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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Excerpt: DAM NATION: Bonnie and Clyde Series, Book 2 by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall

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DAM NATION 

BOOK RELEASE BLITZ 

Bonnie and Clyde #2

by

CLARK HAYS AND KATHLEEN McFALL

 

Genre: Historical / Alternative History / Romance 

Publisher: Pumpjack Press

Date of Publication: March 24, 2018

Number of Pages: 266

 

CLICK TO PURCHASE

 

Bonnie and Clyde: Defending the working class from a river of greed.

The year is 1935 and the Great Depression has America in a death grip of poverty, unemployment and starvation. But the New Deal is rekindling hope, with federally funded infrastructure projects, like Hoover Dam, putting folks back to work. So, why is someone trying to blow it up? That’s what Bonnie and Clyde set out to uncover in the novel Dam Nation by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall, the second book in a provocative speculative fiction series that re-imagines the outlaws’ lives.

 

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“A rollicking good read!” — Midwest Book Review

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EXCERPT

 

WHAT IF?

The Texas Ranger looked up at Sal, a mixture of fear, respect and revulsion in his eyes. “Let’s pretend for a minute it wasn’t Bonnie and Clyde in that ambush,” he said. “Why? Why would it be different people in that car?”

“How would I know?” Sal asked. “I work for the government. I trust that the government has my best interests at heart. I follow orders. You didn’t.”

“I won’t be quiet about this unless you can tell me why anyone would try to save them outlaws.”

“If they were still alive, I would tell you that everyone has a purpose in life, and perhaps they are fulfilling theirs. And if they were still alive, I would tell you that you don’t use good dogs to guard the junkyard, you use the meanest goddamn dogs you can get a collar around.”

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS: 

Clark and Kathleen wrote their first book together in 1999 as a test for marriage. They passed. Dam Nation is their sixth co-authored book. 

 

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BONNIE AND CLYDE: DAM NATION

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Interview: Prescott Lane, author of TO THE FALL

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

I write romance because I love a good happily ever after, and there arent enough in real life.

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

My dad is a big reader, so probably from him.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing fiction as soon as I could hold a pencil. Ive always had characters living in my head. I sold my first story about a talking turtle to my dad for a quarter.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

I write Contemporary Romance.

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

Unity. Love, heartbreak, triumph are parts of all our lives. These are the things that tie us together.

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.

To the Fall does have some underrepresented ideas in it, but I cant give them away. Spoiler-free!

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

The most useful thing Ive found is to listen to your characters. They drive the book. It doesnt matter what my plan is for a story. It always seems to change in the writing process. Embrace it dont fight it.

What do you like to read in your free time?

It changes, but mysteries are my favorite right now.

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

My laptop, my dogs, and a quiet place are my usual mode of operation, but ideas can strike me anytime. Ive been known to frantically scribble on napkins or scraps of paper if an idea hits me. And yes, Ive been known to rush out of the shower to jot something down!

What book do you wish you could have written?

A cookbook! Im a so-so cook. I have to have a recipe to make anything beyond the basics. So I really wish I had the ability to come up with new recipes.

If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

I would have to cast Henry Cavill just so I could stare at him on set all day. That man is too handsome.

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?

Names are very important. Their meaning, the mood they invoke, is all very important. In my book, The Reason for Me, the heroines name is eight letters long. A couple chapters in, I was sick of typing it, so I clicked find alland changed her name to a three letter one. I couldnt sleep all night long. I had to get up at 3 in the morning and change it back.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Hmm, Im not sure if this is a superpower, but Id like to be able to heal the sick.

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

Its hard to narrow it to one. Probably Scotland or France.

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

My daughter loves polar bears, so I have to pick that.

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

I love a British accent!

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Aboutthebook (1)

TO THE FALL_Amazon_KOBO_iBooks
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You know the story.
Boy meets girl, they fall in love, two kids, white picket fence.
This isn’t that story.
This is more like . . .
Man meets woman.  Man sleeps with woman.
Man meets another woman, sleeps with her.
And so on.  You get the idea.
I own a small boutique hotel in New Orleans, the Kingston.  I’ve seen men do some stupid stuff in the name of the woman they love, or at least the woman they love for the night.
That’s not me.  I’m always in control.  You’d be surprised how much you can get away with on just good manners and a smile. It’s the only way to keep my secrets safely locked away.
And my smile hides a lot.  Until her.
She turns me down flat.  Playing hard to get is my favorite game.  It’s the thrill of the chase.
Only problem is, I think it’s me that’s getting caught.
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BUY THE BOOK BUTTON
*****

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Prescott Lane is the author of First Position, Perfectly Broken, Quiet Angel, and Wrapped in Lace. She is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, and holds a degree in sociology and a MSW from Tulane University. She married her college sweetheart, and they currently live in New Orleans with their two children and two crazy dogs. Prescott started writing at the age of five, and sold her first story about a talking turtle to her father for a quarter. She later turned to writing romance novels because there aren’t enough happily ever afters in real life.

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Entangled Embrace New Releases!

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Leaving Everest by Megan Westfield

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About the Book:

Twenty-year-old Emily Winslowe has had an adventurous upbringing. Daughter of a Himalayan mountain guide, she has climbed Mount Everest and other peaks most Americans only dream of. But for all her mountaineering prowess, she’s lacking some key experiences. Namely, guys. Especially one guy in particular—Luke Norgay, her childhood best friend who she hasn’t seen since he left for college in the United States two years ago.

Luke unexpectedly reappears as a guide just in time for the Everest climbing season. He’s even more handsome than she remembers, and that something that had been building between them during their last season together is back in front of them, bigger than ever.

The problem is, there’s a detail about Emily’s past that Luke doesn’t know. It’s the reason she ended up in the Himalayas in the first place…and the reason she must make it to the summit of Mount Everest this year. It’s also the reason she would never consider following him back to Washington after the climbing season ends.

But first, they’ll have to survive the mountain.

Purchase Link: https://entangledpublishing.com/leaving-everest.html

About Megan:

Megan Westfield grew up in Washington State, attended college in Oregon, and lived in Virginia, California, and Rhode Island during her five years as a navy officer. She is now a permanent resident of San Diego, along with her husband and two young children. Aside from writing and her family, her great passions in life are reading, candy, and spending lots of time outside hiking, skiing, camping, climbing, running, and biking.

Connect with Megan Westfield and learn more about her upcoming books at www.meganwestfield.com.

Megan’s Links:

Author Website: www.meganwestfield.com

Author Blog: www.meganwestfield.com/blog

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/MegWestfield

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MeganWestfieldAuthor/

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

Author Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/westfieldwrites/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15342456.Megan_Westfield

Newsletter: http://meganwestfield.com/connect/

Straight Up Irish by Magan Vernon

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About the Book:

I need a wife if I want to help save my family’s billion-dollar pub empire. There’s just one problem: I never plan on marrying. So, I need someone who understands that this is just another business deal. I don’t do commitments. And my brother’s executive assistant, Fallon Smith, fits that bill.

Fallon needs help with her grandmother’s expenses, and her pretending to be my fake wife is a way we can make that happen. She’s not my biggest fan, but we can help each other and then go our separate ways. That she’s beautiful and I enjoy spending time with her–doesn’t matter. When all of this is done, she’s heading home to America, and I’ve got a company to run.

A fake wedding and a whole lot of whiskey. What could go wrong?

Purchase Liink: https://entangledpublishing.com/straight-up-irish.html

About Magan:

Magan Vernon has been living off of reader tears since she wrote her first short story in 2004. She now spends her time killing off fictional characters, pretending to plot while she really just watches Netflix, and she tries to do this all while her two young children run amuck around her Texas ranch.

Magan’s Links:

Website: http://www.maganvernon.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/maganvernon

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/authormaganvernon

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/maganvernon

Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/qIJA5
#FEELTHEVERN (Reader Group): http://on.fb.me/1lVsZEo

Cinderella and the Geek by Christina Phillips

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About the Book:

From Christina Phillips a sexy, new romance with a hero you won’t forget…

I’m not looking for love or a Happily-Ever-After because I know how that ends. I just need to concentrate on my degree and look after myself. But there’s something about my boss, Harry, I can’t resist. It’s crazy since he’s so hot and smart it should be illegal.

And then, just like Cinderella, I have my night at the ball and a midnight kiss, and for a week all my sexy daydreams come true. That fake date changes my life in a way I could never imagine. It turns out, Harry wants me too.

But I’m off to pursue my dreams, and he’s taking his business to the next level. There’s no way this fairytale has a happy ending, but that doesn’t keep me from wishing for it.

Purchase Link: https://entangledpublishing.com/cinderella-and-the-geek.html

About Christina:

Christina Phillips is an ex-pat Brit who now lives in sunny Western Australia with her high school sweetheart and their family. She enjoys writing contemporary, historical and paranormal romance where the stories sizzle and the heroine brings her hero to his knees.

She is also owned by three gorgeous cats who are convinced the universe revolves around their needs. They are not wrong.

Christina’s Links:

Author Website: http://christinaphillips.com/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChristinaPh_

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christinaphillips.author/

Interview: Sara Baysinger, author of THE VANISHING SPARK OF DUSK

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

I only read adult fiction in high school, so when I sat down to write The Vanishing Spark of Dusk, I wanted to write *that* book that I always wanted to read. When I started shopping this story around, the main feedback I got was that it should be geared toward the young adult market. I had no idea what they meant by that, so I started picking up YA books to see, and, MAN, I didn’t know what I was missing! I read YA book after YA book, and realized they were right. I was writing what I wanted to read, and what I wanted to read was YA fantasy/scifi/dystopia, etc. I didn’t even know half those books were out there. So I guess you could say I didn’t pick the field/genre, it sort of picked me. 🙂

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

My parents are booknerds, and so me and my sisters didn’t really stand a chance. 😉 When I discovered Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine, all the books by Bruce Coville, and of course the Harry Potter books, that’s when I first realized that I wanted to tell wild stories as well.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been *seriously* writing for about ten years. I’d written poetry and journaled long before that, but that’s when I decided I wanted to make a career out of writing.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?  

The hardest part was creating the politics and culture, and being consistent with them throughout the story.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I loved, LOVED creating a new exotic world with fantasy creatures and scifi technology.

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured in your book?  If so, discuss them.

I have a few queer characters in The Vanishing Spark of Dusk. I’ve honestly found it hard to find many books out there that represent the queer community without the fact that they’re queer being the main plot. I feel like the more the lgbtqiap (etc) people group are represented in books, the quicker their lifestyles will be accepted and normalized in society.

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

Tahereh Mafi influenced my writing. When I read her Shatter Me series—THAT’S when it clicked about how to show and not tell a character’s feelings/emotions/actions. Sarah J Maas inspired me to include more queer characters in my book without making a big deal about their lifestyles, but rather showing that they’re just like anybody else.

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

Most useful: Reading. I’ve found that the more I read, the better my writing.

Least useful (And I’m going to get into trouble for this): Rules. I mean, rules are great and necessary, but MAN. They held me back as a writer for SO. LONG. Grammar rules, plot rules, character rules, POV rules, I couldn’t nail any of them down, and was hugely discouraged by them. Then I finally decided to write just for ME and not let the rules hold me back, and this book happened. My advice to new writers is always to just to WRITE the darn thing, and worry about rules later.

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

Part time, since I’m a full time stay-at-home-mom. 🙂 It affects me in that parenting really limits my time. I remember before kids, when I had a *normal* job, I could come home and spend the entire afternoon writing with no interruptions. It was bliss. Now with kids, my time is really limited and constantly interrupted by my toddlers. The only way I can get any writing done is to set a chunk of time aside after the kids go to bed, and dedicate it to writing.

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

I taught English in China for  a year, and traveling around China during that time has provided excellent world-building material. I also worked in a baby-wipe-making factory. That hasn’t impacted my writing, I just like telling people I worked there because it’s such a weird job. 😀

What do you like to read in your free time?

I love to read what I write, which is YA fantasy/scifi/dystopia—basically anything futuristic and/or with magic. 😉

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

I read a lot of Christian/historical fiction when I was  teen, so my main inspirations were Francine Rivers with her Mark of the Lion series, Angela Hunt with her Dreamers series, and Lynn Austin with her Fire by Night series. These books moved and changed me as a teen, and made me want to write life-changing stories for others.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?

The main characters’ names are always important, and especially my main heroines’ names—which often set the theme of my books. I choose my characters names both on the way they sound and their meanings. 🙂

What literary character is most like you?

Can I choose my own?  If so, I choose Lark from The Vanishing Spark of Dusk. I basically fashioned her off of my former self. She’s shy, quiet, and has trouble speaking out or defending herself. A few readers had trouble with her because they want the badass heroine, (And don’t get me wrong—Lark grows into that), but I feel like YA fiction needs more of those quiet and reserved heroines who become strong. We’re not *all* naturally brave, extroverted, take-no-shit-from-anyone type of people, after all.  😉

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

Rome. I would love to visit the ruins that are still standing from the ancient roman empire.

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About The Vanishing Spark of Dusk:

Stand up.

When Lark is stolen from Earth to be a slave on the planet Tavdora, she’s determined to find her way back home to her family, no matter the cost. Placed in the household of a notorious slave trader, Lark quickly learns her best assets are her eyes and ears. And if she’s brave enough, her voice.

Be heard.

Kalen is the Tavdorian son of a slave trader and in line to inherit his father’s business. But his growing feelings for Lark, the new house slave who dares to speak of freedom, compel him to reveal his new plan for the slave ships returning to Earth—escape. Together, they just might spark a change that flares across the universe.

Fight back.

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sara-baysinger

Sara was born in the heart of the Andes Mountains in Ecuador where she spent her early life exploring uncharted lands and raising chickens. She now makes her home among the endless cornfields of Indiana with her husband and two children…and she still raises chickens. Her dystopian novel BLACK TIGER was self-published in 2016. When not getting lost in a book, Sara can be found gardening, devouring chocolate, and running off the sugar-high from said chocolate. You can visit her online at www.sarabaysinger.com.

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Website: https://sarabaysinger.com

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Excerpt: UNTIL YOU’RE MINE by Cindi Madsen {giveaway}

Today we have the Cindi Madsen’s UNTIL YOU’RE MINE blog tour stopping by!

Check out this sexy new romance and grab your copy today!

Title: UNTL YOU’RE MINE

Author: Cindi Madsen

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About Until You’re Mine:

You might’ve heard of me, Shane Knox, the guy who rose quickly through the MMA fighter ranks, only to crash just as fast. No one cares about personal reasons when it comes to losing fights and money. I’m determined to get back to where I was. For you to hear my name again. I’ve finally convinced the owner of Team Domination to take a chance and get me back in fighting—and winning—shape. What I didn’t bargain for is the guy’s spitfire of a daughter. Factor in her two professional-fighter brothers who are acting as my coaches and the fact that my career hangs in the balance, and Brooklyn’s the last girl I should be fantasizing about.

The closer we get, the more I want Brooklyn. The stakes are high, and I know there’s a big chance of both of us getting hurt, but I won’t stop until she’s mine.

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Excerpt:

I stroked my tongue over hers until she was the one distracted. Every time I thought I’d gotten my fill of this girl, I took another taste and found myself starving for more. Just like that, I was ready to go again.

My muscles, unfortunately, not so much. They complained with every tiny movement, reminding me they’d been pushed to the brink of exhaustion, and a non-sexy type groan slipped out. The ice bath had robbed me of my breath, but it’d helped the aching. Looked like I needed another one, but I chose to lose myself in a warm body instead. Or I would once I caught my second wind.

I sagged into the comfort of the couch.

Brooklyn ran a finger down my chest. “Oh, sure, get me all riled up and then crash out.”

“My body’s taken a lot of abuse lately. Give me a second to rest my arms and I’ll be good to go.”

Her finger drifted lower, and my body was ready to take more abuse at the hands of this girl. “Guess that means I need to do the work,” she said.

I was about to argue, but then she crawled on top of me. She rocked her hips and my groan was all pleasure this time.

I ran my hands up her thighs, my energy slowly returning.

She toyed with the bottom of her shirt. “Okay, so I’m guessing about now’s when you’d remove my top.”

“You know me. The sooner I get you naked, the better. If it were up to me, you’d lose your clothes the second you stepped inside my apartment.”

“Well, lucky for me, you were already shirtless when I arrived.”

“I strive to please.”

She pulled off her top, and I soaked in the sight of the hot-pink bra I’d asked her to model for me. Her confidence and the seductive way she peered down at me propelled me right from want to need, and my cock twitched, impatient for his turn.

“That bra’s even sexier than I thought it’d be, but now I’m wondering how it’d look on my floor.”

“Well, I know how unimaginative you can be.” She reached up and pushed one of the straps off her shoulders. She batted her eyelashes as she did the same with the other side. Then she reached behind her to unhook it, and my lungs stopped taking in oxygen.

The bra hung there, suspended for a blood-pumping eternity, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I curled my hand around the little pink bow in the center and jerked it down and off. While I was thoroughly enjoying the show, there was no way I was letting her do all the work—or have all the fun—so I dipped my head to one of her exposed breasts and flicked her hard nipple with my tongue.

She squirmed, the friction turning me on even more, and all thoughts of sore muscles drifted away.

“Be careful,” she said. “I’d hate for you to sprain something.”

I gently bit down and she made a husky sound in the back of her throat that would haunt my dreams for weeks. When she pulled away, I started to protest, but then she held up a finger.

“Patience, Grasshopper.”

“I have no patience,” I ground out. “You should know that by now.”

“Well, then, we better work on that.” She undid the button on her shorts, then took her time tugging down her zipper, and I thought it’d be worth the resulting pain to shoot up and push her against the wall.

My muscles throbbed like they were telling me don’t even think about it, buddy, but a more insistent throbbing grew stronger, and it was seconds from taking over. Finally the fabric fell to the floor, and she stepped out of her shorts, leaving her in nothing but lacy pink panties that matched her discarded bra.

I reached for her, and she smacked my hand away. I growled, and she flashed me a falsely-innocent vixen smile. I clicked my tongue. “Taking advantage of a poor, beat-up guy.”

“Yeah, yeah. I feel so sorry for you, the guy who purposely submits himself to a lifestyle that means sore muscles and constantly being punched and jabbed.” She shimmied her hips, a few inches out of my reach. “What about me? I’ve got to do my job and your job just to get off.”

I shot out my arm, caught her wrist, and yanked her to me. She tumbled into my lap, her perky tits rising and falling with her low, intoxicating laughter. Every muscle in my body burned from the fast movement, and it was totally worth it. I sank my teeth into her earlobe. “No need to do my job. I’ll get it done just fine, I promise.”

About Cindi Madsen:

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Cindi Madsen is a USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance and young adult novels. She sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children.

Connect with Cindi:

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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 
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Number of Pages: 400

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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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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
Ten Winners Get Print Copies of 
A Wedding for Christmas
December 9-December 18, 2017
(U.S. Only)

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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Interview: Amanda Ashby, Author of new YA Release – THE HEARTBREAK CURE

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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: Mary Lindsay, author of the new YA PNR Release, HAVEN

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Writing is my Haven (See what I did there?)

I’m so excited to be on The Librarian Talks today! It’s been a crazy week for me answering interviews and doing a couple of podcasts for my new novel, HAVEN.

(releasing TODAY, November 7, 2017 in hardcover and ebook)

One of the most common questions I receive is, “Have you always wanted to be a writer?”

Short answer: No.

I never wanted to be a writer growing up. I successfully avoided all creative writing classes and projects all the way through college, even faking sick in grade school on poetry days. Creating something original terrified me.

Becoming a writer happened unexpectedly as the result of my losing a game of “Chicken” with my eleven-year-old daughter. Losing was one of the best things to happen to me. She was complaining about how heroes in young adult books she’d read believed themselves to be evil or cursed. Her rant morphed into how she believed heroes should be written and finally, to make her feel better, I bluffed and said, “Hey, tell you what… I’ll write that book for you.” I never expected to carry through. I mean, that’s the stuff of nightmares for me. I figured she’d be satisfied and we’d forget all about it.

Nope. She called my bluff.

She looked at me with those trusting, huge eyes and said, “Really? You would really write a book for me?”

Well, crap. Busted. I had no choice but to go through with it…sort of. Surely, after a chapter of the certain garbage I’d produce, she’d beg me to stop and I’d be off the hook. Instead, she loved the first chapter and asked for more.

After that, I was hooked. Completely and totally obsessed with writing—the very thing I’d avoided my entire life. Thirty days later, I handed her the last chapter of the seven-hundred-page manuscript, which, needless to say was not my finest work. But, it was my first work and led to where I am right now, celebrating my tenth published book.

Writing, once my personal hell, became my safe haven. << Look at that blatantly obvious segue into telling you about my book.

Aboutthebook

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About HAVEN:

“We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere. He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart. 

Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for.

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BOOK IS AVAILABLE ON ALL PLATFORMS, AS WELL AS IN HARDBACK AT THE ABOVE LINK

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All About Mary:

marylindsay

Mary Lindsey is a multi award-winning, RITA® nominated author of romance for adults and teens. Her books Shattered Souls and Fragile Spirits have been selected for the 2017 Spirit of Texas Reading Program. 

Mary lives on an island in the middle of a river. Seriously, she does. When not writing, she wrangles her rowdy pack of three teens, two Cairn Terriers, and one husband. Inexplicably, her favorite animal is the giant anteater and at one point, she had over 200 “pet” Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. The roaches are a long story involving three science-crazed kids and a soft spot for rescue animals. The good news is, the “pet” roaches found a home… somewhere else.

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