Interview: Babette James, author of LOVE BURNS

BabetteJames2033 450Your latest release is LOVE BURNS. Tell us about it. Love Burns is the third book in my River Series from The Wild Rose Press which is based around a circle of good friends who vacation together every summer at Lake Mohave on the Colorado River.

The tagline for Love Burns— Sometimes fanning the flames is better than running—proved very true in the writing of the novel. I first fell for my hero Dave Knight while LoveBurns_w9403_750writing Nate and Kay’s story in Clear As Day (The River #2). Dave is a smokejumper and a daredevil who has no plans to take life slow or fall in love. He was fun, charming, and edgy enough to intrigue, but I swore up and down to my critique group that I absolutely, positively wasn’t going to write a sequel. They just laughed and my sexy, headstrong bad-boy had other plans. He wanted his happily-ever-after too and nagged, nudged, and charmed his way onto the page and finally won his story–and his lady.

My heroine Olivia definitely deserved a happy ending. She’d always done the right thing—she was a good daughter, a dutiful student, a dedicated nurse, and a faithful wife. When she first appeared in Clear As Day, her heart and marriage were broken by her emotionally abusive, adulterous husband, and she finally filed for divorce. Dave and she were attracted to one another from the start but, despite the accidental kiss that rocks them both at the beginning of Love Burns, they run from acting on that attraction. When an accident ends his career, Dave must face the ashes of his past and the woman he can’t forget. As Olivia rebuilds her life and begins a new career in Florida, she’s certain Dave’s a sizzling temptation she can’t afford, but when life brings them together again, she discovers breaking the rules with the wrong man might be the best mistake this good girl’s ever made for love.  Fanning the flames between Dave and Olivia was so rewarding and I’m so glad none of us ran from the challenge.

Do you ever cast your characters? I don’t cast my characters using actors or actresses, although I do like to find stock photo models that fit my ideas of how my characters look. They couple on the cover of Love Burns are very close in looks to how I imagined Dave and Olivia and catches some of their playfulness. I usually have a very firm vision of my characters’ appearance as I’m writing and matching them to real life actors and actresses hasn’t worked for me.

KissingKatie_800x533Please tell us about your other series. The His Girl Next Door series is set in some of my favorite towns along the New Jersey shore. The first two books in the series are out and available in ebook and print. In the first book, Kissing Katie, when Matt Powell reconnects with his childhood best friend, Katie Vanburen, after twenty years apart, it’s decision time: his high-profile career–or the love he never dreamed possible. However, Katie’s twice-broken heart leaves her unready to trust again. Can her cracking defenses hold when Matt argues his case for love, in bed and out? In Convincing Cami a hot, spontaneous kiss surprises good friend friends Jack O’Malley and Cami Alexander. Jack knows his bachelor days are over and he’s done hiding the feelings he’s always had for Cami. Passion proves irresistible and one explosive night ups the ante. More than their hearts are at stake now and convincing Cami they’re meant to be together is going to get complicated. The next two books, Tempting Tessa and Loving Lexi, will be coming up for preorder this summer.

Do you have a favorite writing place or writing rituals? I’m lucky to have a room at home for my office, with a Continued from page 5 big window with a view of a maple tree and the sky letting me pretend I’m in a tree house. I like to listen to music while I’m writing and usually have one of my Pandora channels playing, mostly New Age and instrumental movie music. I like to write early in the morning and I’m up at five, starting my day with a big mug of coffee and cuddling my cat Pookie. I usually write while in an online chat with my critique group and other writing friends.

ClearAsDay_6688_750What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? That I could achieve my dream of being a published author. Turning that dream and my love of writing stories into reality was a long struggle to overcome too much self-doubt and step out in faith with the stories of the heart I love. Seeing my stories bloom and come to life in print and now being able to share them with readers has been an awesome experience. If you could go on a romantic date with a fictional character by any author, whom would you choose? Lately I’ve been on a contemporary cowboy romance reading kick, so at the moment I’m in the mood to go with any of Carolyn Brown’s sexy Texan heroes. You can’t go wrong with a picnic supper at a lake, a little fishing, a little music, a little dancing, and kissing a charming cowboy under the wide-open starry summer sky. ☺

What social media do you participate in? You can find me at:

Twitter / Facebook Profile Facebook Page / Google+ / Goodreads / Pinterest / Tsu

Hebby Tempt Half Page_Layout 1

Interview: Diana Green author of BRONZE FOX

Bronze Fox Ecover - MediumI loved your first book in the Rifters series, BRONZE FOX. You’ve created a complex and fascinating world with shape shifting, history, magic, other worlds along with well-developed characters. Tell us about your characters.

Thank you for hosting me, here at the Book Breeze. It’s great to have a chance to share information with readers.

I’m glad you enjoyed Bronze Fox. I fell in love with the setting and the characters as I was writing them. Tobias is so dashing and daring, but he’s also genuinely concerned for others. I like his considerate and generous nature. It fits well with Etty’s personality. She’s someone who is very warm and big-hearted under her tough exterior. They’ve both lived through difficult pasts, and this has made them strong. Bringing this strength and courage to their work makes them a dynamic team.

A central theme of the book is human trafficking. What led you to choose this subject?

Once I imagined the rift, containing different worlds connected by portals, I began to think of what kinds of people (Rifters) would travel these unusual routes. There would be explorers, smugglers, scientists, scavengers, and likely slavers. After I came up with the idea of a shifter world, with different shape-shifting tribes, the inter-world slave trade plot fell into place. Slavery is so horrible, in all its aspects. I wanted to highlight that, as a more substantial theme, running alongside the lighter adventure romance.

Can you share what we can look forward to in the next installment of the Rifters’ series?

The second Rifters novel, Veiled Snake, should release in early 2016. Here is the description from the back cover.

At the age of twenty nine, Susan Thorpe has her future well in order, with a prestigious job and a high-ranking fiancé. She has always prided herself on being in control of her emotions and her destiny. But all that changes when a friend is brutally murdered, and a crucial prototype is stolen from the Academy lab.

Now she must join forces with Tobias Shelton, Etty Sikes, and Jamie Keegan, a rogue rifter from Earth. Can they find the culprits in time to avert disaster? And can she trust a loose cannon like Jamie? He’s her opposite in almost every way. Yet he holds her life, and possibly her heart, in his hands.

I love your book cover. Can you tell us who designed the cover? The artist should get some recognition.

Thank you! I designed the cover myself, and I’m happy with the result. I feel like it captures Tobias well.

As a trained artist, I couldn’t resist learning how to make my own covers. After all, who knows the characters and tone of a book better than the author? I design all my covers except those with the Wild Rose Press.

Do you have a favorite writing place or writing rituals?

Because I suffer from an auto-immune disorder that impacts my energy levels and stamina, I write using a laptop, in my recliner. It works really well and allows me to write twice as long as I could sitting up at a desk.

One writing ritual I’ve developed is creating music playlists for each book. They may only include a few songs, but each one perfectly evokes a scene, setting, or character from the story. This way, when I’m stuck, I can listen to these pieces of music and be transported into the right state of mind. It’s a wonderful way to break through writer’s block.

What do you like best about being an author?

Top of the list has to be the thrill of the creative process, translating settings and characters from my imagination into a story that others can enjoy. There’s nothing quite like it.

I also love interacting with readers, editors, other authors, reviewers, and interviewers. I’ve encountered so many great people since I started this journey, two and a half years ago. I feel very blessed.

What social media do you participate in?

I have a website with excerpts, trailers, reviews, news and more.

I’m also on         Goodreads                   YouTube                  Amazon Author Page

What’s next for you?

Sometime in the fall of 2015, the final book in my Dragon Clan trilogy will release. I wrote this fantasy romance series with the Wild Rose Press, and I’ve been very pleased with the results. I’m excited to offer readers Dragon Soul, the final chapter of the dragon shifters’ multi-generational saga.

Is there an easy way for people to stay informed about your new releases?

I have a mailing list, and I usually send out two to three announcements a year. It’s simple to sign up. Just visit my website and use the “contact Diana” page, or email me at dianagreenbooks@gmail.com Everyone on my mailing list is entered in monthly e-book giveaways. Winners can choose from any of my available titles.

I always love to hear from readers!

Interview & Review: THE WIDOW’S SON by Thomas Shawver

widowssonbannerBlood, Faith, Family and Revenge

An interview with author Thomas Shawver

THE WIDOW’S SON is the third in the Rare Book Mystery. Did you have an interesting experience in the research of this book?

I live in Jackson County, Missouri, where Mormon founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., declared that the righteous would gather to greet the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The site of Independence, Missouri, is where he claims Adam and Eve dwelt in the Garden of Eden. About 70 miles north of Kansas City is where Smith proclaimed they were banished after their fall from grace.

The latter site, called Adam-onde-Ahman, is a well-maintained, attractive, but otherwise undistinguished park. There are few signs and no monuments. Given its importance in Mormon teachings, it’s odd that little attention is brought to the area. While there, I came across a most unusual flat stone resting upon another rock. A small sign at the top of the hill far above it described it as the alter upon which Smith would address the prophets of old during the Second Coming.

Tell us about your characters.

Michael Bevan is a widowed former lawyer who owns a second-hand bookstore in Kansas City. He’s big, athletic, and has a checkered past, having been disbarred for shady dealings with former clients who ran strip joints, among other things. He lives with the bright and feisty Josie Majansik, a former FBI agent who helped save his life in The Dirty Book Murder. Riverrun Books has been his redemption, but things get tricky when the beautiful Natalie Phelan, director of the local Irish Center, seeks his help. Her boyfriend, Emery Stagg, possess a first edition Book of Mormon with a sinister history involving ‘blood atonement’ that puts her life and that of her eccentric young daughter, Claire, in grave danger.

You’ve had an interesting career, marine officer, lawyer, journalist and book store owner. What led you to become an author?

I was a creative writer before and during all of those careers, beginning in my early teens after reading Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim. Despite a heavy schedule in law school, I found time to take creative writing courses from Professor Edgar Wolfe. While in the Marine Corps I finished a novel—as yet unpublished—based on events I witnessed. Throughout my law career I found time to write four full-length manuscripts. It led me into journalism. Then back to the law and ultimately to owning a second-hand bookstore. Throughout it all I worked to develop my writing skills, going to writer conferences, talking to agents, working on my pitches. Writers write. I’d still be doing it if I had never found an agent and editor.

If you could have dinner with any mystery character by any other author, who would you choose?

Easy. Nick and Nora Charles. They are witty, charming, fun to be around, and common sense smart. And they really, really like each other. By the way, William Powell who played Nick in the movies was a Kansas Citian.

What’s next for you?

I plan to let Michael Bevan rest for a while to concentrate on a new series involving a former French commando who solves crimes in a Missouri river town. I’ve also finished a spy novel set in the early 1920’s Japan and Micronesia.

REVIEW:

THE WIDOW’S SON  A Rare Book Mystery #3

By Thomas Shawver

Alibi (July 7, 2015) Mystery

Michael Bevan stumbles into another mystery in this 3rd book in the series. The story starts with the 1844 murder of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, and the vow of his followers to avenge his death by killing the descendants of those they deemed responsible.

One hundred and seventy years later there are still those trying to fulfill that vow and Michael’s friend Natalie Phelan is next on their list.

Shawver weaves a tight tale of vengeance that mystery lovers will enjoy.

New Releases

LoveForSale_w9468_750LOVE FOR SALE By Linda Nightingale

Spicy Sci-fi Romance

Released June 10 by The Wild Rose Press in print and ebook

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Spicy Fantasy Romance

Released June 12 by The Wild Rose Press in ebook and print

perf5.000x8.000.inddVIRTUE AND VALOR by Collette Cameron

(Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, Book 2)

Spicy Regency Scottish Historical

Released June 24 by Soul Mate Publishing in ebook then print

Riptide New Releases

YA Interview: John Darryl Winston author or IA: INITIATE

image1John Darryl Winston IA: Initiate is an origin story and the first in a series by debut author John Darryl Winston. A Detroit native and public school educator, Winston created the coming of age hero’s journey as part of a creative writing and ‘Boys Read’ program. He is a graduate of The Recording Institute of Detroit, Wayne State University, The Motion Picture Institute of Michigan and is currently enrolled in the MFA Creative Writing program at Wilkes University. He has written songs with and for Grammy winner David Foster and record mogul Clive Davis. He has been a recording artist on Arista and Polygram records, and has written and/or produced songs for Gerald Levert, Gerald Alston, and many others. Winston currently lives with his daughter Marquette in Michigan.

Your debut novel is IA: INITIATE, a YA hero’s journey. Tell us about it. IA: Initiate is the first in a five part series I started writing for a group of middle school-aged boys I taught. It is the hero’s, coming into his own, origin story of Naz Andersen. He has lost both his parents, and the most important thing in the world to him, the only thing in the world to him, is protecting his little sister from the mean, gang-infested streets of a Chicago/Detroit-like city known as the Exclave. Naz has supernatural abilities that he isn’t aware of, but comes to know them gradually as well as his destiny as the story unfolds.

IA-  InitiateWhat led you to write this book? I came up with this idea maybe 20-30 years ago, and only 4 years ago decided to follow through on it. I took a 4-day cruise all by my lonesome and when I returned I had gotten through the knife fight scene minus the “In the past” which came later. Let’s go back a bit. Prior to that cruise I had worked with a group of middle school-age boys who were low-level readers. The challenge was finding books that these boys would find interesting. Long story short, my group of low-level readers evolved (bad readers stopped coming, average readers joined) into average readers and the concept of the story that had been in my head for years was rekindled. These boys wanted a real life Harry Potter-type hero that looked like them minus the witchcraft, trolls, and centaurs.

I believed I was the man to create that story, not just for them but for the world. So I met with a group of my smartest friends at a library for a mastermind alliance meeting. Not a big reader or literary person in general, I knew I had my work cut out for me. For the next year I immersed myself in the literary world (haven’t really come up for air yet). I read any and everything I could get my hands on (Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, I Am Number Four, Artemis Fowl, Legend just to name a few the good and the bad). No one ever sees me without a book in my hand. I studied craft books and took online workshops and webinars on Reader’s digest.com. I had no idea how to begin or if the words would even come out and I was afraid to even write a word at first. That’s when I went on the cruise and locked myself in my cabin and forced myself to write the first page, one of the scariest moments in my life. Surprisingly the words just flowed from me, as if they weren’t my own and were given to me by another entity. It was surreal. “It is the city, a city that never dies.”

Did you have an interesting experience in the research of this book? I would place my students in authentic settings, in the street, in the gym, in the locker room, on the playground etc and record the audio of their conversations. I did this so much they would often forget they were being recorded. It was during these times, when they were not conscious of being taped and I wasn’t around that I got my best material, material I assimilate into the body of the complete IA story. I think that’s part of what gives the story’s dialogue what others call an authentic feel.

The bleakness of the Exclave is the setting of your story. Why is this setting important? The setting is important because it is what I know. It is what John Darryl Winston Interview continued millions of people on this planet know in not just a geographical or physical since, but an emotional and psychological one as well. It is a combination of my home city, Detroit and my adopted city, Chicago: I wanted to place a flawed hero in it’s dismal, hopeless and helpless midst to not just bring about change but inspire and demand others do the same. Smooth seas don’t produce skillful sailors, well there’s nothing smooth about Detroit, Chicago, or the Exclave.

Who designed the cover? A young man just out of high school by the name of Deon Mixon designed the cover. He had read the book and was on his way to Western University for graphic design. He was also one of my son’s friends and I had known him for about 5 years since middle school. I asked him how he felt about designing the cover and he jumped at the chance for no pay (I convinced him to accept a fee in the end). His first design was beautiful, but abstract and I expressed to him that I wanted the cover to represent the words on the pages in a clear and concise way. We put our heads together and what you see on the cover now is the end result. He’s a Junior at Western now and looking forward to designing the next cover and has a few more projects under his belt, including a manuscript of his own.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I have a duo love for sports and music so when I’m not writing, I’m in the gym, out on the golf course or sitting at my piano with my guitar in my hand, and my writing will always be influenced by those two loves in one way or another.

What social media do you participate in? I’m a twitter addict I guess you could say. I spend a good amount of time tweeting about what I’m going to read, am reading, or have already read. I’ve met a lot of really good and cool people on twitter. There’s also facebook, which I’ve been on the longest, but do not participate in as much twitter. And then there’s instagram. I do have a good amount of followers, but I don’t do much there at all.

What is your favorite character you ever created and why? I thought this would be an extremely easy question, but it turned out to be the most difficult. It’s so hard to pick one because I craft my characters to be like people we see everyday in the real world who are sometimes flawed in damaging ways, but that’s the beauty of people, our imperfections not our perfections. One of my all-time favorite characters, Clark Kent, eventually became an irritating character to me because he had no flaws. If I had to pick one, it would be Naz simply because he is the chosen one. What is your inspiration to write? My inspiration to write is the profound belief that I’ve been given an important story to tell, in the IA series, by the universe, and it is my duty, calling, and responsibility to take up that charge relentlessly and to no end.

How do you cope with the negative sides of writing? Such as haters/trolls/bad reviews/writers block. It’s not always easy or even possible, but I ignore all of those as best I can, especially haters, trolls, and bad reviews. I have absolutely no control over those factors. As far as writer’s block is concerned, I ignore it by lowering the bar or expectations for myself. When you I do that, there’s no such thing as writer’s block. Even if I have to write the same word over and over again, I do it and trust that the muse will ultimately return..

What advise would you give to a new author starting out? Read, Read, and READ some more relentlessly, write everyday the kind of stories you like to read, continue to develop your craft, commune with other authors, and build a platform using the internet and social medial.

What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you? Do you think diversity and multiculturalism are adequately addressed in main stream literature these days? There are many diverse books out there white, black, hispanic, asian, etc, to be sure, and I would say they are all over the place (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc.), but when I think of the term multiculturalism, I think of cultures and races existing together in the same model, or book if you will, in various and random positions. For example the hero of the story could be black as in IA: Initiate with Naz Andersen and the other characters could be various races which occurs in the real world with startling regularity. In this case truth should not be stranger than fiction and whether it be the IA series or other literary works, powerful publishers need to make it happen. The question is, who will step up to the plate?

What’s next for you? I am in the rewriting stages of my second novel, which is the second installment of IA, and I’m extremely excited about it. I’m also piloting what’s called an Adopt an Author program which has as its mission to connect authors with young readers for the purpose of fostering a lifetime of love for literature.

John Darryl Winston links

Website: http://www.johndarrylwinston.com

Facebook Author Page

Amazon Author Page

Review: WEATHERING THE STORM by Caitlin Ricci

Weathering the StormWeathering the Storm (Young Adult gay romance) by Caitlin Ricci

Harmony Ink Press

It took me awhile to pick this book up because I just didn’t care for the look of the model on the cover – not fair, I know, but I do think covers are a factor. And after I started reading, I realized that the model looked nothing like the actual character in the story—we’re told on p 43 that Robbie Messana has flaming red hair, and it’s his brothers who are brunets. Whoops!

I didn’t feel drawn into the universe, either – the obvious bully of a father, and the downtrodden narrator making excuses for his abuser. This, though, was a great bit of characterization. It sets up the primary conflict neatly, and I suspect for many younger readers it mirrors the built-in conflicts of adolescence. At first, the reader can’t be sure if Robbie is just having a pity party or his father’s a mean jerk.

That’s cleared up pretty fast. Robbie’s father really is a cruel, resentful man who takes out his anger at his wife on two of their kids. He manages to make what ought to be an ideal life for a horse-loving kid into a regimented drudge. It’s all work and no play, and while Robbie’s older brother is a carbon copy of his father, the younger boys are constant targets who get no praise and all criticism.

Things go from bad to worse very quickly when his wife apologizes to her sons and walks out on Dan Messana. It was difficult to think highly of her, because if she had not realized that her middle son was her husband’s favorite object of abuse she wasn’t very good at protecting her kids, and she didn’t make any attempt to take any of them with her.

After a couple more disasters, Messana Senior loses his job (most likely due to his anger management issues) and takes the three boys (Daniel Jr., Robbie, and Ben, the youngest) to live with his brother-in-law, Caleb, while he looks for another trainer job. For apparently the first time in his life, Robbie gets a look at normal family life, and quickly makes friends with the only other kid his age on his uncle’s ranch. This story is a romance, so it’s not much of a surprise when Robbie and Sam form a friendship based on their mutual love of horses and the isolated situation.

No spoilers here. We get a satisfying HEA, but you have to read it and find out for yourself.

It has the added diversity of being an interracial romance, and I liked the fact that the only person who has any Ace Katzenbooks continued problems with that is Robbie’s father.

I have a couple of minor criticisms: One is that the bad guy is very, very bad and the good guys are very, very good. Not much nuance to these characters, though since we see them all through the eyes of a couple of teenagers, that does fit the way kids often see adults. Also, I do wish the author had let Robbie – in first-person narration – describe Sam when they first meet, because the first clue we have that he’s African-American is when Robbie meets Sam’s mother. Since Messana is racist, it’s not likely that Robbie would have had the chance to get to know any kids of other races as friends and I think he would mention that. It’s a fairly minor point, except that Messana’s racism is what pushes Uncle Caleb’s easy-going nature to the point where he has to lay down the law and that precipitates a very satisfying resolution.

This is a book I’d recommend to anyone looking for a gift for a gay youngster – or, really, any kid who likes horses. Four pawprints! (in this case, maybe hoofprints…)

Review provided by Ace Katzenbooks for the June 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

Review: THE LONELY WAR by Alan Chin

The Lonely WarThe Lonely War by Alan Chin

DSP Publications

This novel won 4 well-deserved Rainbow Awards when it was released in 2010. It is the story of Andrew Waters, son of an American oil executive and a Vietnamese woman (Vietnam was then called Indochina) who is educated by Buddhist monks and wishes to join the temple. After Pearl Harbor, he is ordered by his father to join the US Navy – and in Asian tradition, he must obey.

It’s hard to express my admiration for what Alan Chin has accomplished without going overboard—pun intentional. There is amazing scholarship in this story – sleeping arrangements aboard American ships in the tropics, survival tricks for turning a stomach-turning source of protein into vital nourishment, simple explanations, shorn of patriotic arrogance, of the balance of powers that led to the war in the Pacific. It all serves as a swirling background tapestry for the story of a soul’s journey from a temple to a minor naval ship to a POW camp, through opium addiction in occupied Japan, and finally to peace.

There’s a hint of the old TV series Kung Fu in this tale—the basic scenario of a young Buddhist man of mixed racial parentage thrown into conflict, the occasional flashback to give context to a situation. But the similarity ends there. Andrew is no martial arts master, confidently in control. Instead, his soul journey takes him from a still center and into turmoil that tears him apart, never realizing that his one constant virtue, his care for others over his own welfare, never alters. And his life comes full circle when he fulfills a promise to a dead lover, then finds that instead of being the one suffering from unrequited love, he can relieve another man’s longing.

I’ve got nothing to criticize except the proof-reader who left vile for vial and dribble for drivel. The Navajo put an intentional error in every work of art—maybe these were done on purpose.

This is the most beautiful book I’ve read in a very long time. It is magnificent.

Read it.

Review provided by Ace Katzenbooks for the June 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.