Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Interview with Larry D. Thompson, Author of Dark Money

Larry D. Thompson was first a trial lawyer. He tried more than 300 cases throughout Texas, winning in excess of 95% of them. When his youngest son graduated from college, he decided to write his first novel. Since his mother was an English teacher and his brother, Thomas Thompson, had been a best-selling author, it seemed the natural thing to do.

Larry writes about what he knows best…lawyers, courtrooms and trials. The legal thriller is his genre. DARK MONEY is his fifth story and the second in the Jack Bryant series.
Larry and his wife, Vicki, call Houston home and spend their summers on a mountain top in Vail, Colorado. He has two daughters, two sons and four grandchildren.

For More Information

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I spent more than forty years as a Texas trial lawyer. I grew up In Fort Worth, the son of school teachers. Upon graduation from The University of Texas, I moved to Houston where my wife and I raised three children, all of whom developed into responsible and independent adults. After trying more than three hundred cases, I decided to write what I knew best, stories about lawyers, judges, courtrooms and trials. When not in Houston, writing and still working part-time with my law firm, my wife and I spend summers in Vail where my youngest son lives. We get out of the Texas heat and enjoy the beauty and weather in the mountains where we hike, I play golf with my son and I work on novels.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

I grew up in a different era when it was safe for kids to wander the streets of Fort Worth. At the age of six, my mother allowed me to walk a block to the bus stop, clad in shorts and a T-shirt, but no shoes, take the bus downtown and walk to the library. Every summer I would check out five books, read them in a week and go back to the library the next week to check the old ones back in and get five new (at least to me) ones. That’s where I developed my love of books and reading.

When did you begin writing?

About ten years ago my youngest son had graduated from SMU. With all of the kids out of the nest, I decided to try writing a novel. My last writing class had been freshman English at The University of Texas, but I figured that I had read thousands of books over the years and I could surely write one. So, I did.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I usually write during the mornings for a few hours. Up until now, unless I was in trial, I wrote for two or three hours and then went to the office. On weekends I would expand that writing time to five or so hours. I firmly believe that it is hard to be creative for longer than that time. Others disagree and describe writing for eight or ten hours. That’s not for me. Besides, if I stick to my schedule, I can turn out the first draft of a legal thriller in about five months. Then, comes the hard part: editing and re-editing ten or fifteen times until I say it’s finished.

What is this book about?

It’s a legal thriller, a mystery and an expose’ of the corruption of big money secretly contributed to political campaigns in this country. In Dark Money murders occur at a political fundraiser in Fort Worth and Jack is appointed special prosecutor, charged with finding the killers. It leads him on a traill to an anti-government militia compound in West Texas, to New Orleans and New York until he finally gathers enough evidence to reveal the killer in a suspense-filled trial that climaxes the story.

What inspired you to write it?

As a lawyer, I have always followed the important decisions from our United States Supreme Court. I was dismayed when the court handed down the Citizens United opinion and followed it with Speech Now and McCutcheon. In the name of First Amendment free speech they opened the flood gates to corporations, billionaires and labor unions, telling them they could secretly fund any campaign they chose and no one would learn their names or how much they contributed. The Supreme Court has done this country a terrible disservice. I wanted to tell a good story and also educate the reader to this problem.

Who is your biggest supporter?

That’s easy. My wife and children.

Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

I have never worked with a critique group. Instead, when I have written and re-written a story, I send it out to about twenty family members and friends and, hopefully, some strangers who enjoy a good book. I ask for and usually receive very candid and sometimes blunt comments and criticisms.

Who is your favorite author?

That would be my brother, Tommy Thompson, who was the best of his generation. Currently, I look forward to reading Michael Connelly’s stories.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

I have a very good agent, Ken Atchity. He lives and works out of Los Angeles.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing?

The short answer is “no.” This is my fifth novel. I now have an agent and a publishing and promotion plan. However, the road to getting So Help Me God, my first novel, published was so rocky that I even abandoned any hope of getting it done. Then my wife (who is my publicist) and I re-grouped and self-published. We promoted it heavily and after far too long a time, my agent, Ken Atchity, agreed to represent me. My first three books were with New York houses (Tor/Forge and St. Martin’s). Then I realized that they paid only a modest advance, did no promotion and took most of the profits. My agent had started his own imprint, Story Merchant Books, in conjunction with Amazon. I moved to Story Merchant and believe I have found a home.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

It’s available on Kindle and can be ordered from any book store.

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

The literary book tours where there are stops like this one are the absolute best bang for the buck (and I thank you).

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Don’t ever give up. A few writers get lucky and hit it big with their first novel. Still, I know far more who write five, or six or eight books and finally “get discovered.”

What is up next for you?

This is interesting and somewhat different from what I usually write. My brother was a best-selling writer of true crime in the eighties. He died way too young. His best book was Blood and Money, the true story of murders in the ultra-expensive River Oaks section of Houston. Because it was true, the characters were real. He and Doubleday were sued for libel three times. I successfully defended all three cases. The trials were fascinating. Now, after 30 years Blood and Money is to be made into a television series (things move slowly in Hollywood).In conjunction with the series, I am going to write Blood and Money, The Libel Trials. It will read like fiction but will be completely true.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Book Spotlight: The Black Sheep Shadow by Ashley Terrell

The city lights blind your amazement. The sound of the traffic challenges you to be alive. Families ask bystanders to make magic and capture the moment with photographs. Newly engaged couples seal their union by kissing under shooting stars while loving by crossing their hearts.

But what if your heart was under arrest, wouldn’t want to embrace something to feel something like others?

Go inside the world of one courageous sheep as she discovers that her heart was under attack by darkness. As she travels on a spiritual journey to understanding her purpose, overcoming the understanding her purpose, self-acceptance, and the importance of inspiration, she rose against the odds with forgiveness and strengthening her faith.

Purchase here!

Ashley Terrell is the founder of Stella Bistro Foods and Black Sheep Inc. Terrell is the host and co-director of Cooking with Stella (2016) and Unaverage Ash (2016).  She resides on the East Coast where she enjoys blissful sunsets and sounds of ocean waves.
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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"Waiting On" Wednesday: The More of Less by Joshua Becker

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick for this week: The More of Less by Joshua Becker. I am definitely looking for less "stuff" in my life. How about you?

Don’t Settle for More
Most of us know we own too much stuff. We feel the burden of our clutter. We tire of cleaning and managing and organizing. Our toy rooms are messy, our drawers won’t close, our closets are filled, and we can’t fit our cars in our garages. The evidence of clutter is all around us.
Meanwhile, this constant accumulation of stuff slowly begins robbing us of life. It redirects our God-given passions. It steals our greatest potential. It consumes our limited resources. And it distracts us from the very life we wish we were living.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. 
One of today’s most influential minimalist advocates, Joshua Becker, used to spend his days accumulating more and more. But then he realized how his possessions were not only failing to make him happy, they were actually keeping him from the very things that do. Instead of bringing fulfillment, they brought distraction. In The More of Less, Joshua helps you…
•          recognize the life-giving benefits of owning less
•          realize how all the stuff you own is keeping you from pursuing your dreams
•          craft a personal, practical approach to decluttering your home and life
•          discover greater contentment, less envy, and more joy
•          recognize why you buy more than you need 
•          experience the joys of generosity
•          learn why the best part of minimalism isn’t a clean house, it’s a full life
It’s time to own your possessions instead of letting them own you. After all, the beauty of minimalism isn’t in what it takes away. It’s in what it gives. 

Make Room in Your Life for What You Really Want
“Maybe you don’t need to own all this stuff.” After a casual conversation with his neighbor on Memorial Day 2008, Joshua Becker realized he needed a change. He was spending far too much time organizing possessions, cleaning up messes, and looking for more to buy.
So Joshua and his wife decided to remove the nonessential possessions from their home and life. Eventually, they sold, donated, or discarded over 60 percent of what they owned. In exchange, they found a life of more freedom, more contentment, more generosity, and more opportunity to pursue the things that mattered most.
The More of Less delivers an empowering plan for living more by owning less. With practical suggestions and encouragement to personalize your own minimalist style, Joshua Becker shows you why minimizing possessions is the best way to maximize life.
Are you ready for less cleaning, less anxiety, and less stress in your life? Simplicity isn’t as complicated as you think.

What are you "waiting on" this week?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Musing Mondays - April 18

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme now hosted at Jenn's new blog Books And A Beat that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION:  Name your least favorite plot device employed by way too many books that you actually enjoyed, otherwise.

Happy Monday--well, it's actually Thursday and I am going back and posting the things I would have posted if I had the time earlier in the week. :)

Currently reading two books...or trying to in between spending time with the kids who are on school vacation and working.

This was supposed to be a simple summer for Billy; one more lazy expanse of time before college began. He'd fill the hours playing with Jimmy – his canine best buddy – going camping and doing all the things he promised Jimmy they'd do before Billy left.

But that was before the accident that shook the entire town.

It was before the summer job that turned into something so much more than a way to get a paycheck.

And it was before Vicki.

This summer was destined to be many things to Billy, things he didn't truly understand until now. But it was definitely not going to be simple.

An enormously touching, richly textured, deeply moving novel of new adulthood, THE CHANGING SEASON is an experience to savor.

One murder ignites the powderkeg that threatens to consume the Medici's Florence. Amidst the chaos, five women and one legendary artist weave together a plot that could bring peace, or get them all killed. Seeking to wrest power from the Medici family in 15th Century Florence, members of the Pazzi family drew their blades in a church and slew Giuliano. But Lorenzo de Medici survives, and seeks revenge on everyone involved, plunging the city into a murderous chaos that takes dozens of lives. Bodies are dragged through the streets, and no one is safe. Five women steal away to a church to ply their craft in secret. Viviana, Fiammetta, Isabetta, Natasia, and Mattea are painters, not allowed to be public with their skill, but freed from the restrictions in their lives by their art. When a sixth member of their group, Lapaccia, goes missing, and is rumored to have stolen a much sought after painting as she vanished, the women must venture out into the dangerous streets to find their friend and see her safe. They will have help from one of the most renowned painters of their era the peaceful and kind Leonardo Da Vinci. It is under his tutelage that they will flourish as artists, and with his access that they will infiltrate some of the highest, most secretive places in Florence, unraveling one conspiracy as they build another in its place. Historical fiction at its finest, Donna Russo Morin begins a series of Da Vinci s disciples with a novel both vibrant and absorbing, perfect for the readers of Sarah Dunant."

Vivid and evocative, Portrait of a Conspiracy offers a riveting portrait of the dangerous glamour of Renaissance Florence, where six enigmatic women of a secret Society find themselves plunged into the violent intrigues between the Medici and the Pazzi families. Such famous characters as Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli stride across Morin’s bold tale of a group of women who must risk everything to save one of their own as a far-reaching blood feud threatens to engulf the city; this is a riveting page-turner unlike any historical novel you’ve read, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition into the first of a projected trilogy by a masterful writer at the peak of her craft .
-C. W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de’ Medici and The Vatican Princess

What are you reading this week?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Interview with Meredith Allard, Author of When It Rained at Hembry Castle

Meredith Allard is the author of the bestselling novels The Loving Husband Trilogy, That You Are Here, Victory Garden, Woman of Stones, and My Brother’s Battle. Her newest release, the historical novel When It Rained at Hembry Castle, is a great read for fans of Downton Abbey.

Visit Meredith online at www.meredithallard.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+Pinterest, and Goodreads.

When did you begin writing?

I began writing in college. I’ve always loved to write, even as a kid, but it wasn’t until college that I started writing short stories and I had my first attempt at writing a novel. After I finished college, I began writing historical novels, and all these years later I’m still at it.

What is this book about?

When It Rained at Hembry Castle is a love story set in Victorian England. The novel is about Edward Ellis, a rising author, and Daphne Meriwether, the American niece of the 9th Earl of Staton. Daphne is new to England and she must learn how to live in the Downton Abbey-like world her father’s family lives in.

What inspired you to write it?

I’ve been a fan of Charles Dickens’ since college, and about 20 years ago I came up with the idea of writing a novel set in Victorian England with a character who would be loosely based on Dickens’ early life. I loved the idea but kept it on the back burner while I was teaching and writing other novels. Finally, in 2014 I had finished my other projects and I was able to start working on this Victorian era novel. During that time I had become a big fan of Downton Abbey, and it so happens that Dickens’ grandparents were in service. Somehow, my active imagination managed to find a way to intertwine this character who was loosely based on Dickens with a Downton Abbey-like story, complete with upstairs/downstairs stories.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

I believe in that old adage about how writers have aspects of themselves in all their characters. Of the characters in When It Rained at Hembry Castle, it would be a tough call choosing my favorite between Edward and Daphne. Edward has a lot of me in him, especially since he’s a writer working hard to be successful. Daphne also has a lot of me in her because she’s the only American in the story. I think she represents how I might feel if I were suddenly living in the strict, rule-driven world of the English aristocracy.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

When It Rained at Hembry Castle can be bought at any of the major retailers, including Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, and Barnes and Noble. The book is available as an e-book, which is on sale for 99 cents until April 30, and in paperback.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Keep writing! It took me 17 years from the time I began writing historical fiction until I had a bestseller with my Loving Husband Trilogy. When I first began writing and I was trying to get short stories published, it took me four years to get my first publication. If I had given up 3 ½ years into the process, I never would have become a published writer. Take the time to grow into the writer  you want to be.

What is up next for you?

Fans of my Loving Husband Trilogy will be happy to know that I’m writing the prequel to the story, called Down Salem Way. When I wrote the first book in the trilogy, Her Dear & Loving Husband, I did a lot of research about the Salem Witch Trials and I’m enjoying the fact that I get to revisit my research because the prequel is set in Salem during the witch hunts as well. 

Is there anything you would like to add?

When It Rained at Hembry Castle is a great read for anyone who loves Downton Abbey, but it’s also for fans of Victorian era fiction, or even Charles Dickens. I’ve been lucky because the novel has been well received so far. I think fans of my Loving Husband Trilogy will appreciate the romance between Edward and Daphne. While there are no supernatural elements in When It Rained at Hembry Castle, there is definitely true love.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Interview with Susanna Calkins, Author of A Death Along the River Fleet (Lucy Campion Mysteries)

Susanna Calkins writes the Lucy Campion mysteries, set in 17th century England.  Her books have been nominated for several awards; her third—The Masque of a Murderer (Minotaur Books, 2015)—was shortlisted for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, the Agatha for Best Historical Mystery, and the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award. Her fourth book—A Death Along the River Fleet—was released April 12, 2016. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she lives outside Chicago now with her husband and two sons. With a Ph.D. in British history, she works at Northwestern University. She also blogs about writing, history and mystery at www.susannacalkins.com and can be found on Facebook and Twitter (@scalkins3).

When did you begin writing?

I began writing when I was in second grade, and in fact started my first novel when I was eight years old (and its one that no one should ever read!) I worked on that novel off and on for several years, and it was heavily influenced by whatever I happened to be reading at the time (e.g. Narnia, Prydain, Alice in Wonderland). I wrote stories all the way through high school, but in college, the urge to write creatively was sort of beaten out of me. It was only when I working on my PhD many years later did that creative urge finally re-appear, although I did not start my first novel until several years after that period.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

Because I have a full-time job, two kids, and just a lot going on, I think I’m a very chaotic writer. I do grab time whenever I can; I definitely do not wait to have a three-hour block of time to write, because that rarely seems to materialize. But there are two benefits to my chaotic approach: (1) I’m completely thrilled if I even manage to write a single paragraph in a given week, given how busy I am; (2) I do not make myself guilty if I don’t write or meet some word limit; and (3) I don’t ever have writer’s block or stare at a blank page. I’m usually thinking about writing even when I’m not writing, so by the time I have those few minutes, I’m ready to put a scene down, or even a chapter. I also think that writing fast helps me write a better-paced mystery, so it works well for me all around.

What is this book about?

A DEATH ALONG THE RIVER FLEET opens with Lucy Campion, 17th c. printer’s apprentice and bookseller, on her way to deliver some books to a customer several miles from her shop. As she crosses the River Fleet and enters the vast wasteland created by the Great Fire of London of 1666, she encounters a strange woman who speaks of being chased by the Devil. The woman is barefoot, clad only in a shift, covered in blood that is not her own, and unable to remember her identity.  Worried that the woman will be set upon by fearful villagers, Lucy brings the woman to the home of a physician she knows. When they suspect that the woman may be a noblewoman, the physician does not wish to throw her out of her house and presses Lucy to tend the woman while the woman’s family is being located. To make matters more strange, the body of a murdered man is found in the ruins nearby, and the odd woman may well be the murderess.

What inspired you to write it?

My novels always start with an opening image—usually something very simple that triggers a number of questions for me. So for A DEATH ALONG THE RIVER FLEET, I had the image of a senseless young woman, running as if the Devil were chasing her. I was interested too in the medical questions of the day—on closer inspection, not only did this woman have odd wounds on her hands and an amulet of rosemary around her neck, but it was clear that someone had been doing bloodletting on her neck. As the questions arose, it became fun for me to answer them.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

My books are available through bookstores across North America as well as online, through sites such as BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.com.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Ironically, my advice is to ignore most advice by other authors—even those who appear to be very successful. Blanket statements like “Set a word quota every day and stick to it” or “Write at the same time every day,” or “Don’t watch TV while you write your novels” can set authors up for a sense of failure if they don’t follow the rule. [Okay, no one ever says the last one, which is good, because I sometimes write or edit while my husband is watching TV]. The thing is, authors need to figure out for themselves how to persevere and turn a collection of ideas and words into a novel. Sometimes the inability to move forward is about ‘butt in chair,’ but sometimes, its about the decision to set a manuscript aside. So I guess my advice is, Know Thyself.

What is up next for you?

I am working on some other novels—a Young Adult set in 19th century Paris which I hope to shop around soon, another mystery set in 1930 Chicago, and a contemporary.

Thank you so much for having me!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound | Kobo

Monday, April 11, 2016

Interview with Anita Hughes, Author of Island in the Sea

ANITA HUGHES is the author of, Island in the Sea, Rome in Love, French Coast, Lake Como, Monarch Beach and Market Street. She attended UC Berkeley's Masters in Creative Writing Program, and has taught Creative Writing at The Branson School in Ross, California. Hughes lives with her family in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Sydney, Australia.

When did you begin writing?

I won a writing contest in THE AUSTRALIAN, Australia’s only national newspaper when I was eight years old. The headline read “Australia’s Next Great Writers.” I still have the newspaper clipping. I even won twenty-five dollars – which I immediately spent on a pair of shoes.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I write all day until six o’clock. Then I treat myself to a cup of coffee and a few pages from whatever book I’m reading. I often revise at night.

What is this book about?

Island in the Sea is about a young female music executive who is sent to Majorca, Spain to make a middle-aged, tortured songwriter fulfill his contract.

What inspired you to write it?

I have always loved Majorca. It is a gorgeous island off the coast of Spain full of beautiful scenery and delicious foods. And I am fascinated by the way music affects our lives. We all can think of songs that have changed us in some ways.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

I admit I have a bit of a crush on Lionel, the failing songwriter. He is quite troubled but has a very dry wit.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

It was fairly smooth. I put writing aside for years to raise my family, but once I sat down to write a novel, I really enjoyed it. I was lucky enough to get an agent fairly quickly and for her to sell my first two books.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I always think the most important thing is to be in love with what you are writing. Then hopefully, readers will be too!

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Island in the Sea is available at all bookstores and online sites.

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

The best investment I have made is with my time, going to events. I love connecting with bookstores and readers and I think it pays off.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Read as much as you can and write what inspires you.

What is up next for you?

My next novel, SANTORINI SUNSETS, will be released on August 2nd and my first holiday novel, CHRISTMAS IN PARIS, comes out on October 4th!

Is there anything you would like to add?

Thank you for having me on your wonderful site!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Book Review: The Productivity Book by Michael Brecht

Michael Brecht, CEO of Doodle, an online scheduling tool, has created The Productivity Book, where he compiled interviews with experts to provide you with the tips and tools to increase your productivity.

Ever wondered what the secret is to productivity? Here’s a hint: there isn’t just one. Introducing the Doodle Productivity Book! Containing in-depth interviews with 30 of the world’s top productivity & time management experts, this book lifts the lid on the industry’s best kept tips and tricks. The result? An engaging and practical guide that will help you find your natural pace, so you can work smarter—not harder.



Since the questions we asked opened a window into a day in the life of a productivity expert, we wanted our final conclusion to reflect this. So, here’s our summary of what a productive day should look like.

The perfect day starts the night before. Outline your goals. Whether this is a simple to-do list or time blocking, make sure tomorrow’s objectives are clear. Then sleep on it.

Everyone needs a different amount of sleep. Know what works for you and structure your schedule around that. Nearly all of our experts cited adequate rest as essential to maintaining productivity.

Wake up bright and early. Leave enough time to spend at least an hour and a half preparing for the day. Whether it’s reading, yoga, Pilates, running or simply thinking. Follow this with a healthy breakfast and you’re good to go.

Get to work. Now that you’ve prepared mentally, it’s time to take on the day. This period is when you’re at your most productive, so use it wisely. Let the calls go to voicemail, put your cellphone on silent and don’t answer emails. Emails are rarely worth your most energized and motivated moments. Unless it’s a creative meeting, don’t take it.

If you need time constraints, use a timer! Or the Pomodoro Technique.

Once you’re into the afternoon, time block to focus on admin and less important tasks like responding to emails and taking meetings. This will stop you from getting distracted and help you to focus on one thing at a time.

Because your brain is slower, this is the best part of the day to incorporate technology. So, start up your favorite tried and tested apps and use them to help you take notes, see your reminders, book appointments and whatever else is important. And remember, saying “no” can be more productive than “yes”.

By this point, you should have had a highly productive day. So, use the evening to relax with friends or family. But remember: A little planning the night before can go a long way toward having a successful, fulfilling tomorrow.


The Productivity Book is a helpful resource for those who wish to become more productive by learning how to work smarter, not harder. After a brief introduction, numerous interviews appear with a variety of productivity and time management experts. The book is rounded out with an engaging Afterword and Conclusion.

It's definitely interesting to learn how experts plans their days, what Apps they use, and what their predictions are for the future. As someone who hasn't always used a ton of Apps, I am glad to have a list of new ones to consider to increase my productivity. My slight criticism is that the interviews coming one after the other makes for some monotonous--though easy--reading. I would have liked to have seen more of the author's thoughts interspersed between the interviews. He is CEO of an online scheduling tool and must have a wealth of his own information to share.

The Productivity Book is loaded with great information, so it's definitely worth reading. The low cost of the book makes purchasing it a no-brainer. Pick it up and see what a difference it can make for you.


Buy links:

Book links:

I received a free digital copy of this book from the author through Goddess Fish Promotions. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Michael Brecht will be awarding 5 Doodle Premium Accounts for Free to randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter
 during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I read this book for the following challenge:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Guest Post: My Spring Reading Habits by Jill Kemerer, Author of Her Small-Town Romance

Thrilled to have author Jill Kemerer with us today. Jill and I met at the Books & Such blog, the blog of Books & Such Literary Management.

Cozy Lake Endwell, Michigan, seems the perfect place for Jade Emerson's new T-shirt shop—and perhaps a fresh start. After a lifetime of letdowns, she is finally ready to face the future on her own. So when local wilderness guide Bryan Sheffield offers to help Jade overcome a past trauma, she warns him they will remain strictly business. But soon, with the help of Bryan's big, complicated family and a boisterous St. Bernard named Teeny, Jade's frozen heart begins to thaw. Now Jade wonders if she can return the favor, bringing a little happiness to a man who has long kept his own sorrow under wraps…

Interested in purchasing Her Small-Town Romance? Purchase links available at http://jillkemerer.com/books/her-small-town-romance/.

My Spring Reading Habits by Jill Kemerer

I’m a seasonal reader. Well, let me rephrase that. I read all year, but my habits change with each season. When spring comes around, I want my nonfiction helpful, bright and optimistic, and I want my fiction fun, light and romantic.

In the winter I gravitate toward cookbooks with comfort foods or thick biographies, but in the spring I’m all about tea parties, birds and gardening. I also have three Love Inspired contemporary romances on my nightstand!

Spring is the perfect time to fantasize about road trips. Maine, Vermont, the Grand Canyon, Napa Valley, Wyoming, Mackinac Island, anywhere in Virginia—I check out books so I can dream about them.

Will you catch me reading a Christmas novel in the spring? Highly doubtful. What about a much-talked-about critical favorite novel with a reputation for being sad or disturbing? Maybe in the fall. Maybe not. I just know I won’t be reading it in the spring!

Here are a few goodies on my current list:

The phrase art of stress-free gets me every time. Plus, I like books that motivate me to get more done. Win-win!

Her One and Only by Becky Wade.

I am SO excited for Becky Wade’s new novel! This is the fourth book in the Porter Family Novel series, and I’m more than ready for it. Becky writes contemporary Christian romance, and her books are heartwarming, funny and amazing. I could go on and on!

The Coast of Maine by Carl Heilman II

This is a photography book, and oh, the beauty! If I can’t go to Maine in person, I can at least go there in my dreams.

What are your reading? Do your habits change with the seasons?

Thank you, Cheryl, for letting me be your guest today!

Jill Kemerer writes Christian romance novels with love, humor and faith for Harlequin Love Inspired. Jill loves coffee, M&Ms, fluffy animals, magazines and her hilarious family. Visit her website, jillkemerer.com, and connect with Jill on Facebook, Twitter and sign up for her Newsletter!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Interview with Lori Soard, Author of Cupid's Quest

Lori Soard has a PhD in Journalism and Creative Writing, but she's hardly the stuffy professor type. She loves nothing better than a good romantic comedy and thinks the good guy should always win and the ending should always be happy.

From an early age, Lori started honing her story telling skills. As a kid she was rarely seen without a book in her hand, even walking and reading at the same time. Her first stories were about the world around her. At twenty she wrote her first novel, which she admits was horrible. At twenty-one, she sold her first article to a local newspaper. Once she got that taste of having others read her work and realizing that she could reach others and touch their hearts, there was no turning back for this natural born writer.

"If I can make someone's day just a tiny bit better," Lori says, "if I can make them smile even though they are sad, make them think things could be better, make them understand how much God loves them, then I have accomplished something. I write my stories, articles and books with that one person in mind who really needs the message. If I can change one person's perspective, then I've succeeded."

Lori is a life-long Hoosier and lives in southern Indiana with her two daughters, husband and beloved pets. "During the extreme low points in life, it has been my animals that have seen me through. There is nothing like the deep devotion of a dog or the unconditional love of a cat." Lori adores animals and while some of her dear friends have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge she will always stand by her belief that animals make the world a better place.

For More Information

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in Indianapolis. One of my fondest memories is of going to Ellenberger Park. There was a metal pumpkin coach, just like from the story of Cinderella. The kids would all play on it. I’m sure it was actually kind of a dangerous piece of playground equipment and they have since removed it, but what fabulous memories all of us kids who played there have. It was also one of the best parks around for sledding when it would snow. And, they had an ice skating rink on the property. You could rent skates and go skating for a couple of bucks.

When did you begin writing?

The second I learned how to string letters into words and words into sentences, I started reading and writing nearly every second of every day. I still have my journals from first and second grade. They are pretty cute and simple, but I always felt the need to get things down on paper and to come up with stories.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I mainly write during the evenings. I am a night owl and always have been. I start to really wake up and get creative around 9 p.m. That is often when ideas strike and when I can pound out the most work and the best work. If I am forced, I can work at other times, but my preferred writing time would be 9 p.m. until about 3 or 4 a.m.

What is this book about?

Cupid’s Quest is centered around a scavenger hunt. Gracie is trying to save the nursing home she runs and loves. Brandt is granting his ill mother a wish. They keep bumping into each other. They knew each other from high school, but he’s a few years older than her and has no idea she’s always had a huge crush on him. Along the way, the seniors from Gracie’s nursing home get into quite a bit of mischief.

What inspired you to write it?

This book is actually part of a series called Cupid’s Crossing. I thought of the town before the book. I had started another story and set it in the fictional town, but the story wasn’t working and really did not fit the town as it was a darker story. So, I threw out the story but kept the town.

I made a map of the town and named some of the streets and buildings. The characters in the town started to come to life and eventually Days Never New, the nursing home, was born and the characters came to me from that.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

No and no. I had an agent years ago but unfortunately I found that she simply took a percentage for a book I’d sold and didn’t do much else to build my career. I haven’t really looked for another and am not sure I’d want one. It would have to be an agency so amazingly fantastic that I had zero doubts.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

I would call it more of a roller coaster. There is the climb toward publication when you’re trying to get someone to believe in you enough to publish your book. Then, there is the height of the hill where you get the call, such as when I sold my first book to Thorndike Five Star. You are looking out over everything and you are so excited. The rest is all downhill where you are zooming through the phases and getting word out about your book and then it’s suddenly all over and you have to start again with the next book.

Fortunately, I love roller coasters.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

Not a thing. Even though I made mistakes along the way, my mistakes make me who I am today. Every mistake, every tough moment, every challenge has grown me as a person and made me stronger. I’ve learned to lean on God more and learned that my prayers aren’t always going to be answered when I want or in the way I want, but that I have to trust that He knows what is best for me.

I would not write a couple of the early books I wrote in the way I wrote them, because I don’t think they are a good representation of who I am today. Fortunately, I’ve been able to rework and start rereleasing some of those older titles.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

My book is available for Kindle and in paperback on Amazon and B&N. Later this year, it will be available in additional electronic formats and we’re talking about releasing an audio version if there is enough interest.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Yes, my website is LoriSoard.com. I blog on there and you can click the link that says fiction to read more about my novels. I’m also on the major social media sites and keep readers posted there.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

Yes, my daughter made it for me. I’m so proud of her. She graduates in May with a double degree in Journalism and PR. She’s very talented. You can view it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvEffmhdKd4

What is up next for you?

I’m working on Change of Heart. It is the second in the Cupid’s Crossing series. It is Sinclaire’s story. It isn’t quite as lighthearted as the first book, but still has funny moments. And, you’ll get to catch up with Gracie and Brandt as they plan their wedding and everything possible goes wrong.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

New Release from Duffy Brown: Braking for Bodies (Cycle Path Mystery)

Evie Bloomfield puts the pedal to the metal—in the latest Cycle Path mystery from the national bestselling author of Geared for the Grave.

Moving from Los Angeles to small, picturesque Mackinac Island to work in a bike shop might seem crazy, but Evie knows it’s the best decision she’s ever made. That’s not to say she’s gotten rid of all her stress; after all, the upcoming Lilac Festival has everyone in town riding in circles.

But things really go downhill when a ferry full of tourists—including Evie’s friend Fiona’s former boss, the editor of a sleazy rag in LA—arrives on the island. No one knows why Peephole Perry came all the way to Mackinac, but things aren’t looking good for Fiona when Peep is found dead. Now Evie has to gear up and get a grip on the truth if she wants to clear her friend’s name...

Praise for Geared for the Grave

“Sparkling dialogue, an unforgettable island setting, and all the charm a cozy mystery fan would want.”—Ellery Adams, New York Times bestselling author of the Books by the Bay Mysteries

“A charming setting, a determined heroine, and a love interest worthy of hunk status...Geared for the Grave speeds along and never puts on the brakes!”—Kylie Logan, author of League of Literary Ladies Mysteries

“Fast, funny, and full of heart! Geared for the Grave is a rollicking ride. I enjoyed every bump in the road and twist of the plot. I can’t wait for the next Cycle Path Mystery!”—Molly MacRae, national bestselling author of the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries

Series: A Cycle Path Mystery (Book 2)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley (April 5, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425268950
ISBN-13: 978-0425268957

Purchase here!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Musing Mondays - April 4 Comfort Reads

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme now hosted at Jenn's new blog Books And A Beat that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What is your favorite “comfort” read?

It's a snowy start to the week here in Massachusetts. Yesterday was crazy: high winds, blowing snow, and spots of blue sky and sunshine. It's snowing this morning too. I thought we were in spring, not winter.

Great question this week. Comfort reads are either fun or inspiring for me depending upon why I need the comfort.

If I am seeking a return to when my life was simpler or I wasn't facing so many decisions, it would be a book or series that I used to read regularly--or at least more than once.

If I am overwhelmed or feeling sad, I usually reach for something spiritual or inspiring.

And if I just want to read for the fun of it--something that is comfortable simply because it is purely for entertainment value--I might go with a romantic comedy or women's fiction.

How about you? What are some of your "comfort" reads?

Friday, April 1, 2016

Book Review: Promise Lodge by Charlotte Hubbard (Giveaway)

What could be better than a new book by Charlotte Hubbard? How about a new book that is also the first in a new series by Charlotte Hubbard.

Mattie and her two sisters, Christine and Rosetta, have left Coldstream to start a new community they call Promise Lodge. Mattie's son Noah. who is nursing a broken heart, joins them and a few other men from Coldstream to help make Promise Lodge a reality.

After the way Deborah broke off their engagement, she was the last person Noah expected to show up at Promise Lodge. But she arrives after being cast out of Coldstream by her dat for reasons she's not ready to share. Noah isn't yet ready to accept Deborah's apology, even if the Old Order ways demand he try. He's going to need help from his mother, aunts, and their preacher to make it happen.

Promise Lodge is Hubbard's latest and, boy, do you have to read it. There's so much going on in this one. You have the rehabbing of Promise Lodge; the arrival of Deborah under mysterious circumstances; Deborah seeking forgiveness from Noah and his struggle to accept her apology; and the ties that still bind everyone to Coldstream that interfere with their plans.

Hubbard is a masterful storyteller, developing her characters in such a way that they become just as real as if they were sitting across the kitchen table from you. Her stories are inspiring and filled with love, faith and, in this case, forgiveness. You'll find some great recipes at the back of the book too.

If you enjoy Amish fiction, if you enjoy inspirational romance, if you like to read a book that touches your heart, then pick up a copy of Promise Lodge.

Promise Lodge, Book 1
Zebra (February 26, 2016)
ISBN-13: 9781420139419 •• ISBN-10: 142013941X


Deborah stepped inside the cabin and paused. She couldn’t see Noah, but the squeak of a crank-out window told her he was in the far bedroom. Silently crossing the main room’s plank floor, she peered in to watch him work. It had always amazed her, how Noah handled his tools so effortlessly, as if they were extensions of his hands . . . strong, well-shaped hands that had once grasped hers and gently stroked her cheek.

Noah turned as though he’d read her wistful thoughts. His dark brown hair framed his suntanned face in a mop of unruly waves. Even though he wasn’t Sunday-best clean, Deborah longed to touch him, to coax a boyish smile to his lips.

“Hey,” he murmured. He took a deep breath.  “I’m sorry if I bumped your ladder—”

“It was my fault!” Deborah insisted as she hurried toward him. “I was watching you instead of paying attention to how far I’d reached—how the ladder was swaying. You’re always so intent on your work, and so gut at what you do, Noah. It’s a joy to watch you.”

On impulse, she flung her arms around him. “I’m sorry if I’ve been a bother,” she murmured. “I just had to tell you I was wrong—to see if we couldn’t patch things up and be together again. Please, Noah?”

As she hugged him, Deborah wondered what had gotten into her. Why was she behaving so boldly? No matter what Noah might think, however, she couldn’t let him take the blame for the painting incident.

She felt him softening, returning her affection. Maybe this impulsive hug would bring her closer to becoming his wife . . .

Noah’s arms tightened around Deborah’s waist before he realized what he was doing. She smelled fresh and clean. Even though her hair and kerchief were damp, he felt a rush of warmth and longing that made him close his eyes. He’d forgotten how perfectly she fit against him, how firm and strong her body felt . . . how her voice teased at him and could convince him to do just about anything.

For a few blissful moments he savored an embrace that took him back to happier times. Why is it again that you can’t allow Deborah back into your life? Noah nuzzled the damp hair above her ear, noting how the kerchief set off the line of her jaw—

The bruise on her neck brought him back to reality. The handprint was less distinct, blurring from purple into a greenish yellow, but it was still the mark of another man.

Noah touched the bruise lightly with his fingertip as he eased away from her. “Did your dat do this to you?” he whispered. He couldn’t help himself. Deborah’s injury held the key to his feelings for her.

Her face clouded over. Noah reminded himself that she’d never been much good at fibbing, even as doubt and pain furrowed her brow and her cheeks turned splotchy and pink. “No,” she finally murmured.

Noah took another step away from her. “Wrong answer.”

“Wrong question!” Deborah shot back. She crossed her arms tightly, as if to hold herself together when she turned away from him. “Why did you have to ruin—why can’t you trust me? Don’t you understand that I didn’t go asking for trouble when—”

“You didn’t come to Promise Lodge just to see me, either. Did you Deborah?” he countered in a harsh whisper. “Why would I want you back if you’re really here to get away from somebody else?”

When she rushed away, he had his answer, didn’t he?

Click on these links to buy this book now!

Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=142013941X/
Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/promise-lodge-charlotte-hubbard/1121998591
The Book Depository http://www.bookdepository.com/book/9781420139419
B-A-M http://www.booksamillion.com/product/9781420139419
Chapters http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/a/9781420139419-item.html
IndieBound http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781420139419
Powell’s http://www.powells.com/biblio?isbn=9781420139419
Kensington Books http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/32120


Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Promise-Lodge-Charlotte-Hubbard-ebook/dp/B00Y6RB2PA/
Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/promise-lodge-charlotte-hubbard/1121998591?
iBooks https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/promise-lodge/id1013564715?mt=11
Google Play https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Charlotte_Hubbard_Promise_Lodge?id=mZOmCQAAQBAJ
Kensington http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/32119

Charlotte will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a free advanced copy of this book--which I accidentally dropped in the tub while reading one night--from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

I read this book for the following challenge: