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Archive for April, 2017

Doug Cooper is the author of the award-winning novel Outside In and The Investment Club available October 2016. He has a BS in Mathematics Education from Miami University and a MA in American Studies from Saint Louis University. Always searching, he has traveled to over twenty countries on five continents, exploring the contradictions between what we believe and how we act in the pursuit of truth, beauty, and love. Originally from Port Clinton, Ohio, he has also called Cleveland, St. Louis, Detroit, New York, and Oslo, Norway home. He now lives in Cleveland working on his third novel Focus Lost.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

About the Book:

Forty million people visit Vegas every year but most never get past the strip. What about the people who live there? What brought them there? What keeps them there?

Told from the perspective of a seasoned blackjack dealer, The Investment Club tells the stories of a self-destructive, dwarf entrepreneur, a drug-addicted musical performer-turned-stripper, a retired, widowed New Jersey policeman, a bereaved, divorced female sportscaster, and a card-counting, former Catholic priest before and after their fateful meeting at the El Cortez Casino in downtown Vegas.

As the five learn the greatest return comes from investing in one another, their lives stabilize and take on new, positive directions. But their love and support for each other can take them only so far before they must determine the meaning and value of their own lives.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

Would you call yourself a born writer?

I think people who are artists are born that way and spend their lives finding then honing a craft to share their message and perspective. For me, I’ve always been drawn to words, and ironically, math. Those have always been my main interests and how I make sense of the world. The affinity for math actually helps a lot with the building and structuring of stories. The math and verbal are not mutually exclusively as much as people might think.

What was your inspiration for The Investment Club?

The typical Vegas story — the bachelor party, wedding, or other two to three-day excursion has been overdone. During a visit and seeing all the tourists and extravagant entertainment, I looked past the glitz and became interested in the people who lived there — were they born there, what brought them there, why did they stay? I wanted to tell the stories of several people from different backgrounds who had moved there. I rotated the points of view from character to character but kept the story anchored in the common perspective of a native blackjack dealer, while contrasting the concepts of gambling and investing from a financial and personal angle.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I look to what’s happening in the world for the themes to use in my writing and build the story around them. In my first novel, Outside In, I envisioned a cross between The Catcher in the Rye and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Whereas Catcher is about how to enter adulthood without losing oneself and Fear and Loathing deals with finding the American Dream by destroying and abusing the symbols of American consumerism, Outside In proposes identity can’t be found or fabricated but emerges from within when one has the courage to let go. Self-medication and excess were prevalent themes, and I used a lot of Erik Erikson’s “Quarter Life Crisis”.

For The Investment Club, I’m doing a lot with the concepts of investing and gambling but more on a personal than financial sense. To reinforce this theme, I start every chapter with the Dow Jones open and end the chapter with the Dow Jones close. The rising and falling of the numbers also mirrors the action and reminds us that we have good and bad days. The important thing is that the overall trend is heading in the right direction over time. I also use the characters’ hand motions to convey a lot of the action to represent the importance of helping hands, which ties to the overall personal investing theme.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

I moved to Vegas to write the story. I spent about a year doing the research while I promoted my first novel. It only took me about six months to write the first draft then and another four to five of editing and rewriting.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I’m extremely structured—often times too much. When I’m working on the first draft, I write first thing in the morning and have a word quota for the week of ten to twelve thousand words. This works better for me than a daily quota. That way if life gets in the way or I’m just not feeling it, I don’t feel too pressured to force it and can focus on some other aspect.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

The most challenging part was weaving the five stories of the main characters together into a cohesive narrative. I had a good vision of who each of them were and how they came together, but what happened after that and how to bring all the stories to a satisfying conclusion was not easy.

What do you love most about being an author?

I absolutely love people and telling stories. To be able to create something from nothing with a message and for people to find value in it is the greatest high in the world.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I went with a small independent press. My publisher, Rare Bird Books, has a publicity division, Rare Bird Lit. They did the promotion and publicity for my first book Outside In. Throughout that process, I developed a relationship with the owner, Tyson Cornell. As I was contacting agents and other publishers and staying in contact with Tyson, it became clear they were the right publisher for The Investment Club. They specialize in literary fiction and publish books for the same reasons writers write them: to create art and share a message.

Where can we find you on the web?

My website is: www.ByCooper.com. It has links to all my social media: Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ByCooper/), Twiter (https://twitter.com/ByCoop), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/dougiecoop/), Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7049197.Doug_Cooper), Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/bycoop/), and Snapchat (https://www.snapchat.com/add/bycooper)

 

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Inside the Book:

 

The last twenty years have seen a huge increase, not only in children with learning and behavior problems, but in children with bewildering combinations of them. These combinations can defy easy categorization and resist treatment. Figuring these children out can feel like trying to decrypt an especially complex code, without a cypher. Even professionals find it challenging.

 

We have seen family after family exhausted, overwhelmed and confused about how to sort through all the data and figure out how to proceed. There is certainly no shortage of information out there. What seems to be missing is guidance on how to synthesize it to create a larger picture that gives parents a clearly sequenced path forward.

This book presents a new kind of resource for a new kind of need. It includes:

• Extensive checklists to help you see new possibilities and find avenues of support you may not have considered

• Explanation of the hidden factors that may be worsening your child’s learning or behavior problems

• Discussion of the difference between digging deeper for true causes and merely assigning diagnoses to the “tip of the iceberg” symptoms you are seeing

• Descriptions of the major areas of developmental, learning and behavioral challenges, as well as common misdiagnoses.

• Lots of useful ‘news you can use’ about what options are available to you, which practitioners do what, and what questions to ask along the way

• Descriptions of both Western medicine and alternative medicine solutions

• Sequence matters: helpful information on how to prioritize treatments in a complex situation

• Stories of families who have been in the same trenches you have

• Tips on how to work more productively with your child’s school; develop a plan of action that makes sense for your budget, your family’s schedule and your sanity; maintain a healthy connection with your child; and more!

Written by over 20 professionals, Child Decoded is a thorough, must-have resource that any family with struggling children should consult!

 

BUY HERE:

Meet the Authors:

Kim Gangwish has  been  practicing  in  the  fields  of  mental  health  and  applied physiology for the last 18 years. Ms. Gangwish specializes in a form of acupressure that focuses on  neurological  integration,  called  LEAP  (Learning  Enhancement  Acupressure  Program).  She works  with  both  children  and  adults  who  have  learning  or  sensory  issues,  or  mild  traumatic head injuries. Her passion for educating caregivers has led her to present at international health conferences,  educational  programs  for  school  districts,  and  parent  and  adoption  support organizations,  where  she  emphasizes  the  importance  of  exploring underlying  causal  factors that contribute to learning and sensory issues. Being an adoptive mother herself, Ms. Gangwish is  very  active  in  the  adoption  community.  She  has  written  an ongoing  column  in  Adoption Today  magazine  and  founded  a  non-profit  organization  that  supports  adopted  children  and their families through an integrated team of therapeutic professionals. Ms. Gangwish runs her practice,  The  Life  Enrichment  Center,  in both  Louisville  and  Denver,  Colorado.  Kim  is also  the founder    and    CTO    (Chief    Technology    Officer)    of    a    biomedical    company,    Genovus Biotechnologies  Inc.,  which  is  developing  a  peripheral  neurostimulation  device  to  help  people with degenerative  neuromuscular diseases. She  lives in Louisville  with her two sons and many animals. You can read more about her and her work at www.neural-integration.com.
Dr. Robin McEvoy is a developmental neuropsychologist practicing in Denver, Colorado. She evaluates and diagnoses a wide range of learning disabilities and learning needs in children, adolescents, and adults. She then works with the family to develop a treatment plan to  remediate  weaknesses  and  accentuate  strengths.  In  addition  to  her  private  practice,  Dr. McEvoy   is   an   assistant   professor   at   the   University   of   Colorado   Health   Sciences   Center. Although  evaluation  is  the  heart  of  her  work,  Dr.  McEvoy  also  loves  the  educational  process  – speaking  to  parents,  schools,  or  other  health  professionals  about  learning,  development,  and parenting  in  this  new  age  where  many  learning  and  developmental challenges  are  more frequent.
Dr.  McEvoy  and  her  daughter,  Tessa,  have  published  a  children’s  book, Buddy: A Story for Dyslexia. This book has a lovely endorsement from Dr. Sally Shaywitz, a leading authority in
the  field.  Proceeds from  the  book  are  being  used  to fund  reading  remediation for  low  income children. You can find the book at www.learningmoxie.com. You can read more about Robin McEvoy at her website www.robinmcevoy.com. She blogs about  learning  and  learning  challenges  at  www.learningmoxie.com.  You  can  follow  her  on Facebook  at  www.facebook.com/DrRobinMcEvoy  or  on  Twitter at  twitter.com/RobinMcEvoy. She will try to be fascinating.
Marijke Jones got her BA from Cornell University, and finally settled down in Colorado after living in Japan and traveling throughout Asia and other parts of the world. She has been a copy and developmental editor for over ten years and has worked on a number of manuscripts, McGraw-Hill textbooks, website content, and other miscellaneous projects during that time. She has also published essays, mostly about her experiences raising, homeschooling, and trying to figure out her twice exceptional son. Ms. Jones is passionate about helping families with struggling children find answers and peace of mind. She believes that for each thing a child can’t do, there is something amazing that he can do. A former therapist who specialized in trauma, she also believes that monitoring children’s emotional and mental health is every bit as important as remediating their learning issues. She lives with her incredibly patient husband in Louisville, Colorado, where she enjoys the beautiful Rocky Mountains and all they have to offer. Occasionally, her two adult children come home from college or Europe or wherever they have been having more adventures than she has.

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Chasing Hindy

Title: Chasing Hindy
Author: Darin Gabby
Publisher: Koehler Books
Pages: 284
Genre: Thriller

ADDY’S DREAM AS a patent attorney is to help bring a ground breaking energy technology to the world. Addy’s hopes soar when she is wooed by Quinn, an entrepreneur, to join his company that has purportedly invented a car that can run on water using an innovative catalyst. After resigning her partnership to join Quinn, Addy discovers things aren’t as they seem. The patent office suppresses the company’s patent applications and her life is threatened by unknown assailants if she doesn’t resign.

When she is arrested for stealing US technology from the patent office she realizes Quinn has used her. Now, Addy must find a way to clear her name while salvaging her dream of propelling this technology to the world, all while powerful forces attempt to stop her.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

First Chapter:

ADDY FELT LIKE jumping out of her car and doing a quick happy dance in the middle of stalled traffic. Her excitement at becoming the newest—and youngest—partner at the intellectual property law firm of Wyckoff & Schechter was nearly overwhelming.She grinned at the shadow on the hood of Hindy, her treasured retrofitted cherry red Shelby Mustang. The shadow was created by a barrel-sized, hydrogen-filled balloon that floated above the Mustang’s roof. Gawkers pointed and laughed as the Shelby eased down El Camino pulling the tethered balloon as if in a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The balloon—which on one side sported her law firm’s logo, and on the other Hindy in giant cursive script—was just an advertising gimmick to show her passion for alternative energies. It was only strapped to the roof on calm, sunny days when she was travelling at slow speeds using routes that avoided overpasses. The retrofitted Mustang was really powered by four electric motors using electricity produced by solar panels and a conventional fuel cell.

At first, the Wyckoff partners questioned Addy’s prudence in strapping a floating balloon to the roof of any vehicle, but they’d

come to admire the effectiveness of her marketing innovations. They even lifted their champagne glasses at the end of her mentor’s welcome speech acknowledging that her Shelby was responsible for bringing in increasing numbers of the “green” companies sprouting like weeds all over the Silicon Valley— inventive, entrepreneurial companies in need of legal advice and support for their patents.

While the traffic inched forward, Addy chuckled with excitement. “Hindy, ol’ pal,” she said, patting the dashboard, “you and I are going places now! Next time some overzealous cops accuse you of being a traffic hazard, I’ll stare them down and inform them they’re messing with the partner of a highly prestigious law firm.”

Traffic momentarily loosened and Addy eased Hindy forward, careful not to snap the lines tethering the egg-shaped balloon. Addy sang along with Zissy Spaeth, pop rock’s newest and most flashy star, as Zissy belted out her latest hit, Light in Your Eyes, over the radio. In the corner of her eye she noticed a blaze of neon orange.

Her heart stopped. In the car next to her someone was pointing a bazooka-sized gizmo at her balloon. She blinked, trying to clear her vision.

A flare shot out, aimed straight at her floating ball of

hydrogen.

Even in the late afternoon sunlight, it was impossible to miss the explosion. The dirigible burst into a giant fireball, then slowly deflated and floated down toward the Shelby’s crimson hood.

Addy stomped on her brakes, hoping the balloon’s momentum would shoot the flaming mass forward. The fireball, safely secured by its fluorescent yellow nylon tethers, crashed down onto the windshield, blocking Addy’s view. She screeched to a halt, slammed her shoulder into the door, flung it open, and darted out, catching the heel of her pump on the doorjamb, which sent her sprawling headlong onto the pavement.

She heard tires squeal and at least a half dozen blaring horns. Stinging pain shot up from her elbow and knees. Thank goodness traffic had been just inching along.

Ignoring the pain, she bolted forward, arms raised, ready

to yank the still-burning fabric off the windshield. Before she got close enough to grab it, the sweltering heat from the flames scorched her cheeks, and she shielded her eyes with her forearm. Just when she reached the hood, a breeze lifted the infernal blob and propelled it directly at her, the nylon cords now seared through.

She braced herself for the fireball when she felt arms wrap around her chest and yank her back, barely in time to avoid the searing molten mass of goo about to descend on her head, threatening to fry her face and melt her hair.

“Are you crazy? What are you thinking?” a deep voice

bellowed in her ear, still holding her tight.

Together they watched what was left of the blimp float like a falling leaf onto the grassy shoulder, just like the Hindenburg did almost eighty years ago.

“Someone clearly doesn’t like you, short stuff,” her rescuer said, now standing next to her stroking his goatee, his face hidden behind dark sunglasses and a low-riding Dodgers cap. “More like out to get you. That was some kind of flare the driver shot at your blimp. I tried to spot his license plate, but it was covered up. Snapped a picture with my phone, though,” the man said fishing it from his pocket. “You can kind of see a tattoo on his forearm. The police will love this.”

Before she could thank him, someone cried out, “Call a fire

truck! The grass!”

Brush fires in California were no joking matter. Addy could smell the smoldering grasses. A strong breeze fanned the flames, pushing the fire toward a row of redwood trees.

Then she heard a whiny voice coming from the milling crowd of stranded passengers who’d gathered to find out what was holding up their homeward commute. “I’ve seen that blimp before. I knew it was trouble,” the whiner complained.

“Yeah, but at least she’s part of the solution,” said someone else. “Her car doesn’t use gasoline. Look at what you’re driving,” he said, sneering at the whiny woman’s crossover SUV.

Addy’s knees buckled, her head spinning. She plopped down onto the pavement and hugged her bare legs. This couldn’t be happening.

Why would someone try to destroy her car? Hindy, her

 

beloved Mustang, was just a marketing ploy, no worse than a billboard. Hindy’s fuel cell and solar panels were just two modern technologies that Addy hoped someday would become mainstream to the automotive industry. And her purpose was noble. Her “green” car told the world of inventors that she was one of them, that she would secure their patents and protect their investments. Now her expensive marketing project was in jeopardy.

Soon, swarms of firefighters were scrambling around dousing the flames, while police officers attempted to reroute traffic. A well-built bald man flipped out a paper pad and scribbled a few notes. After removing his sunglasses, he swapped the pad for a pocket camera and snapped random shots of the avid crowd.

All four local networks had sent news crews, and Addy knew two of the reporters. They had already run stories about Hindy, praising Addy’s creative marketing, which one reporter said was a refreshing change from the barrage of personal injury commercials littering daytime television.

As Addy told the reporter during her interview, Silicon Valley was going to be known, not just for starting the computer revolution and launching the social networking scene, but now for making the world green. And Addy was their lawyer.

Reality burst her daydream bubble when she was whisked aside by a team of Sunnyvale police officers. She told them what had transpired, hoping it would help them find the sniper. And she pointed out her rescuer, who was showing another pair of police officers the photo on his phone.

At the end of the interview, one of the officers handed her a ticket. “You were carrying a flammable substance without a permit. You’ll need to make a court appearance.”

Addy gasped. “But they shot at me.”

“And we’re not taking it lightly. There’s been a serious crime committed here, but that doesn’t mean you can break the law. If you hadn’t been toting that blimp, none of this would have happened.”

Addy’s eyes narrowed. “Am I’m free to go?” she said,

snatching the paperwork and turning toward Hindy.

“Yes,” the officer said, “but we’re going to need to impound

your vehicle.”

Addy halted. “Hindy? You can’t.”

The other officer beckoned with both hands, big gestures, as if directing an airplane to the gate. A tow truck wedged its way through the onlookers and began backing up in front of Hindy. “But Hindy works perfectly fine,” Addy protested. “The balloon, that was all for show. The hydrogen for the fuel cell is

where the gas tank used to be.”

The officer shook her head. “We need your car for evidence. As I said, a serious crime has just been committed, and we need to take the vehicle to the station for a thorough evaluation.”

“But I need to get home, and get to work tomorrow.”

“There’s always Uber,” said the officer with a shrug.

 

About the Author

Darin Gibby

In addition to a thriving career as a novelist, author Darin Gibby is also one of the country’s premiere patent attorneys and a partner at the prestigious firm of Kilpatrick Townsend (www.kilpatricktownsend.com). With over twenty years of experience in obtaining patents on hundreds of inventions from the latest drug delivery systems to life-saving cardiac equipment, he has built IP portfolios for numerous Fortune 500 companies. In addition to securing patents, Gibby helps clients enforce and license their patents around the world, and he has monetized patents on a range of products.

Darin’s first book, Why Has America Stopped Inventing?, explored the critical issue of America’s broken patent system. His second book, The Vintage Club, tells the story of a group of the world’s wealthiest men who are chasing a legend about a wine that can make you live forever. His third book, Gil, is about a high school coach who discovers that he can pitch with deadly speed and is given an offer to play with the Rockies during a player’s strike. Gil soon discovers, however, that his unexpected gift is the result of a rare disease, and continuing to pitch may hasten his own death.

With a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and a Master of Business Administration degree, he is highly regarded in Denver’s legal and business community as a patent strategist, business manager, and community leader. He is also a sought-after speaker on IP issues at businesses, colleges and technology forums, where he demonstrates the value of patents using simple lessons from working on products such as Crocs shoes, Izzo golf straps and Trek bicycles.

An avid traveler and accomplished triathlete, Darin also enjoys back country fly-fishing trips and skiing in the Rocky Mountains. He lives in Denver with his wife, Robin, and their four children.

His latest book is the thriller, Chasing Hindy.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

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bruce-forcieaBruce Forciea is known for taking complex scientific concepts and making them easy to understand through engaging stories and simple explanations. He is an Amazon Best Selling Author and author of several books on healing and biology, along with science fiction thriller novels. His fiction writing draws on a diverse and eclectic background that includes touring and performing with a professional show, designing digital circuits, treating thousands of patients, and teaching. His stories include complex plots with unexpected twists and turns, quirky characters, and a reality very similar to our own. Dr. Forciea lives in Wisconsin and loves writing during the solitude of the long Northern winters.

Website & Social Links:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

About the Book:

A brilliant artificial intelligence (AI) scientist, Dr. Alan Boyd, develops a new program that integrates part of his brain with a computer’s operating system. The program, Alan 2, can anticipate a user’s needs and automatically alan-2perform many tasks. A large software company, International Microsystems (IM) desperately wants the program and tempts Dr. Boyd with huge sums of money, but when Dr. Boyd refuses their offer, IM sabotages his job, leaving him in a difficult financial situation.

Dr. Boyd turns to Alan 2 for an answer to his financial problems, and Alan 2 develops plan Alpha, which is a cyber robin hood scheme to rob from rich corporations via a credit card scam.

Alan and his girlfriend Kaitlin travel to Mexico where they live the good life funded by plan Alpha, but the FBI cybercrime division has discovered part of Alan 2’s cyber escapades, and two agents, Rachel and Stu, trace the crime through the TOR network and Bitcoin.

Alan 2 discovers the FBI is on to them and advises Alan and Kaitlin to change locations. A dramatic chase ensues taking them to St. Thomas, a cruise ship bound for Spain, and finally to Morocco.

Will they escape detection? They will if Alan 2’s Plan Beta can be implemented in time. Or is ‘Plan B’ something altogether different than it appears to be, something wholly sinister that will affect the entire population of the world?

Watch the trailer at YouTube!

Purchase Information:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Publisher

Would you call yourself a born writer?

I would call myself a born dreamer who later developed the skills for writing.

What was your inspiration for Alan 2?

Alan 2 had a number of sources of inspiration. I consider myself a geeky guy with roots in the digital revolution of the 1980’s. So inspiration comes from my early work in engineering working for a defense contractor combined with my science background and love of science fiction. Hey, I was weaned on the black and white flickering images of The Twilight Zone and Outer Limits with a lot of Saturday afternoon science fiction movies thrown in.

For Alan 2, I wondered if all of this data collected from medical scans could be combined with software to produce a sophisticated artificial intelligence program. If so, then how would the program react to humans and our behaviors?

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I love themes like quantum connectedness, self-destruction due to personality problems, and opening Pandora’s box.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

For me, the process takes about a year from conducting the preliminary research to writing the first draft to editing the manuscript for submission to a publisher.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I’m disciplined when I begin a project and tend to work in intense burst of activity. I’m not the kind of writer who sits down and writes so many words every day. Hey, I have a day job and family to support!

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Alan 2 pretty much flowed from start to finish. For me, the most challenging part of the process is doing edits, especially near the end when I have to read it one more time to look for errors. I really find that difficult and want to move on to something else.

What do you love most about being an author?

I love getting the various stories rumbling around in my brain on paper and actually seeing them in print.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I went with a small publisher, Open Books, who offered me a contract on my first novel, The X-Cure. I’ve also been with a mid-sized publisher for a non-fiction book I wrote about 10 years ago and have self-published some ebooks.

I am happy with Open Books and really feel they are a partner in helping me to achieve my goals as a writer.

Where can we find you on the web?

My website:

https://www.drbruceforciea.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrBruceForciea

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorbruceforciea/

 

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Inside the Book:

Title: Chemistry of Magic
Author: Patricia Rice
Publisher: Book View Cafe
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Ecopy 

A dying viscount, a bookish botanist, and a marriage of convenience that becomes. . . inconvenient. . .



Diagnosed with consumption, Viscount “Devil” Dare knows his days are numbered. With his greedy cousin scheming to throw Dare’s mother and sisters out of their home after his death, he can hardly refuse a mysterious lady’s solution—wedding vows. Her lands would ensure his industrial success—and secure the future for those he loves. 



Bookish botanist Emilia McDowell desperately needs the land she will inherit once she marries. Her gift for the healing arts requires growing and experimenting with herbs if she’s to save lives. When she learns that her funds would benefit handsome Lord Dare, who is said to be dying, she offers a marriage of convenience. 



But if Emilia touches Dare, her dangerous healing gift could kill her. As they learn to love under trying circumstances, Emilia longs to find the courage to be a true wife—until she discovers Dare’s plans for her inheritance. Can love and marriage surmount death and betrayal?

PRE-ORDER HERE: AMAZON|GOOGLE PLAY|KOBO|B&N

MEET THE AUTHOR

With several million books in print and New York Times and USA Today’s bestseller lists under her belt, former CPA Patricia Rice writes emotionally-charged contemporary and historical romances which have won numerous awards, including the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice and Career Achievement Awards.  



Her books have also been honored as Romance Writers of America RITA® finalists in the historical, regency and contemporary categories.



A firm believer in happily-ever-after for good reason, Patricia Rice is married to her high school sweetheart and has two children. A native of Kentucky and New York, a past resident of North Carolina and St. Louis, Missouri, she currently resides in Southern California, and now does accounting only for herself. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Authors Guild, and Novelists, Inc.

 

CONNECT WITH PATRICIA: WEBSITE|TWITTER|FACEBOOK

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margaretfentonbirminghamMargaret Fenton grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and moved to Birmingham in 1996. She received her B.A. in English from the Newcomb College of Tulane University, and her Master of Social Work from Tulane. She spent nearly ten years as a child and family therapist for the Department of Human Resources before taking a break to focus on her writing. Hence, her work tends to reflect her interest in social causes and mental health, especially where kids are concerned.  She is the planning coordinator of Murder in the Magic City, a one-day, one-track annual mystery fan conference in Homewood, Alabama. She is President of the Birmingham Chapter of Sisters in Crime and a member of the Mystery Writers of America. Margaret lives in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover with her husband, a software developer.

Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about Little Girl Gone, and what compelled you to write it.

Margaret Fenton:  Little Girl Gone is the second in the Claire Conover mysteries.  I was inspired to write the story based on a newspaper article I read several years ago about teens and sexting.  Claire is also continuing her relationship with Grant Summerville, the man she met in the first book, Little Lamb Lost.

M.C.: What is your book about?

M.F.:  Claire Conover is back in the sequel to Little Lamb Lost.  She has taken into custody a 13-year-old girl found sleeping behind a grocery store.  The girl’s murdered mother is found at a construction site owned by a family friend, then the girl disappears.   Her mother worked in an illegal gambling industry in Birmingham.  Things only get more complicated from there.  Is it possible the girl pulled the trigger?  She doesn’t have a lot of street smarts, so where could she have run? Claire has to find the answers, and the girl, fast.

M.C.:  What themes do you explore in Little Girl Gone?

M.F.:  Claire is a child protective services social worker, so all of my books explore kids in danger who come into the foster care/adoptive system.  As I said above, there is a bit about sexting in this book and the effects that cell phones have on everyone.  Information is instant now, and that’s part of what I touch on in this book.

M.C.:  Why do you write?

M.F.:  I had a wonderful mother who instilled a love of reading in me at a very early age.  I loved mysteries most of all.  I loved Trixie Belden, the Hardy Boys, and Encyclopedia  Brown as a child, and then read a lot of Agatha Christie and Rex Stout.  After I moved to Birmingham in 1996, I got to know the late Anne George.  She was the wonderful author of the Southern Sisters mysteries and she really encouraged me to give writing a go.

M.C.:  When do you feel the most creative?

M.F.:  First thing in the morning.  I grab a cup of coffee, stay in my p.j.’s and write until lunchtime at least.

M.C.:  How picky are you with language?

M.F.:  Not very.  I write based on rhythm and feel.  Sometimes the grammar isn’t totally correct, but it’s dialogue so I think it’s okay.  I wish I had a broader vocabulary sometimes.

M.C.:  When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?

M.F:  Absolutely.  When I was writing Little Lamb Lost, I was really struggling with the all-important opening paragraph.  I hated what I had written and needed something new.  I grabbed a drink and went and sat outside on my porch and cleared my mind.  Then it came to me.  The perfect opening sentence for that book.  I’m convinced it was a gift from someone, somewhere.

LGGcoverM.C.:  What is your worst time as a writer?

M.F.:  After Little Lamb Lost came out in 2009, my publisher decided they were only going to publish thrillers.  Little Girl Gone is not a thriller.  They asked me to rework it, but it just wasn’t going to happen, so they passed.  Not having a publisher after you’ve had one is really hard.  It was tough dealing with that feeling of rejection and trying to decide what to do next.

M.C.:  Your best?

M.F.:  Oh I love this story.  I had the most amazing and inspirational English teacher in high school.  When I got published, I really wanted to share that with him.  I started to look for him, as he wasn’t teaching at my high school anymore.  I searched a while and even heard a rumor he had died.  Then one of my friends tracked him down.  I wrote him a long, gushy letter and sent him a copy of the book.  He loved it!  We are in touch again and even friends on Facebook.  He influenced me to major in English in college and start writing.

M.C.:  Is there anything that would stop you from writing?

M.F.:  Catastrophic head injury, maybe.  Maybe.

M.C.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?

M.F.:  The story above about my teacher.

M.C.:  Is writing an obsession to you?

M.F:  It’s just something I really enjoy.  I have to work not to get too obsessed with the story at the expense of everything else in life.

M.C.:  Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?

M.F.:  Claire and I do have a lot in common. We are both social workers, although she is a lot more of a workaholic than I ever was.  I dealt with the mental health side of things at DHR, while Claire is an actual social worker.  And of course, she’s younger and prettier than I am!  I think most authors create protagonists that are younger and better looking and tougher.

M.C.:  Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?

M.F.:  My writing, at least, is fed by darker points of reality.  The thing I love about any good mystery is that justice is always served.  That doesn’t always happen in reality and that’s disappointing.  So it’s nice to get drunk on fiction.

M.C.:  Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?

M.F:  I do.  www.margaretfenton.com  Thanks for this interview, it was fun!

 

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phil in b&W.jpgPhilip Cioffari is the author of the novels: DARK ROAD, DEAD END; JESUSVILLE;  CATHOLIC BOYS; and the short story collection, A HISTORY OF THINGS LOST OR BROKEN, which won the Tartt Fiction Prize, and the D. H. Lawrence award for fiction. His short stories have been published widely in commercial and literary magazines and anthologies, including North American Review, Playboy, Michigan Quarterly Review, Northwest Review, Florida Fiction, and Southern Humanities Review. He has written and directed for Off and Off-Off Broadway. His Indie feature film, which he wrote and directed, LOVE IN THE AGE OF DION, has won numerous awards, including Best Feature Film at the Long Island Int’l Film Expo, and Best Director at the NY Independent Film & Video Festival. He is a Professor of English, and director of the Performing and Literary Arts Honors Program, at William Paterson University. www.philipcioffari.com

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Bronx Kill. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?

A: My novel, The Bronx Kill, is about a drowning death and the effect it has on those involved in the incident. On a hot August night, five teenage friends challenge each other to swim the East River from the Bronx to Queens. In the attempt, one boy drowns and the body of the only girl among them is never found. The three survivors take a vow never again to speak about the incident. When they reunite five years later, they find themselves at the mercy of the drowned boy’s brother, an NYPD detective, who holds them responsible for his brother’s death and vows to bring them to justice by any means possible. The lead character, Danny Baker, one of the three survivors, must fight not only to preserve his childhood friendships but to save himself and his friends from the detective’s brand of vigilante justice.

Bronx Kill Cover JPEG.jpgI wanted to write about the complexity and durability of friendship. The apparent and not-so-apparent ties that bind us, the debts we owe one another, the divisive factors that can tear a friendship apart, the loyalties that can supersede everything, even ethical and moral principles—these are my concerns here.

In particular, my focus is on friendship that originates in childhood, that continues to hold us together long after childhood ends, friendship that develops and matures over time, that changes as the dynamic of the relationship changes, friendship that allows us at its best to be individuals within the larger framework of the we.

The characters in this novel have been friends since grade school. They have experienced the small triumphs and defeats that occur in playgrounds and alleys, on handball courts and ballfields. They have endured the mean streets of the Bronx, faced hardship, humiliation and loss; but it isn’t until their mid-twenties that they must confront the most severe test of their loyalty to one another. I wrote it as a suspense thriller because I thought that was the most effective way to engage the reader in this story.

Q: What do you think makes a good mystery/thriller? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: Of course there are many elements that go into making a successful story. In my book, I strove 1) for a high level of tension throughout, 2) a strong atmosphere of danger and foreboding, and 3) strong, clearly defined characters. I also try to find something sympathetic in each of my characters, even the seemingly unlikeable ones.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A:  I work out the details of the story as I write. I take notes along the way but mostly the process is intuitive, instinctual as I move for scene to scene. What does my character want? What would be the step or steps he/she would take to get what he/she wants? The way I see it character drives plot.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: Characters usually form inside my head. I may jot down a few notes but mostly I get a feel for them, who they are, what they want. Then they become more defined in the writing process. My lead character in The Bronx Kill is Danny Baker, a 24 year old man who returns to his hometown, the Bronx, after a self-imposed exile of five years. He is haunted by a sense of guilt and responsibility for the death of his friend. He wants to find the truth about what happened the night of the drowning, but as important is his search to find out the truth about himself, why he did what he did, why he hadn’t acted differently, what more could he have done to save his friend. I knew Danny well enough that I didn’t really have to go outside myself to develop him.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: The obsessed detective who seeks revenge for his brother’s death came to me as I was writing the story of these friends. He assumed a greater role in my mind, and hence in the story, as I got deeper into the book. He wasn’t there at the start. What characterizes him is his unswerving dedication to seeking justice for his dead brother. He’s ruthless and will use any means necessary to enact his vengeance, which adds considerably to sense of imminent danger in the book.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: As Elmore Leonard said, cut out the boring parts. I try to make each scene absolutely necessary. Each scene jumps the story forward. I use the mood and atmosphere not only of the physical setting but also the interior landscape of the characters’ minds to keep the tension high and unrelenting.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: I use as much specific, physical detail of the place—whether it be a street, a room, a tavern—to create a visual image for the reader. I always have a particular street or room or bar in mind when I write.  I use the quality of light to highlight atmosphere. I make sure I know my settings well. I’ve been there, lived there. I know the place in all seasons, at different times of the day and night, on holidays and work days. I try to capture the feel of a place, not only its physical details.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: I never start with theme. Theme is something I discover after I’ve written the final word. I concentrate on telling the truest, most convincing story I can tell. Theme will take care of itself. And, yes, themes recur in my work. That’s probably inevitable.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: For me, editing improves my work. Makes it tighter, more focused. I cut out waste, superfluity.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Perseverance. Showing up at your desk everyday. Continually improving your writing style. Keeping an open, curious mind. (Sorry, that’s four)

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: Writing has always brought me pleasure. If it didn’t, I’d stop.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: Taking workshops and going to writers’ conferences have helped me immeasurably.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: Learning the craft of writing is a life-long endeavor. Enjoy the ride.

 

 

 

 

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