WWII soldiers. The Office of Strategic Services has one of its best agents in place as a nurse at Harmon General—Sgt. Emmie Tesco—and she’s soon up to her blood pressure cuff in intrigues at the hospital campus, particularly the mission to stop a culprit code-named “Dr. Death” who is accused of skewing the malaria test protocols being established at Harmon so that no one will notice him preparing to sell the malaria research to the enemies of the Allies. Heroes and villains circulate in Longview from the post at Harmon General, and Emmie ropes Lane Mercer into helping manage the overload of responsibilities. Readers of The Big Inch will better understand what drives Emmie Tesco and why poking at old wounds can be a messy affair. The backstory of Lane Mercer and her first husband gets a brutal airing too, and stakes grow dangerous for Lane and Zeke Hayes as the plans they’d wanted for their wedding are upended by well-meaning, Aunt Edith.

PRESENTING THE COVER 

OF HARMON GENERAL

 

 

PRAISE FOR HARMON GENERAL:

“The war that changed the world brought the world to East Texas through Harmon General, a significant US Army hospital that treated thousands of wounded soldiers in Longview.  In Harmon General, we meet again Lane Mercer, a World War II heroine, and we enjoy again how the drama of her secret service to the nation and her complicated personal relationships pull us into the vast impact of the world war.” — Dale Lunsford, Ph.D., President, LeTourneau University

GuestPost

What’s real in the WWII historical fiction novel, Harmon General?

GUEST POST BY KIMBERLY FISH

Much like in the novel, The Big Inch, I researched the very real history of the U.S. Army’s hospital built south of Longview, Texas known as Harmon General. Not only was I stunned by the level of medical procedures invented and established into modern medical practices by the research done at Harmon General (like malaria treatment, prosthetics, and physical therapy) but also by the astounding number of 25,000 patients treated during the short tenure of this hospital (1942-47.) I was particularly impressed by how well received this hospital and its incoming 5000-member personnel were treated by the local Longview community. The local volunteer wing, known as The Gray Ladies, was serious business in Longview. I spent many hours at the Longview Public Library, reading old issues of Longview News Journal, researching old files in San Antonio at the U.S. Army’s Medical Museum at Ft. Sam Houston, but also in going through the archives at Gregg County Historical Museum listening to old audio tapes of interviews with those who were stationed at Harmon. All the context of the novel is real, the speaking characters in the novel are imaginary—some are compilations of actual historical figures, but as with TBI, I changed the names to protect their privacy.

To be fair, I’m not aware of actual intellectual property theft at Harmon General, nor is there any official documentation that the OSS or the FBI were ever called in to resolve issues on the campus. But then, there never is—is there?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Kimberly Fish started writing professionally with the birth of her second child and the purchase of a home computer. Having found this dubious outlet, she then entered and won The Writer’s League of Texas manuscript contest which fed her on-going fascination with story crafting.

She has since published in magazines, newspapers, and online formats and in January 2017, released the first novel in the Misfits and Millionaires series set during the World War II years in Longview, Texas—The Big Inch. Her second book, Comfort Plans, was published later that same year.

She lives with her family in East Texas.

 

HARMON GENERAL

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Guest Post: Top Ten by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of ZOMBIE ABBEY

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MY TOP 10…FAVORITE WORDS!

Being a former sort-of librarian myself, and being given the opportunity to post about something on The Librarian Talks, what else would I talk about? Words!


10. That – OK, maybe it’s cheating to put that here, but it must be my favorite since I overuse it in all of my first drafts and then wind up having to take a ton of them out during revisions. Other writers may be noted for their drinking problems. (I’m looking at you, Hemingway!) I have a that problem.

9. Criminy. This word from the late 1600s, used as a mild oath or to express surprise, wouldn’t even be on the list were it not for an exchange I had on Twitter the other day. All I’ll say is that the topic was politics and my use of that word, which I’d never used in my life before, was entirely warranted.

8. Ineluctable. A few decades ago, I noticed that Stephen King used this word all the time in his writing – so: overused. Why not just say inevitable, or unavoidable? Why must it be ineluctable…and so frequently? But it’s been a few decades since I’ve read a Stephen King novel, so I feel like this one can be safely pulled out of the word retirement village I’d banished it to.

7. Makebate. This is a simply marvelous word, the existence of which I’m only aware of because it appeared at the top of the page in the dictionary one day when I was searching for an entirely different word. (Yes, I use a real dictionary.) It’s an archaic word from the early 1500s and means “one that excites contention and quarrels.” I bet if I were a makebate I’d be more interesting but I suppose I might get invited less places too.

6. Dictionary. Because it’s this insanely wonderful thing, where you can be looking for one thing in it and come across a word you’ve never heard of in your very wordy life before and suddenly everything feels magical.

5. Chocolate. Should be self-explanatory.

4. Wine. Also self-explanatory.

3. Enisled. I first came across this word in Canadian author Wayne Johnston’s The Colony of Unrequited Dreams two decades ago and it still stuns me. Few words are so evocative in sound to me as what their meaning is. I would never want to be enisled…but there are a few people I wouldn’t mind seeing it happen to (one being the person I said “Criminy!” about).

2. Termagant. I actually have no idea what the source of me knowing this word is, but I do know that I’ve managed to use it in more than one of my novels; several, in fact. Sure, I could use shrew instead, but what can I say? My usage of termagant, particularly in any historical novel, feels ineluctable.

1. Jackie. I actually do know this isn’t technically a word. It’s my daughter’s name and it’s my single favorite arrangement of letters and sounds in the English language.

 

abouttheauthor (1)

Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of over 30 books for adults, teens and children, which have been published in 15 countries. Before becoming a writer, she was an independent bookseller (11 years), a Publishers Weekly reviewer (292 titles); a freelance editor, a sort-of librarian, and a window washer. She lives in CT with her husband, daughter and cat. Lauren prefers the nobility to zombies, as a rule, and so long as you’re not the latter, you’re welcome to visit her at www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com.

 

Aboutthebook (1)

9781633759121

  1. ENGLAND

And the teenage Clarke sisters thought the entail was their biggest problem…

     Lady Kate, the entitled eldest.

     Lady Grace, lost in the middle and wishing she were braver.

     Lady Lizzy, so endlessly sunny, it’s easy to underestimate her.

Then there’s Will Harvey, the proud, to-die-for—and possibly die with!—stable boy; Daniel Murray, the resourceful second footman with a secret; Raymond Allen, the unfortunate-looking young duke; and Fanny Rogers, the unsinkable kitchen maid.

Upstairs! Downstairs! Toss in some farmers and villagers!

None of them ever expected to work together for any reason.

But none of them had ever seen anything like this.

 

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Character Interview: Pearl Pilkington from THE WAY OF BEAUTY by Camille Di Maio {giveaway}

 BNR The Way of Beauty JPG

THE WAY OF BEAUTY

by

Camille Di Maio

Genre: Historical Fiction / 20th Century / Literary

Publisher: Lake Union Press; Date of Publication: May 1, 2018

Number of Pages: 384  

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Hearts and dreams evolve in the shadow of the once-magnificent Penn Station.

Vera Keller, the daughter of German immigrants in turn-of-the-century New York City, finds her life upended when the man she loves becomes engaged to another woman. But Angelo Bellavia has also inadvertently opened up Vera’s life to unexpected possibilities. Angelo’s new wife, Pearl, the wealthy daughter of a clothing manufacturer, has defied her family’s expectations by devoting herself to the suffrage movement. In Pearl, Vera finds an unexpected dear friend…and a stirring new cause of her own. But when Pearl’s selfless work pulls her farther from Angelo and their son, the life Vera craved is suddenly within her reach—if her conscience will allow her to take it.

Her choice will define not only her future but also that of her daughter, Alice.

Vera and Alice—a generation and a world apart—are bound by the same passionate drive to fulfill their dreams. As first mother and then daughter come of age in a city that is changing as rapidly as its skyline, they’ll each discover that love is the only constant.

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PRAISE FOR THE WAY OF BEAUTY:

“The Way of Beauty is a thing of beauty. The writing is gorgeous, the story is engaging, the characters are amazing. The amount of research that goes into historical fiction just astounds me. Add this to your TBR!”

“If you want to be swept away by a love story set in a fascinating and meticulously researched past, Camille Di Maio is the author for you. Don’t miss this one.”

“A captivating story of love and family that spans several generations.”

“The writing transports you to the time, not so long ago when women had to choose between love and their rights. Camille Di Maio’s dialogue, descriptions, and relationships create a complete picture of the era and struggles. Great book club book.”

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CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER!

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characterinterview

Interview with Pearl Pilkington, Character from The Way of Beauty

Where and when were you born?

I was born in 1890 and remember watching turn-of-the-century celebrations with my family. I’m glad I was old enough to witness that, as I won’t be around for the next one!

Where have you lived?

I have lived in New York City for all of my life.

Family members?

I am an only child. My father is a clothing magnate and my mother organizes many fundraisers for the needy. I did not see them very much growing up. I am widowed and have a son, William, from that marriage.

In what situation is your self esteem most at risk?

I pretend that I don’t care what my parents think about my work in the suffrage movement, but I’m afraid that I do. I wish that they supported it, and I am saddened that it is not something I can share with them since it is such an important part of my life.

What are you keeping a secret?

I don’t let on, but I miss my late husband terribly.

What are you lying to yourself about? To others?

I am lying if I say that I am a better mother than my own was. In fact, I am more like her than I care to admit. She was – and is – fiercely devoted to her causes, more so than she was to me as her daughter. And though I want to be a caring and devoted mother, I weigh the time I can spend for that one life versus all the good I can do for many lives, and it draws me away.

How do you decide of you can trust someone?

There are few people that I trust, but if I can determine that their motivations are pure, I will give them my whole heart.

When you walk into a room what do you notice first? Second?

That’s a good question. First, I notice who is serving and who is being served. Then, I look at how the served are treating the servants.

How would you change the world?  The things around you? The people around you?

I work for a world where all are equal, regardless of gender, race, or financial abilities. I am currently working on helping women gain the right to vote. Let me correct that – we already have the right to vote based on our dignity as human beings. But our government is suppressing that right.

How do you learn best?

I learn best by doing. I participate fully in anything I believe in.

What unusual hobbies or interests do you have?

I have little time for hobbies, though if I did, I’d quite like to read a lot more than I do. I believe reading is the best education, and I encourage more women to do it.

What are you most afraid of?

I am afraid of frogs. I know. A silly thing, but there it is.

What do you like best about yourself?

I like that I give myself fully to my causes.

What do you like least about yourself?

I dislike that I do it at the expense of those I love.

What do you think other people think of you?

I’m sure people find me to be quite intense, but I am much softer inside than I let on.

What’s your greatest source of joy?

My son, William. I see my late husband reflected in his face. He is often asleep by the time I get home, and I get great joy in looking at him, so innocent.

~Romance Writers of America Honor Roll Inductee~

Camille recently left an award-winning real estate career in San Antonio to become a full-time writer. Along with her husband of 19 years, she enjoys raising their four children. She has a bucket list that is never-ending and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She’s lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai’i to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far) and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol, Paul McCartney, too. Camille studied political science in college but found working on actual campaigns much more fun. She overdoses on goodies at farmer’s markets (justifying them by her support for local bakeries) and belts out Broadway tunes whenever the moment strikes. There’s almost nothing she wouldn’t try, so long as it doesn’t involve heights, roller skates, or anything illegal. The Memory of Us was Camille’s debut novel. Her second, Before the Rain Falls was released on May 16, 2017, and The Way of Beauty is her third novel.

 

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