Books for Everyone

Books for Everyone


Liebster Award

Today's blog is fun … as in I'm helping a friend with her Liebster Award nomination. Kay LaLone is someone I've known for many, many years. We met in a critique group run by an American writer living in Egypt, but when that group slid into oblivion, I invited Kay to join another of my groups. Since then, we've both worked hard to achieve our dreams, and we did … within month of each other. Her book, Ghostly Clues, and my book, Softly Say Goodbye, are both available on Amazon, and are both doing well.
That being said, let's get on with the questions Kay sent me to answer. And they are some good questions. I think of them as my dreams coming true!

1.      If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would purchase?

Oh, that's so easy. I'd find a deserted island somewhere and buy it. Isolation is great for writers, but I'd also need to buy a nice boat so hubby, teenage son, and I could travel to populated areas to keep sane.


2.      Is there something unique about you that you'd like to share with the readers?

Is there something unique about me? I'm sure there is. I'm an author now, but previously I've done the usual teen jobs, and then there was an eleven year stint in the Air Force, followed by working at a company that provides support teams for scientific research in Antarctica. All this led me to the path I'm taking now in my life, writing stories for teens and adults.

3.      Where is your dream place to live and why?

That deserted island. I'm a person who loves peace and quiet. Malls, big cities, bumper-to-bumper traffic makes me crazed. Oh, like all humans I do need interaction, but in small doses please.

4.      What do you find is the most difficult part of the writing process?

Getting people to believe writers don't have an unlimited amount of time to chat, get together at the local Starbucks, or just hang out. Writing is a solitary profession. Most writers are recluses, reluctantly dragged into the public eye to show off our latest product. But we'd much rather be back at our computer, pounding out the latest story!

5.      Tell us something about yourself that we don't know.

I have to tell you a secret? Oh goodness! Well … let's see … I absolutely love getting into my Ford Explorer with my camera and seeking out places off the main drag. Give me a chance to explore, and I'm gone. I have what western stories call a set of "fiddle feet." Gotta see what there is to see.

6.      Do you have any pet peeves?

Many. So many people call me stuck on myself at times. The biggest is how a lot of people now don't take responsibility for their actions. They're always searching for a reason why things happen instead of looking at what they did to cause whatever problem they're facing. Yes, this does bleed into my writing. My characters often are in situations where the bad decisions of others force them to act when they'd much rather ignore the problem.

7.      Do you have any special habits you do when you write?

Sure. I think all writers do. First, I have to have no distractions. I really get involved with my stories. I can't have demands for me to cook, or clean the house, or even be taxi mom for my teen. I also have to have a cup of coffee or Diet Coke nearby.

8.      Did you ever write your friends or family members into your books?

Guilty as charged. I can't help it. My friends and family are characters themselves. But I don't use all their characteristics in one character. Rather, I blend those attributes to create my characters.

9.      What is your favorite drink?

Coffee first thing in the morning. I really have to have my coffee. No one who knows me comes anywhere near me until I've had my first pot of coffee.

Diet Coke after about ten in the morning, and usually for the rest of the day.

Rarely, I enjoy a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. Just one glass, though. More, and I get silly.

10.  Who gives you the best encouragement to keep writing?

My husband of nineteen years. He's the one who prodded me to take up writing after we moved from Denver to North Georgia. He's the one who tells me I can keep doing this crazy thing.

11.  Eleven random things about myself:

Loves heavy metal love ballads – those bands really know how to rock out a love song.
Definitely a cat person, but I also love Labradors!
Cans a mean, crispy pickle.
Power walks through grocery shopping, to get back to writing faster.
Can walk into a kitchen with no clue what to make and produce a meal my guys can't stop talking about later.
Adores my house on one acre of land. It's inside the city limits, but set so I feel as if I'm living in the country.
Grew up on the Los Angeles area, but prefers the quiet of the country.
Prefers honey over sugar in my coffee – and wishes restaurants would offer honey.
Spent five years in Germany while in the Air Force. Visited many attractions, but the one that made the biggest impression was seeing Dachau. The impressions I got from there stay with me to this day.
Longs to visit both Australia and New Zealand someday.
Is a grandmother to ten grandchildren, boys and girls. Loves them to pieces!


Mystery Times Nine - The Shame of West Landry

Tomorrow marks the release of Mystery Times Nine from Buddhapuss Ink. This year's anthology contains my story, The Shame of West Landry.


Like all my contemporary stories, The Shame of West Landry happens in the town of Landry, Georgia. Landry is in the northwest part of the state, a small town where residents struggle to raise their children, and also maintain their history, dating back to before the Civil War. Residents who have read my stories recognize Landry as the place where I live, and it is to a degree, but it also contains elements from every place I've visited or lived.

In this story, Bree Sandowski must use her ability to communicate with ghosts to solve a mystery going back to the summer of 65 – that's 1965. During that particular summer, her great-uncle, Jack, newly returned from duty in Vietnam vanished right after the historic West Landry Grocery Store burned. Rumors abounded from he had done the deed to he'd witnessed the arson and was killed to hide the identity of the criminal. His best buddy, Joe Jackson, also disappeared that hot, sultry night where a far off war claimed American's attention.


Now, nearly fifty years later, the Mars Theater blazes on a hot summer day. This is just the latest in a string of arson fires that have ravaged homes and businesses in the least appreciated area of Landry, Georgia. Bree is at a loss to explain why she's never solved the mystery, and now the ghosts she's always depended on for assistance won't speak to her. Then a voice springs from the center of the blaze firefighters work hard to control, a voice from the past she never knew, but one in the crowd does. This ghost demands for those of West Landry to stand up and speak of what they know.

Bree learns Joe Jackson has returned to town, but he's another victim in the growing number of residents murdered by what she suspects isn't one but three arsonists – all from the same family, and trusted by most in Landry!

Solving this mystery nearly kills Bree when she becomes the target. To discover the answer to her mystery, and eight others, order your copy of Mystery Times Nine today at the link below. This would make an excellent Christmas gift for the teen who loves mysteries!


The Next Big Thing

Fellow author Kay LaLone challenged me to the next big thing, where I talk about my current work in progress. That was the easy part, but a nasty cold sidelined me, on top of recovering from a holiday guest I'd looked forward to seeing for most of this year. So, I don't have anyone to refer you to after this, which makes it back to Kay!

Kay, along with the other ten people who are privy to my works in progress, know I always have something simmering from idea to awaiting submission. There are so many ideas, so many stories screaming for release, I just have to write down bits and pieces here and there. But the star this month is one I've labored over many, many times. It's now in the final editing stages, and I hope will find a home soon.

What is your working title of your book?

Take Chances

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The Virginia Tech Shooting – the first one. That's when I started the research.

What genre does your book fall under?

Young Adult, contemporary, social issues.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Julie first – I think Aimee Teegarden. There's an intensity to Ms. Teegarden which matches that of Julie: world traveler, able to instantly adjust to changes in her life, longs for normalcy.

Michael – modern day pirate describes Julie's secret crush, Michael. Alex Pettyfer would be the perfect guy to draw Julie's attention away from the ghosts of her past, and firmly ground her in the present.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Lightning never strikes twice – right?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I hope Solstice will take on this project.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Me and first drafts. Take Chances had an even dozen. It took me many tries to hit the right tone for this book. It's serious from the beginning, where the reader is dragged right into Julie's past, and an event she really wants to put behind her.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Just Another Hero by: Sharon M. Draper. Ms. Draper's synopsis is closest to what Julie experiences in Take Chances, but there are very subtle differences.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The research. I was amazed to discover school violence is American born. The date was July 26, 1764. The location was Franklin County, Pennsylvania. The final count of injuries/deaths at the hands of four Lenape warriors was 10 or 11 dead, including the headmaster (reports vary on the number in the school at the time), and two boys scalped who survived. What's even more amazing is how a lot of shootings, from the beginning, are done more by adults than children, but that trend changed in the early 1990s.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

This book is more about Julie's determination to take chances, to escape from under her mother's controlling thumb. She survived school violence while in Germany and is determined never to let it happen again. But it does, and Julie is thrust back in time for the few seconds where she could have escaped. During the ordeal, she learns about courage from unexpected sources, and how the people we depend on the most can fail us when we most need them, or so we think.
Back to you, Kay, and we have to do this again with a lot more warning next time!