HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

DOS ANGELES -- BY EMMY AWARD NOMINEE MICHAEL O'HARA



DOS ANGELES
by Michael O'Hara


GENRE:
Mystery


DOS ANGELES Blurb:

Dos Angeles, the first in a franchise of mysteries featuring Paco Moran, puts the multicultural thirty-something ex-LAPD homicide detective turned reluctant private eye on the trail of a beautiful young Latina on the run with ten million dollars in cash. Half Anglo and half Mexican, Moran is a transitional character equally at home working in Beverly Hills or blue collar Boyle Heights, the tough East Los Angeles neighborhood where he was raised by a single mom. In his debut case Paco quickly learns he will be the fall guy if he doesn't track down the young immigrant who allegedly stole a small fortune from a sleazy Hollywood producer secretly laundering money for a notorious drug cartel. Paco's frantic search takes him on a roller-coaster ride through a shadowy place he calls Dos Angeles a city within the city and a virtual country unto itself.




DOS ANGELES Excerpt:

Then, the day before the Pirellis were due home, something unexpected came up that needed her immediate attention. On hearing what she thought was the sound of a toilet running she first checked downstairs before heading up to the master suite. Inside the gaudy all gold and marble bathroom she discovered a puddle of water seeping out from inside the extra-long double vanity. Opening the main cabinet doors she saw one of the stainless steel hoses was leaking badly. She tried to tighten the connection but it had no effect. Afraid she might make matters worse, she turned off the valve and hurried downstairs to call a plumber on the approved contact list.

A half hour later Sid Kantor showed up and Maria was immediately intimidated by his off-putting physical presence. Short and obesely overweight with a large shaved head, a Quaker-like beard, and dull, hooded eyes, Kantor reminded her of El Malvado, a cartoon villain that used to terrify her as a little girl in Oaxaca. Because of that and his gruff, unfriendly manner, she quickly sensed he was one of those aggressive white foreigners who only saw Mexicans as workers, never as equals.

Not about to give him the satisfaction of staring at her shapely bottom on the way up the steep winding staircase, she politely stepped aside and gestured for him to lead the way. By the time they reached the second floor landing he was grunting and panting so much she feared he might have a heart attack.

“Are you okay, sir?” she asked with genuine concern.

“Ya, ya,” he muttered, wiping his brow with his shirt sleeve. “It’s dis damn heat.”

Minutes later Maria stood by patiently as Kantor awkwardly maneuvered his way under the sink to remove and replace the faulty hose. When he finally finished he turned the water back on to test it.

“Dat should do it,” he said in a heavily accented, non-American voice. “Let run five minutes to make sure.”

After struggling to get back up on his feet Kantor gestured with the flashlight he’d been using, illuminating the inside of the cabinet.

“You know what behind dere?” he asked, focusing the light on a small pocket door under the sink.

“Behind where?” Maria was confused.

“Dere, dere!” he growled, swirling the light around to emphasize what he was talking about

“I don’t know,” she shrugged.

“Strange. Hah?” He pointed the flashlight at the door again. “Must be something back dere.”

Since Kantor was obviously way too big to crawl through himself, Maria volunteered to take a look while he was still there.

“No time,” he said, tapping on his watch. “Late for next appointment.”

He handed her a business card. “You call if any more problems.”

She promised she would and saw him out.

After he left, she decided to return upstairs to check behind the cabinet to make sure there were no hidden pipes that could be leaking. When she slid open the mystery door, she was startled to discover a secret room. “Dios mío!” she whispered.



Michael O'Hara, Author,
Producer, and Journalist

Emmy nominee Michael O’Hara-- who has written and produced some of the highest-rated television movies and miniseries in recent memory – is adding author to his resume with the August, 2015 the publication of his first novel,  Dos Angeles.

The book, featuring a bilingual and bicultural private eye named Paco Moran, centers around Moran’s desperate search for a beautiful young Latina immigrant who stole ten million dollars from the mob. In a pre-publication review American Book Award winner Peter Quinn said: Paco Moran’s debut in Michael O'Hara's DOS ANGELES is fast-paced, finely crafted, and full of surprises. It's noir fiction for the 21st century, a helluva ride from the first page to last. Here's hoping O'Hara brings Paco back very soon. I can't wait!

A former award-winning journalist and NBC Vice President of Media Relations, O’Hara made an auspicious debut as a writer/producer with “Those She Left Behind,” a critically acclaimed family drama that continues to be the highest-rated TV movie (25.1/38 share) on any network in over twenty years. It starred Gary Cole and Colleen Dewhurst (who won an Emmy Award for her performance). That success was followed by the widely praised NBC movie “She Said No” which won an American Women in Radio & Television Award for Best Television Dramatic Special.

O’Hara next wrote and executive produced “Switched at Birth,” the blockbuster NBC miniseries that earned an Emmy nomination as Best Dramatic Special and remains the highest rated (22 rating/33 share) miniseries on network television since its initial telecast over two decades ago. He was also the writer and executive producer of “Murder in the Heartland,” a celebrated ABC miniseries which garnered a Casting Society of America Award and two Emmy nominations. Right after that he created and executive produced the first of 22 “Moment of Truth” movies for NBC, establishing one of the most successful film franchises in TV history.

O’Hara also wrote “She Woke Up Pregnant,” the pilot for ABC’s ‘Crimes of Passion’ franchise. It scored an impressive 13.4 rating and 21 share, making it the highest-rated ABC movie of the year. He went on to write “One Hot Summer Night,” another ‘Crimes of Passion’ thriller that was ABC’s highest-rated Thursday night movie of the season. Other producing credits include two CBS projects: “Twilight Zone – Rod Serling’s Lost Classics” and “A Child’s Wish,” which was filmed in the Oval Office and featured a cameo appearance by then President Bill Clinton. In addition he wrote and executive produced NBC’s “In His Life: The John Lennon Story” and “1st to Die,” a two-part NBC miniseries based on the best-selling novel by James Patterson.

Overall O’Hara has produced four miniseries and 33 Movies of the Week. Besides his Emmy nomination, other honors include: a Christopher Award (“A Child’s Wish”); a Prism Award (“The Accident”); a Humanitas Award nomination (“Heart of a Child”); a National Easter Seal Society Award (“To Walk Again”); an International Health & Medical Film Award (“Heart of a Child”); and the Media Award from The National Council on Problem Gambling (“Playing to Win.”)



https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dos-Angeles/1143487899001779




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 28, 2015

COLORADO IN SUMMER AND WINTER

First, Mary Preston won the giveaway posted on Friday's blog. Congratulations, Mary. 

Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post.

One of my favorite trips is one through the Southwest several years ago. Hero had a new car, a Mitsubishi sedan, on which we put a gazillion miles traveling here and there. Maybe that’s an exaggeration but we went a LOT of places in that car before it eventually spluttered its last gasp.


Anyway, on this trip, we went over Wolfe Pass, Colorado in a rainstorm. Hero had his hands full driving but I was able to enjoy the incredible beauty of the landscape. The entire state is gorgeous—something even a dyed-in-the-wool Texan like me can admit.

Silverton, Colorado
We also visited Silverton, Colorado on July 4th and were surprised the temperature was 32 degrees F with patches of snow still on the ground. Fortunately, we had brought very light jackets, but we were cold. Bright sunshine saved us and we enjoyed touring the town.

I had no idea then that I would write a book set in Colorado. At the time, all of my books were set in Texas except for one fluke novella set in Georgia. That changed when gracious and excellent author Cynthia Woolf invited me to participate in a project she had conjured called THE SURPRISE BRIDES. I loved the idea and so did Callie Hutton and Sylvia McDaniel.


Instead of seven brothers as in the old movie musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”, we would write four brides for four brothers. We wanted nothing to do with kidnapping, so the mother of these four brothers writes away for mail-order brides. Scheming Mama Fraser poses as each of her sons when she writes these letters and arranges for all four brides to arrive on the same train.


We decided a snowstorm rather than an avalanche should isolate them on Fraser's Circle F Ranch five miles from Angel Springs. A different avalanche plays a part in my story. Certainly we didn’t want to wait all winter to have the brides married. So, one of the brothers is a minister and can marry them—including himself and his bride.

This was the most difficult project with which I have ever been involved. For weeks emails flew back and forth among us to insure each of us included key elements without compromising the others’ books or offering four versions of the same story. The result is, I believe, four great western historical romances that will engage fans of that genre.


The books are JAMIE, CALEB, GIDEON, and ETHAN. The series is THE SURPRISE BRIDES. They are stand alone books and you don’t need to read any one of them to follow the others.  Due to the progression of events in the books’ content, if you plan to read all four I would suggest reading JAMIE first then ETHAN followed by GIDEON and ending with CALEB.

If you haven’t already done so, I hope you’ll give THE SURPRISE BRIDES: JAMIE a chance to entertain you and that you’ll also purchase the other three brothers’ stories. The books are priced low at only $2.99 each.  Here are the buy links at Amazon, but the books are available at Apple, Nook, and Kobo.

THE SURPRISE BRIDES buy links:
Caroline Clemmons, JAMIE http://amzn.com/B015272I3W
Cynthia Woolf, GIDEON  http://amzn.com/B015JLMQBU
Callie Hutton, CALEB  http://amzn.to/1KvP4id.
Sylvia McDaniel, ETHAN http://amzn.com/B015PG1FOI


**I’m giving away a free e-copy of THE SURPRISE BRIDES: JAMIE to one person who leaves a comment today. If you already have a copy of that book, you can choose another from my books on Amazon.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

What inspires you? Tell me in a comment to be in a drawing for a free e-book. 

Research is a large part of a writer’s world, especially when he or she writes historical novels, and often provides ideas for other novels. I love research and have trouble keeping on task. One of the fun parts of research is the day trip.

Years ago, my husband and I took a trip to Palo Pinto County, Texas for a driving tour and that’s when I fell in love with the area. To be truthful, I already loved driving through the hills and valleys. This tour, however, convinced me this was an area in which I would set many books. So far, I have two series set here—The Men of Stone Mountain and Bride Brigade—and a time travel, OUT OF THE BLUE.


Palo Pinto Mountains in distance from the valley
To most people, these would be considered hills, but geologically, they are mountains. Don’t ask me why, I’m just a writer. There are many picturesque areas and I enjoy driving through at any time of year. Now, however, is a prime time for the leaves are changing and it’s easy to see why the Native Americans dubbed them “painted posts”.

Although many live oaks dot the forests, most are smaller scrub oaks which turn colors and lose their leaves. Live oaks lose leaves, but they’re replaced and always have dark green leaves year around, hence the name. Also in the area are cedars and they provided fence posts material as well as small logs for cabins. Add in the cottonwoods, pin oak, red oak, hackberry, bois d'arc, elm, and don't forget the late-comer mesquite that plagues ranchers. 



In Palo Pinto County are many hot water springs, the most famous of which is the crazy water well in Mineral Wells. According to accounts, a family with a mentally disturbed wife moved to the area and the husband dug a well. While drinking that water, the woman was cured. It should be called sane water, but that doesn’t have the ring to it that crazy water does.



To this day, Crazy Water Crystals are available for sale. Frankly, I believe these are useful as little more than laxatives now due to the water's mineral content. The county's largest town was named Mineral Wells for a reason. The original well went through a lithium deposit and that provided relief to the woman’s condition. I doubt the FDA would allow over the counter lithium sales.

One of my favorite ranches is the Belding-Gibson Ranch, which has a spring that never dries up and was a favorite Native American campground. This is a beautiful ranch that has been continuously run by the Belding family and descendants since 1859. The original cedar log cabin dating to 1854 has been incorporated into the ranch home, as has the smokehouse and the dog trot and second cabin. This place is so dear to my heart.

Belding-Gibson Ranch Home includes preserved parts of
original cabins and smokehouse.
I enjoy this entire county, although I’m glad I live in a Fort Worth suburb with all the shopping and medical conveniences I prefer. While visiting Palo Pinto, I can visualize life as it was in the last half of the nineteenth century. A drive there sets my imagination’s cog wheels turning and generating new ideas faster than I can write them. The drive also makes me smile and dwell in my happy place.


Do you have special areas that inspire you? I’ll give away a copy of my first Bride Brigade romance, JOSEPHINE, to one person who comments today.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

LOST CAUSES -- POWER GONE WRONG AND ON THE RUN




LOST CAUSES
by Mia Marshall


Mia Marshall will award a $50 Amazon/BN Gift Card to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Rafflecopter is at the end of the post.

LOST CAUSES Blurb:

Aidan Brook has spent months living with the horror of what happened when she lost control of her magic. Now she is searching for a way to manage her immense power, but she only hits one dead end after another.

On the run from a council intent on her death, Aidan, the bear shifter Mac, and the rest of her friends find themselves on a desperate chase across deserts and oceans in search of answers. Along the way, they encounter a living myth and a dual magic with secrets of his own—and they learn that the cure may be more deadly than the disease.

To save her own life, Aidan will need to confront the most dangerous foe she’s ever faced…herself.

LOST CAUSES is the fourth book in the award-winning Elements urban fantasy series.



LOST CAUSES Excerpt:

The magic hissed in fear and anger. For a moment it considered attacking, but there wasn’t enough water left to drown her.

Also, it was Sera. I didn’t hurt Sera.

I stumbled backwards as reason slammed into me. I wrenched the threads of magic toward me. They twisted in my core, displeased, but at least I controlled them. It had so nearly been the other way around.

Sera’s movements were hesitant, as if she approached a wild beast, but her eyes were as determined as ever.

“I’m back,” I said. My face was red and my heart pounded like I’d just sprinted a mile, but I’d come back. This time, at least, I’d come back.

Sera studied my face for a long, silent moment. She returned the syringe to the black case and tucked that into one of the kitchenette’s drawers.

Carmichael and Vivian watched me as they would a stranger. A stranger who might try to eat their liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti.

“Really, it’s me. So long as I’m not using the magic, I’m still Aidan. I didn’t slide any further down the sanity slope.”

They looked unconvinced.

“We can’t just use the drug every time.” I attempted logic. “It knocks me out for days, and we can’t afford that.”

“I’m all for knocking you out, but we don’t have enough left to do it whenever you’re an idiot.” That might have been Sera agreeing with me.

I gave her a shaky smile. She slapped my face.

“Hey!” It only stung a little, but allowing her to slap me whenever she thought I was stupid wasn’t a precedent I wanted to set.

BUY Links:

Amazon:

B&N:

Apple:

Kobo:

NOTE:  The first book of the series, BROKEN ELEMENTS,  is now FREE!!!






Mia Marshall, Author

Mia Marshall is the award-winning author of the Elements urban fantasy series. Before she started writing about imaginary worlds, she worked as a high school teacher, script supervisor, story editor, legal secretary, and day care worker. She has lived all along the US west coast and throughout the UK, where she collected an unnecessary number of degrees in literature, education, and film.

These days, she lives in a small house in the Sierra Nevadas, where she is surrounded by a small but deadly feline army.


GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER:

Mia Marshall will award a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter.

Monday, September 21, 2015

NEW RELEASES -- JOSEPHINE AND JAMIE

As promised on Friday, here is more information on BRIDE BRIGADE: JOSEPHINE, which is now available at Amazon and—if not already—will soon be available as an e-book on iBooks, Nook, and Kobo.

Here’s the blurb for JOSEPHINE:
Josephine Nailor is desperate to escape a terrible situation. When the opportunity arises via a newspaper ad, she and her best friend slip away from their oppressive fathers and head for Richmond.  Neither can relax until they’re far away from their tiny hometown. With wealthy young widow Lydia Harrison’s help, Josephine and six other young women have a new life waiting in Tarnation, Texas.

Michael Buchanan is fairly content running his mercantile and being mayor of Tarnation. The town is dusty and tiny, but it’s growing. He believes it holds all he needs to be happy—except a wife. There are no available women in town, but he hopes Lydia Harrison’s Bride Brigade will offer a woman he can wed. He is immediately attracted to Josephine.

But Josephine has every reason to mistrust men in general and politicians in particular. Will her misgivings ruin her chance at happiness?



And here’s an excerpt of JOSEPHINE:
Josephine brushed and pulled back her hair. “At least we’re clean and neat even if we don’t have fancy clothes.”
Her friend chewed on her lip then met her gaze in the mirror. “I don’t really want to meet anyone right away.”
She smiled. “Afraid you might end up with someone like your pa or mine?”
Ophelia shook her head and pulled on her shawl to cover the stains on her dress. “Oh, no, Lydia won’t invite anyone who isn’t nice. She promised. I feel as shy as usual and need a little more time to adjust.”
Josephine tied a ribbon around her neck with her mother’s locket in the center. “Well, I don’t intend to marry. I want to find a job and be independent.”
Ophelia stared at her. “You mean you never want to wed?”
“Can you blame me?”
Her friend’s face filled with concern. “Jo, you can’t mean it. You’d never have a home and children. Think of your future. Who will keep you company in the evenings?”
“I’ll get a cat.”

The buy link for JOSEPHINE,  Bride Brigade book one, is http://amzn.com/B015M4FJUY


Please don’t forget THE SURPRISE BRIDES: JAMIE is also a new release. The buy link for JAMIE is http://amzn.com/B015272I3W. These books are $2.99 each in e-book, but are also available in print. The companion books about JAMIE’s brothers are GIDEON by Cynthia Woolf, CALEB by Callie Hutton, and ETHAN by Sylvia McDaniel.  GIDEON is available from Amazon at  http://amzn.com/B015JLMQBU. CALEB and ETHAN will be available as e-books by Wednesday. 

Happy reading!

Friday, September 18, 2015

NEW SERIES, THE BRIDE BRIGADE

To writers, starting a new book or story is exciting. Ooh. the possibilities. While I plot my stories, that plot is like a roadmap on a leisurely trip. There’s still plenty of opportunity for side excursions.

My new series is called Bride Brigade. The first, JOSEPHINE, is almost ready to release. While I’m editing that one, my next story in the series, ANGELINE is underway. Thanks to Kathy Shaw for thinking of the name Bride Brigade. Skhye Moncrief designed the covers.

Book one of the Bride Brigade series

I love the name of this town, Tarnation, Texas. If it really existed outside my head, it would be in the Palo Pinto Mountains just north of where Interstate 20 passes by today. Of course, in the last quarter of the 1800s, there were no paved highways in that area. This series actually is set in 1873 to avoid Indian conflict yet predate the railroad.

In this series, a lovely young widow named Lydia Jane Harrison (the name of an ancestor) regrets there are no women her age in town. In fact, there are mostly men in the area. Other than Lydia, there are only a few married women and several elderly widows. Many young men are moving away due to the shortage of marriageable women.

Book two
Lydia’s good friend Sophie Gaston prevails on her to do something to solve the problem before Sophie’s doctor son carries out his threat to move his medical office to Fort Worth. After all, most red-blooded young men want a wife and family. Lydia agrees and goes to her former hometown of Richmond, Virginia to recruit nice young women to accompany her to Texas.

Intending to round up four suitable young women, her compassionate nature means she ends up with seven. That’s good for the town. At 28, Lydia enjoys having the companionship of women near her age. Folks in town label the seven women as the Bride Brigade. Soon the girls are referring to themselves in that way.

There are a variety of stories but all promise a happily-ever-after. That’s what we all want, isn’t it?


More about the JOSEPHINE on Monday.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

THE TRANSLATOR GIVES A GLIMPSE INTO ANOTHER LITERARY WORLD



In addition to an individual e-book giveaway of THE TRANSLATOR on this blog, Nina is also 
sponsoring a tour-wide  Rafflecopter giveaway of THE TRANSLATOR and a packet of bonsai 
seeds for the Japanese cherry blossom, the blooms featured on THE TRANSLATOR'S cover.
We’re fortunate today that Nina Schuyler shared an interview with us. Here's how she answers my questions:

Caroline: Where did you grow up? Were you considered a “bookworm” or a jock?  Children?

Nina: I grew up in Washington state, on the west side of the Cascade Mountains, where the rain and heavy gray clouds are a constant, but everything's so green. That green, I think, is in my blood now. I'm always hunting for green--parks, hills, trails. And water. My childhood house was on a lake. There were four of us, four girls, and I was the second oldest. My older sister was gregarious and outgoing, always bringing friends home. I think I probably took a look at that life and chose, for whatever reason, to live mostly inwardly. I read and read and read, and my parents probably thought they' never get me out of the house. But when I was 11 years old, I discovered tennis and that became another obsession, which lasted through college.

I'm married now, with two thoughtful, kind boys and a wonderful, supportive husband who does his equal and fair share of parenting. He is my biggest fan.

Caroline: I was an introvert—really I still am. However, I’ve learned to cope with appearing in public and even speaking to groups and at conferences. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Nina: Oh, the list is long. I'm a sucker for great sentences, so I read and re-read Toni Morrison, Virginia Woolf, Joseph O'Neill, Colum McCann, Henry James, Cormac McCarthy, Melanie Rae Thon, Vladimir Nabokov, William Faulkner. Who else? I'd love to add to this list, so if anyone has suggestions! I usually read literary fiction, but I also read poetry.

Caroline: Oh, I'm a romantic, so I love THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO,  LES MISERABLES, and Countess Borazky's tales of the Scarlet Pimpernel. In addition, these may be too contemporary or too light for you, but consider Kathryn Stockett’s THE HELP and Susan Elia Macneal’s Maggie Hope books set in WWII. I’m sure you’ve read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Obviously, I enjoy books that comment on our society in an entertaining way. 

What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?

Nina: I love to ride my bike. I live in a beautiful place, full of trees and coyotes that howl at night. I also love to paint. I don't do anything fancy, like buy canvases or even good paint. Only paper and tempura, so there's less pressure on creating something beautiful. It's really freeing to get out of the world of words.

Caroline: I love oils. I tried watercolor and enjoy that, but my weakness in drawing skills are better served by oils. Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Nina: Here's a quote about writing that is on my wall:

"A short story is a flower; a novel is a job."--Lorrie Moore.

Caroline: How long have you been writing?

Nina: I started writing late, I suppose. I was a big reader, and I think the reverence and awe that I felt for what writers could do on the page stopped me. Or at least made me doubt that I could ever create something worthwhile. I still have that awe, and I'm glad about that. I began writing through journalism, as a newspaper reporter. That job taught me to turn outward to the world, to be curious and ask questions and explore. I find that muscle is there in my fiction. For THE TRANSLATOR, I interviewed nine literary translators, to understand how they work, and read a great deal about translation theory.

Caroline: I also started in journalism, which is great for teaching the art of meeting a deadline and writing to a certain word count. Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

Nina: Before children, I had a schedule and many restrictions about where and when and how. Now, with children, my writing life is much more fluid and pragmatic. If I'm in the middle of writing a novel (which seems to always be the case), I keep a notebook by the stove, while I cook. When I ride my bike, I carry a pen and small notebook and pull over, when something comes to me. Whenever I'm driving, that notebook is on the passenger seat. These snippets find their way into a story.

Caroline: Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Well, I had to look up "panzer" and I'm still not sure how to answer. I revise a lot. So it's two steps forward, five backwards. A sentence has to feel right before I move on.  As a result, I'm slow, but I find that pace lets me digest what I've written, which spurs ideas and feelings for what comes next.

Caroline: A “panzer”, corrupted from “pantser”, as used here means someone who writes by the seat of the pants instead of planning and pre-plotting. Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Nina: The idea for my first novel, THE PAINTING, came from a Japanese language lesson. My sensei had talked about ukiyo-e, the world of woodblock printing in Japan and how this form of art influenced European artists. After the lesson, I was driving home, imagining all this amazing artwork flying through the air, traveling the globe from Japan to Paris. It was this image, really, that began that book, thinking about what is the purpose of beauty? Of art? How does the east affect the west and vice versa? When you start this way, there is a lot of work to do to understand your characters.

For THE TRANSLATOR, in 2007 I read an article in The New Yorker, "The Translation Wars," by David Remnick about a married couple busy re-translating all the great Russian novels into English. It got me thinking about translation and the many books that I loved that had been translated. Growing up, I loved Russian literature, all of which was translated, of course. But silly me, I'd never really thought about that—how the story had to flow through an intermediary, ie, the translator. So whose story was I getting? The author's or the translator's? When you begin with an idea, you also have a lot of work to do to understand your characters.

Caroline: Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?

Nina: My goal is to write every day. That said, when my sons were little, I was very kind to myself—write a sentence, I told myself. That is enough.

Caroline: What a clever way to vary with your schedule but still meet a goal and make writing a habit. What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Nina: A certain delight that comes from getting under the skin of someone not quite like yourself. A chance to question and rethink what you've always thought was true.

Caroline: What long-term plans do you have for your career?

Nina: Keep writing, keep teaching creative writing.

Caroline: What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Nina: After you've written a first draft of a story or novel, set the work aside for a couple days, a week, then re-enter it with new eyes. Find a writer's group and exchange work so you get another perspective on what's on the page. It's often not what you think. Find avid readers who will read your work and ask for honest feedback. Ask these readers (who aren't writers): where were you bored? What part did you skim? Those comments are valuable because here are the points in the story that can be cut or need more tension.

Caroline: Share a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you.

Nina: As a young girl, I was called The Frog because I swam so much, my hair turned green from the chlorine.

Caroline: Share something about you that would surprise or shock readers.

Nina: When I was young, I loved garter snakes. We found them in my backyard, and I kept them in the little crawl space by the house.

Caroline: Is your book a series?

Nina: No, no series here.

Caroline: Can you give readers a blurb about your book?

Nina: Here's a blurb for THE TRANSLATOR:

When renowned translator Hanne Schubert falls down a flight of stairs, she suffers from an unusual but real condition — the loss of her native language. Speaking only Japanese, a language learned later in life, she leaves for Japan. There, to Hanne’s shock, the Japanese novelist whose work she recently translated confronts her publicly for sabotaging his work.

Reeling, Hanne seeks out the inspiration for the author’s novel — a tortured, chimerical actor, once a master in the art of Noh theater. Through their passionate, volatile relationship, Hanne is forced to reexamine how she has lived her life, including her estranged relationship with her daughter.


In elegant prose, Nina Schuyler offers a deeply moving and mesmerizing story about language, love, and the transcendence of family. THE TRANSLATOR won the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Award for General Fiction and placed second for overall fiction. It was also shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Writing Prize.



Caroline: I’ve heard about that amnesia condition, which must be frightening to the patient and his or her family. How about an excerpt?

Nina: Here's the opening of THE TRANSLATOR, in which Hanne is translating a novel written in Japanese.

Hanne sets down Kobayashi’s novel. The book did well in Japan, in part because Kobayashi revealed in an interview that his main character, Jiro, was inspired by the famous Noh actor, Moto Okuro. So intrigued, so fascinated was he by this remarkable man, that Kobayashi began the book right after he met Okuro.

“Moto cured five years of writer’s block,” Kobayashi told the magazine. “If he reads my book—and what an honor if he did—I hope he sees it as a homage to him.”

The name Moto Okuro meant nothing to Hanne, and she doesn’t know much about the ancient Japanese theater art of Noh, except masks are used for different characters, and the characters speak in a stilted, almost unintelligible language. There’s music to contend with, and almost like a Greek play, a chorus. She’d have to read Kobayashi’s Trojan Horse Trips herself first, on her own terms, she told the publisher. Only if she understood the main character would she be able to successfully translate the book into English. At her enormous blackboard, custom-made to take up one entire wall, she begins to write a sentence in Japanese.

Iradachi, the Japanese word for frustration. Of course you are frustrated, Jiro, thinks Hanne. You’ve brought your wife from one doctor to another, and more than a year later, there is no sign of improvement, no answers. You are in the same place you were three, five months ago. And what has become of your life? Turned into something unrecognizable, you no longer know who you are.

Caroline: An intriguing excerpt. Where can readers find your books?

Nina: Book Passage, my favorite book store: http://www.bookpassage.com/book/9781605984704

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Nina: I have a web site, www.ninaschuyler.com, and I'm on Facebook, with an author page and an individual page, and twitter, @Nina_Schuyler.

Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?


Nina: You've asked excellent questions! I think you've covered it all. It's been a real pleasure.

Nina Schuyler, Author
Nina Schuyler's first novel, THE PAINTING, (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2004), was a finalist for the Northern California Book Awards. It was also selected by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the Best Books of 2004, and dubbed a “fearless debut” by MSNBC and a “great debut” by the Rocky Mountain News. It’s been translated into Chinese, Portuguese, and Serbian.

Her short story, “The Bob Society,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poems, short stories and essays have appeared in ZYZZYVA, Santa Clara Review, Fugue, The Meadowland Review, The Battered Suitcase, and other literary journals. She reviews fiction for The Rumpus and The Children’s Book Review. She’s fiction editor at Able Muse.


She attended Stanford University for her undergraduate degree, earned a law degree at Hastings College of the Law and an MFA in fiction with an emphasis on poetry at San Francisco State University. She currently teaches creative writing at the University of San Francisco. 

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Monday, September 14, 2015

PICTURE ME -- A YOUNG WOMAN'S RUN FOR HER LIFE




PICTURE ME, A MYSTERY
by Amy Schisler

Amy will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter.

PICTURE ME Blurb:

Melissa Grant has escaped the clutches of death, not once, not twice, but three times. While she considers this to be divine intervention, her assailant is sure that her luck will run out, and the authorities are suspicious that Melissa isn’t as innocent as she seems. Implicated in the murders of two of her closest friends, and running from both a hit man and the law, Melissa does what is thought to be impossible in the 21st Century – she disappears. Julie Lawson has no family, no friends, and no past. She spends her days photographing the country and her nights tossing and turning as nightmares plague her sleep.

While passing through the town of St. Brendan, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Julie finds some things she hasn’t had in a very long time – a home, friends, and love. For the first time in two years, Julie can see her future, but she can attain it only by surviving a predator from her past. Eric West has a past of his own that he is trying to forget. His return to his hometown keeps his demons away until he meets Julie, and she stirs up emotions in him that he hasn’t felt in a long time. As he slowly begins to let go of this past, Eric tries to break down the walls that Julie has so tightly built around herself. Gaining her trust one small act at a time, and hiring the best investigator in DC to dig for answers, Eric opens the Pandora’s Box to Julie’s past which threatens all of their futures.



PICTURE ME Excerpt:


With her heart beating wildly, under the cover of the loud music, she tiptoed toward the bedroom window where the fire escape was.  Praying that the man would not turn toward the bedroom, she quietly raised the window while holding her breath and praying it wouldn’t make a sound.  Not daring to look back, she dropped herself onto the landing, sucking in frigid air and almost choking as her feet hit the icy metal. 

Melissa flew down the fire escape slipping and sliding on the smooth, glassy coating.  Her bare foot slipped out from under her on the last step sending her reeling back onto the stairs and hitting her head.  Looking up, she saw the masked man lean out of the window above her. 

Melissa had no time to even check her head for blood as she wrenched herself from the sidewalk and ran for her life. 


Amy Schisler, Author

Amy MacWilliams Schisler has been writing all of her life for fun and as a freelance writer.  A graduate of University of Maryland College Park with a Masters of Library and Information Science, Amy has resided in Talbot County for 21 years.  She was employed as a school library media specialist at White Marsh Elementary and Chapel District Elementary and a reference librarian at Chesapeake College. For the past eight years, she has operated her own computer tutoring service working primarily with senior citizens while spending as much time as possible writing. Amy was a contributing editor for the reference series BEST BOOKS FOR LIBRARIES 2004 Edition and is included in Who’s Who Among American Women.

Schisler’s first children’s book, CRABBING WITH GRANDAD, is an autobiographical work about spending a day harvesting the Maryland Blue Crab and is available in local stores and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum as well as on Amazon. Sarah Book Publishing released Schisler’s novel, A PLACE TO CALL HOME, in August of 2014.  A revised second edition was released in March 2015. 

PICTURE ME, A Mystery was released on August 17, 2015.  The book follows the plight of a young woman as she journeys across the country assuming one identity after another in order to stay alive.  When she lands in a small port town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and meets the man of her dreams, she lets her guard down and puts her heart and her life in danger.

A former librarian and teacher, Amy now lives in Bozman, Maryland with her husband, three daughters, and two dogs where she is very involved in her local community.  Amy is the leader of Girl Scout Troop 453, Director of Summer Roundup Girl Scout Camp, and active in her family’s church and school.

Twitter @AmySchislerAuth
Instagram: amyschisler

Amy has been featured on:
OmniMystery News
Noisetrade.com
Southern Maryland News
Tea at Trianon Blog




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Friday, September 11, 2015

ELIZABETH II, LONGEST REIGNING MONARCH


This week Queen Elizabeth II celebrated becoming the longest reigning monarch, passing ancestor, Queen Victoria. I have long been an admirer of the British monarchy—even though I’m proud we in the United States are a democracy without a queen or king.  Perhaps a part of my admiration for Queen Elizabeth II has to do with the fact that she looks a twin to my late eldest half-sister, Elsie Reed, formerly of Bakersfield, California. (My sister may not have been a queen, but she was very regal and our family monarch. ☺)

Elizabeth at age seven
Queen Elizabeth II was born Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary on April 21, 1926, in London, to Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI), and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Because her father was the second son, Elizabeth was able to enjoy the privileges of being royal without the pressure of being the heir. She spent much of her time at Windsor Castle with her sister Margaret.

Elizabeth with Charles and Anne
The death of her grandfather King George the V and the abdication of her uncle Edward VIII thrust Elizabeth’s father into becoming King George VI. At age fourteen, while at Windsor Castle with Margaret, Elizabeth made her first radio broadcast to the children who had been evacuated to the countryside, telling them to be brave during World War II.
 
In 1945, Elizabeth joined the Territorial Auxiliary Service and worked side by side with other women learning to be a mechanic and driver. To this day, she still drives herself on occasion, especially when at Balmoral Castle, the family home in Scotland.
In 1947, she married Philip Mountbatten, son of King Andrew of Greece. Where Elizabeth is reserved and quiet, Philip is outgoing and boisterous. They have four children: Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward as well as six grandchildren. She officially made Charles her successor by crowning him Prince of Wales. As her eldest son, he would be her successor anyway, but he was crowned formally as such in a ceremony.


 
Elizabeth II became queen on February 6, 1952, and was crowned on June 2, 1953. As the longest-serving monarch in British history, she has tried to make her reign more modern and sensitive to the public. Regardless of whether or not you respect the monarchy, I hope you agree that she is a fascinating person. 

And I do wish I knew just exactly what she carries in her purse. 



Please check my favorite video of the Queen in some lighter moments:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejRJXR92B7g  

Please pay no attention to the caption at the bottom asking for donations. I have no idea what that's about. Enjoy the video while Cyndi Lauper sings "Girls Just Want To Have Fun".