<![CDATA[Ally Shields, Author - Blog]]>Tue, 23 May 2017 22:38:00 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Coffee Chat Author Interview: Marilyn Levinson]]>Wed, 24 May 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/coffee-chat-author-interview-marilyn-levinsonHappy Wednesday, Booklovers!
Welcome to this week's coffee chat with mystery/romantic suspense author,
Marilyn Levinson.
Ally:  Good Morning, Marilyn. I'm making coffee. How do you take yours?

ML:  I grind French roast coffee beans for my morning coffee, which I drink in a mug with a teaspoon or so of Carnation milk. Never any sugar. I sometimes have coffee after lunch and/or in the evening after dinner. If I have coffee in the evening, I mix coffee beans – half French roast, half decaffeinated French roast.

Ally:  I believe my magic pot is up to fixing your usual morning brew. While I'm busy with that, please introduce yourself to readers.

A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson writes mysteries, romantic suspense and novels for kids. Ghosts, witches and cats appear in many of her books. Marilyn’s Young Adult novel, THE DEVIL’S PAWN, includes horror and supernatural elements against an ordinary background.
DEATH OVERDUE, the first in her Library Ghost mystery series and written under the pseudonym Allison Brook, will be out in October, 2017.
Marilyn likes traveling, foreign films, reading, knitting, Sudoku, dining out, and talking to her grandkids on Face Time. She lives on Long Island.
Something about you that isn't in your regular bio: "While I love to spin my tales, I find it difficult to sit down to work on my WIP. Therefore, I write best in the late afternoon, when the words pour out and my pages get written."
website: http://www.marilynlevinson.com
my Amazon page:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marilyn.levinson.10?ref=ts&fref=ts
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/161602.Marilyn_Levinson
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarilynLevinson
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/marilev/ 


Ally: While you frequently write mystery and romantic suspense, I understand you've brought something a little different today.
ML:  Yes, THE DEVIL’S PAWN is a YA with some horror and supernatural elements and no romantic scenes.
Ally:  As long as we're talking supernatural, what kind of supernatural power would you like to have and why?
ML:  I would love to have the ability to travel instantaneously from one place to another. My second favorite supernatural power would be to be invisible. These are two powers that Rufus Breckenridge, my protagonist in RUFUS AND MAGIC RUN AMOK is working to develop in the second book in the series, RUFUS AND THE WITCH’S SLAVE.
Ally:  Talk about the main genres you write and why you chose them.
ML:  Perhaps it’s because I’m a Gemini that I write in two main genres, mysteries and novels for kids, and love writing them both. I didn’t choose them—they chose me. I started writing novels for kids when my two sons were small. I still enjoy writing from the point of view of a young person who is first experiencing his or her sense of self and abilities.
I love writing mysteries because of the danger and solve-the-puzzle elements. Writing mysteries allows an author to explore the dark side of human nature. I love to write about my characters’ relationships with one another and to delve into their past secrets which impact their present decisions and actions. Writing mysteries gives me free rein to do this and more.
Ally: Where do you write? Do you have a writer's cave? Do you listen to music?
ML:  I write in my upstairs office. I have a large computer screen because my vision isn’t the greatest. I hate to admit that my desk is covered with papers of all sorts. I always mean to clear it up; I even start to put things in order, but I don’t get very far. I’m surrounded by books—in book cases, piled on another desk, stacked on a low filing cabinet, and I’ve small pictures of cats I’ve cut out and pasted on the side of one of my bookcases. I’ve a printer, of course, pictures and small tapestries on the wall from places I’ve visited. My red cat Sammy always sleeps on the floor a few feet from my chair.
I don’t listen to music when I write. I prefer silence. I occasionally look outside my window.
Ally:  What is your next writing project?
ML:  My cozy mystery, DEATH OVERDUE, the first in my Haunted Library Mystery series, will be out in October. Carrie Singleton forgoes her purple hair and Goth attire to become head of programs and events of the Clover Ridge Library. She finds herself embroiled in solving a cold case and a new murder with the occasional help of the library’s sixty-something ghost amid family squabbles, romance and discovering her place in life. Those who have already read DEATH OVERDUE find it fun read.
Ally: It sounds like an enjoyable read. I'll put it on my Watch For list. Okay, now, I love quick answer questions. Shall we try a few?
  • a. favorite book: I’ve two favorite books that are as different as night and day (remember, I’m a Gemini) One is Edith Wharton’s HOUSE OF MIRTH; the other is Vikram Seth’s A SUITABLE BOY
  • b. book you're currently reading: I’m reading Tracy Weber’s A FATAL TWIST (a mystery) and Margaret George’s THE CONFESSIONS OF YOUNG NERO
  • c. favorite tv program:  “Blue Bloods” is one of my favorite shows 
  • d. favorite accessory: I love earrings. And shoes. I wear 8 narrow, and it’s difficult to find many shoe styles in narrow sizes. I don’t wear very high heels any longer. Love sandals.
  • e. What are your hobbies? Reading, doing crossword puzzles, Sudoku, knitting
Ally: I've enjoyed our visit today. Thank you for coming. Before you go, let's show readers your YA book. Please tell them a little about your main character and the plot of The Devil's Pawn.

Simon Porte is a fifteen-year-old boy who is suddenly orphaned and brought to live in an upstate New York town by a relative he’s never met before. Simon doesn't trust Uncle Raymond, and for good reason. Raymond is dying and using his powers to take over Simon's body. Simon and his allies—his dotty great-aunt Lucinda, his sister whom he finds living with another relative, and a pair of odd twins—wage war against the evil Raymond and his cronies. 

Buy Links:

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01HF6PBQO
B&N:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-devils-pawn-marilyn-levinson/1122618948?ean=2940153383200

 Don't forget to check out her mysteries too!

<![CDATA[Armed Forces Day 2017]]>Sat, 20 May 2017 15:04:10 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/armed-forces-day-2017Thank you for your service.
<![CDATA[Coffee Chat Author Interview: S. L. Smith]]>Tue, 16 May 2017 23:53:46 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/coffee-chat-author-interview-s-l-smith

Welcome to the Coffee Chat!
This week's guest is S.L. Smith, author of the Pete Culnane Mystery Series.

Ally:  It's nice to meet you, Sharon. What may I get you to drink?

SL: I never got into coffee. Each morning, I depend on Diet Coke, preferably lime flavored, to wake me up.

Ally: Since I keep a fully stock fridge, I'll grab a diet coke while I'm pouring my coffee. Okay, now, shall we get right to it?
Tell us what kind of mysteries you write.

SL: They are as close as you can get to a cozy with cops doing the investigating. Romantically, they're G-rated. Don’t even merit a PG.

Ally:  What influenced you choose to write mysteries? What about this genre intrigues you and readers?
SL:  Mysteries have been my favorite genre for as long as I can remember. I love trying to solve the crime before the cops, PI, amateur sleuth, whomever. I also feel compelled to understand what drove the criminal. A bonus is that this genre permits me to utilize my career in public safety and my degree in psychology.
While reading mysteries, I often wondered if I could write one that succeeded in entertaining readers. I also took on this genre because writing a novel requires immersing myself in the story for hundreds of hours. Since I appreciate a touch of humor and a bit of romance, both find their way into my novels.
While speaking with my readers, I regularly hear that they didn’t figure out who dunnit until the very end. I often hear they anxiously await the next book, because they want to know what happens to my two protagonists and their families.
Ally:  Do you have a writer's cave? Describe it or tell us where you do most of your writing. Does it have to be quiet or do you write with music or white noise (TV, etc)?
SL:  I’ll attack this question going back to the environs for my first 3-1/2 books. My computer is in my kitchen. It sits on a stand to the right of my kitchen table. There is no better location. My space is rather confined. Actually, this works quite well. When I’m immersed in the first draft, editing, etc., I tend to work 12 to 16 hours per day. In this location, I’m seconds away from the refrigerator and the microwave. Okay, I admit it. I don’t get carried away with food preparation. The fewer steps required, the more I like it. With this arrangement, I can prepare a meal and eat it while I work without breaking my train of thought. As you’ve no doubt deciphered, no one else is dependent on me for their sustenance.
I require white noise while I write. For that reason, the news version of my local NPR station is always on while I write. Occasionally, I catch a headline, but I’m typically oblivious to much of what is being said. I cannot listen to music while I write. It’s impossible to keep from singing along. Haven’t tried it, but it seems unlikely I could sing and write anything that made sense or was worth reading. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so closed minded. Maybe I should give it a try, huh?    
Ally:   Do you prefer to read standalones or series? Which do you prefer to write?

SL:  I prefer a series. When an author draws me in, when I grow attached to a character, they become a friend. I want to get to know them better than one book can reasonably reveal. I want to continue to experience life with and through them. Granted I can write my own ending, but I’m interested in more than the answers to the questions raised in the concluding pages or paragraphs and left to the reader’s imagination.
When I wrote Blinded by the Sight, the first Pete Culnane mystery, I didn’t envision it as the first book in a series. I became attached to Pete and his partner, Martin Tierney. The rest is history. I do not use an outline. When my fingers contact the keyboard, the story begins to take shape.
For that reason, I don’t know Pete and Martin’s futures beyond what each book reveals. For example, I know Pete, a widower, and his fiancée want children. I assume they will have some. I don’t know when, how many or if they will be boys, girls, or some combination. How long will Pete and Martin remain partners? Will Pete stay with the St. Paul Police Department? Will his fiancée be able to cope with the stress that now goes along with being married to a cop? Will there be a price to pay? What will Pete do after he retires from the PD?
Will Martin survive his son’s teen years? Will those years change their relationship? What impact will the undiagnosed illness plaguing Martin’s wife have on the family? And on and on and on.
Some day, I hope to know all these things. The answers must wait until Pete and Martin have a chance to tell me.
Ally:  How much research do you do?
I do a plethora of research for all of my novels. I’m talking more than a hundred hours per book. This research takes a variety of forms.
Telephone conversations and face-to-face meetings:
* I verify police procedures with a retired police chief, discuss what a cop would be thinking in a variety of predicaments, those sorts of things.
* While working on Blinded by the Sight, the First Pete Culnane mystery, I called the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office, seeking information on everything from what would be worn to a crime scene to procedures to documentation. I gave him a courtesy copy of that book. We became friends, and he is now a resource for all my books.
* I wanted to know how an emergency room would deal with a victim from arrival at the ER to declaring time of death and beyond. An emergency medicine physician has been a resource for books two through four.
* For book two, Running Scared, I did computer research and contacted an expert on cars to find a pre-air bags vehicle.
* I called the local high schools to find out about dress codes, times school started and ended, earliest time buses picked kids up, detention.
* My third book, Murder on a Stick is centered around the Minnesota State Fair. I spent hours on the Internet followed by days at the fair going from booth to booth, researching everything sold on a stick. I also spoke with firefighters and police officers working at the fair, regarding how they would hear about the incident and what they would do. I interviewed a former IBM employee to learn why an IBM plant was created in Rochester, Minnesota. I obtained State Fair trivia from an information booth volunteer. 
* For book four, Mistletoe and Murder, I went to and ate at the Greek restaurant where the crime occurs. The manager provided the New Year’s Eve menu. I checked out the restrooms and the skyways connecting the Union Depot with other downtown St. Paul buildings. I went to the condominium and apartment entrances at Galtier Plaza to learn the layout.
* An acquaintance with first-hand knowledge of recognizing a heroin user provided information on tell-tale signs.
  And so on. BTW, I’m amazed at how willing these people are to share their time, knowledge, and expertise.
Online research:
* I use Google Maps, and I drive and walk through areas where books are set, gathering important details about relevant neighborhoods.
* For book four, I did an Internet search for expensive shoes, the history of St. Paul’s Union Depot, the pandemic influenza outbreak of 1918 to 1919, soldiers returning from WWII by train, the polar vortex . . .
Did I hear someone scream, “Enough already!”  Okay. I’ll stop.
Ally:  What is your next writing project?
SL:  In 2014, I became my mother’s caregiver. Since then, I rarely have the solitude I require to write. Writing is now a luxury.  It took three years, but I succeeded in completing Mistletoe and Murder: The Fourth Pete Culnane Mystery. Prior to last fall, I doubted this would ever happen. That project turned the last six months into a series of marathons. Until recently, I’d given no thought to book five.
Now I’m permitting myself to believe there will be a fifth book. I’m currently evaluating potential sites, determining where the crime will occur. St. Paul has so many possibilities. They include: the St. Paul Saints baseball stadium, the State Capitol building, the St. Paul Cathedral, the location for the annual Red Bull Crashed Ice competition, the Ice Castle connected with the 2018 St. Paul Winter Carnival, and the Vikings stadium during the 2018 Super Bowl. 
Each of my novels touches upon a social issue. I’m planning on it being human trafficking in the next Pete Culnane mystery. I’m a pantser. I don’t outline. I just sit down and type away as the story comes to me. For that reason, the social issue could change, but that seems unlikely, and I’m currently researching the topic.
Ally:  Let's wind up with a few short answer questions:
  • a. favorite TV program: This is a tough one. I love both Blue Bloods and Designated Survivor. If I have to select just one, Blue Bloods.
  • b. favorite movie: The Lake House with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves.
  • c. high heels or sneakers: Definitely sneakers! I’m long on comfortable.
  • d. hiking or sunbathing: Definitely hiking, unless I can sunbathe while doing something other than sitting on a chaise lounge or lying on a towel.
  • e. favorite song: There are lots of contenders. Since I can only name one, I’ll select Be Not Afraid. I was in church one weekend and feeling very low. Felt like I’d been abandoned. We sang that hymn, and the words struck a chord. An overwhelming  weight became bearable.
Ally: Thanks so much for visiting. Before you go, can you give us a sneak peek at the latest Pete Culnane, Mistletoe and Murder, releasing August 1, 2017? (That gives us plenty of time to catch up on the first three books!)

Auld Lang Syne with a Twist
As Collette Hammond orchestrates an elaborate New Year’s Eve wedding reception for her brother in St. Paul’s historic Union Depot, she never anticipates the evening might end in her own mysterious death.
St. Paul police detectives Pete Culnane and Martin Tierney are called away from their holiday celebrations to investigate, launching a trip through a labyrinth of intrigue and deception.
Buy Links books 1-3. Mistletoe and Murder isn’t available until August 1.:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/S.L.-Smith/e/B005GVK1DO/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_6?qid=1493475810&sr=1-6
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/S.L.+Smith/_/N-8q8?_requestid=1153683

About the Author:
S.L. Smith grew up in small town Minnesota, learned to love St. Paul while attending college there, and became rooted in the people-oriented atmosphere of the Twin Cities. Her long career alongside law enforcement and fire officials while with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety inspire and inform her novels.

Something not in your regular bio: "I was such a tomboy that in a moment of exasperation, my mom once said, 'Well, we always wanted two boys anyway.'”

Website: www.slsmithbooks.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627700301&ref=ts&fref=ts
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/SLSmithauthor2012/?ref=ts&fref=ts
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4575682.S_L_Smith

<![CDATA[Character Interview: Chrys from "The Pendragon Crystal" by Kath Boyd Marsh]]>Thu, 11 May 2017 04:39:54 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/character-interview-chrys-from-the-pendragon-crystal-by-kath-boyd-marshPicture

Welcome, Booklovers!

We're doing something a little different today. Instead of the author, Kath Boyd Marsh, we're visiting with Chrys, a character from Marsh's short story, "The Pendragon Crystal," on pre-order now in the anthology,
Dragons and Witches: Fairy Tale Villains Reimagined.

Ally: Nice to have you with us, Chrys.

Chrys: Hello Ally. Morgan and Myrlin are busy...doing stuff, so I volunteered to be your interviewee about Scribe Kath’s story in the new book: Dragons and Witches: Fairy Tale Villains Reimagined. Our story is The Pendragon Crystal. I'm Morgan's friend, and yes, we finally went on a date, but I don't want to discuss that.

You need to know I am not a Fairy Tale. And I am not a villain, and neither is Morgan. And of course Myrlin is a wizard, so he's not evil, just weird. You don't need to mention that to him either.

Ally: It’s nice Kath chose to write your true story. Many people think dragons are evil killers, and they're afraid of them.

Chrys: Uh, well… Humans can be kind of, no offense, but uninformed. I want to straighten that out. I’ve read your books--The Guardian Witch series is my favorite—and you know about Otherworld creatures. So you know what’s a fairy tale and what’s for real. You aren’t scared of me, are you? I mean since I’m real and all?

Ally: Are you kidding? I have fictional friends, such as witches, vampires, werecreatures, elves, and ghosts. There's even a dragon who makes a brief appearance in the book I'm working on right now.

Chrys: Excellent. I guess Kath did okay setting up this interview. So what do you want to know?

Ally: Let’s start with what the new book is about.

Chrys: It’s not a whole book about Morgan and me. It’s a YA anthology with ten stories by ten writers in all. The Pendragon Crystal is right in the middle. The best is in the middle, right? Did you see the Kirkus review of the book…and of our story? http://bit.ly/2ntTbXV. They liked our story!

Ally: Yes. Very nice. But what are the stories about?

Chrys: Like I said, ten stories, the fifth, ours being the best, all about … ‘Fairy Tale Villains’ only reimagined. Again, I am not a villain.

Ally: Okay, I believe you, Chrys. I'm still not clear on what you mean by 'reimagined.'

Chrys: That’s easy. All the book's scribes have written about the witches and dragons that people haven’t heard about. Like in Morgan and my story. Ours is kind of a twist on human Arthurian legends. Instead of Arthur Pendragon and his son Morgan being human, silly thought, our scribe Kath wrote the truth about the Pendragons being real dragons. Explains the magic better, right?

The story starts with a ‘normal’ day for Morgan. This was about six months after his father, King Arthur Pendragon, was kidnapped by his uncle Uthur. Morgan and the rest of his family have been hidden by Myrlin on the human plane. And, yes, everybody who is dragon looks human on the human plane. So Morgan goes to his Grove Township High School classes like usual, but that day everything changes. That’s where I step in. There’s a cool battle, and … you’ll have to read the book to find out who wins. And to find out why I’m in on this whole battle thing.

Ally: Since you're here talking to me, you and Morgan must have won.

Chrys: Are you sure? Maybe we were defeated, but I escaped. Maybe I’m here to recruit an army. Maybe I need your Guardian Witch and her crew to help us out.
Oh, did you hear that? No? Myrlin is calling me. Wizards can be so pushy.

Ally: Then I guess you'd better go. I hope you'll come back, and let us know how it turned out. Or I guess we can just wait and read the book on June 1! We'll be watching for it!


Dragons and Witches
by Madeline Smoot (Editor)
Dragons and witches have traditionally been the creatures of nightmares, the villains of fairy tales that are intended to haunt readers long after the stories have finished. Ten authors reimagine these villains in different guises and styles and in new and meaningful ways. In the end readers will be left wondering, are bad guys always bad?

Kirkus Review: http://bit.ly/2ntTbXV

Purchase (Pre-Order):

Amazon - http://amzn.to/2nOX8tv
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2nmMhUh

About the Author:

At seven years old Kath Boyd Marsh self-published her first fantasy on lined notebook paper, stapled together by her grandfather, and starring a creature based on her little sister. Before Kath moved to Richmond, KY to write about dragons, wizards, and other fantastic creatures, she lived in seven states, Panama, and one very haunted house. The Lazy Dr'gon and the Bumblespells Wizard was her debut novel.

Author links:


Watch for more from this author coming in 2017, 2018 and beyond!

<![CDATA[Coffee Chat Author Interview: Rolynn Anderson]]>Wed, 03 May 2017 14:22:32 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/coffee-chat-author-interview-rolynn-andersonPicture
Happy Wednesday, Booklovers!

It's time to meet another author and indulge in a little book talk. This week's guest is Rolynn Anderson, a writer of romantic suspense and mystery.

Welcome, Rolynn! How do you take your coffee?

Starbucks is my second home since 1971 (I lived in Seattle, then). Grande Flat White, 2% milk extra hot.  On Sundays, I get whipped cream and a half pump of mocha.

Ally:  Shall we pretend it's Sunday? :) My magic pot loves Starbucks too. While I pour, please introduce yourself to readers.


Scandinavian, Army Brat, Wife, English Teacher, High School Principal, Golfer, Boater, World Traveler, Author.  Now add a competitive nature and a love for ‘makeovers.’  As a principal, Rolynn Anderson and the staff she hired, opened a cutting-edge high school; as co-captain with her husband on INTREPID, she cruised from Washington State to Alaska and back.  As a writer, she delights in creating imperfect characters faced with extraordinary, transforming challenges.  Her hope: You'll devour her ‘makeover’ suspense novels in the wee hours of the morning, because her stories, settings and characters, capture your imagination and your heart.

Something unusual that isn't in your regular bio:
"I am an Army brat, having lived in Germany, Japan and Korea, along with many states in the U.S.  The desire to travel still runs in my blood."

Contact the Author:



Ally:  What kind of story will readers find when they open a Rolynn Anderson novel?

ROLYNN:  I write romantic suspense/mystery. In a heat rating of 1-5…I’d say I am a 3.

Ally:  If you could have a supernatural power, what would it be and why?

ROLYNN:  Simple.  I would possess one or two tactics guaranteed to get my books in the hands of LOTS of readers.  Then I suppose I’d make millions by writing a book about those two tactics. :)

Ally:  How did you select your genre?

ROLYNN:  I am more skilled at creating twists and turns in mystery/suspense plots than I am with the intricacies of relationships, so instead of writing straight up contemporary romance, I write romantic suspense. I get to deal equally with confounding events (caused by villains) as well as chaotic relationships. A two-fer!

Ally:  What's your best marketing tip?

ROLYNN:  Never sit down at a book sale. Engage readers with an intriguing giveaway. Choose locations for your book sale that match the subject matter for your book. Example: I had my sale for BAD LIES at a local golf pro shop!

Ally:  What is your next writing project?

Cézanne’s Ghost by Rolynn Anderson. To Be Released: August, 2017

Three American women vanish in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Leon Beaudet, former U.S. Olympic wrestler, is proud of his five-star guide business in France, where he indulges in a passion: secretly drawing the portraits of intriguing female clients.

Then, over three successive tours, three women he sketched disappear.

Aline Kerig signs up for the next ten-day outing, more beautiful and carefree than the missing women and Leon’s most fascinating subject, yet.  She waves away potential danger, and refuses to leave the tour.

The French police, American Embassy, and FBI roar in, worried the French tourist industry will collapse if the women aren’t found.  They dredge up violence in Leon’s past, confounding Leon’s struggle to protect Aline, find the missing women, and clear his reputation.

Ally: Are you ready for a few short answer questions? Okay, go...
  • a. A book your currently reading:  Just started Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
  • b. An item on my bucket list:  Play Pebble Beach Golf Course
  • c. Manicure or Pedicure:  Pedicure
  • d. A favorite movie: Last of the Mohicans
  • e. A favorite accessory- matching jewelery

Ally: It has been a pleasure having coffee with you. Before you leave us, please tell us a little about your latest romantic suspense, Bad Lies...

Bad Lies by Rolynn Anderson
Genre: romantic suspense

Italy’s haunted caves spell danger for an American golfer and a NATO geologist

Sophie Maxwell is a late-blooming, unorthodox golfer, and mother of a precocious thirteen year-old. Determined to put divorce, bankruptcy, and a penchant for gambling in her past, Sophie goes to Italy for a qualifying golf tournament.

Jack Walker turned his back on a pro golfing career to become a geologist. As a favor to his ailing father he’ll caddy for Sophie; off hours, he’ll find caves on the Mediterranean coast, suitable for NATO listening posts for terrorist activity.

Someone is determined to stop Jack’s underground hunt and ruin Sophie’s chances to win her tournament.

On a Rome golf course and in the Amalfi coast’s haunted caves, all the odds are stacked against Sophie and Jack.  In their gamble of a lifetime, who wins?

Buy Link:

Thanks for Stopping! Come back soon.

<![CDATA[Administrative Professionals Day 2017]]>Thu, 27 Apr 2017 04:22:39 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/administrative-professionals-day-2017National Secretaries Week was first celebrated in 1952,
and the Wednesday of that week became known as Secretaries Day. In 2000, the week and day were changed to Administrative Professionals Week and  Administrative Professionals Day to include an expanding workforce.

As an author, I no longer have a secretarial staff like in my former BW life (Before Writing),  but I certainly have hardworking editing and proof reading staff, and I'm grateful for every one of them!

Thank you to the support staff everywhere who keep the work moving!
<![CDATA[Coffee Chat Author Interview: Mike Lord]]>Thu, 20 Apr 2017 15:15:39 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/coffee-chat-author-interview-mike-lordPicture
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?

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
Genre: mystery/thriller


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!

<![CDATA[What's on My To-Be-Read List?]]>Thu, 20 Apr 2017 03:13:13 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/whats-on-my-to-be-read-listPicture

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

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

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! :)

<![CDATA[Embers of Fire (Guardian Witch Legacy #1) Preview]]>Wed, 12 Apr 2017 05:02:52 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/embers-of-fire-guardian-witch-legacy-one-previewPicture
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, t
heir 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!

<![CDATA[Coffee Chat Author Interview: SK Ryder]]>Thu, 06 Apr 2017 03:08:18 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/coffee-chat-author-interview-sk-ryderPicture
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?

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."

Author Contacts:
Website: http://skryder.com
Newsletter: http://skryder.com/newsletter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sk.ryder.books/  
Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/skryder
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/authorskryder 


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!