<![CDATA[Ally Shields, Author - Blog]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 18:36:53 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Have a Cuppa Tea with Mystery Author Marni Graff]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 05:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/have-a-cuppa-tea-with-mystery-author-marni-graffPicture
Happy Wednesday, booklovers!

It's time for our weekly book talk, and this week's guest is author Marni Graff. Welcome, Marni! How do you take your coffee?

MKG:  When I drink coffee, it’s either black if it’s good coffee, or with milk and sweetener. I usually drink tea, hot in the morning and iced during the day, and depending on the blend, it is with sweetner and either lemon or milk. Nothing like a wee cuppa to get me going!
Ally: Then a cuppa tea it will be! While I pour, please introduce yourself to readers.

About the Author:
Marni Graff writes The Nora Tierney English Mysteries, featuring an American writer living in England with a nose for murder, as well as The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries, based on Graff’s real work as a medical consultant for a movie studio. She is Managing Editor of Bridle Path Press, a member of Sisters in Crime, and writes crime book reviews at www.auntiemwrites.com
Something unique/unusual that isn't in your regular bio: "I adore jigsaw puzzles! In fall and winter I usually have one in progress. My husband made me different sized working frames with built up sides, so I can move one in-progress from the end of our large dining table to the coffee table until they’re done. Some of my favorite ones are glued and framed and brighten up the stairwell to our guest rooms upstairs. I find them incredibly useful for working out plot points. As I concentrate on finding just the right piece, I’m using the mental time to play the “What if?” games writers love."
Contact the Author:
She can be reached at: bluevirgin.graff@gmail.com; @GraffMarni on Twitter, or through www.bridlepathpress.com.

Ally:  When readers open one of your books, what will they find?
MKG:  Mystery, a mix of amateur sleuth and police procedural, and while there is a hint of romance in a few, you are always left at the bedroom door!
Ally: I'm always interested in how other authors work. What is your writing schedule like?
MKG:  I live in a very rural area of North Carolina at a river that is part of the Intracoastal Waterway. It’s lovely and secluded and filled with nature. It’s also an 18 mile round trip to the post office because they don’t deliver to our house at the end of a dirt road! But it’s a peaceful haven for any writer, and our family always has at least one dog to walk along the shore whilst thinking of storylines. I write in the afternoons once Seamus, our young Aussie Doodle, is exercised and the housework and errands are done, probably five days a week, but any consistent five days, just according to our schedules. I have at least two more Noras planned and three more Trudys as it stands now. One current goal for me is to return to England next summer. I’d like to attend St. Hilda’s Mystery and Crime Conference for the third time and then stay to do setting research for future Noras in Cambridge, Scotland and Cornwall. I’ve just submitted a NC Arts Council grant application for help with that, so fingers crossed!
Ally:  Tell us about your main character Nora and why readers should care about her.
MKG:  Nora Tierney is an American writer from Connecticut who moved to England when she was transferred by the magazine she worked for as an editor, “People and Places” but she’s quit that to focus on the children’s book series she writes. The second one has just been published in THE GOLDEN HOUR and she travels to Bath to do her first reading and signing in a real bookshop there, Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, whose owner, Nic Bottomley, appears in the book and who is so happy with the final novel that he’s selling it in his shop!
Nora has an insatiable appetite for information honed by her journalism skills that gives her a nose for investigating when crime is near her. She lost her father as a teen to a drowning accident and has carried guilt for years over not accepting his invitation to go sailing with him, feeling she might have been able to save him. It took her years to let her guard down and fall in love with a British biologist, but the relationship floundered and she was on the verge of breaking it off when he was killed in a plane accident—only to find out weeks later she was pregnant with his child. She decided to have the child and has been raising it alone until she met Oxford DI Declan Barnes.
In The Golden Hour the theme revolves around what is family and home, and she and Declan are each deciding how committed their relationship will be. That’s when Declan’s new case, the death of an art conservator, becomes mingled with a stalker harassing Nora, and brings unsuspected jeopardy into their lives.
I think readers will see Nora struggling to be the best Mum she can be to her young son while still trying to carve out a life for herself that includes his best interests, something many can relate to. The little things that real people have to deal with, like a teething baby, are all there. She’s not a superwoman, but a very real woman with a big heart who wants to  do the right thing.
Ally:  Are there animals in your books? What part do they play?
MKG:  I’m a dog lover, so the brother and sister Nora has been living with in Cumbria in the earlier books had a Lakeland terrier named Darby. In the new book, Nora comes across a little beagle when inspecting an Oxford house she’s touring with an eye to renting. The pup is up for adoption, and her young son names him Typo. He’s featured on the cover and will be part of her little family in subsequent books. Who knows how Typo may figure in the next Nora Tierney?
Ally:   How did you choose the title of the book you're featuring?
MKG:  THE GOLDEN HOUR fits my Nora Tierney English Mystery theme of each book having a color in the title and the cover having a color wash in that same tone. The term “Golden Hour” is probably best known to readers as a medical one, when the first hour after a heart attack or stroke is the best way to affect recovery. For artists, it’s that hour before sunset when the earth has a golden glow of twilight. But in a police investigation, it’s the first hour after a reported critical incident, when the best forensic evidence is available, and when any witnesses memories are the clearest and most accurate. At one point, a Bath detective actually describes that meaning to Nora.
Ally:   What is your next writing project? Anticipated release date?
MKG:  I’m working on the second Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery, Death of an Heiress. This time Trudy is the medical consultant to a made-for-TV movie  when the lead actress disappears and murder follows. It’s being filmed in NYC’s famous Dakota, home at one time to John Lennon and still to Yoko Ono, and once host to other celebrities and wealthy residents that included Lauren Bacall, Rudolf Nureyev, Rosemary Clooney and Judy Garland. The filming takes places in what was once Leonard Bernstein’s flat. In reality, The Dakota is notoriously difficult to get into and does not allow filming of any kind, but in Trudy’s world they do! That one should take about 18 months to be in print.
Ally:  A love short answer questions to get to know people better. Are you ready?
  • a. favorite book: Daphne Du Maurier’s REBECCA; plus most Golden Agers.
  • b. book you're currently reading: Val McDermid’s INSIDIOUS INTENT, from her Carol Jordan/Tony Hill series. I adore McDermid’s work and read all of her series.
  • c. manicure or pedicure: Pedicure! I type too much to keep polish on my fingers! But I do like color on my toenails and try to keep it there, although with three back surgeries in the past few years, I seldom do it myself, so a pedicure is a lovely treat.
  • d. favorite tv show: All of Masterpiece Mystery, esp. Grantchester, Endeavour and Dr. Blake.
  • e. favorite movie: The Philadelphia Story with Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and Jimmy
  • Stewart. Love them together. Big fan of black/white movies from the 30s/40s.
Ally: Lovely having a spot of tea with you, Marni! I hope you'll visit again. Before you take off to plan that England trip (I'm green with envy, BTW!), please show us The Golden Hour and where we can get it.


The Golden Hour
Genre: English mystery
Back Cover:
From the award-winning author of three previous Nora Tierney English Mysteries comes her most chilling novel to date.
Nora Tierney’s move from Cumbria back to Oxford means house-hunting with her partner, DI Declan Barnes, but she can’t shake the feeling she has a stalker. Declan’s case, the death of an art conservator, brings international concerns. How these overlap when Nora heads to Bath for her first bookstore event will find her fighting to save her child and the family she’s trying to create.
What reviewers are saying:
"Nora Tierney tackles her most complex and captivating mystery yet." Elly Griffiths
"One of the best things about Marni Graff’s latest Nora Tierney mystery, The Golden Hour, is the down-to-earth depiction of family life coupled with the tightly paced build of a twisty, time-honored puzzle. A meditation on love, loss and motherhood, The Golden Hour blends touchingly real domesticity with tongue-in-cheek humor, as the backdrop to a tale of art theft, germ warfare, and international conspiracy. The reflections of a reprehensible villain on the shortcomings of the British add just the right note of comedy to these otherwise weighty concerns. Added to this is a wonderful sense of place—Bath, Brighton, and Oxford are vividly rendered and charmingly true to life. Come for the crackling mystery, stay for the steady companionship of debonair detective Declan Barnes and feisty heroine, Nora Tierney, who offers warmth and smarts in equal measure."  Ausma Zehanat Khan, Among the Ruins, The Unquiet Dead
"The Golden Hour is a compulsive read with a narrative that both charms and surprises. I love Nora Tierney and can't wait to see what happens next." Sarah Ward, The DC Childs Mysteries
Buy Links:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2vabUMJ  ( trade paperback, Kindle and Audible)
Bridle Path Press for autographed copies: http://bridlepathpress.com

<![CDATA[Mystery Author Marilyn Meredith: Forty Books Later...]]>Wed, 11 Oct 2017 05:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/mystery-author-marilyn-meredith-forty-books-laterPicture
Happy Wednesday, Booklovers!

It's a little cool in the Midwest today, and hot coffee tastes especially good this morning. Draw up a chair and join me in chatting with mystery writer Marilyn Meredith.
A pleasure to see you, Marilyn. What may I get you to drink?

MM:  My morning drink is Chai latte that I make myself on my Keurig. When out and about, I might choose something else.

Ally: I'll fix that latte while you introduce yourself to readers.

About the Author:

Marilyn Meredith’s published book count is nearing 40. She is one of the founding members of the San Joaquin chapter of Sister in Crime. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, and was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taught at many writers’ conferences. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra, a place with many similarities to Tempe Crabtree’s patrol area.
Something unusual not included in your regular bio: "Besides being a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, I’m also a great-great grandmother! I’m truly blessed."
Author Contacts:
Webpage: http://fictionforyou.com  
Blog: http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/
And you can follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marilyn.meredith or Twitter: http://twitter.com/MarilynMeredith


Ally: Let's start by talking about your writing process. Do you set daily goals?
MM:  My usual plan is to write in the early morning hours, however if the writing is going really well, I’ll write whenever I have time. Though I don’t consider myself a plotter, I have a good idea where I’m headed before I begin and have decided who my victim will be, the suspects, and usually the manner of the murder as well as the setting or settings.
I keep handwritten notes that include character names, descriptions, and most importantly, a timeline.
I don’t set number of words goals like some authors do, I just write until I have to stop. However, because I write two books a year (two different series), I know I have to keep at it.
Ally:  What comes after your first draft? How much editing do you do?
MM:  I belong to a critique group, the same one I’ve belonged to for years. They hear every chapter of every book, and I consider them my first editor. Though I don’t always do exactly what they suggest, I take every suggestion to heart. I usually fix the chapter the next day. The editing is continuous.
Once the book is done and I’ve gone over it several times to make sure it’s the best I can make it, I send it off to the publisher who assigns the manuscript to an editor. The editor then will go over it and send it back with corrections and suggestions. Once I’ve fixed it again, it goes back to the publisher, the editor goes over it again. I’ll be sent the proof copy to check for typos and other errors. I always print out this copy to make sure I catch as much as I can. I send back a list of what I’ve found—then the book is off to publication.
Ally:  Since characters are the heart of any story, how do you choose and name them?
MM:  Because I’m writing a series, I have some ongoing characters who were named long ago. Tempe Crabtree was my great-grandmother’s name and I thought it fit the Indian woman I envisioned as my heroine. Frankly, I don’t remember what prompted her husband, Hutch’s name, except that it’s short for his last name, Hutchinson. Tempe’s good friend and mentor’s name, Nick Two John, just came to me. As for new characters’ names, over the years I’ve saved graduation programs giving me a great source for both first and last names.
Ally: What is your best marketing tip? What didn't work out for you?
MM:  Being friendly to everyone and never judging someone by how they look. I’ve sold books to the most unsavory looking folks because I smiled and chatted with them. I’ve been invited to give talks to various groups for the same reason. At big mystery cons I’ve sought out the readers to get acquainted with rather than the other writers and gained some fans that way. Of course I do all the usual, Facebook, Twitter, my blog and a blog tour for each new book, and a monthly newsletter.
Though I continue to do book store signings, they are not my first choice of promotion. I do like to find other venues for book signings, planning one for a chocolate store. How fun is that?
Ally:  Have you thought about one of your books being made into a movie? Who would play the parts?
MM:  I’ve had many readers tell me that my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series would make a great TV series. If that should ever happen, I would want all the Indian characters to actually be played by Native Americans.
Ally:  What is your next writing project? Anticipated release date?
MM:  I’m working on my next Rocky Bluff P.D. police procedural right now. I suspect it’ll be out sometime after the first of the year. And I do have the idea for the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery—the ideas for that are beginning to churn in my subconscious.
Ally: Let's talk about you in these short answer questions.
a. Favorite TV show:  Blue Bloods
b. Do you believe in love at first sight?  I believe in attraction and infatuation at first sight. I met my husband, a very cute sailor, on a blind date and married him a very short time later. I certainly thought I was in love, but true love didn’t come until later. And yes, I’m still married to him after 64 years.
c. Favorite quote:  “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” (It’s also my mantra)
d. Your pets:  We have lots, two inside cats, Butch and Sundance. Many feral outside cats that I have not named, my husband’s pets. One dog, Bo.  Because we live in the country and our granddaughter and her family live with us, there are many other animals here: a miniature horse named Sparky, the kids’ dog, Cowboy, chickens and a rooster, and some ducks.
e. A guilty pleasure:  Going out to eat. Because I am the chief cook around here (I like to cook and I only know how to cook for a crowd), it’s a real treat to go to a nice restaurant and eat something that I didn’t make.
Ally: Always a pleasure to have you, Marilyn, and to learn about the newest Deputy Tempe. Speaking of which...please tell us about A Cold Death.


A Cold Death:
Genre: Mystery, rated G
Deputy Tempe Crabtree and her husband answer the call for help with unruly guests visiting a closed summer camp during a huge snow storm and are trapped there along with the others. One is a murderer and another is a ghost.

BUY Links:
Publisher: Anyone who orders any of my books from the publisher‘s website: http://mundania.com
can get 10% off by entering MP20 coupon code in the shopping cart. This is good all the time for all my books, E-books and print books.
On Amazon:

P.S. You also might want to check out Marilyn's cookbook!
Find it Here!

<![CDATA[Friendly Monsters Invade the Coffee Chat!]]>Wed, 04 Oct 2017 05:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/friendly-monsters-invade-the-coffee-chatPicture

Welcome, Booklovers!

It's a sure sign that Halloween is coming soon when monsters are invited to the blog. At least these are friendly. Hmm. I think so. The barforami are characters created by Kath Boyd Marsh, an author of middle grade fantasy.
I wonder where they are? I guess I better look for them. (Exits)

  * * * * *

“Hello! Is anyone here?” Bubbles looks over at his friend Smush when no one answers.
“I told you we were early.” Smush adjusts her hat and looks around the author’s office. “You know she writes paranormal mysteries. I’ve read all of them.”
“Why would anyone write not-normal mysteries?” Bubbles waddles over to a bookcase and pulls out a book about a witch who is a guardian. “I like the sound of this one. Moire Ain is a wizard, so a book about a witch—”
“Paranormal means ghosts and witches and elves.” Bubbles pulls out three books with handsome elves on them, and three more with the word Ghost in the titles.
“Ghosts! I don’t believe in them. Elves are cool.” Bubbles paces to the window and looks out. As he does a small black and tan dog enters the room. “Hi. Are you Ally Shields?”
The dog snorts, edges Bubbles away from the cushy footstool in front of the window, jumps up, and sits on it in the sun light. Smush laughs. “You are silly, Bubbles. Ally is a human.”
“I am indeed.” A woman much taller than the hippo-like Barforami enters the room and extends her hand. “I’m so glad you came. Hmm. I don't suppose you think coffee?”
Bubbles nods then shakes his large head. Silent for once in his life, Smush pushes him aside and speaks, “He’s in awe. He doesn’t know any real life authors. You’ve written a lot of books!”
“You’re very kind.  But he already knows an author--rather well in fact--and I think readers want to hear about the two books Kath has written about you.”
“Yes!” Smush follows Ally over to her desk, where Ally turns on her computer and opens an ebook program. Smush points. “That’s our first ebook, Closet Monsters!”
Ally grins at them. “It is. You guys are funny.”
Bubbles ambles over and peers over Smush’s shoulder. “That one’s about our first big visit to Dr’gon Wiz. The school.”
“Quite an adventure…” Ally begins.
“You have no idea!” Smush says. “Bubbles swore we’d never go back after that. Even if we did get invited to a party. I love parties. Do you know why?”
Ally smiles again. “Could it have something to do with wearing fancy hats?”
“She made me go back so she could wear a hat to the Halloween party,” Bubbles says, shaking his head in disgust.
“That was in your second ebook, Trick or Treats.” Ally touches the computer screen and the orange book cover pops into view.
“He complains a lot, but if it weren’t for me he wouldn’t—” Smush begins, but Bubbles interrupts her.
“Don’t tell! Kath said we were not to tell the stories or no one would buy our books, and then how are you going to buy that roll of golden ribbon for your new hat?”
Smush sits back, passes a chubby paw over her mouth as if zippering it shut, and shakes her head. “OK. Not telling.”
Ally laughs. “I understand. But let me ask…are your books about real adventures or does Scribe Kath make them up?”
The pair of Barforami stare at her. “Make them up? Who makes up books?”
Smush cocks her head in surprise. “Your books? Made up or real?”
Before Ally can answer, Bubbles jumps up. “We have to go.”
Startled, Ally says, “I’m sorry if I offended you. I have more questions.”
Smush nods. “Kath said to be polite. Bubbles has to go, but I can stay.”
“He has to go?” Ally sounds disappointed.
“Yep. He ate too many water weeds. You don’t want him hanging around. I promise.”
Bubbles backs out quickly. “I’ll wait for you by the little pond out front.”
“No!” Smush yells. “You can’t use a real live author’s pond for …” She looks at Ally, her eyes wide. “I think it’s an emergency. Is it okay? Can he use your pond? He’ll only fart. I promise. But Bubbles, well his bubbles… Better if they’re under water. They’ll dissipate sooner or later.”
With one hand pressed to her mouth, Ally looks down at a piece of neatly numbered paper. “I had a list of questions.” She seems to be choking, but Smush looks closer and realizes Ally is trying not to laugh at Bubbles.
“He is pretty funny. It’s okay to laugh,” Smush says and giggles.

Ally shakes her head, with one hand still pressed to her mouth, her eyes twinkling. “Just one more question I have to ask. Do you have any new books coming up?”
“Well, Scribe Kath is working on a Yuletide adventure we had. And there’s a hat-tastrophe.  And something about Blue Mushrooms. I think she’s writing up a lot of our adventures. We’ll see. She’s also working on writing up what Cl’rnce’s sister and her wizard did. You won’t believe—“
The little dog Ranger, facing the front garden through the window starts barking. Ally looks up and Smush trots over to the window. Bubbles is in the pond, sitting with a grin on his face. But all around his head, flying in formation were more stink-wasps than Smush had ever seen.
“Uh oh. He’s going to swat one of those stinkers, and we’ll  have another adventure. Bye!”
The little Barforamous waddled quickly out of the house and to the pond. She grabbed one of Bubbles’ long ears and yanked. He jumped out, and as the two hurried away, Smush waved one last time to Ally and Ranger from their position at the office window.

Check out Bubbles and Smush's adventures...

Closet Monsters Blurb:

Bubbles and Smush are two medium sized monsters living in the river near WizTech, a school for wizards, dr'gons, and knights. When their favorite dr'gon goes missing, the two sneak into the school to find their lost friend, causing chaos every place they look. Will Bubbles and Smush find Cl'rnce, or is their friend gone for good?
Opening lines: Closet Monsters:
"Smush, get down! Drop the weeds. Get down!" Bubbles hissed at his cousin. "Dr'gons!"   Smush's head jerked up, and her newest river-reed woven hat flopped into the river alongside the river weeds that dropped out of her mouth. She slipped just under the surface of the water and swam toward a pool three yards up the river.

Trick or Treats Blurb:

Bubbles and Smush are two medium sized monsters living in the river near WizTech, a school for wizards, dr'gons, and knights. The two friends are thrilled when their dr'gon friend Cl'rnce invites them to the Halloween party at the school. However, they need costumes, and this makes Bubbles wonder: what would he like to be in the future?
Opening lines: Trick or Treats:
Without opening his eyes, Bubbles snapped at something, crunchy and smelling of slightly dried river weed that was bumping his nose. “Yum!” he said, not bothering to open his eyes. “Snacking while napping!” He choked it back up when Smush screeched, “Don’t you dare eat my new hat!”

Buy Links:

Amazon:        Closet Monsters:  http://amzn.to/2xIftwO      ~     Trick or Treats:  http://amzn.to/2hzVhaJ
Apple:             Closet Monsters:  http://apple.co/2fU8gQV  ~     Trick or Treats:  http://apple.co/2fUtMVP
B&N:                Closet Monsters:  http://bit.ly/2wnlxYi           ~     Trick or Treats: http://bit.ly/2yxLwgB
Chapters/ Indigo:  Closet Monsters:  http://bit.ly/2hyAlRz   ~    Trick or Treats:   http://bit.ly/2fuUxPL
Kobo:               Closet Monsters:  http://bit.ly/2k5XGL9          ~    Trick or Treats:  http://bit.ly/2k5Xewy

Publisher CBAY:  www.cbaybooks.blog/

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- the ‘PB.’ 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 Rhode Island house. The Lazy Dr’gon and the Bumblespells Wizard was her debut novel. She has one prior published short story in the Dragons and Witches anthology (http://amzn.to/2xSnwre).
Author Contacts:
Author Website: kathboydmarshauthor.com
Letters from the Earth blog:  https://kath-lettersfromearth.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/kathboydmarsh/
Twitter: @Kmarshfen  

Read more about Kath and her debut novel in an October 2016 blog interview HERE.

Thanks for visiting with us! Come back soon...

<![CDATA[New MG Short Stories by Kath Boyd Marsh]]>Sun, 01 Oct 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/new-mg-short-stories-by-kath-boyd-marshNew Releases! Just in time for the coming holidays!

Closet Monsters Blurb:

Bubbles and Smush are two medium sized monsters living in the river near WizTech, a school for wizards, dr'gons, and knights. When their favorite dr'gon goes missing, the two sneak into the school to find their lost friend, causing chaos every place they look. Will Bubbles and Smush find Cl'rnce, or is their friend gone for good?
Opening lines: Closet Monsters:
"Smush, get down! Drop the weeds. Get down!" Bubbles hissed at his cousin. "Dr'gons!"   Smush's head jerked up, and her newest river-reed woven hat flopped into the river alongside the river weeds that dropped out of her mouth. She slipped just under the surface of the water and swam toward a pool three yards up the river.

Trick or Treats Blurb:

Bubbles and Smush are two medium sized monsters living in the river near WizTech, a school for wizards, dr'gons, and knights. The two friends are thrilled when their dr'gon friend Cl'rnce invites them to the Halloween party at the school. However, they need costumes, and this makes Bubbles wonder: what would he like to be in the future?
Opening lines: Trick or Treats:
Without opening his eyes, Bubbles snapped at something, crunchy and smelling of slightly dried river weed that was bumping his nose. “Yum!” he said, not bothering to open his eyes. “Snacking while napping!” He choked it back up when Smush screeched, “Don’t you dare eat my new hat!”

Buy Links:

Amazon:          Closet Monsters:  http://amzn.to/2xIftwO   ~     Trick or Treats:  http://amzn.to/2hzVhaJ
Apple:             Closet Monsters:  http://apple.co/2fU8gQV  ~     Trick or Treats:  http://apple.co/2fUtMVP
B&N:              Closet Monsters:  http://bit.ly/2wnlxYi             ~     Trick or Treats: http://bit.ly/2yxLwgB
Chapters/ Indigo:  Closet Monsters:  http://bit.ly/2hyAlRz   ~    Trick or Treats:   http://bit.ly/2fuUxPL
Kobo:              Closet Monsters:  http://bit.ly/2k5XGL9          ~    Trick or Treats:  http://bit.ly/2k5Xewy

Publisher CBAY:  https://www.cbaybooks.blog/www.cbaybooks.blog/

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- the ‘PB.’ 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 Rhode Island house. The Lazy Dr’gon and the Bumblespells Wizard was her debut novel. She has one prior published short story in the Dragons and Witches anthology (http://amzn.to/2xSnwre).
Author Contacts:
Author Website: kathboydmarshauthor.com
Letters from the Earth blog:  https://kath-lettersfromearth.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/kathboydmarsh/
Twitter: @Kmarshfen

<![CDATA[Cozy Mystery Southern Style: Author Interview with Loretta Wheeler]]>Wed, 27 Sep 2017 05:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/cozy-mystery-southern-style-author-interview-with-loretta-wheelerPicture
What a terrific fall day in the Midwest!
It's n
ice to see so many booklovers here today. This week's guest on the Coffee Chat is Southern writer Loretta Wheeler. And she has a giveaway of her featured book!
Good morning, Loretta. How do you take your coffee?

LW: Usually, I have coffee with hazelnut creamer and then dust it with cinnamon on top.

Ally: While I pour the coffee, please tell readers about yourself and your giveaway.

LW: I'll start with the Giveaway.  If readers post comments to this chat, I'll select a random entry to receive a free Kindle copy of Southern Breezes: The Verandah. Easy, right? The winner will be announced next  Monday, so entries will cut off at 10 p.m. CDT, Sunday, Oct. 1. Of course, your comments are still appreciated at any time!
As for me, keep reading...

Loretta Wheeler lives in the south along with her Australian husband, their cat Lil’ Dickens, and their dogs, Jack and Charmin’. All their pets are rescued fur-persons who are very much loved.

Most of Loretta’s writing is set in southern locales, whether in the thriller or romance genre. She says she writes of southern things because most of her stories speak to her in a southern accent. Something she recognizes easily since her own is so strong.

Something unique/unusual not in your regular bio: " I had to sit and think about this. I mean, there’s only so much you want to disclose of your hidden self, right? Lol.
I’m not sure if I elaborate often on the fact that I do some voice-over work. I’ve had some training and I did a couple of commercials while I lived in Australia. I also have a trailer on which I do the narrative for The Verandah."

Author contacts:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/WheelerLoretta/
FB Personal Page: https://www.facebook.com/loretta.wheeler2
Twitter: @LorettaWheeler
Website: www.lorettawheeler.com


Ally:  We know you write books with a Southern flavor, but what genre is Southern Breezes: The Verandah?

LW:  It is a cozy mystery with romantic and paranormal elements.  The heat rating for it is low. No elaborative sexual content.
Ally:  Tell us about your main character and why the reader should care about him or her.

LW:  The main characters in The Verandah are, Shelby Alexander, Boone Dawson and the dog, Charmin’. And just to keep it interesting, two other characters who all but steal the show are the ghosts who make themselves a part of Shelby’s life, whether she’s ready for it or not.
Even though Shelby’s highly successful at this point in her life and career, she’s had a rough time getting there. She was married to a high profile actor who cheated on her publicly and now she deals with paparazzi continuously. Especially since she’s hit the New York Times list and has a Hollywood producer interested in her books. She has a hard time trusting men, especially gorgeous types, but even more than that, she now doubts her own instincts.  So, when gorgeous-guy, Boone Dawson shows up on her doorstep, accompanied by a lop-eared dog, all her alarms go off. Boone has a hard time getting his foot in the door, literally and figuratively, but Charmin’, in his usual charming style, barges right in, stealing her heart. (Charmin’ makes his first appearance in the novella, Christmas on the Strand, which is the beginning of the Southern Breezes series.)

Ally:  What was your journey to publication, including bumps and missteps?

LW:  I had a strange journey to publication. When I moved to Australia, I had the opportunity to finish a book I’d been writing in the states. After completing it, I wrote a short story, literally in an afternoon, titled Dark Pleasures. When my husband and I unexpectedly moved back to the U.S., I searched for a writers group in the Houston area. I was quickly embraced by The Final Twist and had the thing happen that most writer’s dream of. I was asked if I had a short story that I would like to submit for consideration in their anthology. I submitted Dark Pleasures (amazingly it fit the word count along with the other criteria) and the editor took it immediately. It’s available now as a stand-alone short story on Amazon. I’ll reiterate, it is very short, per request for the anthology, and leaves you with an ambiguous ending.

Ally:  Readers are often interested in process. How do you choose and name your characters?

LW:  The locale of the story and the nature of the characters helps me select their names. I also run a search on names pertaining to the storyline, such as Louisiana, 1800s common names. Usually one or two will grab me. But once in awhile, I know my character’s names immediately.

Ally:  You mentioned Charmin'. Do you frequently have animals in your books? What part do they play?

LW:  Yes, I usually include animals, and they play a strong part in the storyline. In The Verandah there is a dog named Charmin’, it’s short for Prince Charming. He was nicknamed this by the hero, Boone Dawson. Charmin’ was the town dog, in Christmas on the Strand, loved by all, but in The Verandah, he picks his owner, finding Shelby Alexander to be just the right fit. Of course, he’d really love it if Shelby and Boone lived together, then he could have both of his favorite people under one roof.

Ally:  How did you choose the title of this book?

LW:  I chose the title, The Verandah, because verandahs play a big part in southern culture. We’re often found sitting on verandahs or patios. And since Shelby has moved into her new place, a lot of activity occurs on her verandah. Of course, this is the house she spent many summers in when she was a girl, so she knows something or someone has always had a presence on the verandah. In this story, she’s going to become quite involved with that presence, who feels very male to her.

Ally:  What is your next writing project? Anticipated release date?

LW:  Following The Verandah, The Siren’s Shop will be releasing in the spring of 2018. If the Southern Breezes Series keeps blowing in the right way, (slowing down from the fevered pitch of hurricanes), The Siren’s Shop may release in the winter of 2017) We’ve just finished going through Harvey here in Houston and it slowed me down a little with my writing agenda. Should you happen to read The Verandah and want a bit more of the town and its people, Christmas on the Strand is the first story in the Southern Breezes series, and sets the scene for the people in the town. There is also a short story following The Verandah, titled, Siren’s Call which gives you a closer glimpse of Michael, who is a secondary character in The Verandah. Siren’s Call is more sensuous, though, so a head’s up on that. The heat level climbs significantly in it.

Ally: I've chosen a few short answer questions so readers can get to know you.
  • a. book you're currently reading: I’m currently reading an ARC of the book, The Mortician’s Daughter, by CC Hunter. I’m one of her reviewers who receive ARC’s (Advance Release Copies) for review.
  • b. an author (living or dead) you'd love to take to lunch:  Okay now, I’m giving you a few, because I’ve been reading them for years. Mark Twain is one, because he’s so much more than an author. He’s a philosopher, with a lot of wisdom packed on his pages and in his mind. Stephen King, because in my opinion, King is one of the best. Then, there’s Anne Rice, whom I’ve met, exchanged a few emails with and Dean Koontz. I love that Koontz incorporates animals in his stories.
  • c. an item on your bucket list: You know, I’m not sure I have a bucket list. I’ve done a lot of things I wanted to do. I guess if there’s one place I’d like to go, it would be Venice. It attracts me. Then, France does also. I think I’d like to stand inside the Eiffel Tower.
  • d. color of nail polish you're wearing: Pink. I think it’s one of those things I’m going to wear to the grave lol. I love pink. I do wear some nudes though. I’m blonde, so I tend to stay with pastels.
  • e. Your pets: My cat, who I rescued, is named Lil’ Dickens. He’s a BIG fur baby, weighing in at 18 lbs. He’s sweet as sugar, fuzzy and has turquoise eyes that are highlighted by his mask.  And we have two other rescued babies. Jack, our large dog that John found when he was a pup, lying on an old shoe on the side of the road. He’s around 75 pounds now, and oddly enough, he’s a North Carolina Dingo. John’s an Aussie, so him finding a type of Dingo on the side of the road was a bit “meant.” Then we have a small dog that John found as a six week old pup. He was scruffy and has a lop-ear, and even though he’s much smaller than the dog Charmin’, in the Southern Breezes series, we named him Charmin’.
  • f. What are your hobbies? Reading, I think most authors read like crazy, and decorating. Lord help me, I love frou-frou! I also like to attend the theater.
Ally:  You'll have to have a dinner party for all those luncheon guests, and you should prepare for a lot of readers to join you! :) Thanks for visiting the blog today, Loretta. Good luck with all your books. Before you go, please tell us more about The Verandah. I love the cover!

Southern Breezes: THE VERANDAH

Genre: cozy mystery with romantic and paranormal elements


It’s spring on Galveston Island, and everything’s running full tilt. Spring breakers’ swim in high curling waves, turquoise umbrellas line the sand, and the Pleasure Pier is lit like a bejeweled princess, her lights flashing with temptation.

Shelby Alexander, a New York Times Bestselling author, has come back to the island to live. She and her friends came every summer when they were young and daydreamed often of living there when they were grown. Good to their word, all of them have now returned.

But Shelby is finding that even though she’s thrilled to own a part of her Aunt Sookie’s house, the excitement’s only just begun, because a gorgeous guy has also arrived along with a scruffy dog named Charmin’. And fast on their heels is a ghost—a ghost who seems quite comfortable lounging on her verandah, blowing smoke from its cigarette—and who is always, always surrounded by a deliciously, sensuous fragrance.

Book Trailer: 

Buy Link:  https://tinyurl.com/lg7946x

Don't forget: Any comment is an entry to receive this kindle book for FREE!
(cut off time for entries: 10 p.m. CDT, Oct. 1, 2017)
UPDATE: Drawing is complete and winner selected. Congrats to Sandy B.! Thanks to everyone who commented or stopped by to read the chat!

<![CDATA[Meet Children's Author Joyce McPhe´╗┐rson]]>Wed, 20 Sep 2017 05:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/meet-childrens-author-joyce-mcphersonPicture

Welcome to the Wednesday Coffee Chat!
This week's guest is children's author Joyce McPherson, featuring her book The Pandora Device.
It's nice to meet you, Joyce. What may I get you to drink?
JM:  Tea with milk and sugar, please.
Ally: Coming right up! Meanwhile, please introduce yourself to readers.

Joyce McPherson is the author of books for young people. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and teaches for Belhaven University. In the summers she directs Shakespeare productions for young people. She is also the mother of nine children who give her useful advice for her books.
Something unique/unusual that isn't in your regular bio: "When I was twelve, I wrote to all my favorite authors and asked them for advice about being a writer when I grew up. Susan Cooper, Joan Aiken, and several others wrote back, and they all said the same thing—keep reading, experience life, and write, write, write. It’s still good advice today."
Contact the Author:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JoyceMcphersonAuthor/
Twitter Handle: @JoyceMcP
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/67065.Joyce_McPherson
Website: https://mcpclan.wixsite.com/website
Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Joyce-Mcpherson/e/B00665Z6NY

Ally:  Describe your writing process.
JM:  When my second child was born, I told my mother that I planned to write books when my children were grown up, and she said, “Why don’t you start now?” So I did. I got up early each morning and wrote as much as I could before everyone woke up.
When my children were older, I would set the timer for 45 minutes every afternoon, and my kids knew to let me write until the timer went off. I published my first five books as our family grew to nine children.
I still write in short stretches like this. I find that I think about my book between writing sessions, and I can make good progress in 45 minutes.
For my friends who want to write but don’t have the time, I suggest setting a realistic goal like 20-45 minutes and sticking to this schedule day after day. I also find that rewriting takes about three times as long as the original draft, so don’t get discouraged when a project takes a long time. In the end, you will be glad that you committed to a little time every day.
Ally: What is your favorite leisure-time activity (non-writing)?
JM:   Traveling with family. I love visiting new places and talking about their history, art, and the many fascinating stories connected with them. There is something awe-inspiring about tracing a Roman wall that is thousands of years old or standing eye-to-eye with a gargoyle on an ancient cathedral.
Ally:  Which of your books is your personal favorite? Why?
JM:  It’s hard to choose a favorite, but if pressed, I would say The Dickens Connection, which is third in the series begun by The Pandora Device. It combines my love of travel (it takes place in England) with the memory of many of my children’s favorite pastimes—vintage dancing, Shakespeare quoting, and drinking tea with scones. It’s inspired by some of my favorite British authors—Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Austen, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—who founded the British version of Camp Hawthorne.
Ally:  How did you choose the title of the book you're featuring?
JM:  The Camp Hawthorne series takes place at a camp founded long ago by Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was one of the first authors to re-tell Greek myths for young people in English. The title of The Pandora Device was inspired by one of his stories about Pandora’s box. The box, once opened, released all the evils of the world. You will have to read The Pandora Device to discover why this particular device was so dangerous.
Ally:  Tell us about your next writing project? Anticipated release date?
JM:  I’m writing a Camp Hawthorne Christmas story for a winter anthology of YA and children’s fiction (Winter Wonder) coming out soon. It’s a rare glimpse of Stella and her friends back home in their neighborhood, and there’s a mystery to solve!
Ally:  Let's get to know you with a few short answer questions.
  • a.  Favorite book: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
  • b.  Book you're currently reading: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
  • c.  An author (living or dead) you'd love to take to lunch: C.S. Lewis
  • d.  Favorite quote: “That’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.” ~from Saving Mr. Banks
  • e.  What comes to you first - character or plot? Character!
Ally:  Thanks for having coffee with us, Joyce. Good luck with your books. And speaking of which,  let's take a look at The Pandora Device.


The Pandora Device (Camp Hawthorne Book One)
Genre: MG/fantasy
Camp Hawthorne has a secret—it was founded by Nathaniel Hawthorne and his author friends over 150 years ago to protect and train kids with special powers. 

Stella learns about the camp when she searches for clues about her parents, and soon the camp’s secret draws her into extraordinary possibilities she never knew existed. Despite warnings to leave the past alone, she uncovers a mystery linked to her parents. Now she must decide how much she will risk to find the truth.

"THE PANDORA DEVICE is filled with all the ingredients one needs for a rollicking adventure: mad scientists, special powers, a desperate search for missing parents, and...American History? Who knew! Joyce McPherson has created a world at Camp Hawthorne that you will not soon forget, and probably wish you'd attended." -David Yoo, author of THE DETENTION
Buy Link:


UPDATE (9/21/17): Joyce is running an Amazon giveaway this week. You might win a free copy to read or giveaway! The holidays are coming! Enter here: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/e7eb77aa3d90bf90

<![CDATA[Free Print Copies of Embers of Fire!]]>Fri, 15 Sep 2017 22:23:39 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/free-print-copies-of-embers-of-fireDon't miss the Goodreads' Giveaway of three print copies
of my most recent release,
Embers of Fire (Guardian Witch Legacy #1)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Embers of Fire by Ally Shields

Embers of Fire

by Ally Shields

Giveaway ends October 15, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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
Excerpt:  Opening lines
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
“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 constant 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, working with him for eight years meant she trusted his gut feelings almost as much as her magic.

If you don't want to wait for the giveaway to be over, here are the 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/

<![CDATA[You're Invited to Coffee with YA Fantasy Author DG Driver]]>Wed, 13 Sep 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/youre-invited-to-coffee-with-ya-fantasy-author-dg-driverPicture
Welcome, Booklovers!

Author DG Driver is visiting the Coffee Chat this week, and we're featuring her YA urban fantasy, Echo of the Cliffs.
Good morning, DG. How do you take your coffee?

DG:  I use a packet of Splenda and some hazelnut creamer. I pretty much always drink it from a coffee tumbler on my way to work. On the weekends I drink it while I watch the morning news or CBS Sunday Morning. I sip at it slowly and distractedly, so it is often cold before I’m done.

 Ally: Hmm. Cold coffee isn't the best, so maybe we'll put a magic spell on it to keep it warm during our chat. While I discuss this with my magic pot, please introduce yourself to readers.

D. G. Driver is a multi-award-winning author of middle grade and young adult books. She loves to write about diverse characters dealing with social or environmental issues. In addition to writing, she is a teacher at an early intervention childhood development center in Nashville. She is also an actress and singer and can often be found performing in a local musical theater production with one or more members of her talented family.
Something unique/unusual that isn't in your regular bio: " I like to crochet. I taught myself when I was younger because I had a hard time being still and quieting my thoughts. I made hats and sweaters and wore them when I used to be a folk singer at coffee houses in California. It was my “look”. Then I got Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. So, now I only do it occasionally because I can get super obsessed with it and hurt my wrists. Then I can’t type my stories, so it’s a lose-lose situation. I’d been slowly making a mermaid tail blanket for over a year, and I finally gave up on it when my stepdaughters bought me one already made. Sometimes I think about finishing it just because I don’t like to leave things unfinished."
Contact the Author:


Ally:  What were your steps to publication, including what worked and what didn't?
DG:  I first got published back in 1994 – a short story in a literary magazine. My career is one of small bumps of success, rather than those big leaps some authors get. I’ve had stories in magazines and anthologies. Articles in websites and periodicals. I’ve had a couple original plays produced. I’ve published nonfiction books with a scholastic press for libraries, and I had a whole run of middle grade books published and then go out of print when the publisher went out of business. Most of my current books have won awards. It has definitely been a writing career where I get just enough jolts to let me know I’m not foolish to pursue this dream. Every time I want to quit, something new happens as if to say, “Hang in there.” The Juniper Sawfather Novels are published by Fire and Ice Young Adult Books. I found a listing for them in a periodical that I get that lists a few publishers or agents per issue. They accepted Cry of the Sea back in 2013, and I’ve now published several projects with them. I will continue to work with them, but I am still working toward getting an agent.
Ally:   Talk about your main character and what makes her so interesting.
DG:  Juniper Sawfeather has just turned eighteen at the start of book three of this series. She is a headstrong, stubborn young woman who has been taught by her environmental activist parents to care about the environment and stand up for what is right. She’s very smart, top of her class, but her exploits have gotten her in trouble with the school’s vice principal, and she has been forced to drop out of school for the last semester. June encounters mythical creatures and magic, and many people think she’s a fake and a liar. She has a small group that stands behind her: her parents, her boyfriend Carter, her friend Haley, and a rogue reporter named Juarez. Two of these people go missing in book three. I won’t say which two, but she is desperate to find them. If she can locate the final piece of the American Indian legend she now knows to be true, and the missing mermaids she rescued in book one, Cry of the Sea, she’s certain she will succeed.
Ally:   How do you choose and name your characters?
DG:  I’m a teacher, and a lot of the time I take names from former students – a first name from one and a last name from another. Sometimes I take names from people I went to school with as well. Juniper Sawfeather, however, came to my mind the moment I came up with the concept of Cry of the Sea. I knew that I wanted her to be American Indian, and I knew that I wanted her parents to be environmental activists. I thought they would give her a name that came from nature. A woman who is a noted reviewer of books featuring American Indian characters balked at the name Sawfeather as being inauthentic, so I did a bit more research into names common from the tribal nations in the Washington State area. In book two, Whisper of the Woods, Juniper’s father tells a story about the name Sawfeather, how and why he chose it to be his name instead of the one he was born with. It’s a touching moment between him and June early in the book that reveals a lot about his young life.
Ally:  How much research do you do?
DG:  I have done quite a lot of research for the Juniper Sawfeather Novels. Each of the three books focuses on a different environmental issue: oil spill, logging of Old Growth trees, and industrial run-off pollution. I had to learn about the causes, laws, and damage done by these emergencies.
In addition to that, each book has American Indian mythology woven into the plot. There is just one myth in book one that I massaged to fit the plot, but the mythology becomes central to the plotline in book two. I specifically researched mythology from the Northwest Pacific region and was amazed each time I found a legend that fit my storyline perfectly. This is fiction, so I adapted the myths somewhat to fit, but not too much. For instance, the real myth of the ‘Three Warriors and the Sun’ (which is the myth that ties the series together) actually has five warriors.
Those were the big things I researched before writing began. I researched lots of little things as I wrote, like what the ferry times are to cross the San Juan Strait, what the ferries look like inside, where would the best beach for this story take place and what does it look like, how long would it take to drive from Olympia to the shore? Where are the American Indian reservations in Washington? How big are they? What are there politics? Lots and lots of stuff like that.
Ally: What is your next writing project? Anticipated release date?

DG:  I have a sweet romance novella out called Passing Notes. It’s about a teen boy who is clumsy at being romantic until a ghost starts giving him notes teaching him how to write the perfect love letter. It’s a very “aww” story and makes people cry at the end. Critics love it, but the world doesn’t seem to know it exists. So… I’ve decided to revise the story with a new ending and then write what happens next. I’m adding two more “parts” to this story to make it a full-length book. It will have more paranormal activity, some historical fiction, some contemporary teen romance, and most of all lots of love letters. I am calling it All the Love You Write. If I get my act together, the book should come out sometime next year. In the meantime, check out Passing Notes. It’s only 99 cents at all ebook vendors. And follow me at Facebook or Twitter where I will put updates on its progress.
Ally: I have a few short answer questions so readers can get to know DG, the person.
  • a. book you're currently reading – Before I Left by Daisy White
  • b. hiking or sunbathing – Hiking. Used to do it more when I lived in California.
  • c. What comes to your first - character or plot? Plot. I always come up with what happens before I decide who it’s happening to.
  • d. Your pets - type and names – We have a cat named Angel, a bunch of fish that don’t have names, and a King snake that depending on which member of the household you ask is named Loki, Houdini or Gus (we never agreed).
  • e. a fantasy being/person you'd like to be – I guess, in keeping with my series, I’d like to be a mermaid, but definitely NOT like the ones in my book. I want to be a pretty one that lives in Hawaii.

Ally: It was a delight to meet you, DG. Before you go, please show us your latest book...

Echo of the Cliffs, A Juniper Sawfeather Novel, Book 3
Three warriors asked the sun to grant them wishes of immortality to protect their people forever. One was turned into a merman, another was turned into a tree, and final warrior was turned into a stone.

Juniper Sawfeather has learned there is truth to this American Indian legend. She knows how it connects the mermaids she saved from an oil spill to the ancient spirit that trapped her in the branches of an Old Growth tree. Now she wants to find out if the final part of this legend is true: that some kind of magical stone exists. A lone mermaid finds her and shares a vision of a cliff along the ocean shore. This must be the place, and June knows she needs to find it.

Tragedy happens when June and her boyfriend, Carter, join her parents on a mission to the San Juan Strait to collect evidence of construction run-off pollution, and they are attacked by a killer whale. June is convinced that the killer whale was led by mermaids, and she is desperate to find out why they attacked and where they are hiding. Once again, Juniper is on a heroic mission, the most frightening adventure yet. A thrilling ending to this award-winning trilogy!
Learn more about the whole series at www.dgdriver.com

Buy Links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Echo-Cliffs-Juniper-Sawfeather-Novel-ebook/dp/B072C4CFMP
Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/echo-of-the-cliffs-d-g-driver/1126467771?ean=2940154387467
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/726371
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/echo-of-the-cliffs/id1241170527?mt=11
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/echo-of-the-cliffs-a-juniper-sawfeather-novel-3
Lulu (for print): http://www.lulu.com/shop/d-g-driver/echo-of-the-cliffs/paperback/product-23195472.html
Book trailers for Cry of the Sea (book #1) and Whisper of the Woods (book #2).

<![CDATA[Meet YA Fantasy Author Mary Clare Emerine]]>Wed, 06 Sep 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/meet-ya-fantasy-author-mary-clare-emerinePicture

Welcome to the Wednesday Coffee Chat!

Our guest today is Mary Clare Emerine, author of young adult and teen fantasy. So nice to meet you, Mary! What may I get you to drink?

MCE:  I take my coffee with milk added. If I’m out, I order a latte.

Ally: While I pour and everyone else grabs their drinks, please introduce yourself to readers.

Author BIO:

I am a writer.
When I am not writing, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I am an avid reader. I love walking, baking, drawing, and creating.
#2 pencils
the freshness of a new day
old book stores
the smell of baseball fields
animals (I have two dogs and a cat.)
playing at the park
Brene Brown
Glitter is my favorite.
Coffee. Always.
I offer all that I do up to God who gave me the desire to write and my love of all things creative.

Something unique that isn't in my regular bio: "My first job was working as a potato grader. I plucked rotten potatoes off a conveyor belt. It was as gross as it sounds."

Contact the Author:

Website: http://maryclareemerine.wordpress.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/thestonekeepersrealm/

Ally: Shall we jump right into word craft? Describe your writing process. Schedule, goals, etc.
MCE:  It takes me about three months to complete a 60,000-85,000 word novel. I am a busy mom, so I don’t get to write every day. On a good morning, I can crank out 4,000 words. It truly is a purge. My imaginary friends bother me so much, and I love it!
Ally:  How do you choose and name your characters?
MCE:  My characters just come to me when a story starts nagging at my mind. Writing about them feels natural. Name meanings are very important to me. Every character name in my books is chosen because of its meaning and how it relates to that specific character.
Ally:  Tell us the following about your main character: a. age, gender; b. color of hair and eyes; c. level of education and/or training; d. favorite color; e. style of clothes; f.  pets
MCE:  Each of my books has a different sister as the protagonist.
Lorelei Darby: 19, female; Gray eyes, Blonde hair; GED/Culinary school for pastry chef; Purple; Trendy; no pets.
Emma Darby:  17, female; Gray eyes, Brown hair; High School; Peach; Boutique Chic; No pets.
Mara Darby:  15, female; Green eyes, red hair; Home schooled/High School equivalent; Green (If she has to pick one); Practical riding clothes (Tunic top, leggings, and riding boots).
Ally: What is your next writing project? Anticipated release date?
MCE:  I am at work on the third novel in The Stone Keeper’s Realm Saga, The Book of Fae. The protagonist, Mara, is the third Darby sister. She is an archer on horseback who works on a chicken farm in Australia hunting foxes before she enters the realm. It is to be released in Spring of 2018.

Ally:  Now let's tackle a few short answer questions about YOU.
    a.  favorite book:  My all time favorite book is Little Women.
    b.  manicure or pedicure:  Oh, if I could just get a pedicure every day.
    c.  favorite accessory (jewelry, scarves, shoes, etc.): Scarves, scarves, and more scarves please!
    d.  favorite quote:  “Only when we are brave enough to explore our darkness will we discover the
infinite power of our light.” ― Brené Brown
    e.  favorite place to write:  My creative room is the most productive and serene place for me to write. I cannot write if there is people watching to do.
Ally: It's been a pleasure to chat with you! Please show us your books before you go.

The Stone Keeper’s Realm
Will Lorelei Darby’s quest to unravel her family legacy lead to self discovery or destruction?
Horseback riding
Battle training
Fairy fighting
Forbidden forest hiking
Stone bearing
Dagger wielding
Enchantment curing
Intramountain traveling
Haggle feasting
Snarl abducting
And a delicious love triangle can all be experienced if you join Lorelei in the Stone Keeper’s Realm.

Mysteries of Mer Isle (Book 2)
"I was triggered by his power and amazed by his restraint. It was a dangerous game--dating Briar and uncovering the mysteries of Mer Isle, and I was playing it."
--Emma Darby
In an effort to escape her dark past, Emma Darby dives into a world she's never known. She's faced with unexpected challenges as she falls for a sinister merman to whom she can't help being drawn. Unable to shake the feeling that something weird and secretive is going on in the underwater palace, she starts to investigate. With each disturbing discovery, things begin to unravel. Will she recover in time to claim her rightful place in the realm?
Find out in Mysteries of Mer Isle: Book Two of The Stone Keeper’s Realm Saga.

The Book of Fae (Book 3)

Mara's story. Coming in the spring of 2018.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today! Come back soon...

<![CDATA["Keep on Slogging, You Sissy"]]>Wed, 30 Aug 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/keep-on-slogging-you-sissyPicture
Welcome, Booklovers, to this week's Coffee Chat!
Wow, can you believe it's almost fall? I've even put away the summer flower blog logo. But it's always the season for book talk, and today I'm visiting with author, Sharon Ervin.
It is nice to meet you, Sharon. What may I get you to drink?
SE:  I'd love coffee with sugar and creamer.
Ally:  Coming right up! While I pour, tell readers about yourself.

A former newspaper reporter, I have a degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma, am married and the mother of four grown children. I live in McAlester OK, population 18,000, and am probate clerk and flunky in my husband and older son’s law office. 
 I have 13 (soon-to-be 14) published novels, from 6 (soon-to-be 7) publishers. JACK SPRAT COULD is Lucky Number 13.
Something unusual that isn't in your regular bio: "I was campaign manager for my husband's successful run for state representative back in 1972. Upset when he won and had to be away four days a week during Oklahoma's legislative sessions, and with three small children, I consoled myself by taking flying lessons and earning a private pilot's license. It bolstered my stay-at-home mom's flagging ego."
Contact the Author:
Sharon can be contacted by email at ervins@sbcglobal.net
On Facebook, Twitter, her website which at sharonervin.com
And her blog: sharonervin.wordpress.com 

Ally:  We'll showcase your featured book at the end of this interview, but tell us what type of book it is so we have a frame of reference for your writing.
SE:  JACK SPRAT COULD is a romantic suspense, probably rated PG-13.
Ally:  Tell us a little about your main character(s).
SE:  MaryBeth Gilland, a wealthy socialite who models for charity, suddenly needs to support herself. Of her family's many investments, she seeks what she thinks will be stimulating employment at For Your Eyes Only Detective Agency, which has been a tax write-off for a corporation too big to care. Gray Wheeler, 36, a snappy dresser, has been lackadaisical, content to muddle along not doing much in the investigative business. Until the two meet...
Ally:  Who or what first inspired you to write fiction?
SE:  Creative Writing Professor William Foster-Harris came across the hall to the office of the OU school paper and personally invited me to sign up for his class. He had a waiting list and I had not been able to enroll until he authorized it. I wrote news, not fiction, so I was not sure if his invitation was a compliment or an insult. With his help, my first short story to “Seventeen” Magazine nearly sold (they wanted me to change the ending). That made it look easy. I continued news reporting, however, to get Husband Bill through law school and established before I ventured into fiction. Able Oklahoma author Carolyn Hart was firm. If I was going to insist on writing fiction, I was going to have to “pay my dues.” She answered my letter of lament by saying, “Marilyn Harris (an amazingly successful writer) had 278 rejections on eight manuscripts before she sold her first.” The letter was kind, but in essence said, “keep on slogging, you sissy.” So I did.    
Ally:  What was your journey to publication, including bumps and missteps?
SE:  I felt nudged to write a book, and attended a novel writing short course at OU in June, 1982. With four children at home, I wrote from 5:30 to 7:30 on summer mornings so as not to neglect my family. By the time school started, I had penned 378 pages of brilliant prose. It did not sell. I returned to the short course the next June and wrote a second marvelous book. It didn't sell either. I continued to write one unsellable manuscript after another, was working on #12, when a brand new publisher offered a contract for #8. I suspected a scam. It was not. I am now working on #25, and recently signed a contract for publication of #15. Our children are all grown and, while I am not getting rich, writing makes me feel fulfilled. My husband continues to indulge the muse and me.   
Ally:  What's your best marketing tip?
SE:  The owner of an independent book store told me, before my first signing, to put my picture on everything: bookmarks, cards, brochures, banners, and posters, and to make eye contact, smile, and speak to every potential customer. I didn't like pictures of me. He said that didn't matter, just to do it. We sold a dozen books at that first two-hour signing, which he deemed remarkable. It was to his credit. I did exactly what he said.
Ally:  Which of your books is your personal favorite?
SE:  A sister once asked if I was partial to one of my four children. I said yes, I was, but it depended on when you asked! By the time I sold my first book, I had 12 completed manuscripts. All were written for the mood that struck at that time, and I loved each one, a lot.
Ally:   What is your next writing project? Anticipated release date?
SE:  DO YOU LOVE ME? is due out in March, 2018. WHITTAKER is the best book I've written so far. It is complete at 76,000 words. No one has been interested, but it won first place in the mainstream novel category of the Oklahoma Writers Federation competition. Meanwhile, I'm fictionalizing a local true crime event I call FATHER OF THE YEAR. Also, our younger son Jim died March 1, 2015 of colon cancer. He was 39. Writing can be therapeutic and I'm working on a sort of a memoir I call JIMMY'S SMILES. At the same time I’m polishing a YA written several years ago that I call UNTIL THE MEEK INHERIT.
Ally: Let's finish up with a few get-to-know-you short answer questions.
  • a. favorite book: GAUDY NIGHT by Dorothy Sayers
  • b. book you're currently reading: THE LAKE HOUSE by Kate Morton
  • c. an author (living or dead) you'd love to take to lunch: John Grisham or Judith McNaught
  • d. favorite movie: "You've Got Mail"
  • e. favorite quote: "If you think you can't or you think you can, you're probably right."
Ally:  Thanks for chatting with me, Sharon. Let's show readers your book, but I have one last question. How did you choose the title?
SE:  Jack Sprat is a nursery rhyme that was the theme of the entire plot.


Jack Sprat Could
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Your Eyes Only Detective agency was a corporation’s tax write-off, until the death of the CEO sends his socialite daughter, MaryBeth Gilland, to Private Investigator Gray Wheeler for temporary employment. Instant discord between Gilland and Wheeler masks the chemistry of their mutual attraction.
Enter Treena Flowers, 51, in a flap, accusing Leland “Jack” Sprat, her sister’s new, younger husband, of killing his wife, although the victim is not dead yet. Wealthy, obese Clover Sprat, 54, arrived at the hospital that very morning in a coma. Her husband cannot explain her condition, but her sister is full of ideas, all pointing to Jack as a would-be killer.
Wheeler sees this as an easy case and invites Gilland to help investigate, an opportunity for MaryBeth to show she’s more than just a pretty face, and for Wheeler to prove he can actually investigate. After all, the husband’s a cinch to be responsible for his wife’s imminent death, isn’t he? The bickering duo takes the case.
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/y9cmuupf
        or  http://tinyurl.com/ybz363rb