Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Potpouri

CS Lewis, was the  most important Christian intellectual of the 20th century. He was a British poet, christian apologist and novelist, literary critic, essayist and medievalist, and a break-through children's book writer of his time.
Fifty years ago he published an essay called "Xmas and Christmas: A Lost Chapter from Herodotus". He writes about the strange winter customs of a barbarian nation and what he wrote about is increasingly true in our country today. The Christmas rush begins too early and Christians lose sight of what the Advent season is  all about. After Christmas sales starting today, IMO continue to mock the true meaning of what happened on Christmas day.

Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" teaches the terrific challenge of Christmas with the heart-rendering self-discovery of Scrooge,and does so with laughter, outrage and incredible feeling.
But enough said about the wrongs and  the challenges of this beautiful holy season. It is a time to rejoice and open our hearts to others; a time to be thankful for our blessings.

I am particularly thankful for a second career of writing. The success of my five published books has given me much joy and accomplishment. I still have hopes for my work in progress, although time is slowing down for me, I intend to give it my all, just as I did for  the first.  When Monday rings in the new year 2015, I will take time to savor the best of the many pages that came alive in print for me and the many who helped to make that happen. The first and last novels were historicals: Four Summers Waiting and The Red Cockade. The contemporary series, Maine Shore Chronicles included Finding Fiona, Moonglade, and Promise Keeper. I wish all my colleagues and readers a productive Happy New Year filled with good books and good times.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Perfect Presents for the Holidays by Jacqueline Seewald

The holidays are a great time to gift friends, family or yourself with books to read. With people going on vacation, sitting at beaches, pools and on cruise ships, or ski resorts, many individuals enjoy relaxing with a good book. And there certainly are a lot of them being published!  You can find books to suit every age and taste whether fiction or nonfiction.

Just published and appropriate for holiday reading is a nonfiction book entitled: Miracles of Kindness; True Tales of Kindness in a Modern World. The website is: far available at the iTunes Store. 
My most recent reads are fiction books I haven’t yet reviewed for Amazon or Goodreads.  Personal: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child (my husband’s choice), Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery (which I chose to read for myself) and for both of us as we drive currently listening to the audio of Any Other Name by Craig Johnson. On my to read list: John Grisham’s Gray Mountain as well as JoAnne’s Myer’s Flagitious: A Four Story Anthology (recently mailed to me by the author). I’ll also be reading Joseph Rigo’s new novella Going Dutch.

I’m going to recommend my own most recent books to readers and hope you’ll forgive the commercial message. I do think these books make “perfect presents” for a variety of readers.

The fourth Kim Reynolds mystery THE BAD WIFE (and yes, she is very, very bad!) was published by Perfect Crime Books. It is available both in print and e-book editions.
(Endorsed by Sara Paretsky, the previous novels in this series received excellent reviews. Harlequin Worldwide Mystery paperbacks which followed the hardcover and large print editions are now sold out.) The ebook edition of THE BAD WIFE is reasonably priced.

My Regency romance novel TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS received a lovely blurb endorsement from Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick which appears on the cover of that novel, published both as a hardcover from Five Star/Gale and in large print from Thorndike Press. Mary Balogh also read this novel and offered helpful editorial suggestions prior to publication. SteameReads has published this novel in a newly edited edition in all e-book formats.

I won SteameReads “Some Like It Hot” romance novel writing contest with my sensual Georgian Highlands historical THE CHEVALIER. That novel was  published and is also available in all e-book formats.

My “clean read” YA novel THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER was also recently published as an e-book in all formats by Astraea Press. This YA novel is a good reading experience for mothers and daughters to share. It’s not just for teens. Although a romance as well as a coming-of-age novel, the main theme is about family values. A good choice for the holidays.

DEATH LEGACY is now available in a new e-book edition at Amazon, Kobo, Apple, or Google from The Novel Fox. This romantic mystery suspense thriller received excellent reviews in hardcover and large print editions from Publishers Weekly and Booklist among others. The Harlequin Worldwide Mystery paperback edition sold out in just a few months.

Finally, I will mention my book of short stories, BEYOND THE BO TREE, published as an e-book by Authentic Press:
which offers some of my best diverse stories for reader enjoyment inexpensively.

Okay, now here’s your opportunity to share the books you think will make for good holiday reading this winter. Feel free to mention books you’ve recently published if you’re an author, books you have on your wish list or recently read and enjoyed as a reader. Don’t be shy! Comments/suggestions are welcome here. Let’s share.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Interview With Author Patricia Stoltey by Jacqueline Seewald

Patricia Stoltey loves books and authors and regularly features guest writers from a variety of genres on her blog ( Ruled by the fearsome Katie Cat, Patricia and her husband reside in Northern Colorado where Bill escapes to play bridge and enjoy ham radio while Patricia avoids her writing and blogging tasks (and Katie Cat’s demands) by meeting writer friends for coffee, mostly to talk about procrastination. In other times, Patricia has lived in Illinois, Oklahoma, Indiana, Florida, and the South of France. You can learn more about her and her novels at her website ( She can also be found on Facebook: (, Twitter (, Google+ (, and Goodreads (  

Question: What is the title and genre of your novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer: First, let me thank you all at Author Expressions for letting me jump on board with news about my Five Star release. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Dead Wrong is a novel of suspense about a woman on the run but she’s dead wrong about who’s chasing her. You can see why I chose the title, but now that I know how many other novels have used that title, I wish I’d done a little more research first. If readers search for Dead Wrong, they’ll find a long list of books before they get to mine. Hopefully they’ll search on my name instead.

I chose to write a standalone suspense novel after my two Sylvia and Willie mysteries were published. I’m not sure writing a series is my primary interest, although I do have one more mystery Sylvia Thorn could solve. To me, standalones allow a greater mix of plots and characters…and I don’t have to keep track of all those important stats for the next book.

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer: I started with the “woman on the run” idea because I enjoy reading suspense, psychological suspense, and thrillers. At the beginning, my plot was big and included a threat to the whole country. Gradually I tightened the focus and used a real-life crime that actually happened to a company I worked for. The rest of the story came from my overactive imagination and the desire to write some of the novel from the bad guys’ points of view.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?

Answer:  My main character is Lynnette Foster, a young woman who recently lost her father and had moved from Indianapolis to Florida, thinking she had a new job with a major Miami newspaper. That didn’t work out, so there she was, alone and lonely, working as a cocktail waitress. To ward off the constant advances of drunks and college boys on spring break, she took a self defense class taught by a sexy cop. She impulsively married the guy, and a week later was on the run with a black eye and bruised nose. Lynnette runs into big trouble when she crosses paths with a really bad dude, Fat Ass Sammy Grick (more evidence of my overactive imagination).

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  Five Star and Harlequin Worldwide Mystery published my Sylvia and Willie novels, The Prairie Grass Murders and The Desert Hedge Murders. The ebooks are now available for Kindle and Nook.

Sylvia is a 60-something former attorney and judge, and Willie is her older brother who suffers from a form of PTSD. In the first novel, Willie gets in trouble when he visits the old homestead in Illinois and finds a body. Sylvia travels from Florida to bail him out. In the second, Sylvia accompanies her mother’s travel club to Laughlin, Nevada, where they find a body in the hotel. Willie and their father fly to the rescue, but complicate matters more than they help.

My first published short story, “Three Sisters of Ring Island,” just came out in the anthology, Tales in Firelight and Shadow. It’s a creepy retelling of the Norwegian folk tale, “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” only now the three characters are humans instead of goats, and they don’t deal with their situation in quite the same gentle way.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer: I’m finishing up the second draft of another suspense novel tentatively called Out of Control.   It’s not a true sequel to Dead Wrong, but I have reused a couple of characters. The female police officer who plays a relatively small part in Dead Wrong had now been newly promoted to detective and she’s the main cop who’s dealing with the murder of a young woman in Glades, Florida.

I also have two sort of finished novels ready for revision and editing. One is an untitled mystery, and the other is historical fiction. I plan to submit that one to Five Star for the Frontier Fiction line.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer: I grew up with books, loved reading, and always wanted to try writing a novel. My brother had a story to tell about his years in the transportation industry, so we tried co-authoring an action/adventure tale involving unions and management. Once I had that first draft printed out, the sense of accomplishment was overwhelming. I churned out another novel, this time romantic suspense. Finally I knew what I wanted to do as soon as I could find the time. Not counting the writing classes and bad short stories and occasional mystery fan conventions along the way, the time didn’t come until I retired from my real job in the real world.

And just so you know, the action/adventure novel, The Troubleshooter, made it into audiobook about 14 years ago, but has never been in print (and probably never will be unless I find a spare year to do a couple of rewrites). That romantic suspense manuscript, Against Her Better Judgment, is still on my shelf with its wimpy heroine begging for a rewrite. It’s a better story, but needs a lot of character development.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer: We learn best by writing, so write as much as you can even though most of it may not get published.
 And don’t throw away anything you write. It’s fun (and a little sobering) to go back and read it twenty years later.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer:Dead Wrong is available now in hardcover through most online booksellers. I’d also love to have you request the book at your local library. They will need the ISBN which is:  ISBN-13: 978-1432829865.

By the time you read this interview, it’s possible the ebook will be available as well.  

Pat, thanks so much for being our guest author today! Readers, your comments and/or questions are welcome here.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Revising the Reading List by Susan Oleksiw

Over the years my reading has expanded along what might seem predictable lines--lots of scholarly nonfiction, novels set in India, mysteries, and current nonfiction. I rarely read historical fiction though I enjoy history. Recently I read Ursula LeGuin's National Book Award speech, and was reminded that I had never read anything by her other than a few short stories.

As a child I read The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, and was put off by the governess's clearly unhinged state. In my view there was no ghost, just an unreliable woman losing her mind in an isolated country house. I told my older brother this and he remarked, you won't like science fiction or ghost stories. I took him at his word and happily entered the world of mysteries.

LeGuin's speech convinced me I'd been too quick to judge, and I picked up her first novel, Rocannon's World (1964). In a preface to a new edition the author remarked on how much her writing has changed, and as I read the story I could tick off the stages in the hero's journey without any effort. Still, I liked the author's robust attitude and her imagination.

Since I had no idea how LeGuin compared to other writers of science fiction, I decided to try C.S. Lewis. I had read Till We Have Faces (1956) in college, and knew about the Chronicles of Narnia, though they hadn't appealed to me as a child. I selected Out of the Silent Planet and fell in love with Dr. Ransom. When he sees the strange creature emerge from a body of water and begin talking, he loses all fear, and "his imagination leaped over every fear and hope and probability of his situation to follow the dazzling project of making a Malacandrian grammar." Of course! You laugh but I didn't. I knew exactly how Ransom felt. What Lewis shows us in the next several chapters is laid bare in language at the end, when Ransom discusses the nature of life on earth with Oyarsa after all three humans are brought before him and the people of the planet.

For several years I was a member of a book group, where I read authors whose works had never appealed to me, and for the most part still don't, but I found it very broadening to read and think about their words and articulate just what I didn't care for.

Last night I joined several other writers for the annual Mystery Night at the New England Mobile Book Fair. Not many readers in my area read about India, but I was pleasantly surprised when a few patrons listened to me talk about my Anita Ray books and decided to try them. India and Indian mysteries are as alien to many readers in this country as science fiction has long been to me. It's nice to pull down some walls, and get a closer look at the other side, from wherever you are standing.