Character Interview: Molly Goodnight of PALO DURO by Max Knight

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PALO DURO
by
MAX L. KNIGHT
  Genre: Historical Fiction / Western
Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.
Date of Publication: September 2, 2017
Number of Pages: 226
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Westward expansion following the civil war ushered in an era of increased conflict between the Southern Plains Indians and white settlers. Peace treaties offered temporary suspension of hostilities, but more often than not resulted in broken promises as the two cultures clashed over land. The construction of frontier forts and towns, the decimation of the buffalo herds, the movement of cattle through Indian lands to burgeoning western markets, – all of these forces threatened a way of life that had existed for centuries.
The Comanche, the Southern Cheyenne, the Kiowa, the Apache all fought to protect their customs and homelands. The clashes were characterized by savagery on both sides – Indian and white. However, finite numbers and options would ensure the tribes’ defeat; they faced certain death or forced relocation and their days were numbered.
Though the Indian wars are the focus of Palo Duro, the novel also captures the spirit of the “Old West” with its depiction of the great cattle drives from Texas into Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Montana, the cattle barons and the trail blazers, the outlaws and gunslingers, the lawmen and Texas Rangers, and the settlers and entrepreneurs who built this country. It chronicles an era characterized by heroism, brutality, and bold ventures while paying tribute to a genre that is fading from public consciousness – the western. It is the story of the Southwest United States towards the end of the nineteenth century and the rugged individualism that forged a nation.
5 STAR PRAISE FOR PALO DURO:
This book captured Central Texas in the post-Civil War era better than any other book I’ve read. It was well researched, well written, and easy to read. I enjoyed this book more than Empire of the Summer Moon, the standard setter. I recommend this to readers of any level, even if you dislike history, as this book is that good. 
– Jeffrey R. Murray, Amazon review
Max Knight brought to life the saga of how Texas tamed their frontier. He presents a colorful experience with characters effectively placed throughout his story. If you have any interest in Texas history this book is a must read. – AmazonJacki, Amazon review

Palo Duro is an exceptional novel, well researched; a must read. 
– Chuck B., Amazon review

Reading this book is a great way to deepen and appreciate one’s Texas roots – or if you are not a Texan to understand and enjoy what makes Texas, well, Texas! I found this novel to be especially entertaining as well as informative. Made me want to go back and read Lonesome Dove again! – Michael P., Amazon review

In the spirit of the old Western genre of Zane Grey and L’amour, Max Knight pays homage to our national heritage with this fictional but historically accurate labor of love that warms the heart with his vivid imagery and authentic tone of America’s illustrious and sometimes brutal past. – Chester Sosinski, Amazon review

Interview with Mary Ann (Molly) Goodnight

A Character in Palo Duro
By Max Knight

You have been credited with saving the buffalo on the Southern Plains. Can you tell me why you got involved in this effort?

When my husband Charles and I first moved to West Texas, the annual migration of the buffalo herds extended across the plains as far as the eye could see. The buffalo numbered in the millions and their movement caused huge dust clouds to form that looked like an advancing storm. The earth shook, and the sound resembled thunder. It was both frightening and exhilarating, but in less than a decade their numbers were reduced to less than five-hundred.
 

How did such a drastic reduction occur in so short a time?

For a time, the buffalo hides became fashionable back east and in Europe. A great many animals were killed simply because of human vanity. However, even after the fad ran its course, our government encouraged the buffalo hunters to continue slaughtering the buffalo to deprive Native Americans of their primary source of food and shelter. It was a strategy designed to end the Indians’ nomadic lifestyle and force them onto the reservations.
 

Didn’t your husband attempt to cross-breed the remaining buffalo with cattle?

Charles was a cattleman whose business was to provide meat to northern and eastern markets. Both his Longhorn cattle and the buffalo had proven that they could survive the harsh environmental conditions that exist in the plains… extreme heat and cold, the lack of water and forage, and winds that chafe both man and beast. He thought by mating the species, he could create an even more resilient breed. He called them “cattalo.” The experiment didn’t work.
 

So, how did you manage to save and ultimately increase the buffalo population?

I asked my husband to bring in the calves so I could nurture and raise them.
 

Why the focus on the just the calves?

In many cases, the mother had been killed by hunters leaving the calf to either starve or become prey to other predatory animals. The calves would remain by the dead carcass of their mothers and their cries could be heard for miles. They were babies in need of love and caring, and I thought someone had to come to their aid.
 

Did your efforts succeed right away?

No. The calves had to be hand fed by bottle at first, and many simply couldn’t or wouldn’t make the transition. A large number died. However, I kept trying and in time some of them survived, mated, and produced offspring. Those offspring multiplied and today, though nowhere near the numbers that once existed, they are again roaming free in some of our state and national parks, giving new generations the opportunity to see them in their natural habitat.
 

Do you feel a sense of accomplishment or pride?

Absolutely. For me, the buffalo are representative of a bygone era. They are living history.

Max L. Knight was born in Panama in 1949, and was raised both in the Canal Zone and in San Antonio, Texas where he now resides with his wife, Janet “Gray.” A proud member of the Corps of Cadets and graduate of Texas A&M University (Class of ’73), he received a bachelor’s degree in English and a Regular Army commission and served the next twenty-four years as an Air Defense and Foreign Area Officer before retiring in 1997 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After leaving the Army, Max spent the next five years working for RCI Technologies of San Antonio, becoming its Director of Internal Operations. Separating from the company in 2002, he volunteered to be the first docent at the Alamo working within its Education Department before once again serving his country as a Counterintelligence Specialist in Europe, Central America, Asia and the Middle East through 2013. Max speaks several languages including Greek and Spanish. He also holds a Master of Science degree in government from Campbell University. He has written and published two books to date: Silver Taps, a personal memoir of his relationship with his father and a tribute to his alma mater, and Palo Duro, a novel focusing on the Indian wars in the southwestern United States at the end of the nineteenth century.
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1/10/18
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1/11/18
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1/12/18
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1/13/18
Review
1/14/18
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1/15/18
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Guest Post: BEHIND THE HEADLINES by Hays and McFall, authors of BONNIE AND CYLDE: RESURRECTION ROAD {giveaway}

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BONNIE AND CLYDE:

Resurrection Road
Book One in a New Trilogy

by
CLARK HAYS AND KATHLEEN McFALL
  
Genre:  Alternative Historical Fiction / Thriller
Date of Publication: April 22, 2017
Pages: 308
Publisher: Pumpjack Press
on Facebook

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In an alternate timeline, legendary lovers Bonnie and Clyde are given one last shot at redemption.
The story begins in 1984 when a reporter gets a tip to meet an old woman at a Texas cemetery. Cradling an antique rifle and standing over a freshly dug grave, the old woman claims to be Bonnie Parker. Turns out, she says, it wasn’t Bonnie and Clyde who were ambushed fifty years earlier. Instead, the outlaws were kidnapped, forced into a covert life and given a deadly mission—save President Roosevelt from an assassination plot financed by industrialists determined to sink the New Deal.
Thrust into a fight against greed they didn’t ask for, but now must win in order to save themselves and their families, will the notorious duo overcome their criminal pasts and put their “skills” to use fighting for justice for the working class?
Cutting back and forth between the modern era where the shocked reporter investigates the potential scoop-of-the-century, and the desperate undercover exploits of Bonnie and Clyde in 1934, Resurrection Road is a page-turning sleep-wrecker.
Bonnie and Clyde. Saving democracy, one bank robbery at a time. 

PRAISE FOR BONNIE AND CLYDE: RESURRECTION ROAD:
“Sex, danger and intrigue, coupled with just the right dose of cheeky humor,” — East Oregonian 

“A Depression-era tale timely with reflections on fat cats and a rigged economic system that still ring true. More than that, the story is an exciting ride, with tight corners, narrow escapes, and real romantic heat between Bonnie and Clyde. Outlaws become patriots in this imaginative, suspenseful what-if story,” — Kirkus Reviews 

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GuestPost

 Behind the headlines: Bonnie wanted to be a movie star

Bonnie Parker was born October 1 (that makes her a Libra) in 1910, in Rowena, Texas. She didn’t have an easy early life, but she had big dreams.

Her father died when she was four and her mother moved the family (she had an older brother and a younger sister) to an impoverished suburb of Dallas known as Cement City so they could all live with Bonnie’s grandparents.

Bonnie was a bright, precocious child who thrived on attention. She liked to sing and dance and perform on stage, and—because she was considered especially pretty—she dreamed of becoming a film actress.

When she was sixteen, she posed for some glamour shots she hoped would catch the eye of big-shot Hollywood producers. She and her mother excitedly mailed them off to Tinsel Town. Most of the star-making producers ignored the letters, although apparently one wrote back, declining her entreaties.

Bonnie was devastated. Below are a some of the actual glamour photos of Bonnie Parker from that era.

Soon after, seeking a different pathway out of poverty, she married her high school sweetheart Roy Thornton. It didn’t last long. Their relationship fell apart, and even though they never divorced, she never saw him again (and was buried with a tattoo of his initials on her leg).

Bonnie never got the fame from Hollywood films she craved, but she certainly achieved a different kind of fame: infamy. While waiting tables, she met Clyde Barrow in 1930.

In our book, Bonnie and Clyde: Resurrection Road, Bonnie doesn’t get the fame she wants, but she gets something better: a shot at redemption. The outlaw lovers are kidnapped just before the fatal ambush and forced to work for the government trying to save President Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal policies. Their special skills—violence and cunning—make them necessary, and expendable assets in the fight for justice for the working man.

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A native of Texas, Clark Hays spent his early childhood there and then moved for a decade with his family around the world following the job of his father, a legendary wildcat petroleum drilling engineer, before finally landing on a Montana ranch. Kathleen McFall was born and raised in Washington, D.C.
Between the two of them, the authors have worked in writing jobs ranging from cowboy-poet to energy journalist to restaurant reviewer to university press officer. After they met in the early 1990s, their writing career took center stage when they wrote the first book in The Cowboy and the Vampire Collection as a test for marriage. They passed. Their debut novel was picked up by Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN) with a first edition published in 1999, making it among the earliest stories in the resurgence and reimagining of the undead myth for modern audiences.
Since then, Clark and Kathleen have published five novels together—the latest reimagines the life of the legendary outlaws Bonnie and Clyde.
Clark and Kathleen have won several writing awards, including a Pushcart Prize nomination (Clark) and a fiction fellowship from Oregon Literary Arts (Kathleen). Their books have been honored with a Best Books of 2014 by Kirkus Reviews, Best Books of 2016 by IndieReader, and a 2017 Silver IPPY Medalist.
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12/27/17
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Interview: Danielle Ellison, author of the new YA Romance, THE SWEETHEART SHAM

interview

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

Fiction is my heartbeat, especially YA.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

I love teenagers. I’m all about them. I think they are full of this spark, sometimes it’s bright and happy, other times it’s dangerous. They’re blunt and real and they have a respect for that. It’s such an important time, full of high highs and the lowest lows. This is not to say they are always the best at decision making or right, but I really respect them. I love writing for them—sharing stories about teens for teens. I think it’s important to show them that they can accomplish whatever they set their minds to, and I hope that comes across in my writing.

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

I wish I knew. I’ve always been into stories and my own head, even as a kid. No one in my family really enjoys reading, so it’s something none of us are sure of. I watched a LOT of TV as a kid (still do) and I’ve always had a flair for escapism. Maybe it’s that. All I know is I’m grateful for it.

What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?

Our culture is entirely made up of stories. I mean, not to get nerdy, but our entire history as humans on earth is stories that people passed down until they became facts; history, faith, culture—the definition of how we came to be, why we exist, all of it—is based in storytelling. I think we live for stories in any form, be that gossip, television, movies, video games, twitter. We like to imagine that life is something more than it is, that someone out there is going through or has gone through a similar experience to us.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

It’s my characters. Some authors are beautiful wordsmiths (like Jennifer Donnelly, Jason Reynolds, Laini Taylor) and others are brilliant minds with incredible worlds they’ve built (like Victoria Schwab, Holly Black.) I used to think I had to be one of Those Kinds of writers in order to be a real writer. But then I’ve learned and grown over the years, and my biggest lesson has been to take what you do best and make it your selling point. For me, that’s characters. I strive to write real people, as real as you and me, who are relatable and have distinct voices. That’s what I loved about my favourite shows, movies and books, and there’s real value in that – so that’s what I try to do.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?  

It was really important to me show the friendship between these characters and I felt (in the beginning) it was truly Will and Georgie’s story, and I had to figure out how Beau and Georgie’s romance could fit in and be the story, without taking away Will’s voice. It tripped me up a lot. As an LGBTQ+ ally, as someone who works with teens, who was writing a book with a gay character, I really wanted to do his story justice. I wanted to represent him, but at the same time, his wasn’t the central love story. I think I really accomplished what I wanted to in this book. It’s truly a story about love, both romantic and that between best friends.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

From the beginning, I loved Georgie. She had such a fantastic voice and she was really very fun. I love getting into her head and viewing her world. I also love Culler itself, which I wanted to feel like a southern Stars Hollow (Gilmore Girls) and I think it turned out very colourful. I wanted a town that you wanted to come back to over and over, and I personally love spending time there.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I’ve had so many jobs, y’all. I’ve worked at Wendy’s (my first job), movie theaters, churches, as a nanny, teaching theater to children, offices, bookstores, libraries, taught online undergraduate courses. I’ve done more than most people. I think the best way to show that they have impacted my writing is just by the exposure to experiences and people.

What do you like to read in your free time?

I read YA. Current reads (well as soon as I get to) are The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson and then Children of Blood and Bone by TomiAdeyemi.

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m working on the next book in the Southern Charmed series.

What do your plans for future projects include?

More Southern Charmed books – and a secret we’ve-been-plotting-for-years project with my best friend, who is also a writer.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

The names come with the characters, especially for my MCs, so I have no say really in what they tell me their names are. If they are minor characters, I’ll just brainstorm ideas until something feels right and then I’ll try to make sure it’s not something I’ve used in a recent book.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Teleportation! It’d save so much on travel expenses and really help me keep my wanderlust at bay.

If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?

I’ve always thought I was a panda: cute, cuddly, but fierce and powerful. It’s pretty apt.

But I’ve got a friend who tells me I’m a cat. At first, I was resistant to this analogy but as time goes on I realize I am a cat. I like what I want when I want it, I do what I want, I love attention (but only sometimes), I could take or leave people depending on my mood, I’m a little needy, super affectionate and I have fallen asleep to having my hair petted.

What literary character is most like you?

Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice.

Aboutthebook

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About The Sweetheart Sham:

In a small town like Culler, South Carolina, you guard your secrets like you guard your cobbler recipe: with your life. Georgia Ann Monroe knows a thing or two about secrets: she’s been guarding the truth that her best friend Will is gay for years now. But what happens when a little white lie to protect him gets her into a fake relationship…and then the boy of her dreams shows up?

Enter Beau Montgomery: Georgie’s first love, hotter than ever, and much too much of a southern gentleman to ever pursue someone else’s girl. There’s no way to come clean to Beau while still protecting Will. But bless their hearts, they live in Culler—where secrets always have a way of revealing themselves.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a hilarious “fakeship,” a scorching-hot impossible relationship, and a heartwarming best-friendship that will make you want to call your best friend right here, right now. 

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abouttheauthor

danielle-ellison

About Danielle Ellison:

Danielle Ellison is a nomad, always on the lookout for an adventure and the next story. In addition to writing, she’s the founder and coordinator of the NoVa TEEN Book Festival. When she’s not busy with books, she’s probably watching her favorite shows, drinking coffee, or fighting her nomadic urges. She is newly settled in Oklahoma (for now) with her cat, Simon, but you can always find her on twitter @DanielleEWrites.

Connect with Danielle online:

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/danielleewrites

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/danielle.ellison.3150

Author Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/daniellewrites

Newsletter: http://danielleellison.us10.list- manage1.com/subscribe?u=c31fbc28f04eb33f325285e75&id=9f3ac39dc4

Interview: Preston Lewis, author of BLUSTER’S LAST STAND

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BLUSTER’S LAST STAND

The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax, #4

by
PRESTON LEWIS
  Genre:  Historical Western Fiction / Humor
Date of Publication: November 15, 2017
Publisher: Wild Horse Press

Scroll down for the giveaway!

  
Events on the Little Bighorn might have turned out better for George Armstrong Custer had he listened to H.H. Lomax rather than trying to kill him.  To save his own skin—and scalp!—Lomax must outwit Custer and his troopers as well as face hundreds of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors swarming Last Stand Hill.
At least that is how Lomax in his inimitable style tells the story in this humorous romp across Old West history.  Lomax’s latest misadventures take him from the Battle of Adobe Walls to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.  In between, he’s a bouncer in a Waco whorehouse, a prospector in the Black Hills, a bartender in a Dakota Territory saloon and a combatant in the worst defeat in the history of the frontier Army.
Along the way, Lomax crosses paths with Bat Masterson, Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, General Custer, his brother Tom Custer and the troopers of the Seventh Cavalry as well as hordes of Comanche, Kiowa, Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, not to mention the most dangerous adversary of all—a newspaper reporter with ambition.
Told with Lomax’s characteristic wit, Bluster’s Last Stand puts a new spin on the Little Bighorn and its aftermath.  Whether you believe him or not, you’ve got to admire Lomax’s luck and pluck in both surviving one of the darkest days in Old West history and writing about the disaster in the latest volume of The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax.
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PRAISE FOR THE HH LOMAX SERIES:

“A new series by Preston Lewis features a protagonist, H.H. Lomax, who isn’t much of a gunfighter, horseman or gambler.  Instead, he is a likeable loser who runs into old western celebrities like Billy the Kid and the Jesse James gang, and barely escapes.”  Wall Street Journal
“It takes a special talent to write first-person novels based on the premise of ‘lost papers,’ but Preston Lewis is an especially fresh and innovative writer and he knows how to do it.”
Rocky Mountain News
Fans of the Western as a genre will delight in Lewis’ ongoing spoof of many traditions which fiction writers from Owen Wister to Elmer Kelton captured well enough to turn into key parts of our myths and folklore….Lewis’s wit is at times Puckishly wry, at other times bawdy in the manner of Chaucer.  It is always engaging.  Texas Books in Review
Several Old West historians have blessed the Lomax books as expertly crafted fiction. Dallas Morning News

 

AuthorInterview

 

How has being a Texan influenced your writing?  Texas provides a sense of place, history and pride that I haven’t seen in residents of other states.  I was a Kiplinger Fellow at Ohio State University and had the opportunity to work closely with a dozen journalists from other states, primarily in the Midwest and Northeast, and they didn’t share the same sense of identity with state that I did.  When I graduated from high school, I said West Texas had seen the last of me, but after living in Central and Southeast Texas and then in Ohio and Michigan, I realized I missed West Texas, both the landscape and people, and was glad to get back in West Texas where I have remained ever since.

Why did you choose to write historical books?  I always loved history and growing up in West Texas, the Old West was the history that surrounded me, from old forts to cattle trails to dramatic landscapes.  My youth was a heyday for western movies, which my father enjoyed and took us to, so that was the screen stories of my childhood.  Perhaps the event that most cemented my fascination with the Old West was a trip my parents took my brother and me to Lincoln County, New Mexico, where I could walk in the footsteps of Billy the Kid.  The final impetus was the birth of our first child and I realized I was going to have to ultimately put our son (and later his sister) through college.  So, I needed to start making more money to save for their education.  Shortly, after our son was born, Bantam had a First Western Contest.  I wrote a western and submitted it.  Though it didn’t win the contest, it gave me a manuscript to circulate, and it was ultimately published by Tower.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?  I have done various types of writing, both on and off the job.  With newspapers I wrote hard news and features.  In higher education, I wrote features, news releases, brochures, ad copy and web copy over the years.  As a freelancer, I’ve had articles appear in daily newspapers, airline magazines, history magazines and scholarly publications.  I’ve written western, historical and juvenile novels, an occasional short story or poem as well as three dramatic productions, two of which were staged, and an unproduced screenplay.  Blood of Texas, my historical novel of the Texas Revolution, earned me a Spur Award for best novel and three other novels were Spur finalists.  My True West article on the Battle of Yellowhouse Canyon also received a Spur for best short nonfiction and another True West article was a Spur finalist.  My comic western The Fleecing of Fort Griffin earlier this year earned an Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association for best creative work on West Texas.  Two of my juvenile novels also won Kelton Awards.  

What cultural value do you see in books?  Books provide the cultural continuity of our civilization.  For instance, I took Latin in high school and college and by the time I was done, I could pick up the narratives of Caesar and read them as if Julius Caesar was speaking about the Gallic Wars straight to me across the centuries.  Similarly, I could do the same thing with memoirs of later military heroes Ulysses S. Grant or Dwight D. Eisenhower as well as common people like Anne Frank or Mary Boykin Chestnut.  Books capture the ephemera of the day for posterity.  

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?  I’ve never been a fan of George Armstrong Custer, as is evident on page 1 of Bluster’s Last Stand, so I had not read or researched much on him and the Little Bighorn.  I was shocked at how much material was available on him and his troops.  All the 7th Cavalry soldiers that are mentioned by name in the book were actual participants in the battle, and their descriptions were taken from their military records.  So, I picked out soldiers whose stories I liked or fit my narrative.  There was one Texan in the battle so I had to use him.  On top of that, there were some accounts of a couple soldiers who had survived the fight at Last Stand Hill.  I used one of those soldiers to help tie the book together at the end.  

What question do you wish someone would ask about your book, but nobody yet has?  What do you have against George Armstrong Custer?  Answer:  While he was unquestionably brave (or perhaps impulsive), he was a self-aggrandizing pompous ass with little compassion for his men.  A lot of them died as a result at the Little Bighorn.

Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured if your book?  In Bluster’s Last Stand, I have a self-educated black gentleman who my protagonist rooms with in a Waco brothel where they both work.  The idea was to reflect in Earl Eaton an educated man to contrast with my protagonist, H.H. Lomax, who was more interested in adventure than education.  I also have a Sioux warrior who plays an important role in resolving the conflict, though he appears only in a few chapters.  Using under-represented characters is tricky in these politically correct times, but I try to use them when the plot requires it or I can make it work for my protagonist, who needs a whole range of foils to make the humor work.

Which character from your books is most or least like you?  There’s probably a little of me in all the characters in my books.  My favorite is H.H. Lomax, protagonist in Bluster’s Last Stand, though he is probably least like me because he is outspoken, cynical and irresponsible whereas I tend to be more traditional in my outlook on life.

What did you find most useful in learning to write for publication?  What was least useful or most destructive?  Award-winning novelist Jeanne Williams, who was a great mentor for me and many other western writers, told me once that she had watched a lot of young novelists start out, many with great talent and others less so.  However, she said persistence at writing generally trumped talent as the determining factor in their success.  Talent grows with writing experience while persistence is difficult to cultivate.  As for the least helpful advice, it’s write what you know.  Problem is we know so little, especially when we are writing about historical topics.

What projects are you working on at the present?  For my next book in The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax series, I am researching a trail drive novel, giving me a chance to re-read some of J. Frank Dobie’s works and a lot of the classic trail drive histories and memoirs.  I’m always looking for odd or offbeat facts that I can put a humorous spin on or that give me an idea of how to turn the conventions of the genre upside down.

How important are names to you in your books? How do you choose names?  I play around with names and sometimes throw friends with slightly disguised names into my books just for the fun of it.  Of course, I always get their permission, but it is fun and it ensures at least a couple buyers of each book.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?  Time travel so I could do research and resolve many unanswered questions about what happened in the past.  

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?  Dodge City, Kansas.

If you could time travel, what time period would you first visit?  My favorite period in American history starts with the beginning of the Civil War and ends with the conclusion of World War II.  That covers the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, the classic period of the Old West, the Progressive Era, World War I, the Roaring 20s, the Great Depression and World War II.  What period I would visit would depend upon my mood of the day.

What is your favorite quote?  “I cannot live without books”—Thomas Jefferson and “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please”—Mark Twain.

Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of 30 western, juvenile and historical novels, including Bluster’s Last Stand published by Wild Horse Press.

Bluster’s Last Stand, a novel about Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn, is the latest volume in Lewis’s well-received Memoirs of H.H. Lomax series of comic westerns that began with The Demise of Billy the Kid.  Subsequent books in the series—The Redemption of Jesse James and Mix-Up at the O.K. Corral—were both Spur Finalists from Western Writers of America (WWA).
Lewis’s historical novel Blood of Texas on the Texas Revolution received WWA’s Spur Award for Best Western Novel.  His western caper The Fleecing of Fort Griffin in 2017 earned him his third Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association (WTHA) for best creative work on West Texas.
His True West article on the Battle of Yellowhouse Canyon won a Spur Award for Best Nonfiction Article.  In addition to True West, his short works have appeared in publications as varied as Louis L’Amour Western Magazine, Persimmon Hill, Dallas Morning News, The Roundup, Journal of the Wild West History Association and San Angelo Standard-Times.
A native West Texan and current San Angelo resident, Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baylor University and master’s degrees from Ohio State in journalism and Angelo State in history.  He is a past president of WWA and WTHA.  Lewis is a longstanding member of the Authors Guild and an associate member of the Dramatists Guild of America.  

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1st Prize: Full 4 Book Set in the Lomax Series
2nd Prize: Bluster’s Last Stand + The Fleecing of Fort Griffin
3rd Prize: Bluster’s Last Stand

*all copies signed*

December 13-December 22, 2017
(U.S. Only)

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

12/13/17
Excerpt 1
12/14/17
Author Interview
12/15/17
Review
12/16/17
Character Spotlight
12/17/17
Review
12/18/17
Scrapbook Page
12/19/17
Review
12/20/17
Excerpt 2
12/21/17
Author Interview
12/22/17
Review
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Interview: Gina Hooten Popp, author of UP NEAR DALLAS

BNR Up Near Dallas JPG
UP NEAR DALLAS

Winds of Change — Book III

by
GINA HOOTEN POPP
  Genre:  Texas Historical Fiction / Romance
Date of Publication: November 12, 2017
Number of Pages: 307

Scroll down for the giveaway!

 UpNearDallas_6x9_Cream_310_cover110717_PRESS
The year is 1934. Economic turbulence rocks the country. And record drought dries up crops, along with the spirits of every farmer south of the Mason-Dixon. Yet for sixteen-year-old Mick McLaren, life is good as he takes to the open road to chase his dream of being a musician. Riding boxcars, hitchhiking, walking and driving his way across Depression Era Texas, he finds not only himself, but the love of a girl from Dallas named Margaret. Along the way, they befriend Cowboy Larson, a Delta Blues guitarist. Together the three teens, from three very different worlds, come-of-age as their life-changing journey carries them through killer dust storms, extreme poverty, and the unprecedented gangster activity of the Dirty Thirties.


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AuthorInterview

 

How has Texas influenced your writing?

For starters, all my books are set in Texas. This was not a conscious decision on my part, it just happened that way. I think it may be because there are so many good stories to tell about this area of the country. Take for example my latest book, Up Near Dallas, set in 1934. The characters roam all over the state hopping boxcars but end up back in Dallas where the music scene was hot at the time. Texas has always had a lot of musicians and artists on the forefront of things—from Austin to San Antonio to Dallas and more—Texans have paved the way into new creative territory. I’ve always thought that this is because Texas is a little untamed and not too fast to tell others what they can and cannot do. Therefore, if a guy plants Cadillacs upright in a row or starts a new style of country music, then good for him because there are all kinds of people around the state and the country that will more than appreciate it.

Why did you choose to write historical books?

I’ve always had a love for history and literary books, so it was only natural for me to write what I love to read. My sister got me hooked on historical fiction novels. So, you’d have to blame her, I guess.

Where did your love of storytelling come from?

My grandmother was a great storyteller. From a young age, I would ask for a story and she’d just make one up out of thin air, and it would be interesting. In fact, she could even make a story about going to the grocery store or the gas station tense and exciting. Nothing in her life was ever mundane. And, as the old saying goes, the nut doesn’t fall for from the tree. In fact, you’ll see a lot of her colorful sayings in my stories. I think she’d be proud.   

How long have you been writing?

I have a long history of creativity and writing. In school, I always did well in literature classes and art classes. When I graduated from Texas A&M/Commerce, I went into advertising. First, I started as an art director. Then I kept writing behind the scenes on ads, menus, and brochures. After I’d collected enough awards for writing, my boss at The Richards Group (Stan Richards) let me work as a writer/art director. I’m forever grateful to him because it made for a great career as I moved from agency to agency as well as worked on my own as a freelancer. So, I’d been professionally writing for about fifteen to twenty years when I decided to start writing novels. About ten years ago, I took a class at Texas A&M/Canyon in West Texas and got involved with the West Texas Writers’ Academy, hosted by New York Times bestselling author, Jodi Thomas. I would suggest that anyone wanting to write books seriously consider this week-long summer camp. It’s a game changer for making it in the world of writing.

How does your book relate to your faith?

Before I do any creative project, I always pray God will allow the Holy Spirit to flow through me influencing my work. Yes, I’ve always done this whether I’m working on websites and brochures for an airline, tech company, or restaurant, or whether I’m writing a novel about a hurricane, drug dealer, or fighter pilot. I see myself as a vessel through which creativity flows.  

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

I write in a simple conversational style that moves fast for the reader.

What is your favorite quote?

I have two favorite quotes at the moment:

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”        —Mother Teresa   

“Be kind to one another.” —Ellen DeGeneres

 

A native Texan, Gina Hooten Popp was born in Greenville and now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. Along with writing novels, Gina has enjoyed a long career as a professional writer in advertising. Her debut novel THE STORM AFTER was a finalist in the 2014 RONE Awards, and her just-released book CHICO BOY: A NOVEL was a 2016 Medalist Winner in the New Apple Annual Book Awards. Recently, her novel LUCKY’S WAY, about a young fighter pilot from Houston, was endorsed by the United States World War One Centennial Commission. 


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December 5-December 13, 2017
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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
12/4/17
Guest Post
12/5/17
Review
12/6/17
Excerpt
12/7/17
Playlist
12/8/17
Review
12/9/17
Notable Quotable
12/10/17
Excerpt
12/11/17
Review
12/12/17
Author Interview
12/13/17
Review
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Guest Post: Erica Cameron, author of the new YA release, SEA OF STRANGERS

How to Get the Most Out of Your Next Conference or Convention

Since I started writing in 2007, I have queried agents, gone on submission to editors, and attended dozens of conferences. Each experience has its own set of rules and expectations, and conference and conventions can be the hardest of them all to navigate if only because there’s far less information available online for them. Today, I have four points to help you make the most out of your next conference or convention.

 

Be aware.

 

There are hundreds of writing-related events all across the country. Some have particular focuses—SCBWI, for example, is a wonderful organization for those writing for children and teens—and others are going to be broader in scope and scale. Research organizations that match the genre you write in and see if they host any annual conferences. Pick the one that will help you learn and grow in your genre as much as possible. Those will also be the events that put you in contact with the people you need to meet.

 

Be prepared.

 

Once you’ve picked which conference you’re attending, start doing research on the attendees. Who’s speaking? Are any agents or editors taking pitches? What does each agent or editor specialize in? What were their recent sales or acquisitions? It doesn’t usually do much good to try selling a dark sci-fi series to someone who specializes in light-hearted women’s fiction. For agents, check out their submission guidelines and create a printout you can bring with you. If you’re meeting with editors and can’t find any submission guidelines, having one chapter and a one-page summary of your book is usually a good place to start. However, it’s expensive to travel. Agents and editors usually have to cram everything they need for the conference or convention into a small bag. It’s hard for them to carry stacks of printed pages and materials home with them again. A business card, though? That’s absolutely doable. Even if you’re coming as an aspiring author, it’s not a bad idea to have business cards. They should include your name, email address, the genre you write in, and any applicable website or social media information.

 

Be respectful.

 

Agents and editors come to conferences to find new talent. That is specifically why they’re there, so it’s okay to approach them with questions or to start a conversation. The thing to remember is respect. It’s business, yes, but they’re also people with lives outside of publishing. Don’t expect hours of attention. Try not to interrupt if they’re in conversation with someone else, though joining a conversation with a group is often fine if you have something to contribute. Whatever you do, don’t try to pitch a book in the bathroom. It sounds obvious, but it happens far more often than it should. I know this because industry professionals talk. They tell stories at events about all of the ridiculous, rude, and outlandish interactions they have had with authors in the past. Good stories won’t be passed around like office gossip, but a bad interaction absolutely will.

 

Be open.

 

Opportunity slips up beside you unexpectedly sometimes, but the only way to take advantage of the moment is to take every chance offered. In 2015, a group of young adult authors organized a lunch during RT, and I ended up sitting next to a debut author named Kate Brauning. What I didn’t realize at the time was that she was also an editor with Entangled Teen. That casual conversation sparked a second, more in-depth discussion, and eventually turned into a three-book deal for my young adult fantasy series, The Ryogan Chronicles. At the same convention, a panel appearance I did attracted interest from another publisher, and after another conversation and a proposal, I sold the Assassins duology to Riptide’s YA imprint Triton Books. The point is that you may go to an event intending to pitch to one person, but you never know who you might end up talking to. Be open to talking to those around you and ready to discuss what you’re writing, and you never know what a single conversation could bring.

 

Aboutthebook

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About Sea of Strangers (The Ryogan Chronicles, #2):

Know your enemy if you want to survive…

The only way for Khya to get her brother back alive is to kill Varan—the immortal ruler who can’t be killed. But not even Varan knew what he was doing when he perverted magic and humanity to become immortal.
Khya’s leading her group of friends and rebels into the mountains that hold Varan’s secrets, but if risking all their lives is going to be worth it, she has to give up everything else—breaking the spell that holds her brother captive and jeopardizing her deepening relationship with Tessen, the boy who has been by turns her rival and refuge since her brother disappeared. Immortality itself might be her only answer, but if that’s where Khya has to go, she can’t ask Tessen or her friends to follow.

 

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abouttheauthor

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About Erica Cameron:

Erica Cameron is the author of books for young adults including the Ryogan Chronicles, the Assassins duology, and The Dream War Saga. She also co-authored the Laguna Tides novels with Lani Woodland. An advocate for asexuality and emotional abuse awareness, Erica has also worked with teens at a residential rehabilitation facility in her hometown of Fort Lauderdale.

 

Author Links:

Author Website: ByEricaCameron.com

Author Blog: ByEricaCameron.com/wp/blog/

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ByEricaCameron

Author Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ByEricaCameron

Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/ericacameron

Newsletter: http://byericacameron.com/wp/newsletter/

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/byericacameron/

Author Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/byericacameron/

Author Tumblr: http://byericacameron.tumblr.com/

 

Review: COWBOY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE by Lori Wilde {giveaway}

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COWBOY, 
IT’S COLD OUTSIDE

A Twilight, Texas Novel

by
LORI WILDE
  Genre:  Contemporary Holiday Romance
Date of Publication: October 27, 2017
Publisher: Avon 
on Twitter  ┃ on Facebook
Number of Pages: 400

Scroll down for the giveaway!

 
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Lori Wilde’s Twilight, TX Christmas novels are beloved for their emotional depth and ability to capture the sweetness of the holiday season. In her latest Twilight, Texas novel, COWBOY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE, the holiday season is once again full of romance and surprises.
Everyone in town knows that Christmas in Twilight has a way of bringing lovers together . . . but will its magic bring this pair from “I won’t” to “I do?”
Wearing a too-tight “Santa Baby” costume held in by a double pair of Spanx, Paige MacGregor runs headlong into a gorgeous, grey-eyed hunk of a long, tall cowboy. And not just any cowboy, but country-western star Cash Colton, visiting Twilight to perform in a charity concert. Most women would melt at his feet, but Paige knows all-too-much about self-assured men with cocky attitudes, so she tells him to get lost.
Cash is in town, nursing his own broken heart, but Paige has knocked him off his feet. He’s convinced she’s perfect—someone to inspire his music and share his now-empty bed. True, he’s not marriage material, but he’s determined to convince her that they’re perfect together—at least for a while. But what he doesn’t count on is falling in love with the one woman who isn’t about to give him the time of day!
“When it comes to striking exactly the right balance between sweet and sexy, Wilde has the equivalent of perfect pitch.” — Booklist 

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Review

Lori Wilde >>>> Twilight, TX + Christmas = MAGIC

I knew before I even got started how wonderful this book was going to be, and I was blissfully right!

Paige MacGregor returns home to Twilight for a new start after a conman scams her out of her money and steals her identity.  The last thing in the world she wants to do right now is hook up with some cocky, self-absorbed male.  But meeting Cash Coulton makes it very hard to remember that.

Cash is in Twilight to perform a charity concert, after taking a hiatus from his music career.  He’s not looking for love, but he can’t control the feelings he gets for Miss Paige MacGregor and the fact that she has awakened his muse.  Her playing hard to get just makes him want her even more.

All he wants to do is convince her to give “them” a shot.  With a little trust and a whole lot of Twilight magic, love is their Christmas surprise.

What can I say about Lori Wilde and the TWILIGHT, TX series that hasn’t already been said?  Country charm.  Cowboys with Heart.  And Twilight is the place EVERYONE wants to visit.  The one thing you can guarantee when you pick up one of her books is that you’ll get that warm-fuzzy feeling all over, and close the book with a sigh and a smile.  As far a Christmas stories go, COWBOY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE is one of the best I’ve read.  With all the magical charm of the rest of the TWILIGHT, TX series all wrapped up in festive Christmas decor, it will keep the hearth burning long after the last page.

HIGHLY recommended for romance readers who love a feel-good story, or any of you Hallmark channel watchers out there.  You’ll be happy you read it.  You’ll be grabbing up the rest of the series.  And you’ll be trying to figure out just how to get to Twilight, TX.

 

 

A fifth generation Texan, Lori Wilde is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 82 works of fiction. She’s a three-time nominee of the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award and has won numerous other awards. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University, and a certificate in forensics. She is also a certified Hatha yoga instructor, and runs a yoga/creativity retreat for artists at Epiphany Orchards in Weatherford, Texas, the Cutting Horse Capital of the World.
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Ten Winners Get Print Copies of 
A Wedding for Christmas
December 9-December 18, 2017
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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

12/9/17 Promo Reading by Moonlight
12/10/17 Review The Librarian Talks
12/11/17 Excerpt Texan Girl Reads
12/12/17 Promo Missus Gonzo
12/13/17 Review The Page Unbound
12/14/17 Author Interview Books and Broomsticks
12/15/17 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
12/16/17 Excerpt StoreyBook Reviews
12/17/17 Review Momma on the Rocks
12/18/17 Promo Margie’s Must Reads
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Author Spotlight: Margaret Brownley – CHRISTMAS IN A COWBOY’S ARMS

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CHRISTMAS 
IN A COWBOY’S ARMS
with stories by
ROSANNE BITTNER, LINDA BRODAY, MARGARET BROWNLEY, 
LEIGH GREENWOOD, ANNA SCHMIDT, AMY SANDAS
  Genre: Romance Anthology / Western / Historical
Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Number of Pages: 512

Scroll down for the giveaway!

cover lo res Christmas in a Cowboy's Arms
 The Beating Heart of Christmas
In the wild and untamed West, it takes a cowboy’s embrace to see you through a long winter’s night. Stay toasty this holiday season with heart-warming tales from these bestselling authors.
Whether it’s a lonely spinster finding passion at last…an infamous outlaw-turned-lawman reaffirming the love that keeps him whole…a lost and broken drifter discovering family in unlikely places…a Texas Ranger risking it all for one remarkable woman…two lovers bringing together a family ripped apart by prejudice…or reunited lovers given a second chance to correct past mistakes…a Christmas spent in a cowboy’s arms is full of hope, laughter, and―most of all―love.
*Chick-a-Dee Christmas by Rosanne Bittner * The Christmas Stranger by Linda Broday * A Texas Ranger for Christmas by Margaret Brownley * Father Christmas by Leigh Greenwood * A Christmas Baby by Anna Schmidt * A Christmas Reunion by Amy Sandas*

PRAISE FOR CHRISTMAS IN A COWBOY’S ARMS: 
“An emotional powerhouse! This classic historical western is destined for the “keeper” shelf.” RT Book Reviews, Top Pick for Rosanne Bittner

“Fun and sensual…great for fans of history, romance, and some good old Texas grit.” Kirkus for Linda Broday


“A great story by a wonderful author.” ― #1 New York Times bestselling author DEBBIE MACOMBER for Margaret Brownley


“Greenwood is a master at westerns.” RT Book Reviews for Leigh Greenwood


“The perfect read.” RT Book Reviews for Anna Schmidt


“A genuine page-turner…electric and absorbing.” Kirkus for Amy Sandas
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author story spotlight

MARGARET BROWNLEY, AUTHOR OF A TEXAS RANGER FOR CHRISTMAS

Included in Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms Anthology

About A Texas Ranger for Christmas:

Texas Ranger Cole Bradshaw would gladly risk it all for the woman he loves. If only he could gain her trust…
Sadie: Anyone I should notify? A wife?”

Cole: (recovering from a bullet wound) “Not married.”

Sadie: “If you’re smart, mister, you’ll keep it that way.”

                                      – A Texas Ranger for Christmas/”Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms”

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INTERVIEW WITH MARGARET BROWNLEY

 

Why did you choose to write romance?

I love writing romance novels because every theme known to mankind can be explored through the action of two people falling in love. I also like that romance lends itself to every possible sub-genre from paranormal to thrillers, and many of my western romances include mysteries.  I also love writing happy endings and what’s a romance without a “happily ever after”?

 

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

I like to tackle serious themes with humor.  A Texas Ranger for Christmas is about learning to trust again after devastating loss.

 

How has Texas influenced your writing?

Everything about Texas is big and bold and that’s how it must be written.  Just using the Lone Star state as a setting makes me want to write characters that are big and bold, too.

 

Where did your love of reading come from?

I grew up in the dark ages without computers, cell phones or video games.  Our main entertainment was books.  My late-night habit of reading under the covers with a flashlight caused me to fall asleep in school. This made teachers wonder about my health. I didn’t know it at the time, but all that reading taught me the elements of good storytelling and helped me to better understand human nature.

 

What cultural value do you see in books?

Readers are exposed to many different viewpoints, cultures and ideas. I’m convinced that is the best way to learn tolerance.  Unfortunately, screen time has replaced reading and I believe that’s one of the reasons free speech is now in danger.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the willingness to listen to each other has declined in recent years along with book sales.  Books have a way of teaching us to be more open-minded, and they do it in the most delightful way.

 

What does your perfect writing spot look like? Is that what your ACTUAL writing spot looks like?

My perfect writing spot would be an office smack dab in the middle of a beach.  My actual writing spot is in my Monet purple office, surrounded by research books and seated on a balance ball chair.  This way I can convince myself that I’m actually exercising while I write.

From my window I can see the Santa Susanna mountains where many old-time westerns were filmed, including Duel in the Sun, Bonanza and The Lone Ranger.  I swear that sometimes when the light is right, you can see a cowboy riding off into the sunset.  It’s a relief to know that according to a University of Minnesota study, a chaotic work space encourages originality and thinking outside the box.  I can now happily forget about cleaning my office.  

What projects are you working on at present?

Right now, I’m working on a new series, “Haywire Brides.” Cowboy Charm School is the first book and it will be out in the summer of 2018.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  

New York Times bestselling author MARGARET BROWNLEY has penned more than forty novels and novellas. Margaret is a two-time Romance Writers of American RITA® finalist and has written for a TV soap.  She is currently working on a new series.  Not bad for someone who flunked eighth-grade English.  Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.

Rosanne Bittner
Linda Broday

Website * Facebook *  Twitter * Goodreads

Margaret Brownley

Website * Facebook *  Twitter * Goodreads

Anna Schmidt

Website * Pinterest *  Twitter * Goodreads

Amy Sandas

Website * Facebook  *  Twitter * Goodreads

Leigh Greenwood

Website * Goodreads

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December 1-December 10, 2017
Four Winners will each get a prize pack which includes Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms + another book(s) by one of the authors.  Three of the packs will also include a $10 Amazon Gift Card.
(U.S. Only)
VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

12/1/17 Christmas Memories Hall Ways Blog
12/2/17 Review Books in the Garden
12/3/17 Spotlight on Amy Syd Savvy
12/4/17 Review Bibliotica
12/5/17 Spotlight on Anna Missus Gonzo
12/6/17 Spotlight on Linda Margie’s Must Reads
12/7/17 Review Reading by Moonlight
12/8/17 Spotlight on Margaret The Librarian Talks
12/9/17 Spotlight on Rosanne Tangled in Text
12/10/17 Review StoreyBook Reviews
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Interview: Amanda Ashby, Author of new YA Release – THE HEARTBREAK CURE

interview

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

From my parents. Both of them were great readers and so I grew up around books. When I was ten my dad handed me The Hobbit and basically said, “if you don’t like this book, then we’re going to have a problem.” He also would take me to the bookshop every Saturday and buy me the new Trixie Belden as soon as it came out. While my mom would tell me about how when she was a child she’d get in trouble for reading books under the sheets using a flashlight – which of course just adds that bit of danger every child reader needs to be totally hooked!!!!

They also never censored what I read so it never became a chore or something that I didn’t want to do.

How long have you been writing?

I published my first book, You Had Me at Halo ten years ago and I started writing seriously about seven years before that. Which is crazy because every time I start a new book it still feels like I’m just getting started – such is the joy (and terror) or writing!!!

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

I write YA, middle grade and romance books, which sounds like I’m split in a few different directions, but actually I write them all pretty much the same way (though some books have less kissing in them!)

How does your book relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?

I LOVE this question!!!! My spiritual practice is hugely important to me and when I’m not reading YA books I’m reading self-development and spiritual books because that’s what I’m drawn to. I meditate and practice mindfulness (and even try very hard not to kill bugs – though that’s a tough one because bugs are ick!!!)

However, I’d never want to write a book where I’m preaching or trying to teach people a lesson, because that sounds the polar opposite of fun, not to mention hard work! However, my core belief is in the transforming power of love. So, my writing is all about characters who are being pushed out of their comfort zone and forced into transformation as they fall in love and become open-hearted.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

I love being ridiculous and I’m a sucker for a good one liner so my writing is always light-hearted with some silly side character shenanigans!

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

This was one of the easier books I’ve ever written and my favorite part was chapter one. I hadn’t even been thinking about a YA romance and then the chapter almost fell onto the page (which is such an annoying thing to say, I know!) I just really liked Cat’s character and the fact she was sitting under a tree wearing her pyjamas, and that image really drove the whole story.

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?

Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Ursula Le Guin and Raymone E Feist are some of my all time favorite authors – and I re-read their books all the time. They all create such amazing worlds that make it hard for me to leave. And while my own books don’t really reflect these books in setting, tone or world building (hahaha – or anything) they have all inspired me to step into being a storyteller and to keep learning the craft!

What did you find most useful in learning to write?  What was least useful or most destructive?

When I first started writing I did a short course that was very dry. It gave me lots of character interview sheets and lots of rules of what I should and shouldn’t do and it almost turned me off. In the end the most useful thing I did was to just start writing. And the more I wrote the more I figured it out – and I still did lots of courses and reading along the way, but it was by starting the book that I actually began to work out my own system (which never includes character interviews – so if you ask me what Cat or Alex’s favorite color, I couldn’t tell you!)

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

I’m a part-time writer and this works best for me. I have been a full time writer before and discovered that if I have too much time on my hands I just figure out strange and interesting ways to use that time up (and not by writing). It sometimes involves the internet, sometimes it will be meeting up with other authors and talking about writing instead of actually doing it, and in one very low moment I even resorted to cleaning the oven! These days I schedule in my writing into shorter spaces and while my oven is no longer shiny, the words do flow better. For the rest of my time I help other authors manage their journey on the creative path and also work in a library.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I’m a part time children’s librarian, which, if you’re going to have a day job is a pretty great one to have! And honestly most of the time it doesn’t feel like work at all. I get to hang out with kids and send them home with huge reading piles, while also having great conversations with their parents (because I LOVE parents who make it a priority to bring their kids to the library). It really is such a joy to be part of someone else’s reading journey!

What do you like to read in your free time?

I read lots of YA, Fantasy and self-development books. I’m currently reading Into the Wilderness by Brene Brown and Warcross by Marie Lu

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m writing a middle grade series called Midnight Reynolds, under the name Catherine Holt and I’m just about to start book three. Plus I’ve got some women’s fiction small town romance books coming out next year, which I’m about to dive into!

What do your plans for future projects include?

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a YA single title and so that is something I’m planning to do.

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

There is actually something magical about water and I do a lot of my thinking in the shower and when I’m out walking! But as for daily habits, I must confess that I don’t have a writing desk. Instead I take my laptop and follow the sun around the house! In winter I’ve been known to write in bed. Right now I’m at the breakfast bar because that’s closest to the coffee!!!! Every now and then I attempt to train myself into staying at a desk but so far it hasn’t stuck!

What book do you wish you could have written?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Um, wow! I love that book so much!

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

Naming characters is so much fun! There are lots of baby name sites that will break it down by popular names for each year, not to mention meanings. Some of the less obvious places are movie credits. For some reason the people who work behind the scenes in movies have The Best Names Ever!!!! I’m constantly finding cool ideas in the credits. Also, thanks to being in the library I get to meet young kids all the time who are rocking amazing names. I enrolled a young girl the other day whose name was Stevi and you can bet that I’ll be using that one sometime soon!!!

What do you want your tombstone to say?

Can I steal from Buffy? Her tombstone in season 6 read: She saved the world. A lot.

What literary character is most like you?

I’m a huge Jane Austen fan and I’d like to say I was Elizabeth Bennet but I have the sneaking suspicion that I’m more of a Bridget Jones!!!

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

Italy! When I was backpacking through Europe we went through Italy on the way to Greece and on the way back and for some INSANE reason, we never stopped there. That’s something that needs to be fixed. And I really want to visit New York City! I

If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?

A red panda. Those guys are soooo cute.

If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

Too funny! I’m from Australia but have lived in New Zealand for a long time, plus in my husband’s home town of Liverpool, England (the land of the Beatles). So I have a very weird accent. I would trade it in for a nice English accent any day of the week!

Aboutthebook

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About The Heartbreak Cure:

How to get over a heartbreak:

Step one: Eat your body weight in brownies.

Step two: Throw yourself into your dreams of becoming a famous writer. 

Step three: Beg your (hottie) ex-neighbor to act as your fake boyfriend. 

Step four: Skip step three unless you’re ready for some serious fallout.

After being dumped and humiliated over the summer, Cat Turner does what any sane girl would do. She asks bad boy Alex Locke to be her fake boyfriend and show the world (and her editor at the school newspaper) that she’s fine. Problem is, the more time she spends with Alex, the more she risks getting her heart broken. For real this time. 

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a swoony bad boy who will melt your heart, brownies, and witty banter. One, two, or all three might prove addictive…

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About Amanda Ashby:

Amanda Ashby was born in Australia but now lives in New Zealand where she writes romance, young adult and middle grade books. She also works in a library, owns far too many vintage tablecloths and likes to delight her family by constantly rearranging the furniture. She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two children. Her debut book was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award, and her first young adult book was listed by the New York Public Libraryʼs Stuff for the Teen Age.  Because she’s mysterious she also writes middle grade books under the name, Catherine Holt and hopes that all this writing won’t interfere with her Netflix schedule.

Author Links:

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amanda.ashby.501

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authoramandaashby/

Author Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/amandaashby501/

Guest Post: Heidi R. Kling, author of the new YA Release, WHERE I FOUND YOU

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Writing About Underrepresented Groups in YA Fiction

WHERE I FOUND YOU takes place after the historic tsunami of 2004. The tsunami, a series of powerful waves that killed thousands of people, happened on December 26, “Boxing Day”. The fact that such an astounding tragedy occurred around Christmas greatly affected me and my husband, and he got a group together and flew to Indonesia, on his own dime, to help the many orphans with their PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

He came back a changed man.

Back then, disasters weren’t as plentiful, and we certainly weren’t suffering from any form of “disaster fatigue” In fact, most of us had no idea what it would be like to survive a nature disaster. I wanted to write a book that personified the tsunami. I wanted to create characters, like Titanic did so successfully—we cry because we love Jack and because Rose loves Jack, not because of a historic ship sinking— to bring a disaster to life in a way that profoundly affected the readers.

The fact that Deni is Muslim is almost an afterthought in the book, and this is what I wanted.

If the tsunami had occurred in Japan, perhaps he’d be Buddhist, or have no religion at all. If the tsunami occurred in Greece, he might be Greek Orthodox.

Religion comes up when Sienna and Deni explore the temple. Here we learn about all the major religions in the world sharing almost an identical origin story (most people in the world do not know this) and how we are all much more alike than we sometimes think.

Deni is Muslim because he was born in Indonesia.

Sienna is a child of hippies because she was born in a coastal hippie town.

What binds us together and attracts us to other people transcends religion, culture, background, race etc. and that’s what I try to convey in WHERE I FOUND YOU.

Thanks for reading!

☺ Heidi

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About Where I Found You (Sea, #1):

After her mother’s plane went missing over the Indian Ocean, seventeen-year-old Sienna Jones gave up everything she loved about living in California. No more surfing. No more swimming. No more ocean, period. Playing it safe, hiding from the world, is the best call. 

Until her dad throws down the challenge of a lifetime: spend the summer with his humanitarian team in Indonesia, working with orphans who lost everything in a massive tsunami. 

The day they arrive, Sienna meets a mysterious boy named Deni, whose dark, intense eyes make her heart race. Their stolen nights force her to open up and live in a way she thought she couldn’t anymore. When she’s with Deni, she remembers the girl she used to be…and starts to feel like the woman he sees in her. 

A woman he wants for his own.

Gulp.

But when Deni’s past comes looking for him, Sienna’s faced with losing another person she loves. She can’t do it. Not again. 

Fortunately, this time, she has a plan.

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abouttheauthor

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About Heidi R. Kling:

Heidi R. Kling writes about normal young women in not-so-normal situations – books that beg the question: what would I do in her shoes? Heidi majored in literature and creative writing in college and in grad school, where she earned her Master’s in Creative Writing from The New School in New York City. She’s honored to be included in New School Writing Program’s 2015 list of faculty and alumni. She works too much, reads a ton and is way too dedicated to serial TV (The Affair and Homeland are her faves) and dark chocolate. She lives in the California Bay Area with her lovely husband, two children and shaggy dog, Sailor Lily, right over the coastal mountains from the sea. She’s very grateful.

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Author Links:

Author Website: http://heidirkling.com

Author Blog: http://heidirkling.com/blog

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/HeidiRKling

Author Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HeidiRKling

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heidirklingauthor/