<![CDATA[Ally Shields, Author - Blog]]>Wed, 16 Aug 2017 09:04:47 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Have You Read A Visionary Fiction Novel?]]>Wed, 16 Aug 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/have-you-read-a-visionary-fiction-novelPicture
Welcome to the Wednesday Coffee Chat!

This week's guest author is Theresa Crater who writes intriguing novels of ancient secrets and civilizations.
Good morning, Theresa. What may I get you to drink?

TC:  I’m a tea drinker. I recently found out my DNA is 73% British, so that explains that.

Ally: Then I'll pour you a spot of tea, while you introduce yourself to readers.


Best-selling author Theresa Crater brings ancient temples, lost civilizations, and secret societies back to life in her visionary fiction. Her novels include The Power Places series, Under the Stone Paw and Beneath the Hallowed Hill, The Star Family and God in a Box  Her short stories explore ancient myth brought into the present day. The Star Family won best fiction in the Indie Spirit Book Awards in 2015. She blogs with the Visionary Fiction Alliance and Women Write the Rockies, and is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Independent Authors Network. Currently, she teaches writing and British literature online.

Something unique that isn't in your regular bio: "I’ve meditated all my life and taught meditation, plus studied Eastern, Western, and Native American metaphysics. A lot of that finds its way into my writing. "

Contact the Author:
Good Reads
Linked In


Ally:  Tell us about the genre you've chosen.
TC:  I write Visionary Fiction, but since that’s not so well known, think Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Suspense, only no vampires. The book I’m currently working on is Women’s Fiction.
Ally: Since I was going to ask you about it later, tell us more about this next writing project.
TC:  This book is different from my usual adventure stories. I’ve pretty much finished it and it is out to an agent right now, but the title is still eluding me. It’s either The School of Hard Knocks or The Worst Thing a Mother Can Do. What do you think? What’s it about? The segregation lines are clear in 1950s North Carolina, but the bloodlines—not so much. The past and present intertwine when Maggie Winters risks a friendship with Lily, a white woman, and rescues her daughter and Lily from abuse by the same family that tormented Maggie as a young girl in the 1890s.
If the agent passes, the book could be out in a couple of months. If the agent picks it up, it could be up to a year and a half before it’s out.
Ally:  My vote is for The School of Hard Knocks. Maybe some of our readers will comment on their choice. Does your real life show up in this book or any of your other novels?

TC:  This latest project is part fiction, part memoir, and all my books have some relationship to my life. I travel to ancient sites with my archaeologist husband and these mysterious temples and ruins find their way into my Power Places series. My last novel, The Star Family, came from the discovery that the poet and painter William Blake’s mother belonged to the same tiny Protestant church I was raised in, but her membership was in the 1740s when they were way more mystical, much to my surprise. I had to find out more. I did a great deal of research and found they practiced sacred sexuality, so I wrote my novel based on this research.
Ally:  Tell us about one of your favorite main characters.
TC:  Raised on a decaying plantation in 1890s North Carolina, Maggie Winters (from the yet untitled women's fiction novel) sees it all—a woman beaten nearly to death, hidden in the barn, and healed by her African-American mother; a man lynched; and the machinations of a white woman hired to teach her to read but who has become determined to marry Maggie’s widowed white father. When Maggie's father is forced by his Virginia family to marry someone more appropriate, Maggie and her mother are left without protection. The KKK attacks the house, murdering her mother along with other servants, and rapes Maggie. She is left wounded and pregnant. The son born from this tragedy is taken from her when the doctors fear she will die.

Ally:   How do you spend your non-writing/editing time?
TC:  My husband doesn’t drive, so a good part of it is spent chauffeuring. I read a ton and watch a lot of TV series these days. Currently watching Once Upon a Time, but waiting for Mr. Robot and Travelers with baited breath. I love to travel and my husband leads tours to Egypt. I’ve gone with him four times, once to Peru, and once to Scotland. I’m slated to help lead a tour to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat in December. That’s been on my bucket list for a while and I’ll be leading meditations at the sites. I’m very much looking forward to this and am sure another Power Places book will come from this trip.
Ally:  Tell readers a little about yourself with the following short answer questions.
  • a. book you're currently reading - The Lightbearer by Alan Richardson
  • b. an author (living or dead) you'd love to take to lunch - Doris Lessing
  • c. favorite accessory - My husband brings me tons of scarves home from Egypt and I can never decide which one to wear. I give a lot of them away.
  • d. A guilty pleasure - Those big cupcakes from Whole Foods.
  • e. favorite after five drink - I live in Colorado
Ally: Thanks so much for chatting with us today. Now let's take a look at a few of your books that are already published and available to purchase.

<![CDATA[In the Mood for Mystery? Meet author Joanne Guidoccio]]>Wed, 09 Aug 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/in-the-mood-for-mystery-meet-author-joanne-guidoccioPicture
Happy Wednesday, Booklovers!

It's time for sharing book talk with another author. This week's guest is multi-genre writer, Joanne Guidoccio.
Welcome, Joanne! How do you drink your coffee?  
JG:  Each morning, I brew two cups of Chatty Matty coffee, an organic, fair-trade coffee sold at Planet Bean in Guelph, Ontario. I take it black with one-half of a Stevia packet.
Ally: Since my magic coffee pot can...well, do magic...your coffee will be ready shortly. While you wait, please introduce yourself to readers.


In 2008, Joanne retired from a 31-year teaching career and launched a second act as a writer. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Something unique that isn't in your regular bio: "I am controlled by a bird clock. Each hour, one of my feathered friends, among them the Downy Woodpecker, Belted Kingfisher, and Great Horned Owl, chirp and remind me to pace myself."

Where to find Joanne:

Website: http://joanneguidoccio.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/joanneguidoccio
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjoanneguidoccio
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanneguidoccio
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jguidoccio/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7277706.Joanne_Guidoccio  

Ally:  Tell us about your regular writing routine.
JG:  When I retired and started writing full-time, I expected to be inspired each day. Everything was in place—business cards, new computer, dreams of a runaway best-seller—but my underdeveloped writing muscles refused to budge.
After some experimentation, I came up with a daily regimen. Nothing too dramatic, but it works for me. I like to sleep in each day and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. After my second cup of coffee, I start writing. My goal – 1,000 words a day. After I reach that quota, I’m free to meet with friends for lunch or coffee and plan other outings.
Ally:  Do you have a writer’s cave?
JG:  When I first retired, I assumed I would be writing in my den. Everything was in place: desk, new computer, book shelves crammed with novels and craft guides, and inspiring Monet prints on the wall. But after several frustrating attempts, I realized the den was too small. While the room could easily be a second bedroom, it was not spacious enough for my creativity to flourish. So, I relocated to a corner of the living/dining area of my condo. With over 900 square feet of space and easy access to my kitchen and balcony, I no longer feel constrained. Regarding noise...I cannot write amid any chaos – auditory or otherwise.
Ally:  Talk about the main character in the book you are featuring today.

JG:  While imagining the protagonist of the Gilda Greco Mystery Series, I realized she could easily be my literary twin. In fact, I like to tell people that Gilda Greco is 70 percent of me. As to how I came up with that particular number, let’s just say my well-honed left brain did all the work. Our similarities…Italian Canadian, born and raised in Sudbury, relocated to Southern Ontario, mathematics teachers, career development practitioners, yoga enthusiasts, non-foodies.
One major difference – Gilda won a $19 million lottery. I’m still hoping!
Ally:  What is your next writing project?
JG:  A Different Kind of Reunion, Book 3 of the Gilda Greco Mystery Series, will be released in the spring of 2018. Haunted by a missed e-mail that could have prevented the death of a former student, Gilda agrees to participate in a psychic-hosted reunion.

Ally: I know you also write paranormal romances. If you could have any supernatural power, what would it be?
JG:  It would be wonderful if I could fly at will. Whenever I felt the need to travel, I would pack my bags, stand at the doorway, and visualize my intended destination. Within seconds, I would be transported to a five-star hotel room in that particular city. This superpower would also come in handy during lengthy meetings and sticky situations.
Ally: Oh, I want that power too! Lol. Now are you ready for some short-answer questions?
  • a.  Book I’m currently reading: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • b.  Author I’d love to take to lunch: Canadian mystery author – Louise Penny. I’ve read all her novels and attended two of her readings. An inspiration to us all!
  • c.  Favorite song: Blowing in the Wind by Bob Dylan
  • d.  Favorite quote: You can choose courage, or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both. Brené Brown
  • e.  A guilty pleasure: Baci Perugina, the most famous chocolate brand in Italy and popular with Italians worldwide. Perugina’s signature recipe includes whipped milk chocolate, Gianduia filling, and chopped hazelnuts all in bittersweet chocolate. Each baci comes individually wrapped in silver and blue packaging and hugged by a poetic love note.

Ally: It's been a pleasure having you visit. I hope we'll see you again. Before you go, please tell readers about your featured book.

Too Many Women in the Room
Genre: Cozy mystery


When Gilda Greco invites her closest friends to a VIP dinner, she plans to share David Korba’s signature dishes and launch their joint venture— Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. Unknown to Gilda, David has also invited Michael Taylor, a lecherous photographer who has throughout the past three decades managed to annoy all the women in the room. One woman follows Michael to a deserted field for his midnight run and stabs him in the jugular.
Gilda’s life is awash with complications as she wrestles with a certain detective’s commitment issues and growing doubts about her risky investment in Xenia. Frustrated, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers decades-old secrets and resentments that have festered until they explode into untimely death. Can Gilda outwit a killer bent on killing again?

Book Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CORaCadAnbA

Buy Links:
Amazon (US): https://is.gd/NRjAXT
Amazon (Canada): https://is.gd/1pX3Bn
Kobo: https://is.gd/5VwbTf
Indigo: https://is.gd/o3ZKRW
The Wild Rose Press: https://is.gd/1mns8Q
Barnes & Noble: https://is.gd/NFHdlS  

<![CDATA[Embers of Fire: Ari and Andreas's new adventure]]>Thu, 03 Aug 2017 14:48:51 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/embers-of-fire-ari-and-andreass-new-adventureHelp spread the news about my latest release!
Tell your friends to visit these terrific bloggers who are featuring
Embers of Fire (Guardian Witch Legacy 1) today!
A chilling prophecy. A child in danger.

Following the defeat of the vampire elders, Guardian fire witch Arianna Calin and vampire prince Andreas De Luca are considering moving to his estates in Italy to raise their daughter in its idyllic setting. As if being descended from two powerful witch bloodlines wasn't challenging enough, Rayne was born with a mysterious star tattoo on her shoulder. Her parents suspect she is the Chosen, the focus of the Star of Esielen prophecy. But that's something to worry about in the distant future. Isn't it? After all, their child may be precocious, but she is only five.
Then the murders begin. The stench of demonic activity hangs over Olde Town, and a symbol carved in blood indicates Rayne may be the next victim. Suspicion points in several directions: a rival vampire prince, a mysterious stranger, and a werehyena leader attempting to break the bank at Andreas's new casino.

Abandoning plans for a quiet life, Ari and Andreas hunt for the killers. While Rayne may someday have to face her destiny alone, it's up to them to make sure she's ready...and to keep her alive.
Youtube book trailer: https://youtu.be/-I-B_OHsN2E
Buy Links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073H49YJS/
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/embers-of-fire
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/embers-of-fire-ally-shields/1126658380?ean=2940158758874
ibookstore: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/embers-of-fire-ally-shields/1126658380?ean=2940158758874
GooglePlay: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Ally_Shields_Embers_of_Fire?id=ShQqDwAAQBAJ
Etopia Press: http://www.etopiapress.com/embers-of-fire/

Thanks, bloggers! You're the best!

<![CDATA[Wanted: Mystery Author L.C. Hayden]]>Wed, 02 Aug 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/wanted-mystery-author-lc-haydenPicture
Happy Wednesday, Booklovers!

L.C. Hayden is this week's Coffee Chat guest author with her mystery/thriller novel, What Lies Beyond The Fence.
Welcome, LC! What may I get you to drink?

LC: I drink Coke and Diet Coke mixed together. This way, only half of me gets fat.

Ally: (chuckling) I think we can arrange that. Why don't you introduce yourself while I get our drinks?

Award winning author L. C. Hayden is the creator of the popular Harry Bronson and Aimee Brent mystery series and the standalone, Secrets of the Tunnels. Hayden is known in the mystery field for her edge of the seat suspense and her surprise endings. Her mysteries have hit the Kindle, the B&N, and the Pennsylvania Top Seller Lists. The books have been finalists for the Agatha and LCC Awards.

Her nonfiction angel/miracle series consists of spiritually uplifting books that leave the reader wanting more. Hayden’s other works include children’s picture books and other genres.

Besides being an accomplished author, Hayden is a popular speaker. She has done workshop and school presentations, has spoken to clubs and organizations, and was hired by several major cruise lines to speak while cruising all over the world. From October 2006 to October 2007, Hayden hosted Mystery Writers of America’s only talk show, Murder Must Air.
 Contact Links:
       Facebook: please befriend me: https://www.facebook.com/lc.hayden.3
       Please like my professional page: https://www.facebook.com/MysteriesbyHayden/      
       Website: https://lchayden.com 

Ally:  I always ask authors to tell me something that isn't in their standard bio. Rather than a short answer, I understand you have a story to tell...
LC:  I have an FBI record!

It all began before I was a full time author. At that time, I was a high school teacher. I was at my desk when over the intercom a message erupted: L. C. Hayden, go to the principal’s office during your conference period.
I was a good teacher, so I didn’t panic.
When I walked in, instead of the principal being there, a man, whom I had never seen, stood before me. He looked at me and said, “Are you L. C. Hayden?”
I nodded and he reached behind me and locked the door. He showed me his badge. “I’m Detective So and So. Please sit down.” I did and he once again reached into his wallet, took out a card, and said, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law . . .”
As he read me my Miranda rights, I kept thinking was What’s going on? I haven’t done anything wrong. I don’t even speed!
He then placed a paper on top of the table. “Recognize this?”
Of course, I did. When my first book, Who’s Susan, was released, my author liaison told me that if I wanted people to buy my book, I would have to come up with a brilliant campaign. I thought and thought and came out with a brilliant idea.
I planned to send three separate batches of mail to local readers. The first batch wouldn’t have a return address and the flyer inside the envelope would read: Do you know who Susan is? When people received this, they would hopefully start talking. Who’s Susan? What’s this about?
The second batch would be mailed a week later, again, with no return address. The flyer would read: Did you find out Who’s Susan? Again, people would wonder about Susan.
The third batch, which would have a return address, would read: Introducing my new mystery Who’s Susan?, then I’d invite them to my Barnes & Noble signing.
That’s the way it was suppose to work. Here’s how it really worked. I mailed the first batch, but instead of people talking about who Susan is, they called the police because of the antiabortion campaign they had just received. How they came to that conclusion, I have no idea.
When the police started to investigate, they discovered that I was a teacher at a rough school.
Because I’m basically a lazy person, I didn’t mail the flyers from the post office that was two blocks away. Instead, I mailed them from my high school campus. That made it a federal offense, so they called the FBI who immediately knew it wasn’t an antiabortion campaign. It was a new drug called Susan. They hired an undercover agent to go to the campus to investigate.
“What new drug?” the students asked.
When they realized they had made a mistake, they hired another undercover agent. This time they knew it wasn’t a drug. It was a gun movement, code Susan.
Again, the students claimed, “What gun movement?”
In the meantime, I was in the principal’s office getting my Miranda rights read.
When the agent found out that it was only my promotional efforts for my book, he rolled his eyes as he held my book in his hands. “It would have to be a mystery!
Ally:  A great story! :) Now let's talk a little about writing. Describe your editing process, from first draft up to release.
LC:  Call me a dingle dorf or old fashioned. But I still write my books in long hand and I use blue ink. Then I edit for grammar in red. I type that into my computer and as I go along, I proofread for content and characterization. I print that out and revise the manuscript one more time. Any changes, I mark with a red pen. I let the manuscript sit for a while. When I go back to it, I revise it one more time, this time using green ink. I add all of those changes to the computer and as I do, I revise the manuscript. It’s now ready to go to beta readers. When I receive their comments, I make the changes as necessary. I revise one more time, then send it to my critiquers. I once again make any changes needed. I read the entire work one more time and make any changes that I feel I need to do. Then it’s off to my editor—who will require some changes too. Sigh.
Ally:  What is your next writing project? Anticipated release?
LC:  I am currently compiling and writing stories about people who have had an angel or miracle experience. This one, as of yet untitled, will be the 4th in the angel/miracle series. Should be out late 2017 or early 2018. If readers have had such experiences, I’d love to hear from them.
Ally: What is your favorite social media?
LC:  Most definitely Facebook. There, I ask my readers to help when I have a problem with the plot, I share my travel experiences with them and I love to hear their comments. That’s basically the bottom line, I love to talk to them. I feel they’re my extended family. If you’re in Facebook and you’re not my friend, please befriend me. 
Ally:  How do you spend your non-writing/non-editing time?
LC:  I love to camp, travel, read, do arts and crafts. The only days I really take off from writing—no editing, no writing—are those that I spend with my grandkids. I love being with them. We play, we laugh, we sing. I also love going on dates with my husband of 47 years, and I love my dog.
Ally: Take a shot at these quick answer questions:
  • a. book you're currently reading:  Joel Goldman’s Deadlocked
  • b. an item on your bucket list:  I want to sell thousands of copies of my books!
  • c. high heels or sneakers:  Definitely sneakers, but I do love to dress up—and wear sneakers!
  • d. hiking or sunbathing:  Hiking since I can sunbath while hiking!
  • e. Your pets:  I love dogs. My current one is a basenji known as Honey. Super good dog—if only she’d eat!
Ally: I've enjoyed our visit, LC. I hope you'll come back again. Before you go, let's see your featured book, What Lies Beyond The Fence.


What Lies Beyond the Fence
The Bronson Thriller
Genre: mystery/thriller


For Bronson, this was going to be an easy assignment. Find Roger and Norma, the teens that stole an important book and return it to its original owners. But when Bronson locates the book, Roger reveals the truth behind the book’s existence—a truth so shocking that Bronson is forced to help them escape.

Then Ellen, his partner’s ex, gets kidnapped and Bronson is forced to decide who he will save: Ellen or two stranded teenagers who depend on him for their survival.

Who will he choose? His decision will determine who lives—and who dies.

This action thriller is guaranteed to keep you glued to the edge of your seat with its many twists and turns. It is the fourth installment in the crime fiction series: first, Why Casey Had to Die, followed by When Death Intervenes, then When the Past Haunts You.

What people are saying:
Bronson (is) a very likeable guy with his heart in the right place, which was one of the factors that made this an addictive read. This light but suspenseful mystery, is fast paced and will have the reader quickly turning the pages, especially with the plot twists the author has adroitly employed in her unpretentious, flowing prose. This is an ideal read for mystery fans who enjoy a straightforward mystery with little gore or violence. Highly recommended.
Buy Links:


<![CDATA[Goodreads' Giveaway of Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch #1)]]>Sat, 29 Jul 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/goodreads-giveaway-of-awakening-the-fire-guardian-witch-1Although my latest release, Embers of Fire (Guardian Witch Legacy #1), can be read as a standalone,
the story is richer if you've read the original 7-book urban fantasy series that inspired the sequel.

To start you off right, I'm offering three free print books of Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch #1)
as a  Goodreads' Giveaway (available to US, CA, and GB).

Don't miss out! Enter below or on Goodreads. And good luck!


Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch #1)
Genre: Urban Fantasy


Twenty-three-year-old Ari Calin has sworn to keep the peace in the Olde Town district of Riverdale, and most of the time the Otherworlders cooperate. The vampires, werewolves and other magical creatures go about their business, living side by side with humans, until the foreign wolves arrive and a virtual reality drug hits the streets. When violence erupts, Ari needs more than her witch fire, weapons and potions to stop the madness.
Joining forces with a human police officer, Lt. Ryan Foster, and a way-too-sexy vampire singer, Andreas De Luca, Ari hunts for the enemy—from the vampire strip clubs to the caverns under the city. Every step draws Ari and her companions deeper into an old feud and closer to the brink of a supernatural war.

Read the sample text on Amazon.

Book Trailer on Youtube:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Awakening the Fire by Ally Shields

Awakening the Fire

by Ally Shields

Giveaway ends August 22, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

<![CDATA[Have You Met Author Mabry Hall?]]>Wed, 26 Jul 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/have-you-met-author-mabry-hallPicture
Good Morning, Booklovers!

Welcome to another Wednesday Coffee Chat! Our guest this week is mystery author Mabry Hall, featuring her book, An Engaging End (An 18 Karat Cold Mystery).
Thanks for stopping by, Mabry. How do you take your coffee?

MH:  I like it ridiculously strong, with hot milk and one half pack of raw sugar. At least one cup must be consumed before I can say any more than “good morning.”

Ally: You should feel right at home here! Please introduce yourself to readers while I pour.


I grew up in Mississippi, where I spent every spare minute at my grandparents’ farm. I draw on those years when I write about rural and small-town life. I lived in Houston in my twenties, but was very happy to move to Louisiana after my first child was born. Texas has its charms, but it definitely isn’t the South.

I’d have loved to get a degree in English, but bowed to family pressure and went to nursing school instead. I became a nurse anesthetist, which allowed me to work part-time while my boys were growing up.

Something unique that isn’t in my bio? I’m a passably good seamstress, plant my garden to attract hummingbirds, and can make a biscuit that tastes like my grandmother’s. I make a beautiful French macaron and a delicious blackberry cobbler, but my boys like my chocolate cake best.

Author Contact Links:

Follow my Pinterest boards to see the jewelry that inspires my stories


Ally:  Tell us what kind of books you write?

MHI think of my genre as cozy with an edge. I want my readers to laugh, because there are enough poopy things going on in the world today. You’re more likely to hear me utter a curse word than to read one I’ve written. Annalee has a romantic interest, but my books are definitely PG-13. (I recently had a book club tell me they want more romance!)

Ally:  How do you choose and name your characters?

MH:  Most of the characters in my books (unless they’re villains), have names from my family tree. My roots in North America go back to the early 1600s, and there are a lot of names to choose from. I have two sons, and this allows me to use all the names I thought about for them and for the girl I never had. The only supernatural character is a ghost goat that lived on the book’s Goat Hill Farm in the late 1800s. I named him Repentance, after my real-life seventh great-grandfather. I think it’s a fabulous name, but one could hardly saddle a child with it now.

Ally:  Did someone or something inspire you to write? If so, what effect did it have and why?

MH:  Like most authors, I’ve spent my life reading, but my book choices change according to what’s going on in my life and how much mental energy I have at the time. I picked up my first romance novel when the kids were in elementary school and I was working as a nurse anesthetist. It was like someone had handed me a big bag of salty, buttery popcorn. I became addicted to the quick read that always had a happy ending. I wrote three of them, one medieval and two contemporary, and progressed to receiving lovely rejection letters! They were complimentary of my writing skills and style, but each said I essentially had too much plot.
I put the writing aside, but decided to give it another try a couple of years ago. I turned my effort to the mystery genre, where I could plot to my heart’s content.

Ally:  Do you have a writer's cave? If not, where do you do most of your writing?
MH:  I can write on a laptop or a Chromebook since I use Google Docs as my program. I have a favorite chair in the den that my husband calls my nest. It’s surrounded by paper I’ve scribbled notes on and books I use for reference. If someone comes to visit, I make a frantic dash to dump everything in my closet. In the winter when it’s dark and gloomy I move to whichever room looks most cheerful, but often wind up back in my favorite chair with the fireplace going.
We live on a lake in northern Louisiana and have an enormous screened porch with swings and rocking chairs, so there are many occasions when I can work outside. Those are the best days.

Ally:  Do you prefer to read standalones or series? Which do you prefer to write?

MH:  I love to read series mysteries, because I like to get to know the characters and see them evolve as people. It’s even better if there’s someone obnoxious who gets knocked off a few books down the line. That’s why I started the 18 Karat Cold mystery series. Annalee Wyatt, the protagonist, deals in antique jewelry and has recently moved to a small town. Between her job and her home, there is room for her to change and grow through several books.

Ally:  What is your next writing project? Anticipated release date?
MH:  Book number two in the series is due to be released in September, 2017. The title is A Regrettable Reunion (An 18 Karat Cold Mystery).

Ally:  Let's try a few quick-answer, get-to-know-me questions:
  • a. an author (living or dead) you'd love to take to lunch:  I’d love to take Charlaine Harris to lunch. She writes about my part of the country, and she has a unique imagination. She goes to dark places in her books, and her characters are multi-dimensional.
  • b. an item on your bucket list:   I’ve carted my family all over the world, sometimes against their better judgement. I buy my clothes at Target and spend my money on travel. I would love to live in another country for several months, preferably one with fabulous food and wine!
  • c.  favorite accessory: My favorite accessory has to be jewelry. I’ve collected antique jewelry for years, and firmly believe that more is more. Put on everything you want to wear; then add another piece.
  • d. Hiking or sunbathing? One look at my fair skin and freckles will answer that one. Hiking, with plenty of sunblock and a broad-brimmed hat.
  • e. book you're currently reading:  I read a lot of non-fiction history. My current book is John Aubrey, My Own Life, by Ruth Scurr. He lived in the 1600s in England and is considered to be the first modern biographer. Queued up is a book on the exploration of the Louisiana territory, Jefferson’s America, by Julie Fenster
Ally: Thanks for sharing coffee with me and answering all our questions. Before you go, please show us your book, An Engaging End.


An Engaging End (An 18 Karat Cold Mystery) by Mabry Hall
Genre: cozy mystery

18 Karat Sold? Or 18 Karat Cold? Antique jewelry dealer Annalee Wyatt recently moved from Houston to Goat Hill, her family’s ancestral farm in Louisiana. Okay, admittedly she knows jack about farming and makes her living selling expensive baubles, but she’s returned to her roots and wants everyone, including the citizens of nearby Berryville, to be as enthusiastic about it as she is. Her goal of acceptance gets a boost when the scion of an old family pays her big bucks for an engagement ring. When his intimidating mother invites her to attend the ceremony, she really feels like she's made it. Unfortunately, "Happily ever after" turns into "Happy never again" when the young bride shockingly dies at the wedding reception.
Soon Annalee is dealing with a grieving, hostile groom and unpleasant accusations regarding her honesty. Though there seems to be no way to prove her integrity, Annalee can’t afford to give up. With the help of her hunky cattle-rancher neighbor and the town book club, she sets out to solve the mystery that threatens her reputation. It comes as a nasty surprise to find that her life is in jeopardy, too!

Buy Link:


<![CDATA[Coffee Chat Author Interview: Barbara Lund]]>Wed, 19 Jul 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/coffee-chat-author-interview-barbara-lundPicture
Welcome, Booklovers!

Our guest this week is YA author Barbara Lund. Thanks for stopping by, Barbara. What may I get you to drink?

BJL:  The only way I can drink coffee is with more sugar and cream than coffee, so I generally go for hot chocolate instead. :)

Ally:  Then Hot Chocolate it shall be! Please introduce yourself while my magic pot gets that ready.

Barbara decided that raising two kids, “wife-ing”, working as a police officer, maintaining her black sashes in kung fu and tai chi, hiking (oh yes, and eating!) weren’t enough obsessions to keep busy, so she picked up a NANOWRIMO book, and hasn’t stopped writing since. When she placed 2nd in the science fiction/fantasy category of the 2015 Zebulon contest sponsored by Pikes Peak Writers, she decided to do something with the stories in her head, which prompted indie-publishing of three novels and fifteen short stories (so far).
Something unique/unusual that isn't in her regular bio: "Someday I plan to grow up and become a therapist. (Hoping to start an LCSW masters at the University of Utah next year.) Though if Hollywood shows up on my doorstep and shoves cash into my hands, that may change!"
facebook: BarbaraLundAuthor
twitter: @BarbaraJLund 

Ally:  What kind of book did you bring with you today? Is it romantic?
BJL:  Creeper is YA Fantasy, and during this book the main character is too busy staying alive for romance… but that changes in the sequel, though the heat rating is still quite mild!
Ally: Describe your writing process. Schedule, goals, etc.
BJL:  Unlike a lot of writers, I don’t write every day. I tend to save up during the week when I’m doing everything else, then on the weekends, pour words out onto the page. I have written every day (between 1500 and 2500 words!) – when I pushed myself up against the deadline for a novella – but as soon as it was done, I stopped writing for about three weeks.
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?
BJL:  My favorite room in the house is the back patio, so I write out there, weather permitting. Otherwise, the living room with the TV going and the kids on the couch is #2, and my office at work is #3. (Shh, don’t tell my boss.)
Ally:  What is your favorite social media? Why do you like it? How often can readers find you there?
BJL:  Facebook and Twitter, way too much because they are on my phone, and I always have my phone because I’m frequently on call for work!
Ally:  Do you prefer to read standalones or series? Which do you prefer to write? Explain both answers.
BJL:  Same answer for both - I prefer series because I fall in love with the characters and want to read/write more stories about them.
Ally:  Does your real life show up in your writing? In what ways?
BJL:  Fight scenes! Between work and kung fu, I’ve hit and been hit several times…
         I also have a sci-fi short story series which features a cop on a mining platform in space, so I’ve used cases from work as inspiration for the plot (suitable for 15 and older).
Ally:  What is your next writing project? Title, short description, anticipated release
BJL:  LAST MAGE STANDING is the third in the Crowns Peak series, which started with CREEPER. Ava has been away training with the dragon, but now she’s coming home to Crowns Peak. She will have to face her friends, her old rival, and an enemy she didn’t even know she had to stop the highborns from being murdered in their own mansions. (Anticipated release: late 2017)
Ally:  Let's try a few short answer, get-to-know-me questions.
  • a. manicure or pedicure:  pedi – I am pretty brutal to my hands. I constantly have nicks and scratches and bruises and I rarely know where they came from, so I love the pedi because it lasts longer for me!
  • b. favorite tv program:  Blacklist – It’s a love/hate relationship, because I don’t want to watch TV, but the writers suck me in again and again with every show.
  • c. hiking or sunbathing:  Hiking. We have great mountains and wonderful lakes. My hiking buddies know I need a water feature to be truly happy with the effort of going up the mountain.
  • d. What comes to your first - character or plot?  The big finale, actually, which hands me a big chunk of character and plot together. The only problem is I can’t actually write the finale first (I keep it in my head), or I feel like I’m done with the book!
  • e. favorite after five drink:  Orange juice and whip cream vodka (tastes like a creamcicle!)

Ally: I enjoyed your visit. Can you give us a peek at Creeper before you go...?


Genre: YA Fantasy

Slavers have come to Crowns Peak.

For Creeper, a street urchin living rough in the slums, that fact is just one more in a long list of everyday realities she has to deal with.

But what if there were a better place for her, a place where she might be safe? Safe from the coming winter, from the older littles who bully her, from the king’s guards who want to take her, and perhaps even from the slavers.

Creeper might just have found such a place… within the palace walls, surrounded by the very guards she has been taught to fear. But better in here than out there.

Or is it?

Secrets swirl within those walls, and old hatreds bubble close to the surface. Creeper will have to navigate very carefully if she is to remain safe, remain welcome.

Outside the walls, however, the littles from Creeper’s old life are being snatched up one by one…


<![CDATA[They're Rumbling in Olde Town]]>Wed, 12 Jul 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/theyre-rumbling-in-olde-townEmbers of Fire (Guardian Witch Legacy Book 1)
is nearly two weeks old, and I'm still excited to bring these characters back.
It's like meeting old friends.

The situation in the De Luca household as the book opens...

  •  Five years have passed since Eternal Fires (Guardian Witch #7) and the defeat of the O-Seven, the vampire elders who had ruled the vampire world for thousands of years
  • Three years have passed since Rayne's second birthday (detailed in the Eternal Fires Epilogue) and the discovery of  The Star of Esielen prophecy.
  • The intervening period has been unique for Ari and Andreas, relatively trouble-free, and more family oriented than they had ever thought possible.
  • Domesticity has developed a certain appeal, and Ari is uncertain whether she wants to remain as Olde Town's guardian. The job has gotten rather predictable, and she has an apprentice eager to step in. Ari's time is more than full with raising their daughter.
  • While Andreas is still intrigued by the challenges of the fledgling vampire league, Marcus has taken over management of the supper club, and work has been completed on a new casino. Gabriel is ready to assume the primary management of it. Andreas's responsibilities would soon allow him to leave town with his family…permanently.
  • Ari and Andreas have had several discussions about moving to Tuscany. It seems like the time is right. As Rayne's powers develop, she is becoming a greater challenge and isolating her on his Italian estates is more appealing every day.

    Then police dispatch calls, sending Ari to Olde Town Cemetery No. 1…

Embers of Fire opening scene excerpt:
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 crabapple 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, knocking it open, and slipped inside, her footsteps crunching the brittle September leaves. When an eerie chill nudged her senses, she swept the scene with a sharp glance.
Nothing she hadn’t expected. Not yet. Nothing bad enough to trigger her 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 man in jeans and a dark gray sweatshirt crouched beside a still form. “ME’s not here yet?” she asked.
Lt. Ryan Foster, her partner from the all-human Riverdale Police Department, 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 handed him one, 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 wouldn’t be notified of an RDPD case unless the Otherworld was involved. Usually that meant vampires or werewolves—the predominant species in town—had run amok.


<![CDATA[Coffee Chat Author Interview: Micki Browning]]>Wed, 05 Jul 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/coffee-chat-author-interview-micki-browningPicture
Welcome to this week's Coffee Chat!

We're talking about books and writing with author Micki Browning, who brought her mystery novel, Adrift.
Before we get started, what may I get you to drink, Micki?

MB:  I start my morning with tea, but when I’m ready to settle down at the computer, I often transition to coffee. My perfect cup is a dark roast, freshly ground, and prepared in a French press. A splash of cream and I’m ready to tackle the words!

Ally: Since I assume you've already had your tea, I'll have that coffee ready in a second--just time enough for you to introduce yourself to readers.

About the Author:
Award-winning author Micki Browning worked in municipal law enforcement for more than two decades and is an FBI National Academy graduate. She retired as a division commander – wonderful fodder for her current career as a full-time writer.
Her mystery, Adrift, set in the Florida Keys, won the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Royal Palm Literary Award for best unpublished mystery and unpublished book of the year. It was released in January 2017 by Alibi- Random House.
Micki also writes short stories and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in dive magazines, anthologies, mystery magazines and textbooks.
Micki resides in Southern Florida with her partner in crime and a vast array of scuba equipment.

Something unusual that isn't in your regular bio: "
I play the Celtic harp, am a wicked-good shot with a traditional longbow, and read Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in Middle English as part of my Medieval Studies degree."

Contacts Links:

Learn more at www.MickiBrowning.com
Like her at Facebook.com/MickiBrowningAuthor
Or follow her @MickiBrowning 


Ally: Tell us about the book you're featuring today.
MB:  Adrift is a traditional mystery that has a thread of paranormal possibility woven throughout. There is a kiss of romance, but it mostly plays off the page.
Ally:  What was your journey to publication, including bumps and missteps?
MB:  I published short stories and articles before I tackled a novel. During my career in law enforcement, I was the department’s Public Information Officer and as such, I wrote press releases, a monthly newspaper column, and was frequently interviewed regarding breaking news stories and special events. In hindsight, that was a lot easier than shepherding a novel to publication.
I’m a firm believer in entering legitimate contests. I had written two novels before I wrote Adrift. The first one will never see the light of day (a very good thing). My second manuscript won an award and generated some very motivational comments. I entered Adrift in the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence for Unpublished Mainstream Mystery/Suspense and won first place. My category was judged by an agent who now represents me--so although I had queried, I connected with my agent through a contest.
Ally:  Let's talk a little about the writing process. How do you choose and name your characters?
MB:  I love naming characters! All my main characters possess names that either have a deeper meaning or that struck me as the only possibility for that character. The origin of Mer’s nickname is revealed in Adrift, Amber Green is colorblind, Selkie derives from an Irish Legend—and his last name means lover of horses. Mer’s last name is horse in Italian. Coincidence? Not a chance.
Ally:  Does your real life show up in your writing? In what ways?
MB:  The extensive training I received throughout my law enforcement career lends authenticity to my writing, regardless of whether I’m writing from the perspective of an amateur sleuth, a police officer, or a crime victim. Aspects of my life show up in my writing: I love to scuba dive, and I’ve lived in the Florida Keys for several years. That said. I don’t write true crime, and I’m always researching something. It’s one of the reasons I love to write. I’m constantly learning.
Ally:  What is your next writing project? Anticipated release date?
MB:  My second Mer Cavallo Mystery, Beached, is finished!
            Marine scientist Meredith Cavallo dreams of a laid-back life as a divemaster in the Florida Keys, but she’s managed to become a suspect in a criminal investigation. Twice.
            On a recent dive, Mer finds a large, plastic-wrapped bundle floating in the waves. By pulling it onboard, she lands in the middle of a storm of historical intrigue involving an obscure legend, an 18th century shipwreck, and a modern pirate who wants to claim the booty first.
            Now, with the help of her captain and the owner of the dive shop, she must find a way to evade the smuggler who wants her dead, and return to something more valuable than gold—a normal life.
It will be released in 2018.
Ally:  Now on a more personal level. If you could have a supernatural power, what would it be and why?
MB:  Oh, I wish I could banish distractions. Ever see the film Up? Yup that’s m--Squirrel!
Ally: And a few quick answer questions...
  • a.  manicure or pedicure? Definitely pedicure. See photo and next question…
  • b.  high heels or sneakers? In Florida, there is only one answer—Flip flops!
  • c.  hiking or sunbathing: Hiking, which really makes me miss living in Colorado.
  • d.  favorite quote: Leap and the net will appear ~ John Burroughs
  • e.  hobbies? Diving—(which also doubles as my favorite “research”).
Ally: Thanks for joining us today, Micki. Let's leave readers with a little information about your mystery novel, Adrift.

Adrift (A Mer Cavallo Mystery)

Marine biologist–turned-divemaster Meredith Cavallo stands accused of a chilling crime after a dive gone wrong. But do the murky circumstances point to an accident, a murder, or a supernatural encounter?

Mer thought adjusting to a laid-back life in the Florida Keys would be a breeze. But when she rescues a floundering diver who claims to have seen a ghost, she’s caught in a storm of intrigue. News of the encounter explodes on social media, attracting a team of ghost hunters who want to capture proof that a greenish ghoul haunts Key Largo’s famed USS Spiegel Grove shipwreck.

Meredith knows the wreck inside and out, and agrees to act as their safety diver. When Ishmael, the charismatic leader of the group, vanishes during a midnight dive, everyone except Mer is convinced the ghost has claimed another victim. Topside, the tenacious detective in charge of the investigation finds Mer’s involvement in both incidents suspicious, and her enigmatic neighbor resurrects ghosts from her past.

Determined to find a rational explanation, Mer approaches Ishmael’s disappearance as any scientist would—by asking questions, gathering data, and deducing the truth. But the victim’s life is as shrouded in mystery as his disappearance. Still, something happened under the water and before long, she’s in over her head. When someone tries to kill her, she knows the truth is about to surface. Maybe dead men do tell tales.

Buy Links:

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Adrift-Cavallo-Mystery-Micki-Browning-ebook/dp/B01CBLUS7A 

<![CDATA[Independence Day, the Fourth of July]]>Tue, 04 Jul 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/independence-day-the-fourth-of-july

John F. Kennedy reading the Declaration of Independence

Celine Dion sings God Bless American