Tag: fiction (page 1 of 9)

Revisiting #PNR Bleeding Heart

bleeding heart 600So, as promised, Monday posts in February are devoted to my romance work. Today, I’d like to take another look at Bleeding Heart, Book 1 of the Medici Protectorate series.

The idea for the series came to me from my beloved grandfather, John Naccarato. The 30th anniversary of his passing was yesterday, February 7, so I think remembering him and his legacy is a fitting thing to do right now.

When I was young, I used to sit on my grandfather’s lap and ask him to tell me stories. One that really stuck with me was of his father’s birth. My great-grandfather never met his dad. He was the illegitimate son of Italian nobility. I used to dream that someone from that family would come and take us to Italy, would recognize my family as one of their own and welcome us into their country and their lives.

I guess it was my own version of the Princess Diaries. Only my version was steeped in reality but never came to fruition.

Italian Americans

My Great-Grandmother, My Grandfather, and His Siblings

Several years later, that story of my grandfather’s heritage still lingered on my mind. I was considering different story ideas, and my kids—who I’d told the story to—told me I should I begin with that premise. It sounded like a great idea. And because my kids suggested it, I wanted them to be part of the process. They both hold black belts in TaeKwonDo, and at the time were training heavily with weapons. So the concept of unbreakable daggers was born. And because my kids loved fantasy, a magical element was thrown in.

I’m currently writing the third installment of the Medici Protectorate series. The storyworld and plots have been developed for years. (Book 2, Mind Control, is complete and with the publisher. Expected release date is May 20, 2016.) And to me, even though it’s no longer my grandfather’s heritage story, I find it to be the perfect blend between my ancestors and my children. I think my grandfather—and hopefully his father—would love it.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

It was supposed to be a soft kiss, barely a tender caress. Just enough to whet his appetite and tease hers. But when his mouth met hers, a dark desire awakened in him. He fisted his hand in her hair and pulled her to him, claiming her with a deep, passionate kiss.

So, there you have it. A never before released excerpt from Bleeding Heart. If you’d like more information, you can find it on the Bleeding Heart page. If you want to read the first chapter (plus a little more), it is available for free in the sidebar. And if you’d like to read the whole novel, you can find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks.

Oh, and a reminder. Type and Cross and Bleeding Heart are currently on sale, but the price will be going up after February 19. If you want them but haven’t purchased them yet, now’s your chance to get them for under a dollar a piece.

Anyway, I’d love to know what you think about Bleeding Heart, the premise, or about alchemy and powers. Let’s talk about it.

Goodreads Book Giveaway: A Thousand Yesteryears by Mae Clair #mystery #suspense #Mothman

I’m happy to welcome Mae Clair back to my site today. We share a strange obsession of the mythological and cryptozoological, and not coincidentally, that’s what she’s here to discuss today. And she’s got a great offer for you. Take it away, Mae…


A Thousand YesteryearsA huge THANK YOU to Staci for allowing me blog space to share some exciting news. Kensington Publishing is doing a Goodreads Giveaway for a paperback copy of my upcoming release, A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS. There will be two—count ‘em two—winners. The giveaway is open now through February 29th (how cool, a leap year). If you’re interested, you can enter here:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/172145-a-thousand-yesteryears

A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS is a tale of mystery and suspense centered around events that took place in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. You’ll discover a small river town plagued by tragic history and rumored sightings of the Mothman—a terrifying creature said to haunt an abandoned WWII munitions site.

The characters are everyday people facing extraordinary circumstances—secrets, betrayal, murder. I hope you find the blurb intriguing:

Behind a legend lies the truth…

As a child, Eve Parrish lost her father and her best friend, Maggie Flynn, in a tragic bridge collapse. Fifteen years later, she returns to Point Pleasant to settle her deceased aunt’s estate. Though much has changed about the once thriving river community, the ghost of tragedy still weighs heavily on the town, as do rumors and sightings of the Mothman, a local legend. When Eve uncovers startling information about her aunt’s death, that legend is in danger of becoming all too real…

Caden Flynn is one of the few lucky survivors of the bridge collapse, but blames himself for coercing his younger sister out that night. He’s carried that guilt for fifteen years, unaware of darker currents haunting the town. It isn’t long before Eve’s arrival unravels an old secret—one that places her and Caden in the crosshairs of a deadly killer…

~ooOOoo~

A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS releases on April 26th, but the ebook version is already available from Amazon and all other major booksellers. If you’d like to pre-order you can find a complete list of links here.

In the meantime, I invite you sign up for the paperback giveaway at Goodreads and tell your friends! The Mothman Cometh! 🙂


So a great big thank you to Mae Clair for sharing this news and opportunity here. If’ you’d like to know more about her, here you go:

Mae ClairMae Clair has been chasing myth, monsters and folklore through research and reading since she was a kid. In 2013 and 2015, she journeyed to West Virginia to learn more about the legendary Mothman, a creature who factors into her latest release.

Mae pens tales of mystery and suspense with a touch of romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and numbers cats, history and exploring old graveyards among her passions.

Look for Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website | Blog | Twitter (@MaeClair1) | Google+

Facebook Author Page | Amazon Author Page

Goodreads | Pinterest

Sign up for Mae’s newsletter:

Newsletter Sign-Up

 

Introducing #PNR Love Set in Stone

love set in stone 18 green-page-001Because Valentine’s Day is in February, many people have romance on their minds. While I am a multi-genre author, I’m devoting my Monday posts this month to the work I’ve written in the romance genre.

This week, I’d like to introduce you to Love Set in Stone, a paranormal romance releasing as part of a boxset in Spring 2016. This set includes many talented authors writing books about familiar supernatural creatures—ghosts, vampires, shifters, magicians. And some not so usual entities—like mummies and gargoyles.

Based on the cover art and the title, I’m guessing you figured out I wrote the gargoyle piece.

Love Set in Stone is inspired by the poem “God Bless the Gargoyles” by Dav Pilkey. It tells the story of Damien, a warrior who became a gargoyle to protect the innocent and, over the centuries, lost his purpose. Until he meets Rina, a down-on-her-luck woman he can’t help but try to protect. Will he be able to save her? Is their love strong enough to withstand the evils of this world?

Well, you’ll just have to read it and find out. But until it’s released, please enjoy this brief excerpt:

“Look,” she said, “I think maybe we just need to get something out of the way, then we can move on to other things.”

“What?” Her beauty blinded him. He couldn’t think straight, couldn’t find the words or the willpower to walk away.

Then she walked toward him.

What was she doing? What did she want? What did they need to get out of the way? Details of his name? His occupation?

His thoughts reeled with panic, confusion, worst-case scenarios.

She stood toe-to-toe with him, looked up into his eyes. He saw the light dusting of freckles across her nose and cheekbones, heard her sharp intake of breath.

Was she as nervous as he? Why?

Then she kissed him.

And he couldn’t think at all.

So, there you have it. A brief glimpse at Love Set in Stone, coming this spring. I’d love to hear what you think. Does a gargoyle story intrigue you, or do you prefer the classic paranormal creatures? Do you read or write PNR? What are your favorite elements? Let’s talk about it.

Fiction Pet Peeves Part 2—Settings

winter landscapeIt’s wintertime. I think this is a popular season for reading, mostly because sitting under a blanket with a book and a cup of coffee sounds a lot better than going outside and shoveling snow. Summertime is great for being outside. Not winter. (To those of you who enjoy skiing, snowboarding, building snowmen, or making and throwing snowballs, I apologize. I just don’t get it. I hate being cold.)

But I digress.

I’ve been reading a lot, and thinking about some of the books I’ve read brings me to my next pet peeve. Settings in fiction. Please be patient with me on this one. I know setting a scene is necessary. But there is a right and a wrong way to do it.

1) I don’t like it when a description of the setting is the opening of a book.

Yes, there are some people who could describe the contents of my refrigerator and make it sound like a wonderland. (J.K. Rowling, I mean you. Herman Melville, I do NOT mean you.) But notice that the greats of our time start with something more exciting than the dirty gray brick of the bank the POV character is about to enter. I’m not a huge fan of in media res beginnings. I want to meet the character before the building explodes. That way I know how I should feel about the explosion. But given the choice between the soot-stained walls or the explosion that turns them to rubble, I’ll take the explosion. Every. Time.

2) Purple prose is pretty, but it’s out of place in contemporary fiction.

I know I’ve been guilty of writing like this in the past, so I almost hate to mention it. But descriptions that turn poetic just don’t fit in today’s genre work. We’ve all read probably every adjective possible to describe a sunrise or sunset. And shorelines. Forests. Mountains. Fields of wildflowers. Those descriptions had their day. Now, unless a writer can focus on an unusual detail or give me a reason why this area is unique—or at least important to the POV character—just saying where the character is probably is enough. Save the description for things we’re unfamiliar with. Or for things that are important to the characters.

3) Big blocks of writing to describe the setting can slow my reading pace.

Again, I know setting a scene is important. But it can be done with less intrusion. Do you want a description of the room written like a list? No. But if you have a character interact with things in the room, we’ll get the picture without the dictionary entry. I like it when setting is revealed by a character tripping over a red oriental rug, slamming her knee off the corner of an antique table, and knocking a Tiffany lamp onto the floor. That way, we see the action and we see the decor. And when that same character worries not that she might have chipped a bone in her leg (even as she limps to the camel-backed sofa to sit) but how she’ll pay for the damage she caused? Well, then we get character information, too. It’s a win-win.


So, there you have it. Things that bother me about poorly-handled settings in fiction. Yes, every scene should ground us in the space. But not to open a scene, not with dozens of useless details, and not as a boring list. I’ve read too many novels lately that fail one or more of these criteria, and that bothers me. New York should know better. We should expect better. (And yes, we, as writers, should strive to write these settings better.)

What about you? How do you feel about opening a book or scene with description? Purple prose? Lengthy lists of detail? Is there something I missed? Share this with other readers and writers, and let’s all talk about it.

Writer Wednesday—Chatting with Gordon Bonnet

Every now and then, serendipity intervenes in my life. One of the days she was working overtime was the day I met Gordon Bonnet.

Gordon and I are both published by Oghma Creative Media. At the time I met him, I was the marketing director there, and I met him to discuss media kits, promotional materials, etc.

kill switchI didn’t often have time to read every word of every manuscript of every writer we represented, but in Gordon’s case, I made the time. His novel, Kill Switch, grabbed me by the throat. I couldn’t put it down. It was fabulous. Then I learned more about the guy. He not only wrote well, he wrote fast, and he offered Oghma several more manuscripts (which I’m so glad they snatched up). He has a fantastic skeptics blog, Skeptophilia. And not only was he hard-working, he was a joy to work with.

I’m pleased to introduce him to you today, where he talks about his latest release, Lock & Key. Please make him feel at home. Take it away, Gordon…


I was talking to my younger son about quantum physics, as one does, and the subject of the “Many Worlds interpretation” came up.

This is the idea that every time an event could have gone one of two different ways, it goes both—in different universes. Put another way, when there’s a decision to be made, every possible outcome occurs somewhere.

The physicists who take this idea seriously (and there are a few who do) believe that once these splits occur, the timelines become permanently walled off from each other, so that there is no way to slip into an alternate universe and find out how your life would have gone had you chosen differently. As C. S. Lewis put it in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, “‘To know what would have happened, child?’ Aslan said. ‘No, nobody is ever told that.'”

And that was when Nathan said, “Wouldn’t it be cool, though, even though we can’t see what would have happened, if there was a place that kept track of all of the possibilities?”

perf4.370x7.000.inddAnd that was the birth of the Library of Timelines, the setting for my recently-released novel Lock & Key.

In the opening pages, we meet Darren Ault, a mild-mannered Seattle bookstore owner, who is invited over to his friend Lee’s apartment for dinner. After the meal is over, though, Lee pulls out a pistol and shoots Darren in the head. Far from killing him, the gunshot makes the rest of humanity—Lee included—vanish. Somehow, Darren’s death has caused a temporal paradox, and the event has left only one person alive.

Darren himself.

Well, not just Darren. Also the staff of the Library of Timelines, including the Head Librarian, Archibald Fischer, and Fischer’s right-hand, his administrative assistant Maggie Carmichael.

After some inquiry, they decide to send Darren into the past to try to figure out what has happened and to attempt to repair the damage. This starts Darren on a journey careening through time and history, first to 11th century Scotland, followed by 14th century Norway and 19th century Kentucky, each time to a place and time the Master Computer of the Library has identified as a pivot point for the paradox. Along the way, he meets Vikings, a perennially-depressed Norwegian silversmith, an insane highwayman, a religious cult that believes the way to salvation is through pain, a beautiful red-haired Hebridean lass, a brilliant but unstable physicist, and an elderly peasant woman who couples smart advice with a talent for throwing dumplings at people she doesn’t like.

Darren is assured that on his travels, the Master Computer is looking out for him, and will make sure he is brought back to the Library if his life is in peril. It’s flawless, Fischer says. Darren will be fine, there’s nothing to worry about.

“And the computer always gets you out just in time?” Darren said.

Fischer nodded. “Always. Lightning-fast processor. Cutting-edge technology.”

“Well, there was Janowsky,” Maggie said.

“Oh, yeah,” Fischer said. “I’d forgotten about Janowsky.”

“Janowsky?” Darren said. “What happened to Janowsky?”

“Well…” Fischer acted a little reluctant to discuss the topic. “Janowsky was a Monitor who worked on our custodial staff. He was a bit of a thrill-seeker.”

“Morbid type, if you ask me.” Maggie’s round face radiated disapproval.

“He wanted to take a vacation back to the eighteenth century, and experience the French Revolution first-hand.” Fischer paused. “He got his wish, I guess.”

“He died? I thought you said your computer always kept track of where you were, and could pull you back to the Library!”

“Oh, he came back to the Library,” Maggie said. “Just in two separate chunks, as it were.”

“Took forever to get the stain out of the carpet,” Fischer said.

And with that reassurance, Darren is launched on the adventure of his life.

Lock & Key weaves together time travel with humor, history, and the question that all of us have considered from time to time—what would have happened had we chosen differently?

Just remember, next time you are faced with choices, the decision is yours to make. But everything is being monitored by Fischer and his computer. If you ever get a chance to visit the Library of Timelines, ask Fischer and Maggie if you can check on the Computer and see what would have happened had you made a different choice.

You never know. They might just let you.


Are you as intrigued as I am? How can you not be? I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s definitely on my list.

If you have any questions or comments for Gordon, please leave them below.

And to learn more about him, visit him via the following links:

Website | Amazon Author Page | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

About Gordon:

Gordon BonnetGordon Bonnet is a writer, musician, teacher, and scuba diver, and currently lives in upstate New York. His love of fiction began when his story “Crazy Bird Bends His Beak” won critical acclaim in Mrs. Moore’s first grade class at Central Elementary School in St. Albans, West Virginia. His interest in the paranormal goes back almost that far. Introduced to speculative, fantasy, and science fiction by giants in the tradition, he was captivated by their abilities to take the reader to a fictional world and make it seem tangible, to breathe life and passion and personality into characters who were (sometimes) not even human. This fascination with the paranormal, however, has always been tempered by Gordon’s scientific training. This has led to a strange duality—his work as a skeptic and debunker on the popular blog Skeptophilia, while simultaneously writing paranormal and speculative novels, novellas, and short stories. Gordon explains this with a smile. “Well, I do know it’s fiction, after all.”

Fiction Pet Peeves Part 1—Cover Art

Do not judge a book by its cover.I know, I know.

Authors shouldn’t talk about writing and publishing. They should talk about the works they offer, their works-in-progress, and themes their stories cover.

Today, I’m trying something a bit different.

Out and About Front outlineI’ve been thinking a lot about covers lately. A lot. Out and About, Book 2 of my Cathedral Lake series, just released in December, and Mind Control, Book 2 of my Medici Protectorate series just shipped to my editor (set to release this spring). So, yeah, just with my own work I’ve been kind of cover-obsessed lately.

But then I saw a post in a forum about covers. And a post on a blog I follow. And emails from several people selling their services as cover designers or selling products that are supposed to make cover-design easier.

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it. In today’s world, where tens of thousands of books hit the market each day and attention spans are at their all-time shortest, if you can’t snag someone’s attention with a kick-butt image, you’ve already lost the sale.

That said, I do have a couple pet peeves when it comes to covers.

1) As you’ve probably already surmised, I don’t think covers should be the first hurdle writers have to jump toward attracting readers. 

I’ve seen gorgeous covers on sub-par content. I’ve seen less-than-lovely covers on fabulous stories. I’d like to make the argument that some covers are ugly because many indie writers don’t have the money to hire good designers, but the fact is, I’ve seen terrible covers on NY-published books.The problem is, while there are “rules” for what makes a design good, in the end, covers aren’t judged by scientific algorithms. They’re judged by emotional people.

You can do everything by the book (sorry for that pun) and still have a crappy cover. You can break all the rules and knock it out of the park. But what it really comes down to is opinion. Yours and mine undoubtedly vary; what you love, I might hate. And vice versa.

So, I’m making a plea. Readers, please don’t judge a book by its cover. Read the back blurb and a sample before you make your decision.

2) Cover models that misrepresent the characters. 

I have a great publisher. Oghma Creative Media has a policy that the writers are allowed input on the cover design. Not total autonomy and final decision-making, but still, much more say than most publishers give writers.

That said, I have two very different cover styles. My mainstream novels (published by the Foyle Press imprint) focus on one vital image. My romance novels (published under the Lagan Press imprint) have people on the cover.

bleeding heart 600Apparently, the norm in the romance genre is at least one person, maybe the couple. Another trend is to show just parts of a body, often scantily clad. I was overruled on my romance covers. There are people on them. I’ve heard a lot of compliments on the cover of Bleeding Heart (which just goes to show that cover art is subjective), but I’d prefer an object or location instead. (Note: That’s not to say I don’t like this cover. I do. I just would like it better without the models who, in my opinion, do not look like my characters.)

So, maybe I’m in the minority here, but I don’t like that. I don’t want a cover to show me a model that I then need to picture as I read the book. I want the author’s words to paint me an image of the characters so I can “see” them the way that best appeals to me.

I especially hate it when the work is later made into a movie or television show. Then I have my impression of the characters, the cover art depicting them differently, and then the actors who play them on film. It annoys me.


So, there you have it. The things that bug me about covers. There are many more things when we get into the nitty-gritty details, but I don’t think anyone wants to delve into the minutiae of design right now.

I am, however, interested in your take on covers. Let’s hear from readers, writers, designers, publishers… What do you think? Who should have final say on the design? Should cover art even matter, or is content king? People or no people? Or just parts of people?

Share this with your friends and colleagues, invite them to weigh in. And please leave your thoughts below. I’m curious to see what others think.

Why New Years Are Special

happy-new-year-1097521_640Happy New Year!

New Year’s Day seems to be one of those holidays that people overlook. Sure, it’s a day off work for many of us, but other than that, it’s pretty much bowl games and hangover cures.

Not for me.

There is no other holiday better suited for wishing a happy one to not just family and friends, but to everyone we meet.

The best part about a new year is that it applies to everyone. It’s not a religious holiday. It’s not even a national holiday. This is the only holiday that every single person in the world marks. It’s the best time of year to focus on our similarities rather than our differences. And couldn’t we all benefit from more things that bring us together rather than divide us?

Pepperoni and onions in sauce. Photo via B. Smith.

For my family, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are marked with tradition. We attend a vigil mass for the Solemnity of Mary on New Year’s Eve, followed by pepperoni sandwiches (thick cut pepperoni and sliced onions slowly simmered in tomato sauce until the onions are tender and the onions and meat have flavored the sauce) for dinner. When my kids were young, the pepperoni was a bit spicy for them, so we added hotdogs to the tradition. At midnight, after a toast with Asti Spumante (and several phone calls to family) we eat bagna cauda (tuna and anchovies simmered in olive oil and butter… with copious amounts of garlic) with bread and veggies. After a late night, we get up and tear down all the Christmas decorations. (Yes, I know it’s still the Christmas season in the church, but that’s what we do.) Then we watch football until the traditional dinner of pork roast in sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, green beans, and applesauce. Again we toast in the new year, and then we wind down with Christmas cookies, tiramisu, and coffee. Any cookies left will become a cookie torte the next day.

Tradition is so important to us.

beach

Not tradition, but not a bad way to spend a holiday, either.

And this year we barely managed half of what we usually do. We were just coming back from a week at the beach (also not part of our usual tradition, but it was my in-laws’ 50th anniversary, so we took the party south), and the drive took a lot out of us. Bagna cauda and undecorating didn’t happen until the 2nd. Tiramisu and torte didn’t happen at all. And I fell asleep during football, so I guess that was a wash, too.

But that’s okay.

The most important part of tradition isn’t what the activity is, but who you do the activity with.

We weren’t with extended family this year. Haven’t been for several years, actually, as we just live too far away now and school and work resume right after the holiday. But we were with each other. And while our activities shifted or just didn’t happen at all, we were together. And that’s what matters most.

So if you know me, you know family time is important to me. And if you know my writing, you know family and tradition are important to my characters. Out and About just released in December, with more family drama for the Kellers. Book three of the series is already in process. Mind Control will be coming out a few months from now, with more Italian tradition from the Notaros and the Brotherhood. I’m so excited about both of these series, and I hope you are, too. I’m pretty sure the Kellers enjoyed a cocktail party with a few close friends and the Notaros and the Brotherhood definitely had pepperoni sandwiches and bagna cauda. Now they are all ready to see what 2016 will bring.

I’m ready, too. I’m looking forward to all the possibilities 2016 offers. So, I’m happy to wish you all—heck, I’m wishing the entire world—a happy, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous new year.

Do you have any expectations for 2016? Let’s talk about it below.

What About You?

Happy Holidays!Another year has passed. Where did the time go?

When I was young and heard older generations make similar statements, I thought they were nuts. The year took forever to pass back to my favorite holiday season.

Now that I’m older, I totally get it.

Time ticks by, every second the tiniest fraction faster than the last. If I make it to my grandmother’s age—God willing—I’ll blink and the day or week or month will have passed. I need to remember to stop rushing to meet deadlines and wash laundry and cook dinner. Instead, I need to start savoring each moment before it’s gone. I’ll never have this much time again; might as well make these seconds worth as much as I can. I want to laugh with my son before he leaves for college. Shop with my daughter while she still (somewhat) values my opinion. Enjoy my husband before we’re too old to even take a stroll together. Appreciate coffee with friends and dinners with family. Yes, I want to savor these sweet moments.

This year was the proverbial rollercoaster. I lost dear loved ones, but our family also grew—through birth and marriage. We’ve weathered our share of illnesses, accidents, and injuries, but we’re all relatively healthy (and I can’t complain about that). I left wonderful friends at a job I loved (albeit a job that was killing me) to work on my own (alone at home) as a full-time writer and editor.

Which brings me to the reason for my post.

readers' favorite awardThis was my most productive year yet. I released two novels (Bleeding Heart and Out and About) and two short stories (“Malevolent Whispers” and “Footprints in the Snow“) in collections with other writers. I received a 5-star review for Type and Cross from Readers’ Favorite. I even managed to do a writers’ talk at a local library and discuss my body of work with the patrons there. That was fun. Now, I didn’t quite manage to post once a week like I did last year, but I did write several guest posts for other sites (you can grab the links here) and host other writers here, as well. As much as I enjoy talking to you all, it pleases me greatly to introduce you to fellow artists who you might not otherwise ever find on your own. All this while editing more manuscripts than I ever did in prior years (for a full list of work I’ve edited, visit my editing page) and while taking courses to help me better navigate the ever-changing world of publishing. Like I said, this was my most productive year yet.

But this wasn’t the pinnacle.

love set in stone

One of four novels promised next year.
Coming Spring 2016.

Next year I’ll be even busier. I’ve committed to releasing four novels, a novella, and probably a couple more short stories in anthologies. I’ve also promised myself to post once a week (until the end of the year, when I close down for the holidays), including all twelve First Friday Fiction Features. I want to write more reviews, which means reading more, and I’d really love to amp up my marketing efforts. I’m telling you all this because (1) you are the reason I’m working so hard and (2) you can help hold me accountable.

Yes, you are the reason I do this. I write because I have stories to tell, but I publish because readers like you enjoy my words and ask for more. (click to tweet) And the more you can correspond with me and tell me what you want from me, the better I’ll be able to provide you with the content you crave and deserve. So consider writing that Amazon review. Sign up for my newsletter. Join other like-minded readers at my Facebook group, Staci Troilo’s Novel Idea. Follow me on Goodreads. Heck, send me smoke signals if you want. Just keep in touch. I love to hear from you.

So, I’m winding down my site for the year, and I’m trying to remember to follow the list but enjoy the journey. I just shared my work resolutions with you. Now all I have to do is thank each and every single one of you for your support. I couldn’t do this without you.

And I want to remind you to enjoy your journey, too. Savor these moments; they are fleeting. (click to tweet)

One last thing before I go. I wish you all a fabulous end of December and start of the new year. See you then!


Now, for the title of this post… What about you? What did you do this year that surprised you? What do you intend to accomplish next year? Who do you really want to thank? Why not share in the comments?

Lorna Faith Interviews Her Main Character, Annaveta Travotsky

historical romantic suspenseIt’s been a while since I’ve had my next visitor here.

Now that I think about it, she never actually guest-posted here; I just had a book spotlight of her novel, Answering Annaveta. If you missed that post, you can find it here.

I’m so glad to finally introduce you to her and let you hear what she has to say. So, without further delay, here is friend and fellow writer, Lorna Faith, as she interviews Annaveta Travotsky, the main character in her historical romantic suspense series, the Russia to Canada series.

Interview with the Character ~ Annaveta Travotsky and Lorna Faith

Lorna Faith, author of Anchoring Annaveta, a historical romantic suspense due out in March 2016, was able to track down Annaveta, the female lead of the story. Annaveta wanted to meet Lorna at her small farmhouse just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It’s spring, and only six months after Annaveta and Alex escaped Russia by ship.

Annaveta appears relaxed, but with shadows around her eyes. They sit on the covered porch, each in a wooden chair that faces toward the ocean. Annaveta’s auburn hair hangs in a thick braid to her waist, and she wears a cream coloured shirt-waist and a long, dark brown skirt that touches her brown leather walking shoes.

After offering Lorna a cup of tea, Annaveta sits down and waits quietly.

LF: Thanks for agreeing to talk with me Annaveta. I wanted to interview you for a friend’s blog so she and her readers could hear your incredible story. You’ve been through a lot of trouble in the past couple of years, but you made it through.

AT: Well, I’m not sure how much detail I’ll be willing to share, and I’m not convinced I’m through the trouble you mentioned yet. Since Alex and I got here, we’ve seen some more evidence that we might have been followed by some of the men in the terrorist group, the Black Hand.

LF: The Black Hand has been terrorizing you from the start, haven’t they? Would you tell us a little about your story up to now?

AT: Well, I don’t like to talk about it much, mostly because they are such sad memories. But I can give you the short version.

LF: Sure.

AT: Well, after my family died when our hut caught fire, I escaped from my old village to the German colony where Alex lived with his family. It wasn’t long before Misha—the abusive drunk who I barely escaped marrying—discovered me at Pleve colony, and I had to run again. So I ran to St.Petersburg. That was when things went from bad to worse.

It started out simple and innocent enough as I worked as a nanny for Countess Tashkova, and sometimes would go with her and her husband to parties and bring the children along. But one time when I was asked to come along to help with the children, I overheard Baron Yakov talking to three other men about a plan to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Well, one of the men overheard me, and so the Baron put me in his dungeon for three days so they could carry out the assassination.

What I didn’t realize was that Misha, his cousin, Baron Yakov, and Gavrillo Princep were all part of a terrorist group known as the Black Hand. It was because we reported them to the police that they were put in jail.

LF: If they were put in jail, then why do you feel like you’re still not safe?

AT: When Alex and I quietly disappeared from St.Petersburg—after those Black Hand men were put in prison—we went to Odessa to stay with my Mama’s sister, Aunt Esther, and her husband Uncle Roman. While we stayed there, strange things started happening.

LF: What sort of strange things?

AT: After WWI was announced, the situation all around us went from bad to worse. My uncle suddenly decided he didn’t like Alex and his German background, and my aunt and uncle did their best to keep Alex away from me. So they planned dinner parties with their wealthy friends and their sons.

Hatred for Germans was everywhere. Someone even set fire to the local German Lutheran church when Alex and I went there one Sunday. Then the worst tragedy of all happened, German boats came to the port of Odessa one night in the middle of the night and started shooting their canons and rifles at every house and at every man, woman, and child within shooting range. Many people died—including people Alex loved—and it changed him.

LF: What do you mean it changed Alex?

AT: He went from being fairly easygoing and not wanting to join with the soldiers to being overcome with anger. Right the next day, he joined the Russian Navy. Before he left, Alex asked me to marry him. But it just wasn’t the right time—I could sense he was out of control. I told him no, and we broke up.

LF: What happened next?

AT: We hardly saw each other for a really long time. And both of us were being threatened by members of the Black Hand. (Annaveta’s voice sounds strained. She plays with the ends of her braid, her hands shaking a little). And I almost died trying to find something that my Mama had given me. We barely escaped with our lives, and that’s how I find myself here in Canada.

LF: That’s all you’re going to tell me?

AT: I just don’t want to talk about this anymore. All that we went through was so painful. I’m still feeling the loss of leaving Russia and our family and friends.

LF: Sorry for your loss. I won’t ask you any more deep questions like that. Although I do have one other question I wanted to ask.

AT: Well you can ask, I’m just not sure I will answer it.

LF: Okay, fair enough. You said you almost died trying to find something that your Mama had given you. That must have been something really important to you. Did you finally find it?

AT: Yes, I did find it. It’s a big part of what keeps me strong and anchors me in who I am. I’m tired of talking about this. Can we move onto another topic?

LF: Yes. Sorry if the questions got too deep or personal. I’m just trying to give readers a sense of what you’ve been through.

AT: Well… if they really want to know, they’ll have to read the book. I think you said it’s coming out in March 2016, right?

LF: Yes.

AT: Then they won’t have to wait too long for answers. (Stands and offers a small smile.) Let’s take a walk, and I’ll show you the new olive tree I planted.

LF: (Stands and walks with Annaveta, looking at the small tree in the middle of the farmyard.) Ah, very fitting.

Annaveta has grown in strength, maturity, and grace from all she’s been through. But the interview touched on too many fresh wounds, which explains why she rushed through the last few questions. Her story is captivating, though. I hope you check it out in March 2016.


Thanks so much, Lorna, for taking the time to introduce Annaveta to my readers. I loved the first book, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the second, so now I can look forward to March and the next installment.

So, guys, if you have any questions for Lorna about her novels, or about her coaching—just leave a message. We’d both love to hear from you.

About Lorna:

Lorna FaithLorna Faith loves stories filled with suspense, thrills… and of course, romance. She started as a young child telling stories first to her animals, then to her family and friends. She was asked many times if the stories she told were real.

Now, she saves her stories for her novels. Whether Lorna’s writing historical romance or contemporary romance, she always includes character’s dark secrets being exposed, suspense, and most of all love.

Right now Lorna is editing Anchoring Annaveta, Book #2 in the Russia to Canada Trilogy; she’s writing a contemporary romance, in the fictional but beautiful setting of Mulberry Island; and she’s almost finished writing a Historical Romance novella set in the early 1900s at the start of the oil and gas boom in Turner Valley, Alberta.

LornaFaith.com
…Writer/Blogger/CoachFacebook | Twitter | Google Plus | YouTube

What Billy Joel and Albert Camus Meant

maskI’m a huge Billy Joel fan. (Yes, I’m showing my age. I don’t care. He’s awesome.) I could give you a list of my favorite songs of his, but that list would be way too long. Instead, I want to focus on just one. Briefly. “The Stranger.” In a moment…

I’m not much of a French literature fan. I had to read many French works when I was getting my degrees, but most of them bored me. One stuck with me, though. Albert Camus’ The Stranger.

What do Joel’s and Camus’ works have in common? Other than the title, that is. In their own ways, they deal with people hiding their true selves from the world, with trying to make order out of chaos.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to read my friend Joan Hall’s debut novella. What do Joel and Camus have to do with that? Joan’s work touches on similar themes. And her story is also called The Stranger.

Please join me in welcoming Joan today. I’m so excited she’s here, and she has a wonderful story to share with us.

The Story Behind Joan Hall’s The Stranger

the stranger

I’m excited for the opportunity to be a guest on Staci’s blog today and announce my debut novella, The Stranger.

Staci and I “met” through Tribe Writers and have since bonded through an offshoot private group of other fiction writers. We often tease that we share a brain or that we’re twins separated by birth. (Although I’m the much older twin!) Thank you, Staci, for allowing me to be your guest today.

Now, without further ado, here’s a little about my background and the story behind The Stranger.

Novelist Orson Scott Card once said, “Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.”

As far back as I can remember I loved to hear a good story. It didn’t matter if it came from the pages of Grimm’s Fairy Tales or a Little Golden Book. Once I learned to read, I had a book in my hand most of the time. I had an over-active imagination and would often act out the stories I read.

However, my favorite stories were true ones told to me by my mom. Most people would think she lived an ordinary life, but I found her stories fascinating. Whether it was an event from her childhood or something that occurred later in her life, I enjoyed listening to them time and again.

When I was ten years old, I knew I wanted to become a writer. A lot of insecurity and self-doubt kept me from fulfilling my dream until a few years ago. In the years between, I continued to read—especially books in the suspense or mystery genre. I’m not much of a TV person, but I enjoyed shows such as Unsolved Mysteries.

I became a people watcher and listened to their stories. My new novella, The Stranger, is loosely based on a true story I once heard. I’m unable to give you any details of the real event—doing so would reveal the stranger’s real identity. However, I’ll share an overview of the book.

The Stranger CollageJulie Williams is happily married to a retired army officer and has two grown children. She is also the owner of Uncommon Grounds, a coffee shop set in the fictitious town of Morgantown.

The story begins at her mother’s funeral. Margie Smith was a self-centered and domineering woman who raised Julie as a single parent. Shortly after the funeral, Julie enlists the help of a local genealogist to assist her in searching for information on her father.

We soon learn that Margie’s life was filled with lies and deceit. Then, a mysterious stranger arrives in town. He begins to watch Julie, question other people about her, and hang around the coffee shop. Who is this stranger? What is his connection to Julie?

Morgantown is based on two small towns not far from where I live. From the original concept of the story, I imagined Julie owning a coffee shop. I envisioned the stranger arriving by train and staying in a nearby old-fashioned hotel. I looked around me not only for the story idea, but for the setting also.

My original plan was to write the story as a series for my First Friday Fiction Feature titled ‘A Stranger in Town.’ But after two installments, the characters begged me to tell more of their story.

Currently, The Stranger is available exclusively to email subscribers. If you would like a free copy, click here to sign up.


I’m so glad you joined us today, Joan. And thank you for sharing your process and your overview with us. I hope you guys take this opportunity to request a copy. The story really touched my heart, and it will stay with me. Just like Joel’s and Camus’ strangers did.

And what about you? Do you wear a metaphorical mask? Have you ever presented yourself as someone else? Do you like Billy Joel or French literature? Let’s talk about it.

And if you want to know a little more about Joan, here you go:

Joan Hall

Joan Hall knew she wanted to be a writer at age ten. She began to scribble stories on notebook paper and wrote a novel when she was seventeen. However, she put aside her desire to become a published author for several years. Then, with encouragement from a friend, she began writing short non-fiction stories and devotionals. But becoming a fiction writer was always her desire. The Stranger is her first novella. She has plans to publish more books in 2016, including the first book of the Driscoll Lake series.

Joan and her husband live in Texas and share their home with their two cats, Tucker and Little Bit, and their dog, Maggie. They like to travel, especially when a road trip is involved. Joan also enjoys photography, wildlife, and nature walks.

To connect with Joan, visit her website and be sure to check out her Friday Fiction section. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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