Good Morning, Booklovers!
Mystery writer, Mike Lord, is joining our book chat this week with his novel Chocolates & Cyanide!
Welcome, Mike. What may I get you to drink?
MIKE: I'm a tea drinker and enjoy living in a tea producing country. My wife makes tea from loose black tea leaves every morning, the nectar from which is then stored, minus leaves, in a vacuum flask for use during the day. I drink strong tea with brown sugar, and milk.
Ally: It won't be your wife's blend, but my magic pot makes a good spot of tea. While I pour, please introduce yourself to readers.
Born in London, traveled around the world and now living in Vietnam since 1997, Mike Lord has worked for over 50 years in what is called “developing economies”. Most of the time Mike’s work has been with the thousands of small scale farmers, who have appreciated sustainable livelihoods, so that they now have enough food to feed themselves, and also some to sell so that they have a cash income. That is why most of Mike’s novels are set in these countries and especially in the remote locations.
Three, nearly four years ago Mike finally retired and started writing, and has now produced 32 fantasy romance/thriller books nine of which have been published, and 23 self-published at Smashwords and Amazon KDP.
Mike Lord is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia.
Something not in your usual bio: "I have been a keen horseman for most of my life, including show jumping as a youth, and polo when older.
See Mike’s author pages:
Ally: What was your journey to publication?
MIKE: I started writing over 20 years ago, but did not publish my first novel until 2014, having had adventures with agents and vanity publishers which I successfully avoided.
Ally: Tell us about your unique writing process. When, where...
MIKE: I tend to think of plots and stories in the middle of the night, and know I will forget everything by the morning, so I get up and make notes. I outline the plot and the characters on a spreadsheet, and then start writing. Usually I write about 3,000 words a day in a loose draft until the story is complete. The revising and editing process takes weeks, and if the novel is accepted by a publisher sometimes months.
Ally: What inspired the book you brought with you today?
MIKE: “Chocolates & Cyanide” was inspired by a traveling experience. One day my bag was temporarily ‘mislaid’ by the airline, and caused me to think what happens to lost luggage, especially when given to or taken by the wrong traveller. The Chocolates and Cyanide came later.
Most of my characters are inspired by people I have met over the years. The names of heroes and heroines are often people I liked, and villains, people I disliked.
Ally: What is the biggest issue you've faced as an author?
MIKE: Book promotion and marketing are my single biggest problem. I run three Twitter names, and operate five email accounts attached to those names. My tweets are also distributed to Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Ally: Do you prefer to write single titles or books in a series?
MIKE: All my books so far are standalones, but I just started to write a series of four books, which I will publish as a Box Set later this month.
Ally: What do you do when you're not being Mike the Author?
MIKE: I have a large roof-top garden just outside the door by my writing area. The weeds in the spring, even in pots, tend to ‘run away’, so I have the daily task to convert weeds into compost.
Ally: Who is your favorite author, living or dead?
MIKE: The author I admire most would be Charles Dickens, and can personally relate to some of those characters, like Mr Micawber – “didn’t sell a single book today, but would like to put a new greenhouse in the garden! In case anything turns up.”
Ally: It was nice to have tea with you, Mike. Good luck with your books. Before you go, please tell us more about Chocolates & Cyanide...
Chocolates & Cyanide
A box of milk chocolates is delivered to a man just before he leaves to fly to work in Botswana. He does not open it and just tucks it into his packed suitcase. His suitcase is delivered in error to a lady passenger in Johannesburg, who helps herself to one of the chocolates and dies of acute cyanide poisoning!
A concerted effort by the police in South Africa and England have to determine who was the intended victim, and who placed the cyanide in the chocolates, but the identities keep them mystified until they find who purchased the chocolates, and who stole the cyanide. The activities of a string quartette throws up several red herrings…
Just as she was getting into bed she decided to open her suitcase. The heavy duty plastic zip fastener was easy, and the top folded back.
The brown paper parcel immediately attracted her, and she didn’t really look at the other items on the top of the suitcase. She didn’t bother to read the name on the label and just opened the brown paper parcel, only to find a box of milk chocolates, wondering who would have given her such a present.
She just had to open the box, and cut the cellophane seal around the edge with a knife from her kitchen. She knew that the chocolates would be laid out nicely, but was surprised to find one slightly larger than the others in the centre of the tray, almost winking at her.
There was no foil wrapping just the chocolate with a design on the top. She could not help herself but picked it up and put it whole into her mouth.
As she bit into it the taste was a bit strange;
“Apples,” she thought, and then “almonds,” came to her mind.
She lay back on her bed to sleep...
Buy Links for Chocolates & Cyanide:
(Adam Mann is Mike’s pen name for his juicier adult books, some of which have been published by Phaze Books, eXtasy Books, and Global Publishing Group LLC.)
Thanks for stopping by the blog today. Come back soon!
While I'm buried in final edits for Embers of Fire (Guardian Witch Legacy #1) my TBR list grows longer and longer. I actually have three books currently started, and I try to sneak in a few pages every day (please...don't tell my editor!).
Since I currently have 823 books on my kindle, I won't list them all, but here are the next ten--a few old, others new--that are calling to me (and if you look carefully, you'll see some of them are early books in a series, so...the list goes on!).
1. Body Double (A Rizzoli & Iles Novel, Tess Gerritson, mystery
2. A Shade of Vampire 2, A Shade of Blood, Bella Forest, paranormal
3. A Man of Some Repute (A Very English Mystery #1), Elizabeth Edmondson, mystery
4. Echoes in Death (Eve Dallas), JD Robb, mystery/police procedural
5. Prudence (The Custard Protocol), Gail Carringer (sequel series to the Parasol Protectorate), paranormal
6. The Fix (Amos Decker), David Baldacci, mystery/thriller
7. The Thief of Hearts (reread), Elizabeth Ellen Carter, romance
8. Grave Peril (The Dresden Files), Jim Butcher, paranormal
9. The Enchantment Emporium, Tanya Huff, paranormal
10. Red, White & Blue (A Nathaniel Cade Novel), Christopher Farnsworth, paranormal
What's on your list? If you have something special you're drying to read or just finished, tell me about it! There's always room in my TBR pile! :)
Five years after the main events of Eternal Fires (Guardian Witch #7), Ari and Andreas return in a sequel series.
As Embers of Fire (Guardian Witch Legacy #1) opens, their daughter Rayne is a precocious five-year-old; Ari and Andreas her adoring parents. Life has been quiet in Riverdale since the demise of their biggest, baddest enemies, and domestic matters have taken over. Until a seemingly ordinary murder heralds a hidden threat...
Unedited preview (opening):
A crisp breeze caught the last of the early morning fog and swirled it over the gravestones. The Olde Town cemetery slowly emerged from the mist, its silent memorial to the dead marred by an unusual amount of activity. A uniformed Riverdale cop completed a final loop of bright yellow tape around several stone vaults and two small crab apple trees; CS techs snapped photos and set out evidence markers as they processed the crime scene.
With a hot Styrofoam coffee cup in each hand, Arianna Calin bumped her jeans-clad hip against the iron entrance gate to open it wide and slipped inside, her footsteps crunching the brittle September leaves. When an eerie chill nudged her senses, she sucked in a breath, sweeping the scene with a sharp glance.
Nothing unexpected yet. At least nothing bad enough to set off her internal witch alarms. But then, it was a graveyard. The remnants of so many dead souls could mask a great deal.
She ducked under a high section of the bright tape and focused on the blond-haired man in jeans and a dark gray sweatshirt crouched beside a still form. "ME's not here yet?" she asked.
Lt. Ryan Foster, her human cop partner, looked up and stood, his blue eyes lighting on the cups in her hands. "On his way. One of those for me?"
A smile touched her lips, and she shared, withholding further comment until he'd taken his first jolt of caffeine. "Dispatch said it was a stabbing. Human female victim. Is the suspect one of mine?" As a supernatural cop and Guardian for Riverdale's Olde Town district, Ari would be notified of a PD case unless an Otherworlder was involved. Usually that meant vampires or werewolves—the two predominant species in the river city—had run amuck.
"I'm not sure…" Ryan rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Sorry to drag you out so early on a hunch, but I have a weird feeling about this one."
Ari nearly choked on her coffee. "Oh, no you don't. That's my line. There's only room for one of us with spidey senses in this partnership."
"Cop instincts," he corrected. His early-morning face was grumpy, displaying his frequent annoyance with things he didn't understand. "It works for us mere mortals."
"OK. Show me. What have you got?" She stepped around him, the humor slipping from her lips at first sight of the victim.
"Judge for yourself if something doesn't feel off."
Vivid red blood stood in stark contrast to the middle-aged woman's light lemon sweater. Not a typical stabbing…her throat had been slashed, leaving a spray pattern of arterial blood on the fading grass around her and a glistening trail down the sides of a gaping wound. It had soaked her neckline.
Ari's nostrils flared, taking in the sharp, metallic scent and seeking something more, whatever had triggered Ryan's reaction. All kidding aside, having worked with him for eight years, she trusted his gut feelings almost as much as her magic. "She hasn't been dead long."
"Yeah. Looks that way. The killer may have left in a hurry. He dropped the knife over there." He nodded toward a glint of metal on the ground where a CS tech was snapping photos. "A jogger reported it. Called 911 about thirty minutes ago." Ryan turned and gestured at a young man being questioned by a uniformed officer. The witness leaned against a stone vault with his arms crossed, feigning nonchalance.
Ari's eyes narrowed. A werewolf barely out of his teens. That answered one of her questions—how a passing jogger noticed a body inside the cemetery. The wolf had picked up the scent of a fresh kill.
A late spring or early summer release is anticipated. Watch for further details.
Now is a good time to catch up on the earlier series!
Happy Wednesday, Booklovers!
This week I'm chatting with supernatural mystery/fantasy author SK Ryder. (Since Susan described her Dark Destinies series as hot/sensual, I'm marking them as 18+ for our younger readers.)
Welcome, Susan! Before we get started, what may I get you to drink?
SUSAN: I gave up caffeine a while ago. But I enjoy a nice cup of herbal tea or decaf Earl Grey.
Ally: We always have tea around. While I fix our drinks, please introduce yourself to readers.
S.K. Ryder is a software developer by day, a scribe by night and answers to Susan any time. She writes the type of stories she loves to read: heart-pounding adventures full of supernatural mysteries and relationships between strong, compelling characters. Though she calls South Florida home, she has also lived in Germany and Canada and has traveled widely, usually in the hot pursuit of wild and scenic nature. When not debugging code, complicating her characters' lives or plotting her next rafting adventure down the Grand Canyon, she can be found beach combing, scuba diving, sailing or just hanging out with a good book. When push comes to shove, she can also bake a halfway decent cake and stand on her head, though not at the same time.
Something not in your regular bio: "In a previous career life, I was a scuba diving instructor."
Ally: Let begin with a writing topic. Describe your writing process. Schedule, goals, etc.
SUSAN: I spend quite a bit of time cooking up a meticulous outline, which ends up being about 10% of the final novel or, as someone once told me “a very skinny first draft.” Then I work off that to expand the story into the blow-by-blow of the action without having to worry about plot holes (too often) or what’s supposed to happen next. I need those guiderails to help me get going quickly during the limited time I have to write, which is mostly in the early mornings and on weekends. Because my personal life can and does frequently interfere on any given day, I don’t drive myself crazy with daily word/page counts. I set weekly goals of how much story I want to flesh out. If the week gets crazy and I can’t get to the writing for a few days, I know I can get caught up on the weekend.
Ally: If you met your favorite author, what would you talk about?
SUSAN: This is not an “if” for me. I actually did meet one of my favorite authors, Diana Gabaldon. This was a few years ago at the Surrey International Writer’s Conference in Vancouver, where she makes a regular appearance as both a speaker and workshop presenter. I had the pleasure of having her evaluate the opening pages of an early draft of Dark Heart of the Sun. She was very gracious, and in a mere 10 minutes taught me everything I never knew about where and how to begin a story. I later had lunch with her at that same conference during which she chatted with our group about Scotland, traveling, and writing craft.
I have also met another huge favorite of mine, Anne Rice, but this was long before I was serious about my writing, and it was a total gushing (and slightly embarrassing) fangirl experience. I would love to meet her again and talk about vampires and their deeper meaning as fictional characters.
Ally: How do you spend your non-writing time?
SUSAN: Well, there is the full time day job. I work from my home as a software developer for a Canadian company. The rest of my non-writing/editing time is an eclectic mix of home management, reading, beach walking, yoga, visiting with friends, and planning my next trip. When I can, I also squeeze in some sailing or scuba diving, but in recent years I haven’t had as much time for these as I would have liked.
Ally: Does your real life show up in your books?
SUSAN: It does. To a point. Obviously (sadly) I don’t know any vampires or even anyone remotely like my hero, Dominic. Nor have I ever been in (or would have the courage to face) the more harrowing jams my heroine, Cassidy, finds herself in. (Though the whole broken air conditioner plot line surfaced when the air conditioner in my house decided to die for real.) However, their story is set in places I have either lived in or visited (Florida and the Caribbean in books one and two, and adding Canada to the mix in book three), and some of the most pivotal action is set near or on the ocean, which is a central and very spiritual presence in my life. I also rarely venture into cities in real life or in my writing, preferring to keep both firmly rooted in the natural world.
Ally: Tell us about your next writing project?
SUSAN: My next release, Dark Lord of Night, is coming up fast in May. This is the second in the Dark Destinies series and continues where Dark Heart of the Sun leaves off. Dominic and Cassidy’s journey continues into a perilous new world that will push their new relationship to the brink of shattering.
Short blurb for Book Two: A young vampire has only just come to terms with what he's become when an ancient and powerful nemesis claims his absolute obedience. Now the only thing standing between him and a destiny of eternal torment is the fragile mortal life of the woman who claims his heart.
I’m currently working on book three in this series. No title or release date for this yet, but I imagine mid-2018 or thereabouts. There are also several novellas planned.
Ally: Please answer these short get-to-know-you questions.
- a. book you're currently reading – Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop
- b. favorite accessory – Tilley hat
- c. high heels or sneakers – Sandals
- d. hiking or sunbathing – Hiking
- e. Your pets – One cat, Samantha
- f. favorite place to write – The beach
Ally: A pleasure to have you visit, Susan. Good luck with your pending release. Please tell us a little more about book #1 so we can get started on this series.
Dark Heart of the Sun
(Dark Destinies Book One)
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy with Romantic Elements
Heat rating: hot/sensual 18+
His future is already written...in her blood.
After breaking her engagement to a man she can no longer trust, rookie journalist Cassidy Chandler trades life in a South Florida mansion for roughing it in a dilapidated beach house. She also trades one devious man for another in her unexpected new roommate: the darkly enigmatic Dominic Marchant.
As a newborn vampire, Dominic has dangerous enemies, and when the headstrong young woman with an unknown vampire’s mark on her throat invades his lair, he’s sure she’s about to get him killed. Or end up dead herself. Instead, Cassidy helps him rediscover his lost humanity and steals his heart as he fights to protect her from his ancient foes as well as his deadly desire for her.
But when their unlikely relationship draws the attention of her secretive ex, they are all swept up by a dark prophecy where the only way to survive is to risk everything—for each other.
Buy Link: Amazon: http://amzn.com/B01JGNEWQY
Thanks for visiting ~ Come back soon!
Tightening the Threads
Author: Lea Wait
Series: Mainely Needlepoint, #5
The Mainely Needlepointers in Haven Harbor, Maine have the custom work they do, and their love of Maine, in common, but not much else. Sarah Byrne, for example, is a young antiques dealer who was born in Australia. She’s never told anyone, even her best friend, Angie Curtis, how she ended up living on the coast of Maine. Tightening the Threads is Sarah’s story; how she searched for family connections on three continents, and finally found the ties she longed for. But ... has she? Her secret connection with a famous (and wealthy) family of artists is going to be revealed. But family dynamics can be delicate ... and deadly.
Ted Lawrence looked around the table.
“I’ve been around this planet long enough to know that speakers often have to choose whether to announce the good news or the bad news first. Tonight I have some of each. But before I start, I want you to know I’ve thought through what I’m going to say, and I’ve made my decisions. This is not a weekend to negotiate with any part of life. It’s a weekend to celebrate family, and the past, and think a little about the future.”
“Oh, shit,” his son Silas whispered. “What does he want?”
“First, the good news. You’ve all met Sarah Byrne tonight. You’ve complemented her on her chowder. And some of you have wondered what a young Australian woman is doing in our home in Haven Harbor. Well,” he smiled down at Sarah, whose hands were clasped tightly together in her lap, “It turns out that my father, your grandfather, had an adventure when he was serving in London during World War II. He and a young English woman fell in love, and she had a child. I’m sure you’d like to know more details, and we have the weekend to explain this whole amazing story, but Sarah’s father was my half-brother. A brother I never had the privilege of knowing. But I’m very happy to now know his daughter. Sarah is my niece and, yes, Abbie and Luke and Michael, she’s your cousin.”
“A story is all well and good, but what proof do we have that this woman isn’t just conning you?” Michael interrupted. “She doesn’t look like us. Hell, she doesn’t even sound like us. What right has she to pop up in Haven Harbor and claim she’s a member of our family?”
I glanced around the table.
Silas’s hands were clenched. Abbie looked furious. Jeremy was flushed. Luke drained his fresh glass of champagne.
Patrick refilled it.
Ted wasn’t finished. Ignoring Michael’s outburst, he continued.
“As I said, we can get into the particulars of Sarah’s story, and her journey to find us, later this weekend. But for now, just know I believe with all my heart that Sarah is my niece. And that, because I knew questions would be asked about such an amazing story, I convinced her that we should have DNA tests. And, yes, they proved that, despite her name and accent, Sarah is a Lawrence. I might add, during the few months I’ve known her she’s more than proven herself worthy of our family. Sarah,” he raised his glass, “I drink to you, and officially, in the presence of my children, welcome you to our family.”
No one else said anything. Then Jeremy also stood and raised his glass. “To Sarah.”
The others followed, slowly.
So far this was not going as well as I’d hoped.
Ted motioned everyone to sit. “Sarah, as you’ve probably guessed, knew I was bringing you all together and was going to introduce her to you. But I have several other announcements no one knows about.”
Jeremy sat up straight.
Luke and Abbie glanced at each other. Silas and Michael finished their latest glasses of champagne. Sarah looked puzzled as Patrick continued filling glasses.
“My second announcement, although it shouldn’t come as a shock to any of you, considering that we’ve just eaten a good part of my seventy-fifth birthday cake, is that I’m dying.”
About the Author:
USA Today best-selling author and Agatha finalist Lea Wait writes both the Mainely Needlepoint and Shadows Antique Print mystery series, as well as historical novels for ages 8 and up set in nineteenth century Maine. Her love of history, Maine, and family is reflected in all her writing. As a single parent she adopted four daughters from Asia; now they’re grown, and she’s married to artist Bob Thomas and lives on the coast of Maine, where she loves rowing on a nearby river, drinking champagne, and solving (fictional) mysteries. For more information about Lea, see her website, www.leawait.com, friend her on Goodreads and Facebook, and write to her at email@example.com to be on her mailing list.