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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Q & A With Author Kate O'Keeffe

Hi, Kate. Let's get started! What is your book NOT about? 

My book is not about zombies taking over the world, aliens making slaves of the entire human race, or hot-shot spies beating the bad guys. Although I’m sure all those things are wonderful in their own right, they are definitely and unequivocally not what One Last First Date is about.

What is your book about? 

Now that’s an easier question to answer. One Last First Date is about Cassie Dunhill, a woman in her late-twenties, who is sick of the whole dating game. She wants to find the right guy, settle down, and never have to go on another first date again. So, she and her friends, after a glass or two too much chardonnay, make a pact: they will marry the next guy they each go out with. That means, they get One Last First Date, which is what the book is called.

Oh, sounds very interesting! What is your favorite line from your book? 

“In all my fantasies of how tonight would go, not a single one involved my future husband gently tweaking my bloodied and painful nose as I leaned against a bar, surrounded by onlookers.”

What celebrities would play your main characters if it were a movie? 

Cassie would be Reese Witherspoon, for certain. Small and peppy but also pretty A-type. Parker, her One Last First Date, would be a young Robert Redford. And Will, the guy who may (or may not) throw a spanner in the dating works, would be the guy who plays Poldark, Aidan Turner.

I am obsessed with Reese Witherspoon! Take me through a day in your life. 

I’m a mother, so mornings are early and involve feeding, watering, endless reminders to get ready for school, and, finally leaving the house, hopefully with everyone where they should be. After caffeinating and school drop off, I usually take my dogs up the beautiful Te Mata Peak, a hill with gorgeous wooded areas and old Redwoods near my house, to breath in the fresh air, look at the beautiful view, and remind myself my problems don’t amount to much more than a molehill in this world of ours (thank you, Casablanca). Then, it’s home and time to write, before the madness begins again later in the day. It’s a pretty good life, and one I’m more than happy I get to live.

Show me a picture of your writing spot.

If you could spend the day with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you do? 

I would spend it with my dad. He was taken from us far too early, and I miss him every day of my life. I know he’d be proud of me as a fellow author, even if he wasn’t exactly my target audience! I would drink coffee and eat cake with him, take him to see his beloved All Blacks (New Zealand’s amazingly successful rugby team) and watch them annihilate their opposition, and finish the day off with a decent steak and bottle of red.

That sounds like a lovely day. What is the weirdest thing you have had to research for writing purposes? 

I’m not sure how weird it is, but a character in Falling for Grace had breast cancer, so I had to research that. I had a total compliment in a review from someone who knew all about breast cancer and felt I’d described it perfectly.

What was your favorite book as a child and what is your favorite book now? 

Favorite book now is easy: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I could read that story again and again and again. There’s something about Darcy and Elizabeth that resonates—and the BBC version with Colin Firth is my all-time favorite adaptation. When I was a child is harder, because I went from my Dick Bruna Tilly & Tessa phase when I was very little, right through to Judy Blume and Esther Hautzig, and onto the likes of Emily Bronte and Jane Austen. Yes, I was a bookworm and proud to be.

No shame in being a bookworm! What book are you currently reading? 

I’m reading Tracie Bannister’s Mixing It Up, which is so well written and fun, full of mouth-watering dishes and great characters, it puts me in a wonderful mood each night.

What is the strangest fact about you? 

I am lucky enough to have great teeth! No fillings until I was thirty-five, I was born without wisdom teeth, and no need to go through the horror of braces in my teens.  

That is very lucky! What writers inspire you? 

Jane Austen, Marian Keyes, Helen Fielding, Sophie Kinsella, William Makepeace Thackeray, Emily Bronte, and a whole raft of awesome contemporary chick lit authors.

Why do you write? 

Because I ADORE to write! And I do it all the time, whether it’s in my head as I hike up a hill with my dogs, on my phone while I’m waiting for my doctor, or on my laptop. I have so many stories in my head, demanding to get down on paper. And then, when they are on paper, they keep talking to me, telling me what I could have changed, what I could have done better. I think I may need some help.

What are you working on right now? 

I’m working on the second book in my new Cozy Cottage Café series, the sequel to One Last First Date. It’s called Two Last First Dates (do you see what I did there? Do you?) and it’s about Paige, one of Cassie’s friends who agreed to the one last first date pact in the first book. She didn’t get her happily every after in Cassie’s book, but that may change in her story. Two Last First Dates is available for pre-order on right now and is releasing Amazon on August 8.

How can readers learn more about you and your work? 

I love to hear from readers! They can visit my website, sign up for my newsletter, visit my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, or Instagram. So many ways! 

Thanks for joining me and best of luck finishing your sequel!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Q & A With Author Melissa Baldwin

Hi, Melissa. Thanks for joining me. Let’s get started. What is your book NOT about? 

It’s not just about the main character dreaming of performing on Broadway. There are many different aspects to the story. Friendship, family, new love, career, doing things we may not want to do.

What is your book about?

Following dreams, finding love, new beginnings.

What is your favorite line from your book? 

"I really don’t want to tell my mom that her face looks like 1982 threw up all over it."
What celebrities would play your main characters if it were a movie?

Visit my Pinterest page for my dream casts  This is still a work in progress…

Take me through a day in your life. 

During the week—wake up, take my daughter to school, go to the gym or run, errands, writing, laundry, dinner, more writing. Sometimes I squeeze in some TV. 

Show me a picture of your writing spot. 

This varies from day to day. Sometimes it’s my couch, but today it’s Starbucks. 

If you could spend the day with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you do? 

Great question. So many people! Probably my father or my best friend—both of whom has passed away.

What is the weirdest thing you have had to research for writing purposes?

I’ve researched lots of interesting topics for my books including psychics, Italian entrees, Australian lingo/slang, and radio stations in the 1940’s.

What was your favorite book as a child, and what is your favorite book now?

I adored the Babysitters Club series when I was young. 
I have several favorites as an adult—probably, Can You Keep a Secret by the fabulous Sophie Kinsella.

What book(s) are you currently reading? 

My Kindle is so full. I have so many books I want to read (I need to find extra time!)

What is the strangest fact about you? 

I think I’m incredibly boring. I don’t know if this is strange, but I’ve been watching General Hospital since high school. I guess it’s my guilty pleasure.

What writers inspire you? 

I’ve met so many wonderful authors. Three of my faves are Becky Monson, Aven Ellis, and Kathryn Biel.

Why do you write? 

I love it. It’s a wonderful escape from real life.

What are you working on right now? 

I’m currently finishing the last novella, Return to Summer in my Seasons of Summer series.

Next, I will be starting a new series with my publisher Gemma Halliday Publishing.

How can readers learn more about you and your work?

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I love making new friends. Also, sign up for my newsletter.

Best of luck with your upcoming novella and new series! 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

How Christopher Pike Saved Me from Drowning (Seriously)

This is a guest post by Jessica Bayliss. 

This post is in honor of the second release of my short romantic ghost story, BREATHLESS, which came out earlier this month. And yes, you read that title correctly. Christopher Pike saved me from drowning. I’m not sure if I would have died that day when I ran out of air during a scuba dive, but I suspect I there would have been medical-injury-related fallout. Probably in the form of major ear problems and a couple lungs full of water. It would not have been pretty. 

I am not an avid scuba diver. I’ve been on two excursions for a total of four dives. Once in Florida in 2000 (I think) and THE DAY in 2013. If bets had been made on THE DAY, in light of my relative lack of experience, I’m thinking you would NOT have put your hard-earned money in the she’ll come out completely unscathed jar. But that’s what happened, and I owe it all to Christopher Pike.

Let me back up a little bit.

I was a huge reader of Pike’s work as a young adult. His, R.L. Stine’s, Lois Duncan’s, Richie Tankersley Cusick’s. Anything scary or thrilly that had romance in it. One of my favorites was Pike’s BURY ME DEEP. I must have read that book half a dozen times. In it, the main character goes to Hawaii with her friends, and they take a standard scuba course. The course that he wrote about was nearly identical to the one I would eventually take in 2000. Because I read the book so many times, and because (like a nerd) I totally memorized the entire class, when I did my first Padi course, I knew all the skills. The instructor was very impressed.

Now let’s fast-forward to 2013 THE DAY of my second dive. That scuba company did NOT go through the entire Padi course, but I still recalled all the skills. So, when I happened to take a nice old breath and there was nothing there—literally nothing, just resistance, like trying to shove a marble pillar with my lungs—I was pulled back into Christopher Pike’s world. The one where Mandy had a problem with her gear and stood up in the pool. Her dive master told her the very words that echoed in my brain when I was under all those feet of water with my last breath quickly dissolving into my blood and no more where that came from:

You need to handle emergencies in place, under the water. The solution can’t be to bolt to the surface. AND, most importantly, I recalled the words, You always have air.

Okay, that was a totally botched quote (my copy of the book is somewhere in my house, but the idea of trying to dig it out sounds as daunting as the idea of pushing a marble pillar with my lungs), but the gist is absolutely accurate. AND IT SAVED ME. Literally. 

I recalled the book and knew I merely needed to find another diver, and luckily they were all around me. Just like Leah in BREATHLESS, I swam to my dive master who was about four kicks away, and showed him my gauge with the needle in the deep red. And just like in BREATHLESS, his response wasn’t to immediately hand me his spare regulator, he first took my face in his hands and peered into my eyes. At the time I was like, Uh, now’s about the time I could use a little spare O2, but later—once I actually had a chance to think about it (and let me tell you, when it hit me what happened, there was a whole lot of holy BLEEP! going on)—I realized, he did that to make sure I wasn’t panicking. To make sure when he handed me that savior of rubber and metal, that I wouldn’t screw the maneuver up and end up breathing in a mouthful of salt water.

And once he was satisfied, he passed me his spare, and all was well. I recalled how to purge my regulator. No problem. That’s just the push of a button. We surfaced, pausing to let our bodies adjust to the pressure change, and I climbed back onto the boat totally and completely fine. 

When I think back to that day, fear isn’t the strongest of the two sense memories I have. The first is that feeling of something pushing back when I tried to take a breath. And the second was the way the dive master looked into my eyes. Never have I been more vulnerable, and never again will a stare feel that intense (at least I seriously and truly hope it won’t). The experience has haunted me ever since THE DAY.

What’s a writer to do?

Write a story about it, of course. And the concept for BREATHLESS was born. 

So, I dedicated my recently-released, updated edition of BREATHLESS to two people: my incredible husband, Eric, and Christopher Pike, because without his book, that story, and all the ones I’ve written since, could very well have died along with me in the blue waters of the Caribbean.

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Jessica Bayliss is an author of commercial fiction who loves nothing better than getting lost in a good story, whether in print or on film. When not busy with her latest fiction project, she can be found loving her friends and family—especially her husband, Eric—playing with one pesky Havanese, or trying to appease an ornery cockatiel, typically with a cup of coffee near at hand. 

Check out Jessica's other posts:


Friday, May 26, 2017

Cover Reveal: Little Gray Dress | Aimee Brown

Title: Little Gray Dress
Author: Aimee Brown
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Release Date: August 2nd, 2017
Pre-Orders Available: Early July


Emi Harrison has avoided her ex-fiance, Jack Cabot, for nearly two years. Her twin brother Evan’s wedding is about to end that streak.

From bad bridesmaid’s dresses, a hyperactive sister-in-law, a mean girl with even meaner secrets, and too much to drink, nothing seems to go right for Emi, except when she’s wearing her little gray dress.

When she speed-walks into Liam Jaxon’s bar, things get more complicated. He’s gorgeous, southern, and has no past with Emi. He may be exactly what she needs to prove for the last time that she doesn’t need or want Jack!

Her favorite little gray dress has made an appearance at nearly every major event in Emi’s adult life. Will it make another grand appearance when she least expects it?

Pre-Order the Book in early July.

*For a notification when the books pre-order is up, sign-up for her author newsletter.


Author Bio:

Aimee Brown is a writer and avid reader, often blogging her thoughts on chick lit books. Little Gray Dress is her first novel published. She’s currently studying for her Bachelor’s degree in English Writing. She spends much of her time writing her next book, doing homework, raising three teenagers, binge watching shows on Netflix and obsessively cleaning and redecorating her house. She’s fluent in sarcasm and has been known to use far too many swear words.
Aimee grew up in Oregon but is now a transplant living in cold Montana with her husband of twenty years, three teenage children, and many, many pets.
She would love to hear your thoughts on Little Gray Dress! If you want to chat with her she’s very active on social media.

Participate in the Book Tour:

Aimee would love to have you as a part of this upcoming release day book tour! If you'd like to sign-up to review the book during the tour or post a feature, author q&a, author guest post, excerpt, or giveaway, sign-up here.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Hey! Look at me! Over here . . . Guys?

This is a guest post by Michael Bernhart. 

POV: First person

That’s me on the right. Some kind folks at a new age festival captured my aura on their aura-cam. They gushed that it was an exceedingly auspicious aura, and they sounded sincere when they said it. They didn’t seem to be looking for money.
In truth, I was having a good day. Young women returned my smiles; small children did not retreat behind their nannies at my approach; I’d scored two free massages; and my significant other had found – to that point – comparatively little to criticize.
Maybe it was an auspicious aura.
Not every day is a good day for authors; most days our auras can be printed in monochrome, gradations of grey. Look at the odds: One million new novels are published annually in the US alone – 2,700/day. Half of these are self-published, and the average number of copies sold doesn’t reach 250. Writing a book is a losing proposition, financially and psychically. Why do we do it? Easy. We’re narcissists, shouting, “Look at me!” Those author photos, the subject oozing self-confidence and worldliness? Don’t be taken in.
Of those 1,000,000 books, almost all are bad. The ‘quality filter’ that traditional publishers boast of still allows James Patterson on the shelves. Insane, right? In fairness to James, he reportedly has distanced himself from the production end of the operation. That dreck is the work of his minions.
The only quality filter on self-published books is set by the author’s capacity for self-deception. Since this capacity appears boundless, the filter is usually inoperative but, self-published books do have one advantage: Thanks to permissive policies of CreateSpace, Nook, etc. an author can upload a revised/improved version daily and, through successive approximations, eventually grind out something readable. That assumes the author acts on constructive feedback. In contrast with the steadily improving indie book, the traditional publishers are stuck with the original, no matter how flawed, until the last remainders table has been cleared.
Despite the odds against finding a quality book, you should try to read. It’s good for you, and here’s the proof: Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health published their findings in Social Science & Medicine (a reputable journal) that people who read a book – not a periodical – for half an hour a day lived 23 months longer. We can all agree; that beats dieting and exercise.
To obtain those additional 23 months at the most agreeable price, here are some suggestions on how to avoid bad books:
1. Blogs, such as this one, provide one filter. The downside is that many bloggers are reluctant to stick it to an aspiring author and either pull their punches or don’t post a review of a book they didn’t like.
2. Avoid debut novels. Usually overwritten, ambitious, and precious. Mine is. I’ve been struggling for months to turn it into something that a majority of readers who start will finish.
3. Prize winners? Something has gone wrong with the Pulitzer. You should view a literary prize as fair warning that a few pretentious snobs in self-anointed centers of exceeding refinement have bestowed their grace upon a) an author most like themselves, or b) an author least like themselves (think third world, desperately poor, a gritty survivor).
4. Psychological thrillers. Avoid these too. I’m nominating this as the most promiscuously over-used genre of the decade. I studied psychology for a while (at Harvard! so you know it’s good stuff) and what authors dub as a psychological thriller is almost always short on both thrills and psychological insight. At best you’ll find a few groaningly lame stabs at the perp’s motives.
5. Authors who draw heavily on their profession are hit and miss. Yes, lawyers, doctors, and other professionals are not dependent on Wikipedia for context and problem, but Jonathon Kellerman has shown us that a PhD in psych is not a guarantee of consistent quality or psychological insight.
But read. For openers, read the third and forth in my series. (Not the first and second; not yet. Still playing the successive approximations game.) Check out the evergreens, the heavyweights, the classics, the new stuff. If only one percent of the annual production of new novels is any good, that’s 200 quality books each week. Hey! You just learned you’ve added two years to your life of quiet desperation; you have plenty of time to read.
Get to it.
POV: Third person

Michael Bernhart is an award-winning author who has published extensively on international development and public health – primarily service quality. His credentials for this written outpouring are a PhD (from MIT!) and four decades of international work – currently 50 countries and counting.
The journey from writing funding proposals to writing pure fiction was short and easy. The result is the Max Brown tetralogy, which traces the arc (from age 10 through 66) of a smartass who earnestly wants to avoid trouble, but whose own behavior – or events – repeatedly drops him into it. Each of the four novels finds Max struggling with a new life-stage crisis – or crises – as he grows up in these trying times. Manhood used to be a birthright; now it seems to be an unending series of challenges. Each novel also finds Max confronting a new face of evil.
Dr. (why not use it?) Bernhart started this project before the internet could serve up virtual experiences to authors. The contextual information and situations come from service as a pilot in the USAF, living in Asia, Europe and Latin America, and inexplicable success at snaring women well out of his league. These remarkable similarities with the main character noted, he insists the work is not autobiographical. It’s wish fulfillment.

If the foregoing has sparked interest – or at least mild curiosity – the Max Brown tetralogy is available here.

Here is a website that describes the series – when not lavishing praise on the author.

Bernhart currently lives in a yurt on a mountaintop in northern Georgia with one ex-wife, two daughters, and three cats. He still flies his vintage plane, although more cautiously than before, and he’s unshakeable in his conviction that he’s God’s Gift to Aviation.
This is what he looks like to a portraitist.