Author Spotlight: James Callan

This week on Reade and Write I welcome James Callan, author of the Crystal Moore Suspense series as well as numerous other books, both fiction and non-fiction.

jim-color-formal

Tell me about your new book.

A Silver Medallion  highlights the problem of slaves in the U.S. today. These people are held, not by chains, but by threats to family members left behind in a foreign country.  My protagonist, Crystal Moore, discovers a woman forced to work for no money. Should she leave or even tell anyone of her situation, her two small girls held in Mexico will be killed.

Crystal would like to forget she ever learned this. But her conscience won’t let her. She finds she cannot sleep without hearing the children crying for their mother. But since the mother won’t admit her predicament, and the man holding her is well-connected in Dallas, Crystal realizes the only way to free the mother is to go to Mexico and rescue the two young girls first. If they are free, then the mother will be willing to escape.

Crystal is not an adventure seeker. But she is determined to help this woman and her two girls. Crystal goes to Puerto Vallarta where she is put in touch with Juan Grande, a mysterious man who agrees to help.  If they succeed, both mother and children will be free. But Crystal will have two powerful and ruthless men, one in Texas and one in Mexico, who want her dead.

This is a contemporary fiction book.

Cover - A Silver Medallion

Who is the audience for A Silver Medallion?

Anyone who likes a good suspense book. Of course, I think everybody should be aware of the problem of modern day slaves. If enough people realize this is happening, they might help eradicate this practice.

Tell me about the setting of your book–how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

A Silver Medallion is set in Dallas and a small east Texas town, and in Mexico.  I wanted the slave to be in a major Texas town with thousands of people around, but no one notices.   Crystal’s grandmother, an important part of the plot, lives in a forest of east Texas. This is the second Crystal Moore Suspense and book one had established east Texas as the home of Crystal’s grandmother. The two young hostages are held in the jungles of Mexico, near San Sebastian.  This is a mountain town not far from Puerto Vallarta. Since I spend a good bit of time in Puerto Vallarta, this is an area I know well. I was raised in Dallas, and I currently live in the middle of a forest in east Texas.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Facing the fact that this type of slavery is widespread in the U.S. today. When I first read a small piece in the L.A. Times about this, I didn’t really believe it. But as I did a little research, I discovered this crisis of virtual slaves is a very large problem here, today.  An editor suggested I write a non-fiction book on the subject.  I decided that would be too difficult emotionally for me to come that close to the problem. A fiction book would allow me to highlight the problem, without actually meeting those enslaved.  Even with the fiction approach, I still found it pretty emotional.

If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?

That’s a tough one. But there are some choices. For Crystal, Jennifer Connelly. For Brandi, Leighton Meester. For Eula, Meryl Streep. And for Mark, Clive Owen.

Have you written other books?

A Silver Medallion, A Crystal Moore Suspense, is my eleventh published book.  The first Crystal Moore Suspense was A Ton of Gold.  I also have a cozy mystery series.  I have written two books on the craft of writing, requested by a publisher who liked my characters and my dialog. Plus another five books.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I have been in several critique groups.  Currently, I am in one.  Partnership?  I wrote one adult mystery with my youngest daughter, a multi-published writer of middle grade books.

Do you write every day?

Yes.  I write something every day.  Frequently that is a blog or some marketing piece.

When you read a book, what authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?

I always enjoy David Baldacci. Caleb Pirtle is another favorite. I like mystery and suspense, but my wife insists I read an occasional romance because it will help me with the female characters I write. I like Nora Roberts.

Where would you like to go more than any place else on earth?

I’d like to float down the Amazon.  And I haven’t been to Russia yet, but now doesn’t seem to be the best time to go there.  We’ve visited six of the seven continents.  So, it would be nice to visit Antarctica, but I wouldn’t want to stay very long.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write, and write some more.  Let someone else read your work out loud while you listen.  Join a critique group which has some serious writers in it and who are not shy about pointing out weaknesses.

What is your favorite movie and why?

Cyrano de Bergerac with Jose Ferrer.  This is an old movie. Ferrer won an Academy Award for his title role. Why? Perhaps because Cyrano was such an exaggerated character. Or maybe because he said, “When I write a line that sings in my heart, I pay myself a hundred times.”

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Remember your successes; forget your failures; learn from both.

Describe yourself in three words.

Energetic, didactic, unfocused.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?

What do I need as a writer?  Answer:  More readers.

Where can readers connect with you?

I have a website at: www.jamesrcallan.com  and a blog at: http://www.jamesrcallan.com/blog/.  My e-mail address is jim@jamesrcallan.com.  My Facebook Page is at:  https://www.facebook.com/james.callan.33865

Where can readers find your book?

The best place is Amazon.  All my books are in print and digital.  The Father Frank Mysteries are also published as audio books.  My Author Page is at:  http://amzn.to/1eeykvG

Thank you, Amy, for inviting me to your site. It has been a pleasure working with you.

It was a pleasure having you on Reade and Write, James. I hope you’ll come back!

Until next time,

Amy

 

Mea Culpa

I must apologize for the absence of a post earlier today.

Here’s my excuse: I usually write my blogs on Monday, then schedule them to go live on Tuesday morning. As my eldest leaves for college this Saturday, our house is in upheaval this week, with packing, shopping, last-minute visits to see people she won’t see again for months, etc.

A couple weeks ago a friend suggested I write a post about what it means to write gothic mysteries. I thought it was a great idea, so I scheduled the post for today, thus forcing myself to make time to write it on a day I knew I would be very busy.

And I had every intention of writing the post last night.

But then my dog got sprayed by a skunk in the backyard and with the bathing, the tomato juice rinse, and the cleaning up and attempting to deodorize the house (didn’t work), my blog not only slipped completely to the back of my mind, but somehow fell off the face of the earth completely.

So please forgive me. I will write that post about gothic mysteries, but it won’t be for a few weeks.

Have a great day.

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: John Lindermuth

jrlindermuth[1]

This week on Reade and Write I welcome John Lindermuth, another prolific author who’s here to talk about his most recent novel, Something So Divine, as well as Shares the Darkness, the latest in his Sticks Hetrick mystery series. Welcome, John!

  • Tell me about your new book.
    Something So Divine is a historical mystery focused on murder, questions of morality and a bit of romance set in rural Pennsylvania in 1897. Ned Gebhardt is a feeble-minded young man accused of the murder of a girl he loves. His only defenders are a stepsister and a widowed shopkeeper. Influenced by the boy’s stepsister and, particularly, the widow with whom he’s falling in love, the detective puts his job and reputation in jeopardy to assure a fair trial for Ned.
    somethingsodivine[1]
    Who is the audience for the book?
    Anyone who is interested in an historically accurate story with emotional and psychological depth.
     Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?
     I’ve lived a good part of my life in Pennsylvania and I’m familiar with rural communities in my area and their histories. The village in my story and the county seat across the river are fictional, but based on actual places. Research to me isn’t toil, but something I love. Newspapers from the period I’m writing about are among my best sources for information to make my stories accurate.
  • What was the hardest thing about writing the book?
    Every novel has its issues. Once I got in the flow and familiar with my characters, this one came together rather quickly.
    If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?
    Since writers usually have little choice in such matters, I’d have to leave it up to Hollywood and hope they’d select the right actors.
    Have you written any other books?
    To date, I’ve published 14 novels and a non-fiction regional history. My novels include six in my Sticks Hetrick mystery series. The seventh is due out in September.
    Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?
    I discuss writing with several other local writers on a regular basis. We read one another, but there’s nothing formal about the relationship.
    Do you write every day?
    I believe it’s important to do so. I don’t set a word count. Even if it’s no more than a paragraph or two, it keeps you in the right frame of mind.
    When you read a book, what authors do you like best? What genres do you like best? 
    I read both fiction and non-fiction and I’m constantly discovering new and inspiring writers. When it comes to mysteries, some of my favorites include James Lee Burke, Ruth Rendell, Elmore Leonard, Harlan Coben, Charles Willeford, Elizabeth George and Mark Billingham to name a few. In general fiction some favorites include Jim Harrison, E. L. Doctorow, Arturo Perez-Reverte, Bernard Cornwell, Charles Portis and a host of others.
    Where would you like to go more than anywhere else on earth?
    Health permitting, another trip to Mexico. If we could step back in time, I’d like to have seen Africa as it was in the early 20th century.
    What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
    Read a lot and write a lot. There’s no better instruction.
    What is your favorite movie and why?
    Though it has its silly moments, I’d have to say ‘The Gods Must Be Crazy.’ A low budget classic, it has so much to say about human nature, psychology and the interaction between nature and human nature. It became a box office success with little promotion, other than word of mouth. Jamie Uys was a genius.
    What advice would you give to your younger self?
    Trust your instincts and follow your dreams. Unfortunately, it took me some time to learn those lessons.
    Describe yourself in three words.
    Creative, patient, loyal.
    Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?
    I’d like to share a bit about Shares the Darkness, seventh in the Hetrick series, if I may. In this one, Hetrick’s protege, Officer Flora Vastine, plays the lead role. Here’s the blurb:
    Jan Kepler and Swatara Creek Police Officer Flora Vastine were neighbors and schoolmates, but never close.
    When Jan, a school teacher, avid birder and niece of a fellow officer, goes missing and is found dead in a nearby tract of woods Flora finds herself thrust into the middle of an examination of the other woman’s life in search of clues.
    As usual, the police have more than one crime to deal with. There’s illegal timbering and a series of vehicle thefts taking up their time. And there are other issues to deal with. Flora is concerned there’s some shakiness in her relationship with Cpl. Harry Minnich who seems to be making a lot of secretive phone calls.
    Still Flora maintains focus on the murder. Despite evidence implicating other suspects, the odd behavior of another former classmate rouses Flora’s suspicion. Flora’s probing opens personal wounds as she
    observes the cost of obsessive love and tracks down the killer.
    SharesTheDarkness2[1]
    Where can readers connect with you?
    Where can readers find your books?
    Publisher’s websites:
  • Amazon, Barnes & Noble and anywhere good books are found.
    Thanks for being here, John!
    Until next week,
    Amy
  • P.S. Still having problems with these bullet points!

 

Author Spotlight: Elaine Faber

elaine-4.-touchup

This week on Reade and Write I welcome Elaine Faber, author of several books and short stories. She’s here to discuss her most recent novel, Mrs. Odboddy- Home Town Patriot. Welcome, Elaine!
Tell me about your new book. 

Elderly, eccentric Agnes Agatha Odboddy has issues of distrust and suspicion, believing conspiracies and spies abound in her small town. Filled with hysterical scenes, including rationing, chickens in the bathroom, chasing a suspected ration book thief and encountering a Japanese air balloon bomb, Mrs. Odboddy fights the war from the home front. When Mrs. Roosevelt visits, Agnes’s crazy suspicions just might become reality and she faces down a killer to prove she is a home town warrior.

Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

Set in a small No. California town, not too far from the ocean, Agnes has the opportunity to serve on the coast watch where one of her adventures takes place. I researched the internet for actual, little-known historical WWII events involving the U.S. The fact that Agnes gets involved in these events is coincidental at best and more likely a raving fantasy.

Tell me about the other books you’ve written. 

I’ve written three cozy cat mysteries:
Black Cat’s Legacy introduces Thumper, a cat with his ancestors’ memories. When Kimberlee comes to the lake resort to solve her father’s cold case murder, Thumper’s legacy is to help her solve the crime. As a point of view character, Thumper shares his innermost thoughts with the reader.
Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer. Thumper and his family visit Grandmother’s Texas horse ranch where they encounter wild horses, an embezzling attorney, a foreman with a secret, a fake children’s society, and a murder plot to do in Grandmother before she can change her will.
Black Cat and the Accidental Angel. After an MVA, Thumper loses his memory, ends up on an emu ranch in Northern CA with his lady love, Angel. They must help this new family resolve issues that put a child at risk. Thumper deals with love, loss, defeat, faith and redemption, all while learning there are more important things than knowing your own name.

Are you in one or more critique groups?

Yes. I lead a critique group through the Inspire Christian Writers. Always a way to improve one’s writing, it is chance to ‘pay it forward’ for all who helped me learn the writing craft.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Even if you have some writing talent, join a critique group, be willing to accept advice, read extensively in your chosen genre, study writing craft books, attend conferences and workshops, enter contests, submit short stories to anthologies. Don’t be in a hurry to publish a book. Take time to really learn the craft. Then study all avenues of publishing before choosing what is best for you, traditional or self-publishing. It’s never too soon to begin the journey. It’s so much harder now in our digital age than it was twenty years ago. If you want to be a writer, start NOW…however young you are.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Self? Don’t be afraid to share your writing. Accept advice and criticism. You don’t know what you don’t know. Start learning the writing craft before you waste your time seeking publication.

Where can readers connect with you?

Contact me here or read some of blogs posts here.

Where can readers find your books?

My books are available at Amazon in print and e-book ($3.99)
Black Cat’s Legacy Click here
Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer Click here
Black Cat and the Accidental Angel Click here
Mrs. Odboddy Home Town Patriot Click here

Mrs_Odboddy_Full_Front (2)

Excerpt from Chapter One of Mrs. Odboddy Home Town Patriot:

The sky darkened and the rain sluiced down. Panic crept across Agnes’s chest as her car crept along the narrow road beside the ocean. I should have canceled tonight. She pulled the car off the road and stared into the rain. She hated to disappoint the boys at the USO, but local volunteers who didn’t have to risk their life along a crooked ocean road would be there.
A large black Packard roared up behind her.
“Fool! At this rate, he’ll end up in the ocean.” She gazed through the rain, squinting at the pinprick of the Packard’s tail lights blinking on and off as the vehicle dipped out of sight and appeared again where the road rose up. And then the tail lights stopped, somewhere near Brighton’s Landing.
“Why am I sitting here in the rain? Turn around and go home before you run off the cliff road and kill yourself. Her gaze moved across the black sea. There, far off the coast, a light flashed, barely visible through the mist and rain. And up ahead, the Packard still sat on the beach. Its headlights blinked. Once. Twice. Three times.
Agnes gasped. “Call me a suspicious old woman, but if that Packard isn’t signaling to a Japanese submarine, my name isn’t Agnes Agatha Odboddy.”
Now what? Rush back to town and call the authorities? She wasn’t exactly equipped to take on a spy ring alone. There was a day she might have given it more thought, but in reality, time and an additional 40 pounds had taken its toll. On the other hand, she wasn’t about to let the spy get away with his nefarious deeds. She could at least get closer, record the license number and report it to the authorities.
Agnes clicked off her headlights, released the hand brake, jammed the Ford into gear and chugged down the road through the darkness. What might happen if they caught her, alone, out there on the beach? She shuddered. Best not think about that. Her heart pounded and her pulse quickened, just like in the old days. Any red-blooded ex-under-cover government agent would feel the same, right?
Agnes’s Model A rolled up on Brighton’s Landing. The rain stopped and from the light of the quarter moon, she could see the Packard, but from this angle, the submarine was not visible. Likely the spy was already rowing out to deliver his contraband to the Japanese captain.
Agnes got out of the car. She drew off her shoes and crept toward the Packard, running in short spurts between clumps of ocean grass and driftwood logs blackened by lover’s bonfires.
The moon slid behind a cloud, preventing a good view of the license plate. She crept closer, her breath burning in her throat. Not since WWI had she experienced an adrenalin rush such as swept through her body.
Her chest rattled with short, raspy breaths. She paused. It wouldn’t do to rush headlong and do something foolish and get caught. One thousand one, one thousand two… Her breathing eased. One thousand three…
She crept closer. The moon slid out from behind a cloud. The numbers on the license plate were easily visible. 6X2358
Beep!
Agnes’s heart lurched. She threw herself face down into the sand. A signal to the submarine? Or had they seen her?
Tiny shells bit into her cheek. She spit sand and wiped her hand across her mouth. The door on the Packard creaked. If they catch me, I’m dead!
Agnes closed her eyes.
Thoughts of home almost made her weep. Was there still time to back away before someone discovered her?
Best peek at that license once more before she left. The moon had passed from behind the clouds. There sat the Packard, quaking and creaking under the full moon, the squeak of the springs loud in the stillness. Steam clouded its windows. Soft moans came from inside the car.
What the Sam Hill? Could they be…? They were.
Even reaching back into her distant memories, creaking springs and fogged up windows could only mean… “Oh!”
Agnes scooted backwards through the sand. She stood, brushed the twigs from her skirt and tiptoed to her car. Not far off shore a fishing boat drifted from a fogbank. Its engines churned and running lights blinked until it disappeared into another fogbank.
OK. Guess I’ll go home, turn on the radio and go to bed.

Thanks for visiting today, Elaine!

Until next week,

Amy

Book Recommendation Day: No Pity for the Dead

no-pity-for-the-dead-nancy-herriman

Guess who forgot to write a blog yesterday? That’s why this one is almost five hours late.

I didn’t have to look far to come up with a topic for this week’s post: today is Nancy Herriman’s book birthday! I received an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of No Pity for the Dead, her newest Mystery of Old San Francisco and the sequel to Nancy’s well-reviewed No Comfort for the Lost, and I want to tell everyone about it.

For the sake of getting this blog out as quickly as possible this morning, I’m going to post my Goodreads review of No Pity for the Dead.

“Celia Davies’ adventures continue in this second Mystery of Old San Francisco as she sets herself the task of proving her friend’s husband innocent of the murder of Virgil Nash, a citizen of San Francisco who seems to have made a lot of enemies during his life. In doing so, she takes it upon herself to attempt to find the real killer, much to the consternation of Nick Greaves, the handsome and troubled detective whom readers met in No Comfort for the Lost, Ms. Herriman’s first Mystery of Old San Francisco.

Celia’s young friend Owen finds the body of Mr. Nash in the basement of a building where Owen has been working- a building owned by certain men who have had heated arguments with Mr. Nash over the development of parts of San Francisco.

When Celia accompanies Owen to view the body, the two of them interrupt a mysterious person attempting to inter the body. The person runs off, leaving Celia with more questions than answers. In her efforts to find the killer, Celia puts herself and her young charge, Barbara, in mortal danger by someone who will go to any lengths to remain hidden in the shadows.

No Pity for the Dead isn’t just about murder- it also touches on the prejudice faced by certain minority groups in old San Francisco and especially the Chinese, a group in which Barbara is included.

I loved this book because Ms. Herriman kept me guessing until the end. I imagined the killer to be almost every character she introduced, and she kept any number of plates spinning while she wove her tale. When an author can surprise me, as Ms. Herriman did in both this book and in No Comfort for the Lost, I am an avid fan.

I am struck by the amount of research that obviously went into the writing of this book. Ms. Herriman is able to transport the reader to the streets of old San Francisco- to smell the smells, to feel the dust rising from the streets, to hear the sounds of the city- with aplomb. I heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction and mystery!”

You can find No Pity for the Dead by clicking here.

You can find Nancy online by clicking here.

Congratulations, Nancy!

Until next week,

Amy