Getting to know Mary J. Wilson #author #sweet #contemporary #romance #YA

Okay, folks, I’m going to make a small confession: my next guest author is in Skye, Scotland and I wish I could be there, too! What a beautiful place and so inspiring! Let’s meet Mary Karlik who writes as Mary J. Wilson and find out more about her inspiration and her writing process.

Mary Karlik combines her Texas roots with her Scottish heritage to write happily-ever-after from Texas to Scotland.

Honoring her Scottish roots, Mary is writing her new series under her mother’s maiden name, Wilson. This Sweet Contemporary Romance series is set in the Celtic music world of Scotland.

You can find her Texas roots in her indie published, Contemporary Young Adult romance Hickville series. She brings her two worlds closer together than ever in her latest novel—Hickville Crossroads—when a young, up-and-coming Scottish teen heartthrob goes undercover in a Texas high school to research his latest role.

She is traditionally published in Young Adult Fantasy with her Fairy Trafficking series set in the magical world of Scotland. The audio version of Magic Heist, the second in the series, was nominated in 2019 for the One Voice Award for “Best Fiction Novel UK Voices Only.”

Mary is currently studying Scottish Gaelic at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye, Scotland. She also earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, has a B.S. degree from Texas A&M University, is a certified, professional ski instructor, and a Registered Nurse. 
Mary is an active member of Contemporary Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America, Young Adult Romance Writers of America and Dallas Area Romance Authors.

Author Social Links: Website * Facebook * Instagram

Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?

Mary: Jenny got a raw deal in the last book and I wanted to give her a happy ending. I’m moving into the adult world of Romance and since my new contemporary series is set in Scotland, I thought it was the perfect way to wrap the Hickville High series as I segue into the new world of contemporary Scotland.

Betty: What, if any, new writing skill did you develop while working on this story?

Mary: I am always working to improve my writing. But the skill I worked on the most was making sure my Scottish characters sounded Scottish. I don’t use “dinna” and “canna” that many authors use. I spend a lot of time in Scotland, I’m working on a degree in Scottish Gaelic at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye, and while I do hear those words, it’s not the standard. To make my characters sound authentic, I tried to capture the cadence of the speech. I also used common phrases that are different from the US. For example, Scotts will say half six rather than six thirty, or at the weekend rather than this weekend.

Betty: Did you struggle with any part of this story? What and how?

Mary: Yes! The ending is always my biggest struggle. I wanted to have a big black moment resolution, but it was kind of over the top. I added the epilogue to tone it down a bit. I’m still not sure I got the resolution quite right.

Betty: Which character(s) were the easiest to get to know? Why do you think?

Mary: I knew Jenny from the previous book, so she was the easiest. But I also found Frasier easy. I knew I liked him the minute he appeared on the page. It was almost like he was there in my imagination waiting for his chance to appear.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Mary: I am very lucky because one of my closest friends husband is a movie producer. They were great at answering questions about behind the scenes movie stuff as well as legal issues with child actors.  It was really her husband who gave me the idea. He mentioned that when they were shooting Spiderman, they put Tom Holland in an American high school. As far as the Scottish location goes, one of my closest friends is from Alford near Aberdeen. It was only natural that I use that small village as Frasier’s home town.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Mary: Is one million a valid answer? I am a hard core pantser which really means I write a really bad first draft and then revise, revise, revise, and then revise. I have no idea how many times because I’m not that organized.

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Mary: HAHA! I have no idea. Maybe 4 months. I should know these things. I write fast first drafts and then everything slows. I think 4-6 months is usually the time it takes me. Again, I should know this.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Mary: I have a play list. I always write with music. I am very distractable and the playlist helps me focus. I also write the same time every day and I keep track of how many words I’ve written. I set goals for myself based on the previous day’s word count. I usually try to beat the day before, even if it’s by one word. Sometimes, I really have trouble focusing so I have to set a timer for like 10 minutes. If I can write for 10 minutes without getting out of my chair to see if my sock drawer needs straightening, I can take a 5 minute break. Usually, I end up getting into the groove before the 10 minutes are up. If I’m really struggling, I will ask a friend to sprint with me. I’m really competitive so always manage to write during a sprint. The most important ritual I have is “BUT IN THE CHAIR. FINGERS ON THE KEYBOARD.” I write Monday–Friday and sometimes on the weekend. It’s my job and I treat it like one.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Mary: Atmosphere, stomach clinches, and loads of others.

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Mary: My close writing friends like Pricilla Oliveras and Madeline Martin. It’s been fun to watch their journey. Not only do they work hard to write great books, but they are generous, joyful people. That’s what I want to emulate. And then there are role models I don’t know but love their work like Emily Henry and Jenny Colgan. I am currently obsessed with Emily Henry. Her descriptions are so unique and fun it’s hard to describe. Jenny Colgan is a fun read. I enjoy her Little Book Shop Series, but I love the Muir series. She is a master at creating a world you want to visit.

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Mary: I write and revise in my office at my desk. I’ve tried writing outside but it’s too distracting for me. My eyes are so tired after 8–10 hours in front of a screen, I listen to audibles more than I read. I listen while I’m doing chores or driving anywhere. I also listen while I’m running or walking unless I’m having trouble with a plot, then I listen to my playlist.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Mary: I am very, very fortunate that I do not have a day job. I did for many years. I worked as both a nursing instructor and as a hospital administrator. Those jobs were great, but my passion has always been writing.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Mary: Writing the book that is currently with my agent. It is the first book in my new series and I love it more than any book I’ve written. I think it’s the best I’ve ever written. But the best before that is Hickville Crossroads.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Mary: Romance! Romance! Romance! I love a happy ending.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Mary: Hmm. To be honest it’s writing the best I can. But not because I’m all woo woo it’s about being the artist. It’s because if I write the very, very best I can, I have a better chance of people reading my books. At the end of the day, I want to write books that take people on a journey, books that make them feel excitement, sorrow (sorry but I have to have a black moment), relief, joy, and happiness. If I can make someone smile at the end of the book and at the same time anxious to read the next one, that is success. Should I mention my secret, bigger-than-life dream? I want people to feel the joy and passion I have for the music and traditions in the Scottish Gaelic culture. Eeek Spoiler.

Frasier Anderson is one of the hottest teenage actors in the UK, but he’s virtually unknown in the US. Now he’s landed the leading role in a big-budget Hollywood film that could make him an international star.

So how do you prepare a Scot for a role as a Texas high school student? Embed him in a Texas high school. He only has to follow three rules:

No drama. No girls. And no telling who he really is.

Jenna Wiley is smart, funny, and has a few no-drama, no-dating rules of her own. Her friendship with new kid Ethan Smith is perfect and might even lead to something more. Except for a few things that don’t add up. Like his mom being afraid to have company. Or their house, which looks more staged than lived in. Or his sister, whom nobody talks about.

It all comes to a boil when Frasier’s biggest secrets hit the tabloids and the paparazzi swarm Hillside with Jenna in their sights.

Buy Links: Amazon * Nook * KOBO * Apple

Thanks for stopping by, Mary! I think your new book sound intriguing, mainly because I’m into Scotland and music, too.

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Introducing Rachel Barnes from The Perfect Neighborhood by Author Liz Alterman #author #editor #storyteller

I’m happy to welcome to the interview hot seat a character from Liz Alterman’s mystery The Perfect Neighborhood, Rachel Barnes. Before we find out more about who Rachel is, let’s first take a look at Liz’s bio. Here we go!

Liz Alterman lives in New Jersey with her husband and three sons. She spends most days repeatedly microwaving the same cup of coffee and looking up synonyms.

Author Social Links: Instagram * Twitter

Rachel Barnes, mom in her early 40s whose child disappears on his walk home from kindergarten.

Betty: How would you describe your childhood?

Rachel: My childhood was largely unhappy. My parents fought constantly—primarily about money. Fortunately, my older sister, Darcy, was my rock. My earliest memory is of us sitting beneath the dining room table with her hands covering my ears, shielding me from our parents’ arguing.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest achievement? Why?

Rachel: My greatest achievement is my son, Billy. He is a kind-hearted, curious child who loves baseball and nature.

Betty: If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be and why?

Rachel: If I could change one thing, I would never have allowed Billy to walk to and from kindergarten without an adult. My husband, Ted, convinced me that because the school was just a few blocks away and because Billy walked with his friend Oliver, he’d be safe. When I disagreed, Ted argued that “fresh air and a little independence” is good for a child. I still didn’t like the idea. We got Billy a cell phone so we could track his location. But on the morning of the day Billy went missing, I’d taken that phone because he’d been dawdling, playing a game at breakfast when he was supposed to be brushing his teeth. If I hadn’t let Ted get his way, my son would never have gone missing.

Betty: What’s your greatest fear? Who else knows about it?

Rachel: My greatest fear is that we’ll never find Billy, that I’ll never see his sweet smile or hear his easy laughter again. Everyone in Oak Hill, our usually-quiet, safe town, knows that I’m living a parent’s worst nightmare. Our neighbors have helped search for my son but no clues have been found yet.

Betty: How much of your true self do you share with others?

Rachel: I tend to be very guarded and private. As a real estate agent, I try to project the image of the perfect lifestyle. I don’t want anyone to know the truth—my marriage has been in trouble since the beginning. But since Billy disappeared, I’ve been unraveling and I’m unable to keep up the facade. Only my sister, Darcy, really knows that I’m spiraling, and there are even some secrets I haven’t shared with her. 

Betty: Are you close to your family? Do you wish your relationship with them was different in any way? If so, how?

Rachel: I wish my relationship with my husband, Ted, was different. We got off to an unusual start. He hired me to sell his home after his wife, Jane, died. I could tell he was lonely. We spent more and more time together. When the home didn’t sell immediately, I convinced him to stay and make some changes. Before I knew it, I was pregnant. His son, Evan, from his first marriage, didn’t welcome me with open arms. My relationship with Evan has also been strained. I wish that were different, too, especially as I wonder if he had anything to do with Billy’s disappearance.

Betty: If you could change yourself in some way, what change would you make? Why?

Rachel: If I could change something about myself, I’d have been a better, more attentive mother to Billy. I’d have put down my phone and focused on him instead of prioritizing my work. After we had an incident with our au pair, I should’ve put a lot more thought into who I let watch Billy. Cassidy, the teen I hired to babysit in the afternoons, is a nice girl but very distracted recently.  She was late to arrive on the day Billy disappeared and I wonder how much that played a role in his disappearance. I’m haunted by the ways I’ve failed my child.

When actress and model Allison Langley leaves her former rockstar husband, Christopher, it’s all her Oak Hill neighbors can talk about. The gossip comes to an abrupt halt when five-year-old Billy Barnes goes missing on his walk home from kindergarten.

Billy’s mother, Rachel, blames herself for being at work and letting her only child walk alone. Cassidy, Billy’s teenage babysitter, was also late to arrive on the afternoon he disappeared and blames herself for his disappearance.

As the clock ticks down, police are unable to find any trace of Billy, forcing Rachel to ponder the enemies she’s made in their well-off suburb. Could it be one of her neighbors who stole her son? Would they abduct Billy to hurt her? How easy would it be to take a child while the parents or nannies are distracted?

When another child goes missing, the town is put under a microscope as the police try to get to the bottom of the disappearances. Will they be able to find the two children, or will it be too late? What secrets lie at the heart of this tragedy, and how far will one go to keep those dangerous secrets buried?

Buy Links: PenguinRandomHouse

Oh dear, Rachel! I do hope they find the kids. Thanks for taking a few minutes to stop by and tell us about your story.

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Getting to know Karla Huebner #author #ficition #magic #realism #fantasy #ArtHistorian

My guest author today has a unique background and thus a unique world view. Please help me welcome Karla Huebner to the interview hot seat! A quick peek at her bio and then we’ll find out the answers to several burning questions…

Karla Huebner has lived on a boat and worked in factories, offices, theater, publishing, oil refineries, private investigation, and adolescent drug rehab; most recently she has taught Art History at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Her short fiction has appeared in such places as the Northwest Review, Colorado State Review, Magic Realism, Fantasy Macabre, Weave, and Opossum; and her prize-winning book Magnetic Woman: Toyen and the Surrealist Erotic is available from University of Pittsburgh Press. Her novel In Search of the Magic Theater is just out from Regal House and will be followed by Too Early to Know Who’s Winning (Black Rose, 2023). Her as-yet unpublished story collection Heartwood was a finalist for the 2020 Raz-Shumaker prize.

Author Social Links: Facebook * Instagram

Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?

Karla: The germ of it came to me when I was in my late thirties contemplating making some changes in my life, such as going back to school, and so it occurred to me that someday I might write a novel about a woman at midlife who makes big changes.

Betty: Did you struggle with any part of this story? What and how?

Karla: I wouldn’t say I struggled much with this one, but whenever I was writing in Sarah’s voice (versus Kari’s), I felt a bit like I was choking. Her rhythm is choppier. She’s not a very happy person.

Betty: Which character(s) were the easiest to get to know? Why do you think?

Karla: All of the characters came easily into my head—sort of like channeling spirits—but for readers, I think some people will find Kari easier and others will find Sarah easier. Or who knows, maybe some readers will feel the male characters, who aren’t narrators, are easier to know. I doubt that, though. I think people will relate more either to Kari or Sarah depending in part on age (Kari is nearly twice as old as Sarah) and in part on personality.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Karla: The one small bit of research I recall doing for this involved learning more about the repertoire for cello plus guitar. I remembered hearing a lovely piece on the radio, but couldn’t remember who composed it–and never found out, but did come up with a reasonable set of composers whose work Sarah and Joey could play. Oh, and I also did a very small amount of research on peyote.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Karla: This was definitely a one-draft novel. I changed a word here and there between writing and publication. No real second draft.

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Karla: Other than that it was several years between having the initial vague idea and writing, it took about three months to write In Search of the Magic Theater. I’d say that’s both typical and atypical for me. In part it depends on how ready I am to write a particular story, and in part it depends on whether I have enough free time to write for at least several hours most days, or have to write in stolen moments here and there (for example, late at night after teaching and working on scholarly projects). I’ve now written four novels and one novella that each took about three months, whereas I’ve finished one novel that I wrote in bits and pieces over ten years, I’ve got three others that are fairly close to done after ten or more years, and you don’t want to know how many more are underway. Some might have been three-month novels if I’d had the time to focus on them, while others just gradually accrete.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Karla: Probably thus and indeed. I also have a tendency to begin sentences with Well and So, but mainly in my personal writing, not when writing fiction (or so I imagine).

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Karla: I’m not really much of a role-model person as an adult, although there are lots of people (writers and non-writers) whom I admire. When I was a kid planning to become a writer, I’d say my author role models were Marguerite Henry, C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, and Shakespeare (!). I don’t write much like any of them today!

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Karla: Nope, I move around. Different rooms in the house, different cafes, the library, friends’ homes when visiting. Airplanes, trains, occasionally buses if the ride’s not too short or bumpy. My camping trailer. Wherever I am, so long as the surroundings aren’t too distracting. It’s helpful to have internet to look things up, but that can be distracting.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Karla: I’ve usually had a day job, although for many years I made sure they were varied and didn’t take too much thought. Then I became an art historian, which is a pretty enjoyable occupation for those lucky enough to get a job in the field, which I was. However, being a professor doesn’t leave a lot of time or mental energy for writing fiction.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Karla: Ask me again in ten years.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Karla: In genre fiction, I’ve always read a lot of mysteries. Otherwise, I gravitate toward magical realism and to authors who don’t really fit any particular genre—Colette, Italo Calvino, Heinrich Böll, Robertson Davies, Margaret Atwood, Muriel Spark, Javier Marias, Toni Morrison, André Alexis. I’d like to add more living writers to that list. Oh, and I’m a great fan of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, which I guess you could call paranormal magical mystery-thriller humorous escapades.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Karla: Well, inner joy at having written things that I’m very pleased with is key, but also finding readers—ideally lots of them—for whom my work resonates. Since I’m not content to write solely for myself, success for me does ultimately mean publishing and finding my audience and even earning money.

Why, the rather staid young cellist Sarah wonders, should her aunt rent their spare room to the perhaps unstable Kari Zilke? Like the nephew in Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf, Sarah finds herself taking an unexpected interest in the lodger, but she is unable to stop at providing a mere introduction to Kari’s narrative of mid-life crisis and self-discovery, and develops her own more troubled tale of personal angst and growth, entwined with the account Kari herself purportedly left behind. Generational tensions, artistic collaborations, and even a romance steeped in Greek myth follow as Kari and Sarah pursue their very different creative paths in theater and music. And while Kari seems to blossom post-divorce, Sarah must grapple with the question of what the role of mothers, fathers, aunts, mentors, and male collaborators should be in her life as a young musician.

Buy Links: RegalHouse * BookShop * Amazon * B&N

A one-draft book is quite an accomplishment to my mind, Karla! Way to go! Thanks for stopping by to share your story and your inspiration with us.

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Getting to know Brenda Lowder #author #romcom #womensfiction #romance #comedy #books #fiction

My guest today is an award-winning author who loves to read and write romantic comedies. Please help me welcome Brenda Lowder! Let’s take a look at her bio and then find out more about her inspiration and writing process.

Brenda Lowder is an award-winning author of lighthearted women’s fiction and romantic comedy novels. She lives in Atlanta and loves international travel, fine dining, and air conditioning. She’s a big fan of fiction in all its forms–books, films, television, and the lies we tell ourselves. Her brilliant and smoking-hot husband and two princess-scientist daughters love her enough to insist she’s still twenty-nine.

Author Social Links: Website * Facebook * BookBub

Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?

Brenda: I was inspired by the Disney movie The Parent Trap. I loved that movie when I was a kid. I loved the idea of a child having the power to bring their parents back together. I wondered, what if a kid brought their divorcing parents back together and then developed the belief that they could really reconcile people? What if she held onto that belief, even as an adult, and made that her career? What problems would that bring about for that person? I wanted to write the book to find out.

Betty: What, if any, new writing skill did you develop while working on this story?

Brenda: I think I developed more ways to have my characters say things without actually saying them. I tend to be a very literal person, so I’m working toward subtlety, and I think my skills grew with that in this book.

Betty: Did you struggle with any part of this story? What and how?

Brenda: I struggled a bit with my main character Sasha’s naivety and absolute conviction that she’s right. She has to have some major confidence to go after what she wants and to believe that she can remake the world and the relationships around her as she would have them.

Betty: Which character(s) were the easiest to get to know? Why do you think?

Brenda: Cole Chase, Sasha’s love interest and professional sparring partner was the easiest to get to know. He appears in my previous book Keeping the Pieces, and is the younger brother of the main character so I knew him very well already and was excited to find out what it would take for him to fall in love. Readers kept asking when Cole was going to get his book, and here he is!

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Brenda: I researched match-making, divorce proceedings, and arbitration. A rewatch of The Parent Trap kept me inspired.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Brenda: Too many! Probably around ten.

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Brenda: A year. Unfortunately, it is typical for me. I can write a book in three or four months, but then it takes me eight or nine months to edit it.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Brenda: I don’t know that I have any rituals that work, but I stare off into space a lot, and I wish I did less of that!

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Brenda: I don’t want to say in case I missed any of them!

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Brenda: My mom. She was awesome. I miss her every day.

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Brenda: I write, revise, and read in my easy chair with my feet up. I need all the blood to go to my head for thinking.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Brenda: My day job is being a stay-at-home mom, and I love it!

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Brenda: As an author, I feel my greatest achievement is having two of my books hit #1 in Romantic Comedy in Amazon and four of them hit #1 in multiple categories. Winning the Maggie Award for Excellence for my book Keeping the Pieces was another great achievement for me.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Brenda: Romantic Comedy! I started writing rom-com because I wished there were more of them out there for me to read! I LOVE rom-coms—books and movies—and real life!

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Brenda: I think success is loving what you do and being able to have a meaningful connection with people. By that definition, I’m living my dream!

Sasha Timmerman’s purpose in life is not to find love for herself, but to help divorcing couples get back together—like she did for her mom and dad. Which is why she’s willing to don last-minute disguises and chase people down in frozen foods. By rekindling the sparks between couples experiencing a relationship hiccup, she enables them to continue their happily ever afters.

Contented bachelor Cole Chase is one of Atlanta’s top divorce attorneys. He scores the best settlements with the least amount of emotional fallout—until all his biggest cases start unraveling. Suddenly his promotion to partner isn’t looking like a done deal, and the mysterious Sasha Timmerman is at the center of every one of his cases-gone-wrong.

The world’s biggest action star hires Cole to handle his divorce, and the star’s wife secretly hires Sasha to reconcile them. When everyone gets stuck on the movie star’s private island, Sasha and Cole must fight their growing feelings for each other in order to battle on opposing sides in the bigger game of love.

Buy Links: Amazon * Free in Kindle Unlimited

Sounds like a fun story, Brenda! Thanks for stopping by and sharing it with us!

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Getting to know Talia Carner #author #publisher #advocate #womensliterature #historical #mustread #amreading #amwriting #fiction

My guest author today writes with a strength of purpose many do not employ. Please help me welcome Talia Carner to the interview hot seat! Let’s take a peek at her bio and then find out more about her writing process and inspiration.

Talia Carner worked for Redbook magazine and was the publisher of Savvy Woman magazine. A marketing consultant to Fortune 500 companies, she taught at Long Island University and was a volunteer counselor for the Small Business Administration. A committed supporter of global human rights, she has spearheaded projects centered on the subjects of female plight. In 1993 she was sent twice to Russia, and participated in the 1995 women’s conference in Beijing.

Hailed as “an author who enters arenas no one has entered before” for her award-winning five novels that expose society’s ills, Ms. Carner has keynoted or co-paneled over 450 civic and cultural events with 100 to 500 attendees—and over 300 Zoom presentations.

Ms. Carner is a board member of HBI, a research center for Jewish women’s life and culture at Brandeis University. She is also an honorary board member of several anti-domestic violence and child abuse intervention organizations and supports organizations that work toward Israeli causes.

Talia Carner’s addictions include chocolate, ballet, hats—and social justice.

She lives in New York and Florida.

Author Social Links: Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * Instagram

Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?

Talia:  Inspired by Shalom Aleichem’s short story, The Man from Buenos Aires, I reinvented the story of one of Tevye’s daughters as the family flees a pogrom and meets this mysterious, shady man. Duped by this member of Zwi Migdal—the real legal Jewish union of pimps that operated with impunity for 70 years—she is shipped as a sex-slave to Argentina, where prostitution is legal. THE THIRD DAUGHTER is tribute to the estimated 150,000 Jewish girls and women whose voices haunted me and have propelled me to activism against today’s sex-trafficking.

Betty: What, if any, new writing skill did you develop while working on this story?

Talia:  To continue to trust myself and let the story flow out of me.

It was also fun to take the character and language of Tevye and continue the story way past the point where Sholem Aleichem had left it. It tested my ability to channel that illustrious author. Readers instantly recognize Tevye, although he has a different name and every scene is freshly created and written by me, not by Sholem Aleichem.

Betty: Did you struggle with any part of this story? What and how?

Talia:  THE THIRD DAUGHTER is a very difficult emotional journey. I crawled under the skin of a teenager to experience her world—her kidnapping and enslaving—through her eyes, ears, body, and heart. It was hard late at night to turn off the PC and fall asleep, hoping for sweet dreams.

Betty: Which character(s) were the easiest to get to know? Why do you think?

Talia:  Each of the secondary characters presented itself to me fully formed, especially the other sex workers in the brothel—each girl making a different choice within the framework of what life has doled out to her. The more complex person, though, was of Yitzik Moskowitz, the pimp who lured the protagonist to Buenos Aires. He was evil, yet he saw himself as an entrepreneur, a businessman who helped the economy of Argentina—and a savior of the women he entrapped from a life of hardship and pogroms in the shtetls of Eastern Europe.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Talia:  Once Google generated the name of the organization, Zwi Migdal, I found a tremendous amount of information available in translated documents, nonfiction books, and academic publications.

In the last couple of decades, I had been to Buenos Aires three times, but I didn’t know Spanish. Armed with photos from the time of the novel, the late 1800s to early 1900s, I hired two freelance researchers in Argentina, and they helped me better understand what I was looking at. If Batya walked from point A to point B, my researchers verified the names of the streets 120 years earlier. For finer texture, I presented both researchers—a man and a woman—with the same questions about clothes, food, and architecture, and was able to extrapolate more nuanced details when crossing their answers.

For historical accuracy, I consulted the director of Jewish archives in Buenos Aires, who, thankfully, knew English. She also read the final manuscript.

Once the protagonist, Batya, started dancing tango, what choice did I have but to learn it myself? I needed to write with authenticity about this complex dance—and the passions associated with it. For almost a year I took private tango lessons and occasionally spent an evening at a milonga in close embrace with total strangers (also my reason to quit tango once my research was done).

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Talia:  Probably about 30 to 50 rounds of revisions and editing.

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Talia:  This novel was the shortest in terms of overall time—from concept to submission to the editor—only about two and half years. Usually, it takes me about five years. The reasons could be that the story poured out of me almost as it turned out at the end, and also it was told in a straight like, from one character’s point-of-view.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Talia:  None. I call it TIC—Tush In Chair. Just sit down and write.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Betty: I guess it’s not “every author.” I am well aware of “writing ticks” and my inner editor is at work while I write and steers me away from them. On the other hand, lately, in my new novel-in-progress I noticed that in my protagonist’s range of responses, her stomach never reacted, so I had to enlarge her repertoire of the physical manifestations of her emotions.

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Talia:  I have a wonderful office in each of my homes. I have a comfy editing chair—or I go to the beach when I go over a printout.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Talia:  I’m a full-time fiction writer. I had left my previous career in marketing in order to write.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Talia:  The social issues I bring to the forefront of readers’ awareness—and giving voice to those without one.

As an outcome of my first published novel, PUPPET CHILD, I introduced The Protective Parent Reform Act, that passed in four states and clauses from it were used by twenty others.

Also, I was privileged to address in 2007 the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women for my novel CHILD DOLL about infanticide in China—the first time in UN history. (I was invited again for May 2020 to present the subject of sex trafficking, but the event was cancelled due to COVID.)

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Talia:  Literary fiction about uninterested characters doing nothing, yet I can’t put the novels down….

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Talia:  When I sat down to write my first novel on November 3, 1993 at 2:48 PM, I had no thought regarding where it would lead me. I didn’t consider the poor odds of getting published. All I wanted was to write a particular story about the Russian women I had met when I taught them entrepreneurship shortly after the fall of communism. (Twenty years later, that maiden raw material was recaptured in my novel HOTEL MOSCOW.)

After almost thirty years of writing, when I look at the body of work that I have produced through five award-winning novels (and the sixth in the works,) I am proud of having brought so many hours of enjoyment, thought-provoking, and educational ideas to tens of thousands of readers.

During that time, I also developed the skill of public speaking. I had keynoted and addressed about 450 in-person events (not counting small book clubs) before COVID. Once we were hit with COVID, I turned to Zoom and instantly had audiences of hundreds eager to engage with my talks. I have given over 320 Zoom presentations.

Success for me has been defined in reaching small realistic milestones rather than a big, yet unnamed and an elusive one in the far future. Together, those milestones carried me farther than I had imagined.

THE THIRD DAUGHTER is a frightening journey into the New World of the late 1800s, told by a trusting young woman lured from Russia and forced into prostitution in Argentina. When succeeding in the nascent art of tango, Batya finds courage in the face of danger and hope in hours of despair—and bravely struggles to free herself from bondage while bringing down the powerful pimps’ union.

The novel breaks the silence on a most shameful chapter—the legal sex-trafficking union, Zwi Migdal, that operated in South America with impunity for 70 years, from the late 1800s until WWII. Luring estimated 150,000 young girls from the shtetls of Eastern Europe with false promises of jobs and marriages, it then sold them into brothels.

Inspired by Shalom Aleichem’s story, The Man From Buenos Aires, author Talia Carner reinvents the story of one of Tevye’s daughters after the family flees a pogrom and meets this mysterious, shady man.

THE THIRD DAUGHTER is tribute to the victims, whose voices the author could not silence, and who propel her to launch her campaign against today’s sex-trafficking.

Buy Links: Amazon * Indiebound * B&N

I’m impressed by the number of rounds of revisions you do as well as by the fact that you know precisely when you sat down to write your first novel. That’s organized! Thanks so much for stopping in, Talia, and sharing with us more about your books and your mission.

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Meet Delfina, the clairvoyant undercover operative from DESTINY by Laurel Richards

#author #scifi #paranormal #romance #mystery #books #amreading

I have a special guest with me today, a character straight from the covers of Laurel Richards’ Destiny. Please help me welcome Delfina! First a quick peek at Laurel’s bio and then we’ll find out more about our guest.

Laurel Richards is a fiction author with a passion for shifters, space travelers, and other memorable characters. She has gathered inspiration from lots of different sources throughout her life and is here today to share her imagination through storytelling. Laurel writes sci-fi/fantasy, paranormal, and funny mysteries, with various degrees of romance mixed in.

Author Social Links: Website * Twitter * Goodreads

Betty: How would you describe your childhood?

Delfina: I’m lucky. I enjoyed a good childhood with a loving family. I wasn’t an easy kid, especially once my foresight kicked in, but my parents were great. My mother is highly intuitive, though not enough to stand out as being psychic, and my father has an eidetic memory. I couldn’t get away with too much troublemaking with the two of them.

Betty When did you have your first kiss and with who? How did it go?

Delfina: A better question is when I first kissed the man who told me he was my destined soulmate. I was on board a private shuttle, on the run from covert agents who wanted to use me for my power of foresight. I wasn’t sure whether Rave was the good guy or the bad guy at first, since he had so many aliases and secrets. Rave set out to seduce me, and he succeeded. He teased me with a soft brush of his lips before he took charge and kissed me until I couldn’t think straight. I had never experienced such a powerful reaction to a man.

Betty What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?

Delfina: I’m not sure if I feel more embarrassed about this or simply guilty. I accidentally dropped my emotional support animal, Bulu, in the toilet. In all fairness, she jumped off my shoulder and slipped off the toilet seat. I didn’t mean for it to happen.

Betty If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be and why?

Delfina: When I was young and foolish, I used my power of foresight to win the lottery…twice. The second time was definitely a mistake. I drew too much attention to myself and set some bad people on my trail. Because of my error in judgment, I’ve had to move from place to place, always on the lookout. I have to be careful when I call home to communicate with my parents, and I can’t visit them the way I’d like.

Betty What’s your greatest fear? Who else knows about it?

Delfina: I’m not going to admit I’m afraid of flying, but I am stressed out by it. That’s why I have Bulu as my emotional support animal. She helps my anxiety when I travel and looks out for me if I space out during one of my visions. Rave knows about my issues with flying, and he comes up with some interesting ways to distract me.

Betty How much of your true self do you share with others?

Delfina: Very little. I have to hide my talent for seeing the future, and it’s hard to get close to someone when you can already foresee how you’ll probably part ways. Relationships are tricky. The Sentinel Agency is made up of people with unique talents, though. I don’t have to hide anything from them.

Betty Are you close to your family? Do you wish your relationship with them was different in any way? If so, how?

Delfina: I love and miss my parents. I have a great relationship with them and, like I said, enjoyed my childhood. I just wish I hadn’t brought them under such scrutiny and surveillance. Because of the risk, I can’t see them and have to be careful about communications.

Betty What characteristics are you looking for in a potential lover/spouse?

Delfina: A good future. Dependability, self-control, intelligence, caring—there’s a whole list of characteristics that feed into this, but I’m a long-view kind of person.

Betty How do you like to relax? What kind of entertainment do you enjoy?

Delfina: There’s nothing more relaxing than brushing my furry friend, Bulu, at the end of the day. Her ears pinken, her head fluffs up, and she makes the cutest humming sound. I love playing with her too. We sometimes go window shopping together. Bulu is quite the fashionista.

Betty What items do you carry in your pockets or handbag?

Delfina: I carry quite a bit, since I’m always ready to make a run for it. For me, I have my hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, ID, registration documents for my emotional support animal, and a water bottle. For Bulu, I have a small container of food, her water bottle—it has a floral print on it—her grooming brush, a tiny toothbrush, and fruity toothpaste from the pet store. Oh yes, and a telescoping curtain rod. You’ll have to read about Bulu’s and my travels to understand that last one.

Undercover operatives have discovered Delfina has the power of foresight, and they want to capture and use her. Accompanied by her emotional support animal, Delfina uses her ability to stay ahead of her pursuers. The one thing she doesn’t foresee is Rave. The Imperian male claims she’s his genetic match, but he has so many aliases that she’s not sure if he’s the good guy or the bad. Attraction ignites as they are thrown together by mysterious government agents, a wildlife trafficking syndicate, and a covert agency that recruits people with unique talents. Secrets, passion, and intrigue collide in this sci-fi romance.

Content: m/f romance, love scenes, fight scenes

Buy Links: Books2Read * Amazon * B&N * Kobo * Apple

Sometimes I wish I had foresight like you, Delfina, but not always. Especially if it makes you a target. I wish you success and happiness! Thanks for stopping by, and thanks to Laurel for giving you the time away to be with us.

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Getting to know Neil S. Plakcy #author #mystery #romance #LGBTQ+ #historical #thrillers #books

Please help me welcome my guest author today, Neil S. Plakcy! Let’s take a peek at his bio and then find out more his writing process and inspiration.

Neil Plakcy has written or edited over three dozen novels and short stories in mystery, romance and erotica. His golden retriever mystery series was inspired by his first golden, Samwise. Long walks with his current goldens give him plenty of time to think up new crimes and solutions—and Brody and Griffin provide love, entertainment, and endless piles of fur on the floor.

Author Social Links: Website * Facebook * BookBub

Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?

Neil: I grew up along the Delaware Canal in southeastern Pennsylvania, and so much of the area’s history was all around me as a kid. I wanted to explore what life was like along the canal toward the end of its era.

Betty: What, if any, new writing skill did you develop while working on this story?

Neil: I realized that just because I thought something was “historic,” it didn’t automatically make it from the period I was writing about. So perhaps I enhanced my research skills.

Betty: Did you struggle with any part of this story? What and how?

Neil: I originally saw this as a two-book series. One set of characters would fall in love and discover a murder, while in the second book a new pair would find romance together and solve the crime. But that kind of cliffhanger just didn’t work, and I realized that I didn’t know enough about the second pair to build a whole novel around them.

Betty: Which character(s) were the easiest to get to know? Why do you think?

Neil: The easiest for me was the lock-keeper, Isaac Evans. I grew up around Quakers and learned a lot about their religion as a kid. I made him smart and bookish, like me, and all that helped me get to know him.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Neil: I had to do a deep dive into 1872, the time of the story, as the canal was fading from prominence and freed slaves were coming north. I also researched my hometown’s history—for example, learning that there was a small Black community there which still thrives.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Neil: I wrote the draft of book 1 of the two-book series, and wasn’t happy with the ending. So I tacked on another hundred pages solving the crime, then had to go back and slim the whole book down, focusing on the two romances. Then a third draft to polish and prepare for my editor, and then a fourth draft cleaning up any errors she found.

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Neil: It was a quicker process than usual for me because I was isolated during Covid. For part of that time I was on a sabbatical from teaching, and then later I was teaching online. So I had more time to focus on the book.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Neil: Pre-pandemic, I went to Starbucks every morning to write for an hour before work and reward myself with a café mocha. I trained my brain that when I settled in at that table, I was there to write. When everything shut down I had to buy a coffee maker and become my own barista. I have to fight with more distractions now, but I still sit at a table and write every morning, with a venti café mocha by my side.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Neil: A little and really are my writing tics. I always do a last minute run through for those before I send off to my editor.

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Neil: I have three: Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac and Jimmy Buffett. I appreciate all of them for their prose, but also for the lifestyles they represent. I want to be an adventurer—even if it’s only in my head!

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Neil: As I’ve said, it used to be Starbucks. Now it’s my kitchen table for writing and revising. I read in bed on my Kindle, for the most part.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Neil: I will be retiring from twenty years as a college English professor this summer. While I relish having more time to write, I think I will miss the contact with students and colleagues. Many of those I work with are creative writers and we share a lot about writing.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Neil: Readers enjoy and relate to my characters. My best-selling series is about a guy and his golden retriever who solve crimes, and people sure do love that dog, and tell me they think of his human as their friend. I also pioneered writing a mystery series about a gay Honolulu homicide detective in which his coming-out process mirrors the crimes he investigates, and I’m proud of winning awards for that.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Neil: I have an equal love for crime fiction and light-hearted or low-angst romance. And those are the genres I enjoy writing the most, too.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Neil: For years, I’ve wanted to be able to support myself with my fiction, which I’m finally able to do. And the second part of success is reaching readers, and hearing back from them how much they have enjoyed my books.

Can two broken men heal each other?

In the aftermath of a failed love, Isaac Evans drops out of college and flees Philadelphia for a lock-keeper’s job on the Delaware Canal in rural Pennsylvania, where he pursues a life of Thoreau-driven solitude.

Prussian immigrant Lenert Tessmer trudges along the canal towpath in good and bad weather, hobbled by his dialect which prevents him from connecting with others. Then Lenert breaks his leg, and Isaac’s Quaker beliefs force him to offer a place where Lenert can recover.

Slowly, these two broken men find solace and healing in each other. But with railroads replacing the canal and narrow-minded outsiders who threaten their country idyll, Isaac and Lenert will have to face their deepest fears to develop a love that will endure.

Fans of MM historical romance will appreciate a fascinating time period, filled with unique details and a vibrant location, and a focus on the lives of working-class men in the 19th century who dare to love other men. This historical MM romance set in a small town in rural Pennsylvania in 1872 has a hurt/comfort theme.

Buy Links: Amazon * Books2Read

I love a good historical story, especially ones set in unusual places and times. Thanks for sharing, Neil!

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Introducing Antonio Sarvilli, inadvertent hero of Trapped by the Mob by Tami Lund

#author #romcom #suspense #paranormal #mafia #fiction #books #mustread #romance

I have a special treat for you all today. We get to chat with a financial planner (sort of) from Trapped by the Mob by Tami Lund. Please help me welcome Antonio Sarvilli! First a very quick peek at Tami’s bio and then we’ll see what Antonio has to say…

Romcom. Mafia. Suspense. Shifters. Vampires. Demons. Dragons. Witches. And more. Tami Lund writes it all. With wine.

Author Social Links: Facebook * BookBub * Instagram

Betty: How would you describe your parents?

Antonio: *rubs back of head* Wow, you start with a whopper of an interview question, don’t you? Not exactly my favorite subject. There’s a lot of woulda, shoulda, coulda when it comes to my parents… I suppose I’d describe them as never satisfied. Christ, that sounds like a Prince song. But it’s true. They moved to America from Italy, searching for that elusive American Dream, but they never found it and died poorer than before they made that decision. The worst part is, my brother and I, we found the underground version of that American Dream. Running a mafia business is most definitely lucrative. 

Betty: What do you think is your greatest failure? Why?

Antonio: Damn, there’s another powerful question. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you’re in cahoots with that annoying cop, Detective Proctor. Did you know he thinks I’m just a lay about who constantly mooches money off my brother, the mafia king? Guy has no freaking clue I’m the one who’s grown Gino’s empire so big, there’s no possible way he could spend all that money in a single lifetime. Which, I suppose, takes us back to my greatest failure. Yeah, my greatest accomplishment is my greatest failure. That’s what happens when you start regretting your involvement with the mob, I guess.

Betty: What is the most wonderful thing that has happened to you?

Antonio: This is gonna sound weird, but meeting Phoebe Cavanaugh is definitely the most wonderful thing to have ever happened to me. It’s weird because all I was supposed to do was keep an eye on her, make sure she didn’t cause trouble for my brother. Instead, I… well, I don’t wanna use the l-o-v-e word, but let’s just say… I’m crazy about her. Which sucks because, as wonderful as that is, I can’t let it go anywhere. No way am I pulling her into this messed up world I live in. And since I can’t get out…

Betty: If you could change the past, what would you change?

Antonio: *Snort* That’s an easy one. I never would have let my brother bully me into becoming his financial planner. Man, what I wouldn’t give to be just another working shmuck. Trust me, money really doesn’t buy happiness. Plenty of heartache, though.

Betty: What’s your greatest fear? Who else knows about it?

Antonio: Pushing my brother too far and ending up wearing cement shoes at the bottom of the Detroit River. And no one knows that fear, except, of course, my brother. And you, now. But you know better than to talk to anyone about this interview, right? Crap, interview… you aren’t planning to publish this, are you? That whole cement shoes scenario could become reality. Can you at least change my name or something?

Betty: What’s your favorite game to play?

Antonio: Cat and mouse with my brother, the mafia king. Just kidding. I hate that game.

Betty: Do you have a favorite sibling? Who?

Antonio: I have one sibling, Gino Sarvilli, leader of the Detroit mafia, and he’s definitely not my favorite.

Betty: If you could live anywhere, where would you live?

Antonio: Wherever Gino couldn’t get to me. And I’d take Phoebe with me. And maybe Gino’s ex-wife, Margot, and my niece, Nina, because they are good people who got a raw deal and don’t deserve to be under Gino’s thumb.

Betty: How do you like to relax?

Antonio: Before all this mess with Phoebe and my brother and Margot started, I liked to hop into my boat and cruise around the lake. So relaxing. Now, pretty much anything I do with Phoebe is relaxing. Well, when we aren’t trying to hide out from my brother, I suppose. So yeah, I’m not getting much relaxation time these days.

Betty: What genre of books do you most enjoy reading?

Antonio: Don’t tell anyone I said this, but I love a good romance. They’re kinda sexy, y’know? Plus, it’s great fodder for figuring out what women really want. Act like a romance hero, and you’re in, know what I mean?

Sure, Antonio Sarvilli is the money man behind his brother’s criminal empire, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy. He’s not the one out there killing people. All he does is make greenbacks and enjoy the fruits of his labor.

That attitude changes when his brother assigns him to get to know Phoebe Cavanaugh, a Good Samaritan who witnessed something she wasn’t supposed to.

Now, all Antonio wants is to get out so he can be with Phoebe.

Except that’s not how it works when you’re related to the mob.

Buy Links: Books2Read

Yikes, Antonio! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you find a safe passage out of your current situation. Be sure to thank Tami for giving you a few minutes away from your job to chat with us, too!

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Getting to know Charlie Cochrane #author #mystery #historical #romance #series #books #fiction #amreading #amwriting

My guest author today is coming to us from “across the pond” so I hope you’ll help me give her a warm welcome! Let’s get to know more about author Charlie Cochrane and her writing, first with a peek at her bio and then on to the questions.

Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes both romances and mysteries, including the Edwardian-era Cambridge Fellows series, and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Lume and Bold Strokes, among others.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie regularly appears at book festivals and at reader and author conferences.

Author Social Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter

Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?

Charlie: Lock, Stock and Peril is the latest book in the Lindenshaw Mysteries series and is inspired by life during lockdown: the extra stresses, the different kind of existence and how that might ultimately turn murderous. The whole series, however, was originally inspired by the TV series Midsomer Murders. I kept thinking how cool it might be to have a similar series set in leafy England but with a gay detective. such thing existed, so I wrote it, making sure the detective fell in love with one of the key witnesses. One who owned a big, adorable, Newfoundland dog.

Betty: What, if any, new writing skill did you develop while working on this story?

Charlie: Nothing new in particular, this time, although I firmly believe that with every new book you produce, you hone your skills and become a better writer. I can confess to one new bad habit I acquired, though: my editor always spots words I overuse and having managed to cut down on the usual ones, I’d only gone and picked up some new ones without realising. 😊

Betty: Did you struggle with any part of this story? What and how?

Charlie: Bizarrely, it was remembering exactly which lockdown rules applied when. There’s quite a gap for an author between first draft and final set of edits so I had to rely heavily on a) notes b) memory and when all else failed c) scrolling back through the government website. Isn’t it odd how something that seemed so constricting at the time passed so quickly out of our brains?

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Charlie: PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act) became my new best friend at one time, when I wanted to make sure I’d got the police rules right at a couple of key places in the story. I also tried to incorporate what I’d learned at the 2020 Portsmouth Mysteryfest where our keynote speaker took us through the latest advice for conducting police interviews. She made a point of saying how unrealistic TV police dramas are so I wanted to get closer to depicting the real thing.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Charlie: My usual two. I always produce a pretty good first draft and then bash it about until it’s polished enough to submit to the publisher. Which is where my editor comes along with her virtual red pen and, after much toing and froing, we’re several versions later and have something fit to see the light of day among readers.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Charlie: Very few, apart from going off and doing something mindless – like cleaning the kitchen floor – when I need to get a plot point clear in my mind. It always works, probably because it taps into the subconscious, which is very powerful and underused. I remember reading a book about inventors (and similar) which said many of them got their lightbulb moment while doing a repetitive physical task. It probably frees the rest of the mind.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Charlie: In my first draft, no matter how hard I try, the usual suspects creep in too often. Just. Look. More. Even. I hang my head in shame at how many of these little so-and-so’s manage to make it into the second draft. The newest addition to that list was simply, which kept appearing in the first draft of Lock, Stock and Peril – possibly as a replacement for just. (That sound is my eyes rolling at myself.)

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Charlie: How much time have we got? Mary Renault, because of her beautiful economy of words – she could say more in a sentence than some folk do in an entire page. Agatha Christie, because of her plots and the wonderful way she re-used the same idea (and made fun of herself for doing that in depicting her alter ego, Ariadne Oliver.) Michael Gilbert, for producing the amateur detective Henry Bohun and Shakespeare…for being Shakespeare.

Betty:  Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Charlie: I can write just about anywhere so long as I’m comfy. I usually work on a PC or laptop but if inspiration strikes then jotting notes on paper/phone/anything to hand has to be done, even if that’s while I’m sitting in the dentist’s waiting room. In terms of reading, I prefer to do that in bed or in the bath and I need quiet both for maximum enjoyment and for maximum concentration, as I read a lot of mysteries and don’t want to miss an important clue. 

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Charlie: I’m retired from everything but writing. Well, in a paid capacity, anyway, because I chair the board of a small charity. I used to do freelance training of school governors, helping them with things like recruiting new headteachers, and many of the experiences I had doing that have sneaked their way into the Lindenshaw and other books.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Charlie: I think if I was a normal author, I’d say having a book reach number one in its genre on Amazon. But as I’m me, I feel prouder of two things: having an author I greatly respect telling me they like my characters and using the loo at the house of a multi-million selling novelist (long story, involving somehow getting invited to a meeting of crime writers during which I sat thinking, “How the heck have I ended up here?”)

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Charlie: Cosy mysteries, especially those written at the end of the nineteenth century and in the first half of the twentieth. They used to be quite hard to get hold of unless you scoured second-hand bookshops but there’s been a spate of republishing old novels and short stories, for example in the British Library collection. An absolute Godsend for readers like me.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Charlie: Wow, there’s a question. I think, for me, success is defined primarily by people’s reaction to my stories. When you have readers emailing you to say your novels have helped them through bereavement, or to cope with another equally hard aspect of their lives, then what more fulfilment can you want?

They may be locked down but this case isn’t.

Lockdown is stressful enough for Chief Inspector Robin Bright. Then a murder makes this strange time even stranger. In one of Kinechester’s most upmarket areas, the body of Ellen, a brilliant but enigmatic recluse, has lain undiscovered for days. Pinning down the time—and date—of death will be difficult, but finding a killer during unprecedented times could prove impossible.

Adam Matthew’s focus on his pupils is shaken when a teaching assistant reveals his godmother has been murdered. Keen to avoid involvement, Adam does his best to maintain a distance from his husband, Robin’s, case, but when it keeps creeping up, Adam lends his incisive mind to the clues again.

Between Robin trying to understand the complex victim and picking his way through a mess of facts, half truths, and downright lies from witnesses desperate to cover up their own rule-breaking, he realises this could be the cold case that stains his career and forever haunts a community. And when it looks like the virus has struck Adam, Robin’s torn between duty and love.

Buy Links: RiptidePublishing

I wondered how long it would take for authors to write about life during the pandemic. There’s my answer! Thanks for sharing your story with us, Charlie!

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

Meet Captain James Hook, notorious pirate of the Neverland #fairytale #fiction #PeterPan #CaptainHook #amreading #mustread #novels

Buckle your britches, here comes Captain Hook! He’s here to tell us more about author Andrea Jones’ story about his life and times. First, let’s get to know more about Andrea, and then Captain Hook will take it away…

Andrea Jones, author of the Hook & Jill Saga – Novels of Neverland, for grown-ups.

Author Andrea Jones questions the fairy-tale premise of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan story: is it truly desirable to remain a child, or is it a greater adventure, after all, to grow up? Jones enthralls us with her award-winning literary series, the Hook & Jill Saga. As a “pirate author,” Jones breaks the rules, and her stories leave readers rethinking convention.

The first three books of the Hook & Jill Saga ─ Hook & Jill, Other Oceans, and Other Islands ─ won numerous literary awards and the hearts of their many readers. Within these novels, Jones deepens and explores Barrie’s famous and infamous characters, and re-imagines the Neverland for grown-up readers who long to return there. Jones is currently composing book four, The Wider World. Five books are charted for this series.

Jones graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she studied Oral Interpretation of Literature, with a Literature minor. In her earlier career in television production, she worked in PBS, CBS, and corporate studios. Jones is known around the world as “Capitana Red-Hand” of Under the Black Flag, a web-based pirate brotherhood.

Author Social Links: Website * Facebook

Betty: How would you describe your parents?

Captain James Hook: My murderous father, and my cheat of a mother? He was handsome and aristocratic. She was vibrant, and corrupt in a very charming manner, and I adored her. Until their fatal day, they were discreet in front of the servants. But I assure you, there was nothing I didn’t hear.

Betty: Who taught you to tie your shoes?

Captain James Hook: A nursemaid, naturally. Since my unfortunate injury, however, Mr. Smee performs these little tasks for me. He is, quite literally, my right-hand man.

Betty: Do you know how to swim? How did you learn, if so?

Captain James Hook: One doesn’t bother with such a trifle until one adopts a life upon the sea, although many a sailor fails to learn, and many a sailor drowns. Of course, once Pan’s damage was done, leaving me maimed and single-handed, I had to relearn everything. I endured terrible pain, for a very long time. Before the insolent boy’s interference, I was a master swordsman. Do you think it was easy to regain my skill? I couldn’t wield a spoon, let alone a cutlass! By the time I was able to scrawl my signature, even my name had changed. To remain afloat upon a sea of turmoil, aye, this is a skill I was forced to refine, or die.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest failure? Why?

Captain James Hook: For too long, I failed to grasp that my existence is dictated by my Storyteller. I strove in vain to win on my own terms, while all along it was she – “the Wendy” – who narrated my failures and my successes. Once I understood her power, I moved to take her under my control. Alas for all the time spent fighting the boy, when I should have pursued the girl. And yet, those years of struggle make the taste of my victory all the sweeter to the tongue.

Betty: What is the most wonderful thing that has happened to you?

Captain James Hook: I shan’t give the ending away, but I can attest that to possess a woman whose soul encompasses my own is the most exhilarating discovery a man of spirit can experience.

Betty: If you could change the past, what would you change?

Captain James Hook: Not one thing. I have arrived, after years of striving, at a place of perfection. It will not last. In the world of piracy I inhabit, it cannot last. Yet my legend will abide, and I shall die with the satisfaction of having truly lived.

Betty: What is your greatest fear? Who else knows about it?

Captain James Hook:  I flinch at nothing but the sight of my own blood. For this reason, the threat of the Crocodile looms ever at my back. Since that fateful day that Pan fed my right hand to the monster, the beast sniffs about the island of Neverland, seeking to devour the rest of me. The men of my crew are aware of my dilemma, as is the Wendy, who, attempting to inflict a weakness upon the “villain” of her tale, dictated this hitch’s existence along with my story. I contrived to make the Croc swallow a clock, which instrument ticks warning of its coming. When the beast and its ticking approach, I seize the nearest weapon, and launch my attack.

Betty: How do you like to relax?

Captain James Hook: Piracy is not a vocation that lends itself to relaxation. In my private moments, when they occur, I devise my schemes for revenge and enrichment; I read philosophy and the classics, play the harpsichord with one hand and one hook, and, in more stimulating moments with the fairer sex, share warm sips of rum to set the mood for seduction.

Betty: Who would you like to meet? Why?

Captain James Hook: I have already met her. I await her awakening. Why? Really – I am a man, and she is a female. I’ll not be so crude as to elucidate the nature of my desires. And one other walks this world with whom I should like to share my appreciation for her interest. My author, Andrea Jones. She “pirated” the brilliant Mr. Barrie’s Neverland, yet she remains true to his vision. I find her ideas as to my character and circumstances enthralling. As I judge it, her mind is full of wit, intelligence – and intriguing twists. She expresses me beautifully. If you doubt me, do pick up the Hook & Jill Saga. We’ll both come to life there.

Wendy Darling learns. What appears to be good may prove otherwise, and what seems to be evil…is irresistible.

In this startling new vision of a cultural classic, Wendy intends to live happily-ever-after with Peter Pan. But Time, like this tale, behaves in an unsettling way.

As Wendy mothers the Lost Boys, they thrive on adventure. Struggling to keep them safe from the Island’s many hazards, she finds a more subtle threat encroaching from an unexpected quarter: the children are growing up, and only Peter knows the punishment.

Yet in the inky edges of the Island, the tales Wendy tells the Lost Boys come true. Captain Hook is real, and even the Wonderful Boy can’t defend his Wendy against this menace. Hook is a master manipulator, devising vengeance for his maiming. Insidious and seductive, Hook has his reasons for tempting Wendy to grow up.

Revenge is only the first.

Deepening the characters sketched by J.M. Barrie, Hook & Jill reveals the dark side of innocence within Peter Pan. It awakens a daring Wendy who asks questions and seeks truth; it delves into Hook, the iconic villain. Striding from fairy tale and thrusting into reality, Captain Hook becomes a frightening force indeed.

Buy links: Website * Amazon * BookDepository * B&N

Thank you, sir, for taking time to come by and tell us more about your life.

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!