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Good Morning, Booklovers!

The game's afoot this week as we chat with Marni Graff.
an author of traditional mysteries which are a mix of amateur sleuth and police procedural.
Welcome, Marni, what can I get you to drink?

I drink coffee black, but I enjoy tea more, have that daily with sweetener and fat-free half-n-half! Love my tea . .

Ally:  Then tea it is. I'll pour if you'll introduce yourself...


Marni Graff is the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney Mysteries, set in England, and The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries. Graff’s new Manhattan series premiered in August 2015 with Death Unscripted, featuring nurse Trudy Genova, a medical consultant for a New York movie studio, based on Graff’s real-life position. Graff is also co-author of Writing in a Changing World, a primer on writing groups and critique techniques. She writes crime book reviews at and is Managing Editor of Bridle Path Press. A member of Sisters in Crime, Graff runs the NC Writers Read program in Belhaven.

Something unique n
ot in her bio: I was a nurse for 30 years who wrote 'on the side' and knew when I retired I would turn to writing. Studied all forms, wrote in many including screenplays, poetry, essays.

Author contacts:

Twitter: @GraffMarni

Ally:   Tell us why you decided to write mysteries. What is the fascination of this genre for readers?

MARNI:  I write mysteries because I read them the most and find the conventions of the genre give me a platform to organize my story. I think readers like mysteries because they enjoy solving the inherent puzzle, and also strive to see justice or resolution at the end. Mine are not about serial killers or graphically violent, although I do read those. I'm exploring the reasons an average person would convince themselves it's reasonable to take another person's life, and I think that's an area a lot of people respond to. We are all capable of murder given the right set of circumstances.

Ally:  How long does it take you to write a book? What's involved in your revision/editing process before it's submitted for publication?

MARNI:   I am always working on plots, collecting a folder for the next book even when I'm writing the one before it. It takes me about 4 months to write a first draft that I workshop with my yearly writing group. We've been working together for 11 years and send each other manuscripts in May then meet each June for a week. Each person gets an entire day to go through their book and have it critiqued. It's a great way to have plot questions ironed out and to find places where the book needs work. Then I revise it according to those notes and suggestions I decide to take on. I send it out to beta readers with a list of questions for them and then revise the entire book again. Then my publisher reads it and there are more revisions, and then it's copyedited and those edits are incorporated. The entire process takes about 18 months but depending on cover work and layout it can be two years.

Ally:  What is your next/current writing project? Tell us something about it.

MARNI:   I'm currently working on THE GOLDEN HOUR, the fourth Nora Tierney English mystery. Most of the action will take place in Bath, with scenes in Oxford and even Brighton. Nora and her son are looking for a home near her partner in Oxford. There's a change in her relationship with Detective Inspector Declan Barnes coming, but not before a most unusual plot twist that includes global espionage! And I'm plotting the next Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery, DEATH OF AN HEIRESS.

Ally:  Let's leave the book talk for just a moment. If you could have lunch with any living person (writer or not), who would it be and why?

MARNI:   There are so many more dead people I'd choose! But alive, I'd have to say actress Judi Dench. I admire her acting and how she's melded her life with the stage and screen. She's a mom and grand mum, and had a successful and long marriage, too, often acting with her husband. And though she is legally blind now and can't read her scripts any longer (they are read into a tape and she listens and learns her lines that way) she's not let that slow her down. She has great humility and seems like she'd have a grand sense of humor, doesn't take herself too seriously. I like that in a person. 

Ally: Try your hand at these five quick answer questions:
  • a. pie, cake or cookies? Pie, any fruit 
  • b. favorite winter activity:  Reading in a warm, cozy room, stretched out on the sofa and covered with a quilt, with a hot cup of tea.
  • c. favorite holiday movie:  The Bishop's Wife with Cary Grant (my favorite actor), Loretta Young and David Niven.
  • d. Something unusual in your handbag:  A list of my medicines and history all typed up I carry around. I cannot remember when asked to fill out forms for all of those dates and specific dosages!
  • e. an item on your bucket list:  I'd love to spend a Christmas in England and New Years in Edinburgh. Seeing Australia is a close second, have a friend there and would like to go.

Ally:  Thanks for having coffee with us, Marni, and talking about your writing. Let's take a look at your book before we wrap this up...



Trudy Genova has the best job any nurse could want, working on set as a medical consultant for a movie studio. No more uniforms, bedpans or emergencies, until the actor whose overtures she's refused dies suddenly while taping a hospital scene--but not before pointing his finger accusingly at Trudy. When detectives view Trudy as a suspect, she sets out on an investigation to clear her name. Then a second death occurs, and Trudy realizes she's put herself in real jeopardy.

Buy Links:

Amazon buy link:

All books also on Bridle Path Press:

Thanks for visiting the blog. Come back soon!

Happy Wednesday!

Are you ready for coffee and booktalk?

This week's guest is children's author, Anna Othitis, with her latest travel book.
Welcome, Anna. What can I get you to drink?

Greek coffee is something that I enjoy, I was brought up drinking this coffee in my Greek family. It is as strong, if not stronger than Expresso, but with its unique flavor and strength one cup a day is enough to enjoy. Being brought up and living in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, then being a British Colony, we frequented the Nescafe coffee and more so our favorite was Tanganda Tea, grown and brewed in our African plains.

Ally: Since nothing is impossible for my magic coffee pot, let's take you back to your early days and brew up a cup of Greek coffee. While I'm doing that, please tell readers more about your unique background.


Anna Othitis was raised in the beautiful country of Zimbabwe, Africa (home will always be home). She left all of her life long memories, endless charity work, and good people behind vowing that she would continue supporting the needy children in Zimbabwe and beyond. After traveling long and short distances from the East coast to the West coast USA twice she and her family eventually found their sense of belonging and final settling destination in New Jersey.
Her husband George, sons Johnny, Elia and Frankie encouraged her to write her first children's travel book titled inspired by Frankie (Captain Frankie), who was graduating from his Master’s degree in Aeronautical Science and beginning his career as a professional pilot. Anna's favorite saying is "Be Bold Be Brave".
She was inspired to write her books with a vision to link the children of Africa and of the world on Angelic Airlines to so many beautiful places of interest and popularity on our wonderful planet Earth with all its beautiful natural and man-made creations and resources. One of the beautiful natural wonders featured in her books is in Zimbabwe, "The Mighty Victoria Falls" All of her books educate our children and widen their scope of interest in the amazing surroundings, creations and nature to appreciate and look after our environment for many generations still to come.

Something Anna didn't explain previously:
My family and I left our home in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe overnight due to political turmoil and for a future for our sons. We traveled extensively to some countries in the world, including Greece. We were given the opportunity and the doors opened for us to move and settle in the USA where our son Frankie, “Captain Frankie” the main character in my children’s books, was able to pursue and take up his dream career as a pilot in the land of opportunity.

Contact links:

You tube:
Google +:


Ally:  Your travel books are written for children ages 3 - 9. Why did you chose this particular age group?

ANNA:  The ages 3-9 interested me because their minds are in the ripening and innocent stage of life. They have very imaginative little minds and always very curious to learn more, they ask more questions with fascination. During those ages they learn and store so much in their little brains which follows them through their entire life time.

Ally:  What type of research do you do before writing a travel book? Do you have to travel there yourself?

ANNA:  Whilst living in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe we had the opportunity to travel to many places in the world with our family where we got to see many places and sites of interest. I do research on the internet before writing my books, because facts are important in my books.

Ally:  When is the best time of day to write? Do you have a special office or another spot where you do your best work?

ANNA:  The best time for me to write is any day in the mornings or evenings when I am more focused. I love to write in my living room that overlooks lovely mountains surrounded by singing birds and local little animals that visit our garden. Sometimes I like to write on my back porch listening to the sounds of nature.

Ally:  What is your next writing project?

ANNA:  More travel Children’s travel books, focusing on the world and the earth we live in so that children can be made aware, appreciate, learn and be educated on how important our environment and wildlife animals are to our earth. This is very important and brings awareness to children from a young age.

Ally: Let's try a few fun, quick-answer questions:
  • a.  coffee or tea: Greek coffee
  • b. favorite color: Fuscia
  • c.  other than your own, a children's book you'd recommend: “I Can Cook” by Marika Germanis
  • d.  a place you'd like to visit: Alaska
  • e.  something unusual in your handbag: My lucky crystal earth and animal charms

Ally:  What a pleasure it has been to have you. I admire your desire to make children aware of the incredible w
orld around them! Before you go, please show us the latest Captain Frankie book...


Welcome to Angelic Airlines! Are you ready to take to the skies? Children come join us this time on a wild adventure with Captain Frankie on Angelic Airlines as we travel across the world to learn about, visit and see Africa's Big "5" Wildlife Animals. Captain Frankie is waiting for you to book your ticket, safely stow your bags, and open your eyes to these amazing animals in the savannahs of Africa. Most of these beautiful animals are about to become Extinct. We have to save our Wildlife animals, this earth belongs to them as well. My First Travel Books. This is another one of Anna Othitis’s trip with Captain Frankie. Originally from Zimbabwe, Africa, her travels have taken her a far across the world.

Amazon Buy Link:


Thanks for sharing coffee with us. Come back soon!

Happy Wednesday, Booklovers!

It's time for our weekly coffee chat! Today's guest is romance writer, Barbara Meyers, and we need to warn younger readers up front that her books are rated 18+. Any of her links may lead to adult content, too mature for those under eighteen.

Welcome, Barbara! How do you take your coffee?

With ½ a Sweet and Low and cinnamon powder.

Ally: Unique. While I serve, please show readers your bio.


Barista by day, romance novelist by night:  When not writing fiction, Dr. Seuss-like poetry (for adults) or song lyrics, Barbara Meyers disguises herself behind a green apron and works part-time for a world-wide coffee company.

Her novels are a mix of comedy, suspense and spice and often feature a displaced child.

Barbara is still married to her first husband, has two fantastic children and one almost perfect dog.  Originally from Southwest Missouri, (she blames her roots in the Show Me state for her somewhat skeptical nature) she currently resides in Central Florida.

And something unique/unusual that isn't in your regular bio: "
I quite often believe I am sheltered by a cloaking device which renders me invisible."

Social Media Links:

Web Site: 
Facebook Author Pages:
Samhain Author Page: 
Amazon Author Page:

Ally:  Tell us how you chose your genre, what influenced that choice, and what about it makes it especially appealing.

BARBARA:  I chose contemporary romance because it’s what I like to read and I’m too lazy to do research for historical or any other genre. I like contemporary because it gives me the flexibility to go in a more  comedic or suspenseful direction, or to combine those two sub-genres as I did in FANTASY MAN.

Ally:   I know you're bringing a new release with you today. What type of marketing do you do around release day? Online parties, in-person book signings, Tweets, blog tours, etc?

BARBARA:  Oh, I’m terrible at marketing. But I’m trying to get better. I’m on Twitter all the time now. Some of my fellow Samhain authors and I just did a Facebook party with all kinds of cool prizes. It was a blast. Two excerpts from chapter two of FANTASY MAN were posted on my blog in late January. Commenters can still enter to win a copy just by posting a comment. I’ll be doing a Twitter contest soon, which is to reply to my post with a fun or factual fantasy. Cleverness will count and a copy of FANTASY MAN is the prize. I’ve got lots of ideas. Just need more time to implement them. If you follow me on my FB author page and/or Twitter, you’ll hear about everything I’m doing and where I’ll be, which is mostly Central Florida. Sorry you missed it but I just did a booksigning on February 6th.

Ally:  What's the last book you read (other than your own) that impressed you and why? Memorable, believable characters, intriguing plot, author's voice/style, or something else?

BARBARA:  ASHES by fellow Samhain author Sophie H. Morgan. Everything about this book impressed me, even though it isn’t what I normally read. Sophie created a kick-ass heroine and a cast of intriguing supporting characters, plus a truly wonderful hero. I am a sucker for really good writing and Sophie’s writing just blew me away. ASHES is the first book in a series and I know I will be reading every one of them the minute they are released.

Ally:   What's the best piece of advice you've received about writing? And the worst? Why?

BARBARA:  BEST: I have a quote from Calvin Coolidge above my desk. It starts with, “Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.” And another one from a Writer’s Digest about how wanna be writers give up easily and successful writers never do. I truly believe persistence wins every time.  If you give up, your big success could have been just around the corner, but you’ll never know.

WORST: “It’s all about marketing.” While this may be true, it’s depressing. I’d like to live in a world where it’s all about writing a really good book.

Ally:  Quick answer questions:

  • a. morning or night writer:  morning
  • b. last movie that made you cry:  The one with that Shalene? Woodley actress where she had cancer and her boyfriend died. No idea of the title. (I don’t watch a lot of movies and I rarely cry.) (Ally comment: The Fault in Our Stars?)
  • c. favorite spring flower (I'm looking ahead!):  I’m not a gardener! Um, lilies? Tulips?
  • d. If you could visit any well-known fantasy world (adult or children's fiction), where would you be?  Alice in Wonderland maybe?
  • e. Something you've never done, but would love to:  zip lining

Ally:  Thanks for chatting with us today. Let's show readers your book now...


One lie of omission could turn her wildest dream into a world of hurt.

Quinn Fontana never thought witnessing two murders would lead to her first taste of freedom. But when her overprotective brother puts her on a plane for L.A. to hide until it’s time to testify, she can’t stop the shiver of anticipation.

If her life is going to be cut short, she plans to live it to the fullest. And that includes seducing her intended protector—her brother’s best friend and star of her private fantasies.

When security consultant Reif Callaghan awakens after a rowdy night out with his coworkers to find a warm, willing woman in his bed, he’s almost past the point of no return when he realizes it’s Quinn. And he’s come way too close to debauching his best friend’s little sister.

Her enticing offer—one night, no holding back, no regrets—is a temptation he can’t resist. Until he realizes she’s been hiding a piece of vital information that could cost not only their one chance to turn fantasy into reality, but their lives.


Warning: Contains fantasy-come-true sex, get-it-out-of-their-system sex, angry-as-hell sex, and on-the-run sex. Also, accidental ferret-napping. Asthmatics are advised to load up on antihistamines before reading.

Buy Links (18+ DO NOT CLICK unless you are over eighteen):

All Romance Ebooks:

Thank you for joining us. Come back soon!


Maxie Gwenoch, LA-based media star, VP for International Planning for the multi-national gossip conglomerate, SNAP, has finally agreed to marry Jean-Louis Kandesky, a 500-year-old Hungarian vampire a leader of the family that owns SNAP.
Is marriage a big change? Not as big as the fact that Maxie is now a vampire, as well. When munitions from the Kandesky Enterprises weapons plant in Slovakia turn up at the bombing of a Royal's house in England, Jean-Louis and his "brother," Nik, are hot on the trail of shadowy terrorist groups dealing in international weapons sales. Are the Kandesky arms being sold to terrorists groups? Should Maxie use her new-found vampire strengths to ferret out the scum?

KOBO and B&N available soon.

Beta readers say “Best yet!”

For more about this book and author, read the Coffee Chat from December 9, 2015.

It's time for book talk!

This week's guest is Elsa Winckler, who writes contemporary romance, coastal, and she says it can get a little spicy with a romantic heat rating of 3. So for you younger readers, we'll be marking the buy links as 18+.

Good to see you Elsa. What can I get you to drink?

I drink coffee in the morning to wake up - milk with sugar but for the rest of the day, I like tea - made with leaves not bags :)

Ally: Since it's morning, and I already have the coffee pot on...I'll pour, while readers check out your bio.


I have been reading love stories for as long as I can remember and when I ‘met’ the classic authors like Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Henry James The Brontë sisters, etc. during my studies, I was hooked for life.

I married my college boyfriend and soul mate and after 39 years, 3 beautiful children and 3 grandchildren, he still makes me weak in the knees. We are fortunate to live in the picturesque little seaside village of Betty's Bay, South Africa with the ocean a block away and a beautiful mountain right behind us. And although life so far has not always been an easy ride, it has always been an exiting and interesting one!

I like the heroines in my stories to be beautiful, feisty, independent and headstrong.  And the heroes must be strong but possess a generous amount of sensitivity. They are of course, also gorgeous!  My stories typically incorporate the family background of the characters to better understand where they come from and who they are when we meet them in the story.

Something unique you don't normally include in your bio:  "
I’m grandmother to three gorgeous boys."

Author contact links:

Personal Facebook page:
Author Facebook page:
Twitter: @elsawinckler


Ally:  When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer? Do you write part-time or full time?

ELSA:  I’ve always loved to read and I loved writing essays at school but I only thought about writing once all three of our kids left home. I entered a competition in a magazine and was fortunate enough to win - the prize was having my story published. I retired more or less at the same time and am so incredibly grateful and blessed to be able to do what makes me happy at this stage in my life. I write full time and love every minute of it!

Ally:  How do you set up a new character and choose their romantic counterpart? Character sheets, scribbled notes, or do you just start writing? How do you decide on characteristics and names?

ELSA:  I sometimes get an idea from an article, sometimes something happens (I stopped in the road to help a tortoise across the road and immediately thought, what if …) - I have a book in which I list the characters, their character traits, their likes and dislikes and then I start writing. I have a vague idea of the direction of the story, but the magic only happens once I start writing.

Ally:  What is the setting for this book? What part does the setting play? i.e. Is it merely nice background or part of the story?

ELSA:  Touched to the depths is the fourth story about the Cavallo brothers. They are South African boutique hotel tycoons with hotels in South Africa and the The Seychells. I live in South Africa and the stories I write are usually set against this backdrop. Apart from the fact that it is a beautiful country with mountains, wide open spaces, dense forests, interesting people we also have daily challenges - a corrupt government, for instance and a president who has no idea how to lead and but who is enriching himself as fast as he can. In this story the brothers are hesitent to get the police involved when Hannah’s life is in danger because the police in South Africa are basically useless - also because of corruption. I’ve been to the Seychelles once and would love to go back again - it is a gorgeous setting for any story!

Ally:  What is your next writing project?

ELSA:  I have several deadlines for Afrikaans stories but I hope to start a new series in English during the second half of 2016 - I have some ideas but nothing concrete yet.

Ally:  Quick answer questions:
  • a. manicure or pedicure:   I can’t choose, I love both    favorite color of polish: It’s called Petal for your thoughts - a bright red :)
  • b. last meal you cooked: Roast leg of lamb for Christmas
  • c. favorite party drink: Dry rosé wine
  • d. favorite snack food: Small rice cakes with cheese
  • e. best Valentine's Day you remember: I’m one of the fortunate people who is married to my soul-mate - March next year we’ll be married for forty one years. He doesn’t do the grand romantic gestures but shows his love in his own way - I get coffee in bed every morning, roses on Fridays, so basically everyday is Valentine’s day! (Ally Note: Wow, you're a lucky lady.)

Thanks so much for sharing time with us. Before you go, please tel us more about your book...


Zoe Sutherland can't stand the pushy, arrogant architect David Cavallo. He was just too damn sure of himself, too handsome, too…everything. Maneuvered into working as the interior decorator on his latest project, a glamorous new hotel, Zoe can't keep her mind on the job. And worse, the strange man won't give her access to the hotel's floor plans. How is she supposed to finish the design when she doesn't have the plans? And when the obnoxious man distracts her with every smoldering look, every touch...

David has one goal: get rid of the pesky interior designer. Since he's been forced into close proximity with the beautiful Zoe, everything's gone downhill. And to make matters worse, she's only out to further her own career—and he's not about to give her the hotel's plans so she can steal his ideas. He needs to get her out of his system, and sleeping with her seems like the best way to do that. When it comes to women, he's found the best way to handle them is to love 'em and leave 'em. But something strange is happening...because after a night of loving Zoe, he's finding it harder than ever to leave…

Buy links (18+ reminder):
All Romance:
Barnes and Noble:

Hope to see you next week for another Coffee Chat!