I've been working hard the last few months researching and writing Ghost Walking, the first Maggie York Paranormal Mystery. The book is currently in edits with a release planned for April 22, 2016.
And I'm ready to give you a first look into Maggie's world...
Meet Maggie York. Don't be deceived by her looks. Maggie is a no-nonsense homicide detective with a fast-track career in the New Orleans' police department. Or she was until six months ago, when a sniper's bullet changed...everything.
The department thinks Maggie's near-death experience left her with PTSD, and the captain placed her on extended medical leave. But the truth is more complicated. Maggie sees ghosts.
When previously-unknown relatives approach her about her gift, she brushes them off, refusing to believe in witchcraft or any paranormal phenomena. Instead, she sets out to track down her shooter, before her delusions become worse. But it isn't easy to ignore the spirit world--not with a recent murder victim stalking her, insisting she solve his case.
Homicide Detective Joshua Brandt is relatively new to the NOLA PD. In fact, he was hired from Boston to fill in the gaps when Maggie was injured. Her case was recently re-assigned to him, but he hasn't met her yet, due to her allegedly fragile condition.
They meet over a dead body, and again at an apartment where she shouldn't be. Josh can't figure out how the gorgeous redhead is getting there ahead of him. He can't really picture her as a killer - even for revenge - but she's hiding something.
He understands that. Josh has secrets of his own.
Maggie waved at the bartender to get his attention and pulled a photo from her pocket. "Seen this guy around?"
"You a cop?"
"Nope. Do I look like a cop?" She'd worn jeans and a tight tank top. It showed off all the right things.
"Those eyes do."
She smiled and batted her dark lashes. "Do they look better now?"
The bartender grinned in appreciation and glanced at the picture. "That's Bobby, but he hasn't been in tonight."
"You know where he stays?"
The man wiped the counter and looked around to see if other patrons were listening, before lifting a brow.
"I just want to ask him a question or two. Nothing that'll come back on you."
"He's got a girlfriend. You might find him there." He gave her an address on Toulouse. "Don't tell him who gave it to you."
"Wouldn't dream of it."
She turned away from the counter and exited the club. The moment Maggie reached the sidewalk, the back of her neck prickled, and she whirled to confront the ghostly figure in the black and gold hoodie following her. "What do you want? Get away from me," she said in a hushed growl. "You don't exist. Get!"
He silently closed in on her, the darkness inside his hood a pool of unreadable shadows.
Watch for more information...coming soon!
It's Wednesday, a great day to escape into book talk!
This week's guest is Ellie Eden, who brought her romantic suspense, Flirting with Danger. How do you take your coffee, Ellie?
ELLIE: Strong and tanned, like the hero in my book :) I also like my coffee in bed in the morning...
Ally: And just how romantic did you say this book was?
ELLIE: It has some steamy scenes. I like love scenes that are hot without being too graphic. When writing, I try to make the love scenes unusual. Let me know if I succeeded!
Ally: Okaay, readers. If you're under 18, you might want to let your mother read it first! :) Now let's take a look at Ellie's bio.
Ally: I understand there's an interesting story behind your book. We'd love to hear it.
ELLIE: Flirting With Danger is based partly on real life and what happened to a close friend of mine. Her husband messed around in hot Brazilian chat rooms and then, to her shock and dismay, went off to meet the Brazilian girl in Rio. It was satisfying that the girl turned out to be positively scary! Murderous even! My friend is now happily married to someone else. I became aware of the chaos that can be caused by internet affairs. It is fascinating and frightening that a laptop is a wide open window into your home. All sorts of people can come creeping in, people you would never normally encounter. My heroine, Kristi, gets caught in the fallout of her husband's internet romance with Nara, a hot young drug dealer in Brazil. His subsequent affair and trip to Brazil exposes his family to terrible danger.
Ally: If your plot was influenced by real life, what about the characters? How were they chosen?
ELLIE: Because Flirting With Danger was based partly on a true story I couldn't help being influenced by the personalities of the real people involved. Nara, the bad girl, was particularly fun to write. I wonder how correct I was about her motives etc. I haven't met any Brazilian drug lords - probably fortunately! - so I read a lot of newspapers and interviews and watched movies and documentaries with that theme. I enjoy setting books in exotic locations and Brazil was particularly good as the people are so attractive and the place is exciting and dangerous.
Ally: This book has had a title change. Can you tell us why that happened?
ELLIE: Flirting with Danger is a new release of my book Letting Evil In, but with a changed title. The previous title sounded too much like a horror story, and I wanted a title that sounded more romantic, but still hinted at the dark suspense elements.
It was great reading a recent review from The Romance Reviews that validates the title change: "Flirting With Danger is a story that will keep you on your toes and have you guessing at every page turn. It causes you to question just about every event. As the title suggested, this story had some dark elements, but it will not creep you out. Flirting With Danger is mysterious, suspenseful and riveting. If you love stories that are suspenseful, action-packed and enthralling, then give this one a try."
Ally: What's your next writing project?
ELLIE: I'm working on the outline for a Romantic Suspense set in a Dystopian world. My hero and heroine are out there at the moment, and its fun plotting what can and will happen to them.
Ally: Thanks for visiting and telling us about your books, Ellie. Let's finish up with a few quick answer questions before taking a look at Flirting with Danger.
- Favorite drink: red wine. Shiraz.
- Favorite meals to cook: Spicy ethnic food like Indian or Thai or Moroccan curries.
- Favorite flowers: Roses or anything that smells beautiful.
- Which singer would I like to have lunch with: My son, Adam Crowe. Love his music! He wrote the song for Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBj0-Y90NNA.
ELLIE: Thank you so much for the interview, Ally. It's always a pleasure having coffee with you :)
When her husband goes on a photographic assignment to Brazil and fails to return, Kristi and her son fly to Rio de Janeiro, desperate to find him. Instead she finds that during the cold New Jersey winter, Michael has spent his time in steamy chat rooms with Nara, a young woman desperate for attention and involved in the Rio drug world.
As she searches for Michael in exotic but crime-ridden Rio, Kristy finds herself way out of her league. She turns to Italian-Brazilian Federal Agent Tony Lamazzo for help. As the harsh truth of her marriage brings a dose of reality to her life, she finds the temptation of getting closer to the strong, capable—and totally hot—Tony difficult to resist. She’s in Brazil on the Day of Dead, a day when Brazilians go wild. Why shouldn’t she go wild with Tony, for just one night, before returning home to start the new life alone she’ll have to learn to make for herself?
But when her son vanishes too, Kristi doesn’t know where to turn. Michael’s affair with drug-dealing Nara has exposed them all to the murderous wrath of a ruthless drug lord, and while she longs to trust Tony, she can’t trust his powerful and politically corrupt family. But in the dangerous slums and rainforests of Brazil, the danger mounts for both Kristi and her son, and a cold-blooded enemy has an agenda of his own. If she trusts Tony, she might save her son. Or it might just get them all killed…
Thanks for stopping! See you next week!
We're meeting another new author today, Sandra Orchard, who writes romantic suspense and mysteries...and sometimes with a touch of humor.
Greetings, Sandra. Can I pour you some coffee?
SO: Although I love the smell of coffee, I never acquired a taste for it. However, I love chocolate-covered espresso beans. My publisher actually got me addicted to those. :)
Ally: I can honestly say that's my first request for chocolate espresso beans, but my pot is magic. It can produce anything. While I figure this one out, please show readers your bio...
Sandra Orchard—winner of the RT Reviewers’ Choice, the National Readers’ Choice and the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence—leaps off the garden trails of her herbal-researcher-turned-amateur-sleuth (Port Aster Secrets) series, to the museum corridors of her plucky FBI art crime agent Serena Jones, in A Fool and His Monet. When not plotting crimes, Sandra plays make-believe with her grandchildren or hikes with her hubby along the escarpment, near their home in Niagara, Canada.
Something unique not in your regular bio: "I’ve done everything from design and build a horse run in to side the house, to renovate the bathroom and install flooring and trim. A back injury curbed a lot of that activity, but…led to me pursuing my dream of writing."
Author contact links:
Subscribe to newsletter: http://bit.ly/OrchardNews
Check out book Bonus Features at: http://sandraorchard.com/extras/bonus-book-features/
Ally: What was your journey to publication? How long did it take? Anything you'd change in hindsight?
SO: I learned the craft for a few years—attending conferences, joining online writers’ groups etc—wrote several manuscripts and acquired an agent. Almost exactly six years to the day that I started writing my first novel, I got the call that Harlequin wanted to buy one of my manuscripts. Ironically, it was a manuscript one of their editors had requested 2 years earlier, but that I’d held off sending in, because other publishers had also requested it and Harlequin didn’t look at simultaneous submissions. Ultimately the timing was perfect, because by the time the contract came in, I had a second book in the series drafted and an idea for a third plotted, so I sold three books within my first year. My first book released in 2011 and A Fool and His Monet is my eleventh.
Ally: Where and when do you do your best writing?
SO: At night after all my other chores are done, the house is quiet and my internal editor has gone to bed. But…I desperately try to meet my writing goals during the day while the family is out. I like absolute quiet or soft instrumental music playing. Although for my current WIP, set on Martha’s Vineyard, writing to the sound of ocean waves and crying seagulls is working well. I have a private office, but in the winter months, I often write with my laptop by the woodstove.
Ally: Who is your favorite fictional character, books or movies, and why?
SO: Constable Benton Fraser of the short-lived Canadian series, Due South. Fraser is a Canadian Mountie who goes to Chicago with his pet wolf (who looks just like our dog) to find his father's murderer. While there, he teams up with a street-wise Chicago cop. Fraser is extremely polite—taught my son how to be a perfect gentleman—and the interplay between how Fraser deals with people vs the cop is hilarious.
Ally: Tell us about your current work in progress. Will we be able to buy it in 2016?
SO: I’m currently writing the third book in the Serena Jones Mysteries series—working title: Over Mayan Dead Body. As you can probably guess from the title, Serena is tracking down stolen antiquities. This has been great fun to research, because the story takes place on Martha’s Vineyard, so of course, I had to go there. Twice. This book will release in 2017, but Book 2, Another Day, Another Dali, (involving art forgery) releases mid-October 2016.
Ally: Try these five quick answer questions:
- a. Your favorite accessory: at the moment…my fuzzy earmuffs. We are in the middle of a snowstorm!
- b. Love to watch - winter or summer sports? Aside from the Olympics, I don’t watch sports.
- c. Favorite song on your current playlist: Find Your Wings by Mark Harris (I have one daughter still at home…finding her wings)
- d. A place you'd loved to visit: Hawaii
- e. A book you've reread at least once: These days I reread at least once a week, The Monster at the End of This Book, starring Lovable Furry Old Grover. (I have 3 grandchildren under four years old <grin>)
Ally: I enjoyed getting to know you, Sandra. Good luck with your career. Let's take a look at the cover and blurb for your book...
Thanks for spending time with us! Stop back soon.
Don't wait for an invitation! We're thrilled to have everyone at the weekly Coffee Chat!
Especially the guest authors! Join me in greeting ML Gardner, an author of historical fiction, including the 1929 series.
Welcome! How do you take your coffee?
ML: Black with Stevia.
Ally: You're taking it easy on my magic pot this morning. :) I'll pour while you show readers your bio.
M. L. Gardner is the bestselling author of the 1929 series. Gardner is frugal to a fault, preserving the old ways of living by canning, cooking from scratch, and woodworking. Nostalgic stories from her grandmother's life during the Great Depression inspired Gardner to write the 1929 series-as well as her own research into the Roarin' Twenties. She has authored eight books, two novellas, and one book of short stories. Gardner is married with three kids and three cats. She resides in northern Utah.
Something unique not in her regular bio: "I learned how to fly when I was 17 and always dreamed of becoming a commercial pilot."
Author contact links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ml.gardner.3Twitter: https://twitter.com/mlgardnerbooks/
Ally: What inspired you to write the 1929 Series? What common thread ties the books together?
ML: I was inspired by the stock market crash of 2008. The idea hit me while I was watching the day market dropped 777 points. The similarities were to the great depression, which had always interested me, were too eerie. I saw a man on his knees who lost everything and I had to find out why and what he was doing there. I started 1929 that day. I open 1929 with that vision. The group of friends is what ties all the books together. Readers are sometimes thrown with Elizabeth’s Heart, Drifter and Purgatory Cove because it takes them away from Rockport, but still has everything to do with the original six cast of 1929.
Ally: I understand book 2, Elizabeth's Heart, takes a turn into the paranormal when one of the characters has prophetic visions. What can you tell us about this character and his abilities without spoiling the plot? :)
ML: Simon is one of my favorite characters. He’s a bit cheeky and uses humor and sarcasm to deal with the tough hand life dealt him. He is overcome with visions that leave him oblivious to the world around him, a captive audience until it’s over. Because of when he was born, he was labeled with a mental disorder instead of a gift. His visions are always prophetic, but when he falls in love with Elizabeth, a woman who suffers from multiple personalities, his interpretation of them becomes skewed. He also journeys deeper into the paranormal than he ever dreamed.
Ally: Have long have you been writing and publishing books? What was your journey to publication?
ML: I have been writing for seven years, self-published for six. I love running my own business and sending out queries for 1929 was an afterthought. I ran headlong into being independent. I plugged along for a while, clueless, and learned by trial and error. I really struggled for four years. This industry doesn’t come with a how-to manual and it’s always changing. It was almost impossible to get advice, especially from other experienced authors so it was the school of hard knocks for me. (Sidenote: It was for this reason that I recently started the Enlightened Indies Network on Facebook. I’m trying to be what I didn’t have when I started, which is someone with experience, willing to share, or just listen, with full disclosure on my marketing and writing. My little group is small but growing!)
In 2013 I got serious. It was either quit or go all in and make a living from this. I hired Monica Haynes, who came in and cleaned up my digital house, set all my social media straight and handled so much of the technical side of this business I was able to work on producing. She also began creating my covers and graphics (launching her own design business The Thatchery in the process) and arranged a promotion schedule that really turned things around.
I’m happy to say I no longer flirt with the idea of getting a job at Taco Bell just to make ends meet.
Ally: What is your next writing project? Will it be out in 2016?
ML: My current project is Purling Road Season Three which is the serialized extension of The 1929 Series. When the series ended, readers wanted more. I had wrapped things up pretty neatly in 1931 and couldn’t really top what I’d already done (crisis wise). Continuing in a serial with episodes allows me to give the readers more of these characters’ day to day lives and challenges without the traditional story arc structure or continually having to raise the stakes. I don’t have a release date yet, but it will be released this year.
For those that do fall in love with Simon and Elizabeth, I have always planned on adding a Book Seven, Simon’s Watch to the series. I have no idea when I can fit that in, but it’s coming eventually. (Monica insists. She adores Simon and Elizabeth.)
Ally: It's time for a few quick answer questions:
Ally: Thank you for visiting the blog. You've been a terrific guest. Good luck with your books. Before you go, tell readers a little more about Elizabeth's Heart and where they can find it.
- a. pantser or plotter: Both. Plot with my best friend, Lisa, then pants it when the characters take over.
- b. a guilty pleasure: Cheese. Way too much cheese.
- c. a book you've read more than once: Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. Four times.
- d. something that moved you to tears (good or bad): Any animal rescue or reuniting.
- e. manicure or pedicure: Pedicure.
The 1929 Series takes an unexpected turn when Simon Sinclair finds himself under the doctor’s radar after his prophetic visions land him in a Massachusetts asylum. In 1929, mental health treatment was anything but a solution. With no recovery, Simon faces extremities like shock therapy, mind-numbing medications, and torture. But nothing tortures him more than his feelings for the newest patient in the insane asylum: Elizabeth Williams.
With one look into her eyes, Simon finds himself lovestruck. But his pining leads to more visions, which leads to more treatments. Unable to stop the dreams, he must bear it all for her.
Like every patient there, Elizabeth is a troubled young woman—with a dark secret. But nothing could prepare Simon for the darkest secret of all: Elizabeth suffers from a personality disorder. Devoted to her, Simon only sees the real Elizabeth, not the violent version of her. While the new couple falls deeper in love, the wards grow concerned that they’re making their conditions worse—as if they’re feeding off of each other.
Realizing freedom is the only way for them to be together, Simon and Elizabeth escape with the help of an unlikely hospital source who’s hiding his own secrets. Their escape proves to be temporary, as they’re sent back to the asylum, where Simon’s worst nightmare comes true: Elizabeth’s violent personality makes an appearance and triggers repeated visions that Simon can’t decipher.
After a selfless act of love, Simon’s actions place one of the main characters from the novel 1929 in serious danger.
Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeths-Heart-Book-Two-1929-ebook/dp/B00589WB1O
Thanks for visiting. Come back soon!
Happy Wednesday, Booklovers!
This week we're sharing coffee with horror writer Steven Ramirez and his zombies. And these are the blood-thirsty kind, so keep your wits about you. :)
Welcome, Steven. What would you like to drink?
STEVEN: Iced Caffè Americano year round.
Ally: Perfect. Coming right up. It'll be ready by the time you've shown readers your bio.
Ally: Now we're settled, let's start off by talking zombies. How are yours like or different from those in other books and tv shows?
STEVEN: This is the third book in my horror thriller trilogy. When I started out the zombies were of the slow, shambling variety that anyone would recognize from Night of the Living Dead or The Walking Dead. But over the course of the story, the infecting virus evolved, and these creatures became faster and more cunning. By the time we get to the last book, they are blade-wielding sociopaths who like to hunt.
Ally: Needless to say, your zombies aren't the romantic type. :) Let's talk about something a little tamer. Tell us about your setting. Is it contemporary, such as in urban fantasy, or have you created an entirely different universe?
STEVEN: The Tell Me When I’m Dead series is contemporary, the first two books taking place in a fictional Northern California town called Tres Marias. For the third book I decided to move the action south to Los Angeles. Although the universe is recognizable to anyone who has lived in LA, there are elements that seem bizarre. For one thing, it rains like crazy throughout the book. Also, the fact that these maniacs are running around carving up people makes the story somewhat apocalyptic. To provide realism I tried using as many actual LA locations as I could. But I did take license with certain scenes for dramatic purposes.
Ally: What is your writing process? When, where? Do you have a writer's cave? How long does a first draft take?
STEVEN: I write in a basement, mornings or nights. I’m not a fast writer. The first draft of this book took me around six months. Also, I should point out that I am a pantser—not a plotter. So I go wherever the story takes me.
Ally: What is your next work in progress? Do you have a tentative release date?
STEVEN: I am working on a horror comedy, based on a screenplay I wrote a few years back. It features a precocious, horror-loving fourteen-year-old girl, a low-budget movie and a crazed, chainsaw-wielding villain. So far, I’m having a pretty good time. The horror is easy but, as any comedian will tell you, comedy is hard. I am hoping for a spring release. Wish me luck.
Ally: It's time for a few quick answer questions:
- a. current favorite tv show: The Blacklist
- b. favorite dessert: Apple pie.
- c. a zombie book you recommend (other than your own): I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. Technically, his monsters are not zombies—they are vampires. But they’re not romantic at all, so …
- d. favorite spectator sport: None. I like to watch movies and television.
- e. something you really want to do but haven't yet: Visit Italy.
Ally: I enjoyed talking about zombies today. Thanks for having coffee with us. Before we end our chat, please show us the book you brought.
Dave Pulaski is headed to Los Angeles to kill Walt Freeman, the person responsible for devastating Tres Marias. But everything changes when he rescues Sasha, a Russian girl who escaped the facility where Walt was holding her. Pursued by a relentless ex-military sociopath working for Walt and by scientifically engineered humans who flay their victims alive, chances are that Dave will die before he can save Sasha.
Even The Dead Will Bleed (Book Three of Tell Me When I’m Dead) is a dark fantasy, sci-fi thriller—a nonstop horror train—that will deliver Dave to the brink of Hell. Revenge is a powerful drug that can drive a man to do unspeakable things. But as he will learn, Faith can give him the courage to face death without fear. If you like your thrillers dark and fast-paced, then don’t miss the heart-pounding conclusion to this trilogy.
Thanks for stopping by. Have a great week!