Interview: Lawna Mackie

Lawna 2010Lawna Mackie was born in Jasper, Alberta. After finishing high school and post secondary she moved to Calgary, Alberta, married her husband and settled in the small town of Didsbury, Alberta. She worked briefly as a legal assistant, but quickly realized this wasn’t the career for her. Fates intervened saving her from the legal profession and she ended up working for Olds College in a marketing position. Over twenty years later she is still employed at the post-secondary college.

Lawna would tell you that a lot of her creativity comes from her mother, who could design and build, just about anything. Her mother never lacked the talent for hand-making toys. “She always amazed me. My brother and I were never bored because she made us flutes, toy cars, and even parallel bars in the trees,” Lawna explains.

Her other creative inspiration comes from her husband Jeff, and the many adventures they have had. It was on one particular trip to British Columbia, when she stopped at the Enchanted Forrest that the fairy tale world called to her to write a story. Her first paranormal romance, MAGIC AND FLAMES book one in the ENCHANTING LOVE series was born. Along with the love she has for her husband and family, is the deep admiration and compassion she has for animals. “They bring so much joy and inspiration to my life I don’t know how I would ever live without them,” she says. Alaskan Malamutes are near and dear to her heart. With one Malamute, one Bichon Shih Tzu, one farm cat and a Bengal, her house is never quiet.

Lawna writes many genres from paranormal and fantasy, to romantic suspense and erotica. One fan writes, “Lawna’s books are well-written and are impossibly good! The scenes are unexpected and very creative. I highly recommend her books!”

A new chapter begins quite literally for Ms. Mackie as she joins the fantastic team of Books We Love. Look for her there and be sure to drop her a note to say hello.

Mackie-StormGodYour latest release is STORM GOD, Book 1 in the Aliens and Gods series. Tell us about the story and an intro to all the intriguing characters in this book.

My hero, Nevar is very unique and very intriguing. He is a Storm God so he has no physical form other than the elements of nature. He takes the form of rain, snow, mist…hopefully you you get the idea. Eventually, he ends up in human form, it’s really interesting and I think quite different from anything else I’ve ever read. Oh, he also has no emotions. Of course as time goes on he falls in love with my heroine but there are other gods and an alien species who seem to have different plans for the couple.

My heroine, Raven is a young researcher who has always believed that a giant cat jumped from the clouds in the Sahara Desert and saved her from death as a young child. Raven knows there is an invisible force that seems to follow her in the form of weather, be it a thick mist that swirls around her ankles, the raindrops that slide over her body during a thunderstorm, or the snowflakes that tickle her nose on a winter day. Raven is different. Her father confirms that fact. The mystery seems linked to the disappearance of her mother and Raven is determined to find out how and why.

Stormcat is another great character in this book. He is a companion to the Storm God, but the cat has an interesting fascination with Raven. Although the giant tank-size critter is forbidden from interfering with humans, he does jump down from the clouds to save Raven from a desert storm…just before Nevar finds out what he has done.

Did you have an interesting experience in the research of this book?

I was born in the beautiful town of Jasper, Alberta. I feel very privileged to have had so many experiences in such an incredible place. One of my all time favorite places is the Tonquin Valley and Mount Edith Cavell and my story does reflect on those two locations. Everyone should visit there if they have not had a chance to.

Mackie-StoneAndIce-3Do you people watch for character inspiration?

Yes, I suppose I do watch people for character inspiration, but I also watch animals for the same thing. I get a lot of inspiration from the critters I have or have had. I love wild animals and really enjoy watching them when the chance presents itself. We really aren’t so different.

What’s more important: characters or plot?

I think the characters and the plot have to fit together or you wouldn’t have a story. You have to have the right characters to drive the plot.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?

I really can’t say that I’ve ever had a bad job, but I would say that you can certainly decided from a young age what you do and don’t like. I know that I was not meant to be an accountant. Numbers are not my thing. My husband would tell you balancing the bank account is not my forte <laughing>. I have always liked to write, draw and when time permits, do crafts. I love animals and at one time thought I could be a veterinarian, but quickly realized that at the site of blood I’d be the one laying on the floor and not much help at all.

Mackie-MagicAndFlames-2What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?

Maybe this is more of a story, but I like to share this with people. I did struggle academically in high school, for a number of reasons, but I always had the intent of going to university or college, which I did eventually do. Now, I actually work at a college and have done so for over twenty years.

I had to jump streams in high school in order to get the diploma I needed, and while this was difficult it wasn’t as difficult as one teacher that made things so hard for me during that time. Unfortunately, this was a high school English teacher who would not allow me into his class so I could hopefully graduate with the proper classes. I had high enough marks to take his class from the lower class. In the end he got into BIG TROUBLE and then after the class had already started (by three weeks) he told me I could attend but that my chances of success would be very slim. I decided to take the grade twelve English by correspondence. He actually laughed at me and said I would fail for certain.

Well I can say that I didn’t fail…I passed! Not with great success but I did pass. I guess the moral of my story is that I didn’t give up but it really scarred me. I didn’t write for many years because I thought I wasn’t good enough. Of course now I know I should have been writing.

I also had many wonderful teachers who were invaluable. In my heart I knew I should write…so FOLLOW YOUR HEART is what I say and DREAM BIG has always been my favorite saying.

What’s next for you?

I love to write pretty much anything. Right now I’m writing a romantic suspense that I’m very excited about. The book is called WINTER KILL and is the first in a series called Snow Lake. Of course the story and places are somewhat fictional but I did get my inspiration from the very really small town of Snow Lake in Manitoba. I hope my readers will enjoy it. Watch for it this fall!

For more about Lawna and her books visit her at: Facebook   Twitter   Website

Interview: Stuart R. West author of Ghosts of Gannaway

Stuart R West-1Multi-published author, Stuart R. West explores the hidden underbelly of the Midwest with horror, heart and humor in YA and adult thrillers. His debut YA thriller about bullying, Tex, the Witch Boy, was released to acclaim; teens and adults alike suggesting it should be taught in schools. Read more about West’s books at his blog, Twisted Tales From Tornado Alley: http://stuartrwest.blogspot.com/

GHOSTS OF GANNAWAY is your latest release. Kindly give us a summary.

Thanks for having me! Ghosts of Gannaway is an ambitious historical saga that takes place in two West-GhostsOfGannaway2timelines: 1935 and 1969, neither of which I knew too much about until I did my research. And research I did! In 1935, the small mining town of Gannaway, Kansas, prospers under the leadership of town founder Kyle Gannaway. Tommy Donnelly, the youngest foreman in the town’s mining history, struggles to make changes for his men. But obstacles—greed, racism, a Native-American curse—stand in his way. And there is the problem of something affecting the miners, something evil. Something to do with ghosts.

In 1969, environmental scientist Dennis Lipstein is assigned to study the toxins in the town’s water and air. But to do so, he first has to unravel the mysteries of Gannaway. And why the ghosts are restless.

(Whew. I know you asked for a brief summary, but there’s a lot going on!)

How did you come to write this story?

Actually, out of curiosity. And a heavy sadness. My wife grew up in Oklahoma. Once on the way to Tulsa, we traveled through a skeleton of a town, Picher, Oklahoma, the true basis for Gannaway, Kansas (except for the ghosts, of course. I think. Heh.).

A shell-shocked town, broken down, uninhabitable. Sad and haunting. Buildings were destroyed, windows and walls blown out, reduced to mere foundations. Evocative graffiti painted the walls, the usual suspects. But there were also warnings that raised the hair on my neck. “Beware you who enter…”

I wondered how a town could’ve been reduced to such a sad state. The true story behind Picher’s rise and fall was fascinating, something I wanted to hook suspense, scares, ghosts, heroes, villains, and a timely love story around. I hope I did it justice.

Did you have an interesting experience in the research of this book?

Yes! From now on, I’m keeping my tales set in the here and now! The research took nearly a year. And, um, some of the residents of Picher, Oklahoma, were less than accommodating, let’s say! Beware towns that fly Confederate flags on burned out buildings!

Do you have a favorite place to write?

The sofa. Alas, my butt prints are forever fossilized there, uncomfortable for visitors.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?

I wasted 23 or so years of my life as a graphic artist at one of the worst corporate companies known to mankind. Near the end, before they shuttered their doors, they couldn’t afford to pay the trash bill. Rats—both animal and corporate!—scuttered down the plant aisles.

Is there a book out there you wish you had written?

Yeah. Usually every one I’ve just read. Sigh.

What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?

Not ask. Tell. “You look just like Channing Tatum.”

What’s next for you?

Coming soon from Books We Love Publishing will be the first in (what I hope to be) a series of darkly humorous suspense thrillers involving a mega-corporation that sponsors serial killers. Yep, you heard it right. Look for Killers, Incorporated this fall.

After that, I have a horror comedy coming out about a stand-up comedian who ticks off a demon one unfortunate night (“Demon With a Comb-Over”) and a saga revolving around the world’s worst bed & breakfast (“Dread and Breakfast”).

Review: SATAN’S LULLABY by Pricilla Royal

Satan's LullabySatan’s Lullaby by Priscilla Royal

Poisoned Pen Press / Medieval Mystery

The irrepressible Prioress Eleanor steps outside her contemplative life at Tyndal Priory to solve a mystery, several in fact. When the arrogant Father Etienne Davoir is sent by his sister, Abbess Isabeau, to audit the Tyndal Priory books and inspect the facility with his pious assistants, their furtive supports Eleanor’s suspicion that all is not as it seems. When, as expected, Fr Davoir finds everything in good order at the priory, he unleashes the truth. Eleanor has been accused of an “unchaste relationship” with Brother Thomas, one of her dear friends and advisors. Ramping up the tension, one of Davoir’s assistants is killed and Sister Anne, the medicinal sister who cares for the others who live at the abbey, is accused of a revenge murder. Prioress Eleanor, a possible accomplice in the death of the assistant, is prevented from investigating the death and interviewing Sr. Anne, so she seeks assistance from Ralf, the local coroner.

While the story idea is a good one and the plot developed, the characters lack substance. The only one I could see was Gracia, who is also the only with sociological characteristics that rang true. Oddly, more detail was revealed about Ralf and his pregnant wife (a distant character in the story) which did not add to the book. While the character gaps do not spoil the plot and subplots, more character depth would have enriched the reading experience.

Royal takes a risk in using more dialogue than narrative, unusual in historical novels. Her dialogue does move the story forward; although, it lags at times. Additional narrative on the history of the Priory, Abbess Isabeau, Fr. Davoir, and Sr. Eleanor would have strengthened reader involvement. Obviously, Royal has a loyal following, since this is her eleventh medieval mystery, but my overall enjoyment of the book would have been embellished with heightened character development and links to previous information from other books in the series.

Review provided by Mahala Church for her column Barefoot Book Reviews in the August 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

Review: BYE, BYE LOVE by K.J. Larsen

Bye Bye LoveBye, Bye Love by K. J. Larsen

Poisoned Pen Press Cozy Mystery

K. J. Larsen—aka as sisters Julianne, Kristen, and Kari Larsen—have struck gold with their Pants on Fire Detective Agency series and the irrepressible PI Cat DeLuca. Bye, Bye Love is the fourth in this series and promises more mysteries that will keep us laughing and guessing. How many PIs call the bad guy “potty mouth” when he curses at her? Look out V I Warshawski (Sara Paretsky), there is a new gal in Chicago, and she can get into as much trouble as Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich) in New Jersey.

Often ridiculed by her family members who are active duty and retired policemen, PI DeLuca shows them who’s boss and not always in a gentle way. Larsen has created a memorable cast of characters and a well-developed mystery plot in Bye, Bye Love and is to be applauded for a fast moving pace that would keep James Patterson hopping. Throw in a dog with “soulful brown eyes and an ever-joyful tail” who rivals Sara Booth Delaney (Carolyn Haines) in Mississippi and some bad guys who like to kill people, and Cat DeLuca is on the move, her colorful family hot on her trail.

Review provided by Mahala Church for her column Barefoot Book Reviews in the August 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

Interview: Contemporary romance author Peggy Jaeger

Untitled (1)Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance author who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.

Her current titles, available now, include SKATER’S WALTZ and THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME, books 1 and 2 in her 6-book The MacQuire Women Series, published by The Wild Rose Press. Tying into her love of families, her children’s book, THE KINDNESS TALES, was illustrated by her artist mother-in-law.

Peggy holds a master’s degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer’s Disease during her time running an Alzheimer’s in-patient care unit during the 1990s. In 2013, she placed first in two categories in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest: Single Title Contemporary Romance and Short/Long Contemporary Romance. A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

FirstImpressions_w9816_2_85FIRST IMPRESSIONS is your latest release and the third book in the MacQuire Women series. Tell us about it. Family Practice doc Clarissa Rogers is new to the town of Carvan. She’s purchased the retiring GP’s practice and is getting quite a good reputation among her patients and the community. Clarissa is a prodigy – she graduated from Medical school at 17. She’s now 23 and realizing she missed so much of her youth because she was in school. The death of her only relative – her grandmother – the year before has prompted her to take her life in a new direction. Socially shy and awkward with men, she is determined to break out of her shell and start having a life that doesn’t revolve around simply learning.

Padric Cleary (Pat) is a local veterinarian and is considered by everyone who knows him as a “player.” He is also the brother of Clarissa’s new best friend, Moira Cleary, who we all met in There’s No Place Like Home, book 2. Pat is drawn to Clarissa. She’s like no other woman he’s ever known and the fact that she wants to be just friends and nothing more, intrigues him. He’s never been friends with a woman he’s been attracted to before and agrees to keep their relationship platonic, simply so he can get to know her better.

Their relationship begins to change, though, when a tragic event unfolds in Clarissa’s life, and Pat is the one to help her through it. She begins to wonder if everything she’s heard about the kind of man he is, is true.

Did you have an interesting experience in the research of this book? Yes, although whether or not it is interesting or just emotional is up to the reader. I took an event that happened to me personally and used it for Clarissa’s storyline. During the writing of this book, my 18 year old cat passed away. Parts of First Impressions were extremely difficult to write and even when I read them today I still cry, because I relive this sad time in my life when I do. Death strikes Clarissa’s life and how Pat responds to her situation is the motivation required for Clarissa to change her opinion of him.

51RfVPsoN6L._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work? That the old adage of not trusting a book by its cover is true. You shouldn’t let what people say about someone else color your opinion of them. I believe every single person shows you who and what they are if you let them. Let that form your opinion, not the prejudices of others. As a quick insight, First Impressions was the original title of Pride and Prejudice. When I came up with the plot line, I realized for it to work, Pat had to show Clarissa the man he truly was, not the one she’d been led to believe, just as Darcy showed Elizabeth the man he was when he helped with the Lydia/Wickham scandal. As an homage to the Austen work, I titled this book First Impressions.

So, from your blog I see that The Little Engine That Could is your favorite book. Why? Best book about self-actualization and motivation ever written. That little engine believed in himself. He knew he could get over that mountain if he believed it, and he did. I take that lesson with me everyday. In it’s purest form, the message is believe in yourself.

What book do you wish you’d written? The original Naked in Death by J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts.) It was supposed to be the first of a trilogy and 40 books later…well. I’d love to have a series endure like that.

What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you? What a great question! I write about very strong and confident women. I wish an interviewer would ask my why it’s so important that my heroine’s be strong and determined women. And since you asked (heeheehee), it’s because I’ve read too many books in my life where the heroine allowed herself to either be manipulated or made to feel inferior. She was either coerced into making unwise decisions, or through poor choices wound up in a sad situation. I like being surrounded by strong, opinionated, and successful women and I’ve raised my daughter to be one. There’s nothing more stimulating to me to read about than a strong woman and an equally strong man who love, respect and encourage one another. They can still go through all the toils and tribulations that a true romance story dictates they go through, but in the end they will be together, stronger, and equals in every way.

What social media do you participate in? I hate to admit this but I have to: I’ve become a social media junkie. I have a Facebook author page, an Amazon author page, I lovelovelove Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ Instagram. I search any and all blogs that relate to contemporary romance books, too. I write the pieces for my website blog, peggyjaeger.com, myself 2-3 times per week and then use the various media links to promote them.

perf5.000x8.000.inddWhat’s next? Currently I’m editing book4 in the MacQuire Women, titled The Voices of Angels. It’s a prequel to Skater’s Waltz, my first book, where you learn how Cole and Tiffany meet and you see the romance between Tiffany’s widowed mother, fiction writer Carly MacQuire Lennox, and news broadcaster Mike Woodard. It was the very first romance novel I ever wrote, but I never promoted it because I felt it wasn’t good enough. Now, with all the editing and updating I’ve done to it, I believe it’s a great way to introduce the readers to the original MacQuire women, Carly and her sister Serena who, by the way, is Pat and Moira Cleary’s mom.

Review: THEN I MET YOU by Deborah C Wilding

Then I Met YouThen I Met You by Deborah C. Wilding

Wild Rose Press, Inc (March, 2015) Historical Romance Mystery/Suspense

Wilding had my attention from the first notation—Nov. 1941, Honolulu—and held my attention until the last beautifully written line. Then I Met You has it all—mystery, romance, and historical accuracy so compelling that the reader is easily transported back in time; the events surrounding the bombing of Pearl Harbor are seamlessly interwoven and the interracial love story handled with aplomb.

There are no info dumps here—just good writing.

Then I Met You is the story of Merrylei (Lei) Wentworth, a young woman who returns to Oahu with the intention of converting her 1880s family home into a guesthouse. The project is more difficult than Lei imagined. Vandals have taken their toll and the rising costs of renovation result in Lei selling some of the family heirlooms. When architect Jamison Sumida offers his assistance if she’ll sell him one of her mother’s unknown paintings, she grows suspicious of his motives while simultaneously feeling a connection to him.

Lei knows her attraction to a Japanese American will present challenges, but had no idea how challenging until Jamison turns up missing after Pearl Harbor is bombed. I live in Hawai’i and can vouch for Wilding’s authentic depiction of local attitudes, customs, and events and recommend this book to readers of mystery, romance, and historical fiction. You won’t be disappointed.

Review provided by Jackie McMurray for her column Jackie’s Jargon in the July 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

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Review: THE GUEST COTTAGE by Nancy Thayer

The Guest CottageThe Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer

Ballantine Books (May 12, 2015) Contemporary Romance

If you’re looking for a good beach read, go no further. Nancy Thayer’s The Guest Cottage is a perfect choice for readers who enjoy a second chance love story.

Through a booking error, Sophie Anderson and Trevor Black both rent the same guesthouse in Nantucket for the summer. Trevor, a single parent with a traumatized four-year-old, hopes to spend the summer helping his son come to terms with his mother’s death; Sophie, a soon-to-be-divorced mother of two children, hopes to have a quiet vacation with her kids before they are told about the divorce.

Neither Trevor nor Sophie want to give up the rental, so they agree to share the large house, divide up the chores, and make the best of it.

Thayer masterfully intersperses backstory. The details of Sophie’s childhood are integral to her transformation from a woman who caters to her husband to a confident woman with a plan. Trevor’s backstory helps the reader understand his first marriage and why his son is so traumatized.

The Guest Cottage is a story of trying to keep it together for the sake of your children while trying to define who you are and who you could be. It’s about second chances and transformations and new beginnings. And it’s about struggling to be the best parent you can be.

This review was provided by Jackie McMurray for her column Jackie’s Jargon in the July 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

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