Sally Cronin is Back!

 

For many of us in the world of authors-marketing-ourselves, we know Sally Cronin as a treasure who selflessly promotes others, spotlighting their new books, re-showcasing their old ones, and offering endless encouragement and support to artists of all stripes.

But Sally is also an author, and a prolific one at that. Not only does she write blog posts that enlighten her readers on everything from the benefits of garlic to heart health to the weather in Ireland, but she also writes short stories and books, both fiction and nonfiction. And she’s here today to tell us about her latest work, What’s In a Name.

Welcome, Sally!

Thank you so much Amy for asking me over for an interview.. It is a real pleasure.

Tell me about your new book, What’s in a Name.

The short stories in this collection are about ordinary people who in some way bring their own unique spin on their names.  Can Alexander, a small boy with a mother who is a fan of Richard Burton, be great?  Can Clive conquer one of the most deadly predators in India?  There is romance, ghostly events, serial killers and those who need revenge and hopefully something for everyone who enjoys an eclectic mix of genres.

What made you decide to write about that particular subject?

Names are fascinating things. They often identify the decade you were born in and in the cases of some celebrities where you were conceived. We might be named after a favourite aunt or uncle in tribute and to keep their memory alive. In my case I was given the second name Georgina after my maternal grandmother. If we are named after someone famous it can also be a huge challenge to live up to their exploits. Imagine being called Napoleon, Caesar or Einstein!  The alphabet provided a great prompt for the stories and as there are stories for both male and females for each letter… There will be 52 tales by the time the second volume is finished.

How long did it take you to write it?

I spent about six months writing the stories and posting them on my blog. I wanted to get initial feedback before publishing and this was very useful. Also it was easier to fit in a story a week rather than sit down and write twenty all at once.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Probably coming up with a different concept for each name. It helped when the name was previously owned by someone with exploits or historical connection as the story could be geared to something similar. Also I wanted to avoid offending anyone on and offline if depicting a less than reputable character!  I still wanted friends at the end of the book.

Do you see aspects of yourself in the stories?

Certainly I have used locations that I know and have visited for example in France, Ireland and Sri Lanka where I spent some of my childhood. From that perspective it uses my experiences but with 52 stories over the two volumes, I am going to have to get creative.

Tell us about some of the other books you’ve written.

My books are a mixed bag. Non-fiction relating to health and media and then fiction in the form of novels and collections of short stories. I love the discipline of non-fiction where things have to be exact if the book is to be taken seriously. This is why I always have a fiction book of some description on the go at the same time for some light relief.

Do you write in a solitary environment or do you like to be around other people, noise, etc. when you write? I suppose what I’m asking is, do you write at home or in a coffee shop or another location?

I share an office with my husband who is a book designer and we tend to get on with our own work and confer from time to time on specific projects. I cannot write if there are distractions or lots of noise. I love music but keep that for the treadmill or when we are out walking.

Do you write every day? What does a typical day look like for you?

I do write every day in one format or another. The blog is important to me and so is maintaining my social media platforms that I use for the promotions that I do for other authors. I spend an hour or so going through the overnight traffic and also boosting the posts that have been scheduled from midnight. I may then do one of the daily blog posts before getting on with a chapter of my latest book or a short story to post during the week. I do take breaks for shopping, cooking and exercise, but it is fair to say that when it comes to writing… I need to get a life!

Do you have a favorite story in What’s in a Name?

I do have a favourite and it is the story of the toddler Clive in Sri Lanka who finds himself in a dangerous place. I was his age when we lived there and my first memories are of my amah pulling me away from danger. Touching any of the wildlife could be lethal as rabies was rampant even in the dogs and of course plenty of poisonous insects and predators. But I also remember the smell of curry, the warmth of the sun and swimming with my sisters.

Did you design the cover? If so, what’s in the background of the picture?

The photograph of the peacock was taken in the royal gardens of the king’s palace in Madrid when we took my mother and sisters there when they visited in 2000.  We took a number of shots and so we can use a slightly different one for the second volume.  My husband designs my covers and in the last few books I have used photographs that mean something to me.

Do you like to do readings, say at a bookstore or a library? Do you get many opportunities to read your work?

I did do some readings in the UK when I was living with my mother from 2008 to 2012 and had the opportunity. I loved it but we returned to Madrid  after my mother died and of course the language was an issue. This is another reason to get some of my books translated into Spanish at some point.  Since coming back to Ireland last year we have been focused on getting our new home finished but I am keeping an eye open for book festivals coming up in the summer.

What’s next on your writing horizon?

I have three books that are on their way to the final process. Two non-fiction, one on surviving modern life and some of my thoughts on why we find ourselves at odds with the world at times. The other is a people management manual for home and work… There are parallels including working with outside contractors, communicating with those in authority, and teenagers! I am nearly finished with volume two of What’s in a Name and then I must make a start with the sequel to Tales from the Garden which will be set in Ireland.

Where can readers find your books?

My books are all on Amazon, most in print and Ebooks.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

My books are also available via my own publishing site, some at a reduced price.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books/

And where can readers find you on social media?

Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgc58

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

It has been such a treat having you on Reade and Write, Sally. I hope you’ll come back again sometime!

Thank you again Amy for asking me over.

Until next week,

Amy

 

 

 

50 Shades of Cabernet

It is my great pleasure to have THREE authors here today–Maggie King, Kristin Kisska, and Heather Weidner. They’re here to discuss their stories in the newly-released anthology 50 Shades of Cabernet. This book, perhaps more than any other I’ve discussed on my blog, fits in perfectly with the theme of my blog which, besides reading and writing, is wine!

I should apologize in advance that some of the links below have to be copied and pasted into another browser for them to work. I tried two dozen times to get the links to work for this post, and unfortunately not all of them do.

  

Let’s get started. Here’s how it’s going to work: the authors, arranged alphabetically, will each provide an answer to my questions.

How does an author get invited to participate in an anthology?

Maggie: I have stories in the Virginia is for Mysteries and Virginia is for Mysteries Vol. II anthologies. They were collaborations with two Sisters in Crime chapters: Central Virginia and Mystery by the Sea (Virginia Beach). Participation was open to all chapter members.

Teresa Inge and Jayne Ormerod, editors for 50 Shades of Cabernet, honored me with an invitation to submit a story. I had worked with Teresa and Jayne on the Virginia is for Mysteries projects.

Kristin: Authors can contribute to anthologies in many different ways.  Some are contests which have calls for open submission, while others are through writing groups (Sisters in Crime has many local chapters which publish mystery anthologies).  In the case of 50 Shades of Cabernet, I was personally invited to contribute by the organizers of the anthology.

Heather: Each anthology has its own criteria for submitting stories. For 50 Shades of Cabernet, the organizers, Teresa Inge and Jayne Ormerod, invited short story authors to participate.

Tell us about some of the other short stories you’ve written.

Maggie:

“A Not So Genteel Murder”, Virginia is for Mysteries:

A birthday party at Richmond’s historic Kent-Valentine House sets the scene for this tale of betrayal, loss, and the power of family ties.

After two years, Sharon Taylor is still reeling from the deaths of her husband and daughter, but she drags herself to her friend’s party. Divorcee Olivia Thompson has her eye on Sherwood Aimsley as her new husband and is devastated when he shows up at the party with a statuesque beauty on his arm.

Sharon and Olivia keep each other company while their happier friends whoop it up and spread cheer. Until truth and illusion collide … and the evening ends in tragedy.

“Reunion in Shockoe Slip”, Virginia is for Mysteries II:

One day bestselling author Nancy McGregor and Internet security expert Roger Rucker meet by chance in Richmond, Virginia’s historic Shockoe Slip. Thirty years before they were lovers in sunny Southern California. Their reunion sets off a series of memories and events that change their lives forever.

Kristin: All of my short stories have been loosely connected to the mystery genre.

“The Sevens” was a fictional origin tale of a very real secret society at the University of Virginia and included a murder.

“A Colonial Grave” is a contemporary mystery in which a William and Mary architecture student stumbles on the bones of a cold case murder at a dig in Colonial Williamsburg.

“Wine and Prejudice” is a flirty little bling-heist set in the Historic District of Savannah.

Finally, “To the Moon and Back” is a dark psychological suspense story in which a mother goes to extreme lengths to save her daughter.

Heather: 

In “Washed up” in Virginia is for Mysteries, a suitcase with a rusty gun and shriveled hand appears on the beach outside of a struggling bar near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in Virginia Beach. A friend of the bar’s owner seems to know where it came from, and he gains instant celebrity with his story about a paranormal experience. The attention does wonders for the bar’s profits until something ordinary provides the missing piece of the puzzle.

In “Spring Cleaning” in Virginia is for Mysteries II, medical records manager Douglas Weimer gets more than he bargained for when he’s moved onto a new team and receives a project with a drop-dead delivery date. His assignment in Roanoke, Virginia, gives new meaning to work deadlines.

Where can we find your other short stories?

Maggie: Wherever fine books are sold: in brick-and-mortar stores or on Amazon (print and e-book):

Virginia is for Mysteries: http://amzn.to/2oNlcdQ

Virginia is for Mysteries II: http://amzn.to/2qfTXsT

Kristin: The anthologies are available in ebook (Kindle & Nook) and paperback versions via Barnes & Noble and Amazon.  Below are links:

“The Sevens” in Murder Under The Oaks

A Colonial Grave” Virginia is for Mysteries: Volume II

“Wine and Prejudice” 50 Shades of Cabernet

“To the Moon and Back” Day of the Dark (available July 2017)

Heather: I’ve written short stories for Virginia is for Mysteries and Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II.

Do you also submit stories to magazines and literary journals?

Maggie: So far, no. That’s part of my long range plan.

Kristin: No, I haven’t. Yet.

Heather: No. I haven’t submitted stories to magazines and journals yet. I’m working on two different mystery novels at the moment.

If you also write novels, do you write short stories in the same genre as your novels or do you prefer to branch out?

Maggie: I do write novels and they’re very different from my short stories. My novels are traditional mysteries with a crime and an investigation; the killer, or killers, are nabbed in the end and justice is served.

My short stories are morally ambiguous. Justice is served, kind of, but not in the conventional way. I can’t say more—you must read them!

Kristin: Yes.  Both my novels, neither of which are currently published, are contemporary suspense, a subgenre of mystery.

Heather: Yes, all my short stories and novels are mysteries. They tend to be traditional mysteries. My Delanie Fitzgerald mysteries have a female private investigator, and I’m working on a cozy series set near Charlottesville, Virginia.

How long have you been writing short stories?

Maggie: Since 2012.

Kristin: I started writing short stories in 2015 after I’d penned my first novel.  My local chapter of Sisters in Crime was gearing up to publish a sequel anthology to their first successful one, Virginia is for Mysteries.  I wrote two stories, but the chapter had such a large response, they could only accept one story from each author.  I submitted my second story to Bouchercon’s Murder Under the Oaks anthology contest, and I won.

Heather: I’ve been writing short stories since the early 1980s (7th grade). I wrote and illustrated a mystery about a dog who was a detective.

How did the theme for 50 Shades of Cabernet come about?

Maggie: Teresa Inge and Jayne Ormerod were relaxing at their favorite wine bar, contemplating their next anthology project. As they sipped their Cabernet, they looked at each other and exclaimed in unison, “Cabernet! Wine-themed mysteries!”

They never would say how the 50 Shades came into play. Maybe they didn’t want to admit to reading the steamy bestseller, 50 Shades of Grey? Or did they decide that a send-up of a popular title that is now part of the lexicon was a smart marketing ploy? Whatever their thought process, I think it was inspired.

Kristin: I was never told how our organizers for the anthology were inspired, but I assume there was a lot of wine involved.

That said, my short story, “Wine and Prejudice” was inspired by a recent trip to Savannah.  The fountain, the ancient oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, the park squares, and even the old cotton warehouses along the river all created an enchanting setting for a short story.

My story is: When a bride-to-be’s diamond bracelet goes missing, only wine and time and reveal the true thief.

Heather: Mysteries pair well with a variety of wines. It’s a fun theme. And we held several of our anthology planning meetings at local wineries.

What do you think is harder—writing short stories or writing novels? Which do you prefer?

Maggie: I love writing both, but writing novels is harder. Aside from the length, novelists are expected to conform to exacting standards for plot, characterization, and writing style. With short fiction, an author is freer to experiment. An agent is not required. Still, the writing must be concise and  top notch. If I had to choose (thankfully, I don’t) I’d devote my writing to short stories.

Kristin: In general, I prefer writing novels because I have more pages and time to develop characters.  However, with short stories, I’ve been able to experiment with structure and storytelling techniques.  It’s also lovely to go from story idea to seeing my work in print in less than a year, which is an extremely short timeline in the publishing world.

Heather: I like writing both. I get to experiment more with themes, plot lines, and characterization in short stories. But I think short stories are harder to write because they are more compact, and every word counts. Many journals and anthologies have word limits, and you have to be able to have all of the elements of a mystery in just a few pages.

Tell us about yourselves personally. Where are you from, what jobs have you held in the past, and what do you love most about writing?

Maggie: I’m from New Jersey and have lived in Massachusetts and California. These days I call Richmond, Virginia home.

I started my career as a retail sales manager and customer service supervisor before taking on my longest stint as a software developer. In 1999 I took a break from IT. I’m still on that break! For a time I had a computer training business, did web design, worked and volunteered for non-profits.

What I love most about writing is creating great, but ordinary characters and putting them in extraordinary situations to test their mettle. I get much satisfaction from seeing justice served in an unjust world—even if it’s just make-believe. I also love mining my past experiences and people I’ve known for story ideas. I don’t expect the well to dry up anytime soon.

Kristin: I live in Richmond, Virginia with my husband and three children. I own a marketing company and write whenever I can carve out a spare half hour.  That’s a tall order, some days!  I like to call myself an MBA-turned-fictionista because my first love was working on Wall Street as a financial analyst and a corporate banker.

I didn’t aspire to write anything more than a Facebook post or corporate memo, but one day I was inspired by an idea for a novel that I just couldn’t shake.  A week later, I had a detailed eight-page outline of the plot and started writing.  That was nine years ago, and I’ve been writing fiction ever since.

I love that my writing is about being a conduit for transcribing the creative ideas that ignite in my brain.  Nothing makes me happier than when my characters take over and write the story themselves. I’m only along for the ride (and the typing).

Heather: I am a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, Lethal Ladies Write, and James River Writers. Secret Lives and Private Eyes is my debut novel.

Originally from Virginia Beach, I have been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. I live in Central Virginia with my husband and a pair of crazy Jack Russell terriers.

I earned my BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan College and my MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, I have been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.

The thing that I love most about writing is the whole process. I love to research, plot stories, write, and revise. It’s a chance to create another world and a variety of people/characters.

Do you find it easier to promote an anthology rather than a novel? Why?

Maggie: In some ways, yes. Anthologies generate exposure for the participating authors.   Coordinating promotion efforts among the contributing authors can amplify the effects, making it an effective strategy.

However, while anthologies have gained in prestige in recent years, they still take a back seat to novels.

Kristin: Neither of my novels is published yet, so I don’t have much to compare from personal experience.  Logically though, I believe that sharing the energy, fan bases, and resources of nineteen authors to promote an anthology would be more effective than a single author promoting a novel.

Heather: The work is the same, but I think it’s easier to promote an anthology because there are multiple authors. Everyone has different skills and talents, and it’s nice to be able to divide up the work. Plus, there is power in numbers on social media. I am on the planning team for this anthology, and we worked with the authors to share the tasks. I chair the social media group, and we’re responsible for the website, Facebook, and Twitter pages. We’ve hosted online events and coordinated a blog tour.

Are you a wine drinker? If so, do you like cabernet?

Maggie: I am not a wine drinker. I do drink grape juice and eat grapes so I’m not too far off course ;-). I attend an annual winetasting fundraiser in Richmond (much like the one in “Wine, Women, and Wrong,” sans stabbing), so I get to observe the goings on and make up stories.

Kristin: I love wine and try to go to the Virginia Wine Trail vineyards every year!  My book club jokes that we’re technically a *wine club with a book problem*.  My favorite go-to wine is Italian pinot grigio, but I definitely reach for a good cabernet sauvignon on occasion.

Heather: I am a wine novice, so I’m doing my 2017 wine tour on my blog as we promote the book at wineries, wine shops, and vineyards. I’m posting what I learn and stories of our adventures. (I’m allergic to sulfites, so I stick mostly with iced tea.)

Tell us where we can find 50 Shades of Cabernet.

For the answer to this question, I’m taking the liberty of combining the responses of my three guests.

You can find 50 Shades of Cabernet at your favorite bookstore or online. The link to the book on Barnes & Noble is http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/50-shades-of-cabernet-various-authors/1125894631?ean=9781633933576. The link to the book on Amazon is https://www.amazon.com/50-Shades-Cabernet-Mysterious-Anthology-ebook/dp/B06XH65CP7/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493665772&sr=8-1&keywords=50+shades+of+cabernet

50 Shades of Cabernet also has its own website, Twitter page, and Facebook page! You can find the website at https://www.50shadesofcabernet.com/, the Twitter page at https://twitter.com/50ShdsCabernet, and the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/50ShadesofCabernet/.

And last but not least, the anthology authors are appearing at a variety of locations and events. This is the link to their events calendar. Stop by and see them. https://www.50shadesofcabernet.com/events/

Please share your social media links with us.

Maggie:

Website: http://www.maggieking.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaggieKingAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaggieKingAuthr

Instagram: maggie8208

Kristin:

Website – www.KristinKisska.com

Twitter- https://twitter.com/KKMHOO

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/KristinKisskaAuthor

Heather:

Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherWeidner1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherWeidnerAuthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heather_mystery_writer/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8121854.Heather_Weidner

Amazon Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/HeatherBWeidner/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-weidner-0064b233?trk=hp-identity-name

Anything you wish I’d asked? Anything else you’d like to say?

Maggie: Amy, your questions are great and we appreciate the chance to promote 50 Shades of Cabernet.

Kristin: Aside from buying their book(s), how can a reader support a starting-out author? All the following suggestions are completely free:

  • Request their local library stock the author’s book(s).
  • Follow the author on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Goodreads, etc.
  • Tweet or post pictures of the author’s book *in the wild* (either on a trip you take or if you see it in a local bookstore). Be sure to tag the author and the location.
  • Encourage your book club to read it. Many authors will Skype/Facetime with the club to answer questions and comments!
  • Sign up for the author’s newsletter/blog (usually via their website).
  • Attend one of the author’s book events (in person or online).
  • Participate in giveaway contests the author hosts. Encourage your reader friends, too!
  • Connect with an author. Leave comments on their blog. Ask questions.  We’re people, too!
  • And probably the single most important, leave reviews! Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, or anywhere.

Heather: I am honored to be a part of this anthology with so many talented and creative writers. I love anthologies because you can read one or two stories in a sitting, and you get to sample a lot of different literary styles.

Ladies, what a treat it’s been having all of you here today. I wish you continued success with 50 Shades of Cabernet and I hope that you’ll each come back to Reade and Write when you have other projects coming out!

Until next time,

Amy

P.S. Heather’s debut novel, Secret Lives and Private Eyes, can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Lives-Private-Eyes-Fitzgerald-ebook/dp/B01FGRFI1C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493664322&sr=8-1&keywords=secret+lives+and+private+eyes. You’ll have to copy and paste the link into your browser like some of the others above.

Two Readers in the Spotlight Today: Karyne Corum and Jennifer Pero

Today I continue the series of interviews in which I introduce my readers to each other. Since these interviews were completed a few months ago, the books these women have read most recently are out of date, but hopefully they’ll each have time to stop by to update us. Welcome to two readers, Karyne Corum and Jennifer Pero!

Karyne:                                                       Jennifer:

            1

*I tried to get these pictures to be the same size, but I couldn’t figure it out!*

First question: How often do you read?

KaryneAs often as I can. When I’m working on my manuscript, it tends to be less because I get so sucked into whatever I’m reading that no only will I not do any writing but dishes will go unwashed, clothes will pile up and frankly, family members will starve.

Jennifer: I try to read everyday, it relaxes me and keeps my mind active. I try to be a role model for my children to read everyday (only I don’t have my hubby sign a reading log for me).

What is the name of the last book you finished?

Karyne: The Book of Beloved (Pluto’s Snitch 1) by Carolyn Haines

JenniferDebbie Macomber’s Christmas Wishes

What are you reading now?

KaryneI’m usually dipping in and out of several books at the same time depending on my mood. Currently lined up is The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King, A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught me About Love, Friendship And The Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewics and, to keep up with my ten year old son, Lockwood and Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud.

JenniferActually I teach nursing school and I am reading their textbook, but I did start Danielle Steel’s A Gift of Hope.

What is your preferred genre?

KaryneMystery and Paranormal (as in ghost stories) are my top two favorites, but they run close to Suspense/Thriller.

JenniferFiction, life is too short to read all non-fiction!

How often do you venture outside your preferred genre?

KaryneIf I see a subject or an author that intrigues me, I’m always eager to try something new.

JenniferOccasionally I will if someone recommends a book to me.

What was the last book you read outside your preferred genre?

KaryneThe one I’m reading now, A Jane Austen Education. I’m a huge fan of Austen but normally I’d steer clear of non-fiction books about her because they tend to be dry and often clinical. So far this one as is funny and very clever.

JenniferSecrets of Hallstead House by Amy Reade.

Note from Reade and Write: I think we can all agree this answer gets extra points. 🙂

Are you in a book club?

KaryneNo. I have a hard time finding one where I live and online ones have tended to be very cliquish. If someone knows of a good one, I’d love to hear about it.

JenniferNo, if I had more time, I would enjoy that “me” time.

Where do you obtain most of the books you read- from a bookstore, online, the library, borrowed from a friend, etc.?

KaryneAnywhere and everywhere, from second hand bookstores and Amazon to Biblio.com, which is a used library book recycler. You can get great books for really cheap, but a lot are hard cover so you have to be ready to make that sort of space commitment. I also have the Kindle App on my iPad so I will get some there but I’m more of a paper and ink kind of woman.

JenniferI go to the library often and borrow from my mom or mother-in-law. If I see an interesting book at the book store I will buy it and share with my family.

How do you decide which books to read?

KaryneIf it’s an author I love, I will pretty much read anything by them unless the subject doesn’t grab me. If the synopsis of a book really sounds good and the first couple of pages hook me then it’s going home with me. But I have been known to leap blindly and find a real treasure or a clunker. I’ll also go on recommendations by friends or fellow writers. I’m recommending the heck out of Book of Beloved right now because it was just such a phenomenal book.

JenniferHonestly, the title, if it is inviting, I will give it a shot. I also look at known authors’ work and read that book

What is in your To-Be-Read pile?

KaryneAlong with the books above that I mentioned I also have The Red Dahlia by Lynda La Plante, The Burning Man by Christopher Fowler and Finders Keepers by Stephen King.

JenniferIn my home office on the floor and the titles are a laundry list in length……….

Do you pay attention to especially bad reviews of books when deciding whether to buy or read them?

KaryneI don’t think that reviews have ever played a huge role in what I choose to read. If I read a review by someone on Amazon, I’m less likely to take it seriously because of all the scandal that’s been going on with paid reviews and revenge reviewing. I tend to be skeptical in general with professional reviews. Reviews in the paper or through a celebrity book club can be manipulated by the prestige of the author or the house publishing the book. I don’t mean to disparage them entirely it’s just that there are too many non-impartial forces in motion behind them. Personal recommendations are more likely to get my attention because the person giving them is usually someone I can trust. Word of mouth can sell a book far better than anything else, in my opinion.

Note from Reade and Write: Amen to that!

JenniferNo, I try to make my own opinion of the books that I read.

Lots of people don’t have a favorite book for a variety of reasons. Do you have a favorite? What is it?

KaryneI could never be pinned down to one but there are several that stand out because of how they impacted me at the time I read them. My new favorite, Book of Beloved (Pluto’s Snitch #1) by Carolyn Haines, is a creepy, spine-tingling ghost story set in 1919 America amidst racial tensions, a dark and titillating legacy and a heroine who simply shines like no other. Raisa spoke to me as a woman on the cusp of voting rights struggling to find a career at a time when women were so oppressed. She never gives up or gives in, and considering how much women are fighting today for rights that should be a foregone conclusion, it’s very timely in its power and emotion. It will also scare the heck out of you. Pride and Prejudice because of how it affected me as a young woman in high school. Elizabeth Bennett became my favorite role model as I was beginning to flex my feminist muscles. Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, a powerhouse story of emotion about a small community of friends during glory days of San Francisco. Requiem for a Glass Heart by David L. Lindsey for intricate and exceptional female friendship story amidst chaos and espionage with a heart wrenching ending that will stay with you for a long time.

JenniferNo, it depends on the mood I am in, the season we are in, my life events that year.

Where is your favorite reading spot?

Karyne: On the couch, with a cup of coffee, and no one to disturb me.

JenniferAt the beach, on the deck, by the pool.

Anything else you want me to know?

KaryneI’m a writer, a mom, and a photographer. I love to offer up my services as a beta reader and interviewee.  Anyone who’d like to take me up on that just email me at karynecorum04@gmail.com.

JenniferI enjoy your books and look forward to more in the near future. Thank you for the opportunity to participate!!

Thank you both very much for participating in my reader interview series. I liked showcasing two readers today because it’s so interesting to see the differences in the books people read, how they choose those books, and their reading habits. I appreciate you both being here!

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Patricia Gligor, Part II

Today on Reade and Write I’m thrilled to welcome Patricia Gligor back for another interview! She’s here to discuss her brand-new, just-out-today book, Marnie Malone. Happy Book Birthday, Pat!

Tell us about Marnie Malone.

Marnie Malone is my fifth Malone mystery. I think the best way to tell you about it is through the blurb:

Someone is stalking Marnie.

It’s Marnie’s last week at the law firm of Cliburn & Reeves and she feels like she’s riding an emotional roller coaster. Up when she wins the divorce and custody battle for Callie Jackson against her abusive husband, Jed. And plummeting down when one witness after another decides not to testify against Mark Hall, an attorney at another Charleston firm and an “alleged” serial rapist.

Marnie receives one threat after another and she constantly feels the need to look over her shoulder, convinced that someone is stalking her. With Sam out of town on business, she’s alone in the big, old farmhouse and strange things are happening. Noises in the attic, creaking floorboards and someone watching her from the woods.

As she tries to determine the identity of the stalker, the list of men who have grudges against her grows longer each day. In her line of work she’s made enemies. Is the stalker someone from the past or one of the men on her list? And, how far will he go?

It sounds exciting! How long did it take you to write?

I started writing Marnie Malone in the early summer of 2015, after the release of Mistaken Identity. I was making progress when, unexpectedly, my mother sold her house and I had to move both of us into apartments. So, from October until the beginning of January 2016, I put the book on hold; there was simply no time to write. I finished writing and proof-reading the manuscript and I sent it to my publisher this past August.

Do you write linearly, or do you write each scene separately and then piece them together like a puzzle? Or is there some other path you take to writing a novel?

For each of my Malone mysteries, I started with a stack of notes, ideas for the book. Then I compiled them and created a chapter-by-chapter outline, listing what absolutely had to happen in each chapter. I guess you could say I wrote the book in my head first – to a degree. As I wrote, the outline was updated as necessary because, as in life, things didn’t always work out the way I’d originally planned. Often, my characters had other ideas.

This is my favorite question: Tell us a secret about one of your characters- something that’s not in the book.

I wracked my brain trying to answer this question and then I had to smile. Because I realized that any secrets my characters had were revealed by the end of Marnie Malone. A fitting and necessary conclusion (at least for now) to a series I’ve loved writing.

What time of day do you do your best writing?

I’m a morning person so I do my best writing then. As the day progresses and other responsibilities pop up, my creativity lessens. By evening, I’m lucky to write a cohesive sentence. Or my name. LOL

Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

I’m currently working on something different. A mystery/suspense standalone told in the first person. I hesitate at this point to call it a Romantic Suspense novel but there will be a strong romantic element, which has a huge impact on the plot.

Tell us about the dedication in Marnie Malone, if you wish.

I’m dedicating Marnie Malone to my brother, Steve, and my two beautiful nieces, Amber and Kelly. Family and friends mean everything to me!

Do you prefer to read a physical book (with paper pages that really turn), or do you prefer an E-reader, or perhaps audio books?

I definitely prefer a physical (paper) book. However, I read a lot of books on my Kindle, only because I’m on a limited budget and I can get so many more books for my money.

Remind us where we can connect with you.

You can connect with me (and I hope you will) at:

My blog: http://pat-writersforum.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patricia.gligor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PatriciaGligor

Where is the new book available?

Marnie Malone can be ordered through your local book store and is available online at:

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/gnvn4kq

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Patricia+Gligor/_/N-8qa?_requestid=305533

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?Query=Patricia%20Gligor&ac.morein=true&ac.title=Patricia%20Gligor

   

Thank you for inviting me to be your guest, Amy. I had a lot of fun responding to your questions.

Pat, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you and I look forward to having you here again! Best wishes and congratulations on Marnie Malone!

Until next week,

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

Reader Spotlight: Angela Holland

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As promised, this week I am featuring another reader here on Reade and Write. Welcome, Angela Holland!

How often do you read?

Every day.

What is the name of the last book you finished?

Newton & Polly by Jody Hedlund.

What are you reading now?

A Carol Christmas by Sheila Roberts.

What is your preferred genre?

Historical Fiction but I also enjoy cozy mysteries, romance and biographies.

How often do you venture outside your preferred genre?

Often.

What was the last book you read outside your preferred genre?

I am reading one now that is not historical fiction.

Are you in a book club?

Yes.

If so, what book did your club read last?

Sting by Sandra Brown

Where do you obtain most of the books you read- from a bookstore, online, the library, borrowed from a friend, etc.?

From Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

How do you decide which books to read?

First my genre and then by subject.

What is in your To-Be-Read pile?

I have many books in my TBR I am working my way through: Patience Griffin’s Quilts and Kilts Series as well as Laura Childs’s Tea Shop Mystery Series. 

Do you pay attention to especially bad reviews of books when deciding whether to buy or read them?

No. It seems that is people don’t like things, then I tend to like them.

Lots of people don’t have a favorite book for a variety of reasons. Do you have a favorite? What is it?

The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon is one of my favorites.

Where is your favorite reading spot?

Anywhere and everywhere.

Anything else you want me to know?

I have loved reading since I was little girl and never leave home without a book.

Thank you, Angela! I’ve enjoyed getting to know more about you and your reading habits!

Until next time,

Amy

Reader Spotlight: Carol Thompson

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Today on Reade and Write I welcome a dear friend, Carol Thompson. We sing in the choir together and play in the bell choir together, and she and her husband are very special people.

How often do you read?

I read everyday although sometimes it’s just a short devotional.

What is the name of the last book you finished?

The last book I finished was The Covenant by Beverly Lewis.

What are you reading now?

I am currently reading Broken Identity by Ashley Williams.

What is your preferred genre?

It’s hard to pick a preferred genre but I always like Romance or Cozy Mysteries. I stay away from books that are extremely violent or graphic. I always like to read books about the Amish as my mother’s family originated in Lancaster, PA, and many of them still live there today.

How often do you venture outside your preferred genre?

Since I have more then 1 preferred genre I rarely venture outside of it.

What was the last book you read outside your preferred genre?

Since I don’t usually read historical fiction the last time I ventured out side of my preferred genre was several months ago when I read The Red Tent.

Are you in a book club?

I am currently in a book club.

If so, what book did your club read last?

The last book my book club read was The Happiness Project.

Where do you obtain most of the books you read- from a bookstore, online, the library, borrowed from a friend, etc.?

I usually obtain my books online.

How do you decide which books to read?

When I’m deciding on books to read sometimes I go by friends’ recommendations but many times I go by price and the online description of the book.

What is in your To-Be-Read pile?

I have lots of books in my to be read pile. Hester on the Run, Seek Me With All Your Heart, and Dying to Read to name a few. Of course The House On Candlewick Lane is on my to read list and I’m just waiting for it to come out. Please note, I did not pay Carol to say that!! And I’m thrilled to hear it!

Do you pay attention to especially bad reviews of books when deciding whether to buy or read them?

I really don’t pay attention to reviews when choosing a book unless someone I know has read it and gave it a bad review.

Lots of people don’t have a favorite book for a variety of reasons. Do you have a favorite? What is it?

My favorite book is The Bible but in fiction there are too many for me to choose just one.

Where is your favorite reading spot?

My glider in my living room is my favorite spot for reading or on the beach.

Anything else you want me to know?

I think it might interest you to know that I got my love of reading from my mother. She always read to us even after we learned to read. She would read 1 chapter of a book to us each morning before we went to school. Usually it was a chapter from Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, or The Boxcar Children. When I was a child I wanted to live in a boxcar. Lots of mornings other neighborhood children would stop by to hear the story. What a great way to start the day. I agree. What a wonderful memory!

Thanks for stopping in to talk today, Carol. I enjoyed having you here!

Until next time,

Amy

P.S. My publisher is giving away two copies of The House on Candlewick Lane on Goodreads! If you’d like to enter, click here.

Author Spotlight: Judith Lucci

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This past summer at the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival I had a chance to talk to Judith Lucci, a thoroughly delightful, funny, talented, and smart writer. She’s authored a number of thrillers and she’s here to talk about her most recent release, The Case of the Dead Dowager. Welcome, Judith!

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Hi Amy, thanks so much for inviting me to Reade and Write. I’m delighted to be your guest, your friend and one of your fans!

My new book, The Case of the Dead Dowager released last week and it is the second book and my Michaela McPherson crime thriller series. Mic is a retired homicide detective from Richmond, Virginia (my hometown) who currently owns a bar, Biddy McPherson’s, located in Richmond Shockoe bottom. Biddy’s is the local watering hole for the Richmond police. Michaela lives with her retired police dog, Angel, her loyal canine partner who took a bullet and saved her life. Michaela’s best friend is Dorothy Borghase, an Italian Countess whose lineage dates to early papal Rome. Michaela, Dottie, and Angel solve international crime. In the first Michaela book, The Case of Dr. Dude the trio bring an international human trafficking ring to justice. In the Dead Dowager, Dottie and Mic are searching for two hideous and heinous serial killers whose weapon of choice is poison. Here’s the blurb for the Dead Dowager:

***

Dottie turned off the main highway and headed south to Blackstone Virginia. Madame Toulescent lived just outside of Blackstone and that’s where she conducted her psychic readings.  She wished away the butterflies that cramped her stomach. She had a sense that what she was going to hear wasn’t good. She wished she didn’t believe in the value of psychics or the unknown but she did, and that was that. She’d seen psychic readings and prophecies come true time after time during her life.  Mic wasn’t a believer at all but had grudgingly admitted psychics had helped them in a case about ten years ago.                                                       

The speedometer on her car registered over sixty miles an hour on a forty-five mile limit stretch of highway. I’d better slow down. The last thing I need is a Virginia state trooper on my tail. She braked and her car skidded but she handled it skillfully. The Cadillac was a big, monster car but she really liked it. Since Dottie had lived in the US, she had always preferred German-made cars and previously owned multiple Mercedes Benz. Of course, when Count Borghase had been alive, they’d always driven Italian cars, mainly Ferraris. But now she was pretty much American and she loved her Caddy. There was something about the Cadillac that was so plush and so American that she bought a new one every couple of years.

 She saw an old gray mule in the pasture out of the corner of her eye and saw the fence that was lying on the side. Dottie didn’t know what she’d do if they ever repaired that fence. She’d been looking at that fence on the ground for years and it was her landmark just before she turned onto Madame’s private road. She knew her turn was just up ahead. She slowed for a farmer carrying a load of hay in an old truck. He was hogging the entire road. Now where in the hell am I supposed to go?  She steered her big car to the side of the road as far as she could without falling into the ditch. She cursed and held her breath as the farmer passed her. She swore the farmer missed her by less than an inch. The old codger hadn’t even looked her way. She shook her head and cursed again softly. She threw her white Caddy into first gear and roared out of the ditch spewing gravel, dirt, and mud all over the road. She saw three rabbits running for their life and hoped she hadn’t interrupted their nest. Dottie drove a little further and made her left turn. She turned right on the first road and started the difficult trip along the horrible, rutted road to Madame Toulescent’s tiny home. The road was almost a mile long. Dottie’s tall, thin frame bounced all over her plush leather seat and her hair fell out of her neatly arranged bun. I’m going to have to take a pain pill. All this jumping around is killing my hips. Secretly Dottie new she needed to have her hips replaced but there was no way she was willing to do that, at least not while she could walk. I wouldn’t be able to help Michaela. And then, what would she do?

 Madame Toulescent waved at Dottie from her front porch filled with flowers and beautiful hanging baskets of petunias and begonias. Her small white cottage was immaculate. Madame Toulescent watched her painstakingly steer her huge Cadillac down her battered road. Dottie brought the iron beast to a stop, looked in her rearview mirror and re-pinned a piece of white hair that had worked its way out of her perfect updo. Even though the Madame lived in a house that was little better than a house trailer, Dottie had been trained from birth to always look perfect when visiting. This task had become monumental at age 82. She reached for her purse and checked to make sure her Glock was nestled in its special pocket. She checked her lipstick in the mirror, pinched her lips together, cursed the fine lines around her mouth and got out of the car.

 “Hello Madame Toulescent. Thank you for seeing me today on short notice.” Dorothy smiled her gracious smile at the psychic, showing her beautiful white veneers, once available for a large price from the famous, dentist-to-the-stars Dr. Michael Smirkowitz.

“You are so welcome, Countess Borghase.” Madame Toulescent looked around the empty fields and through the trees and gestured with her arm. “As you can see, there is no waiting line. Please come in. I’ve made us some tea.” She paused for a moment and said, “Watch the steps. They’re in need of repair,” she cautioned.

In need of repair, my butt, they need to be rebuilt Dottie climbed the rickety steps dodging rusty nails and wood splinters. She grasped the loose railing and posts that held up the old front porch. The last thing she wanted to do was fall and break something. She followed Madame Toulescent into her small but neat and cozy home. There was a wonderful scent in the air and Dottie’s mouth watered.

“Please have a seat in the easy chair,” the Madame offered. “I’ll bring us some tea and sweet bread.”

Dottie nodded and smiled her thanks as she carefully studied Madame Toulescent. She wasn’t sure of her nationality. She thought she was Eastern European but she seemed very much like the French and her house had several amazing pieces of French country furniture. In years past, she had asked the Madame about her former life, but the psychic seemed unwilling to share her past. Her voice had a strange accent Dottie couldn’t identify which frustrated her. Dottie had traveled the world and she knew the languages and dialects of most ethnic populations. But she couldn’t figure out Madame Toulescent’s origins. That puzzled her.

Madame handed Dottie a cup of herb tea. The aroma alerted her senses and she immediately felt more awake and inspired. The tea had given her energy and awareness. She took a sip. It was delicious.

“Oh my, Madame Toulescent. Whatever is in this tea? I feel a million times better just from smelling it. You’ve got to tell me where you got it because I know Cookie would love it too,” Dottie gushed as she sipped her tea.

Madame Toulescent smiled and said. “I made the tea. It’s a blend of ginger, mint, lemon verbena and a few other things I grow in my herb garden. I’ll send some home with you. It’s sweetened with honey I collected from my bees yesterday.” She smiled briefly, and her lips stretched over teeth that could benefit from a cosmetic dentist. “That’s probably what you love so much.”

Dottie nodded and studied the Madame. The years hadn’t treated her so well. Dottie didn’t know her age but her face was a mass of wrinkles that blended one into the other. Dottie guessed each wrinkle had its own story. Her skin appeared soft but deeply creased. Her jet black hair was streaked with gray and hung freely past her shoulders. She wore a simple blue shift with a silver belt and wore tennis shoes and socks. She smelled of lemon and freesia.

Dottie, as usual, smelled of Chanel #5. “It’s so lovely out here, Madame. Do you ever come to town?”

Madame Toulescent shook her head. “Very rarely. My neighbor collects my groceries for me when I need them and as you know, I have a huge vegetable garden and I can and freeze most everything I need. I like it here and I like to stay with my animals – my dogs, cats, cow, mules and horses. It’s quiet here and my love is nature.”

Dottie nodded. She couldn’t imagine staying in these four walls every single day. She supposed she didn’t have the patience and gentleness of spirit that the Madame had. But that was okay. Dottie was very happy in her own way.

The two women shared a comfortable silence and continued to sip their tea until the Madame asked, “How can I help you today, Countess?” She smiled at her and said, “I can tell you have some significant things on your mind and that you are troubled.”

Dottie put her teacup down and said, “Yes, I do. Have you been watching the news?” Dottie saw the woman pale under her sun-darkened skin.

Madame Toulescent nodded. “You’re here about the poisonings, aren’t you?”

Dottie held Madame’s dark eyes with her own and said, “Yes, I am. Camilla Rothrock was one of my dearest friends and I need to know who poisoned her.”

Madame shifted her gaze to the floor and said, “Countess Borghase, this is a very bad business that is happening. I’ve had some visions and they are upsetting. It reminds me of the evil work of Hitler in Germany.”

This time it was Dottie who paled, her heart beating so hard she could hardly breathe. “Oh my God, Madame. We both remember his devastation in Europe and the millions of people he murdered.”

Madame Toulescent rubbed her hands together, her face grim. “Indeed we do. A sad and sorry time. Let’s move into the back where I work and see what we can see.”

Dottie stood and followed Madame to the room in the far back of her modest home. It was a glass room with beautiful views into the forest. She left her teacup on the coffee table. Her heart thumped dangerously in her chest and she was short of breath. She was so terrified she almost lost her balance. She gripped her purse and cell phone in her hand. She was scared and just the idea of having the Glock made her feel safer. Could the evil be so strong it permeated her soul?

“Countess, why are you so upset? What can I do to help you?” Madame Toulescent looked at Dottie with concern.

Dottie stared at her but her eyes said it all.

“Let me get you something to calm you down so we can have a good reading. Please stay in the chair and I’ll be right back,” Madame Toulescent said as she left Dottie and walked to her kitchen.

Chapter 35

Dottie sat quietly in a large wing-backed chair in the calm serenity of Madame Toulescent’s solarium. The herbs Madame Toulescent had given her had done the trick. She could feel herself calming down. She could hear the rushing of the James River in the distance and she was mesmerized by the cattle grazing in the field in the distance. Perhaps all was right with the world. She supposed she’d know soon enough.

Madame motioned her to a simple wooden table on the side of the room. Dottie arose from her chair and took the seat facing the psychic. Madame Toulescent’s eyes glazed through the glass window out into the fields. Dottie wondered what she was seeing but sat quietly and watched.

“Countess Borghase, you know I’m a psychic. Generally, when we meet, I do psychic readings. But, I also function as a spiritual medium. Would you like for me to see if I could talk with your friend, Camilla?”

Dottie’s stomach knotted up and she felt nauseous. She stared at Madame Toulescent and said, her voice hesitant, “I… I don’t know. I’ve never done that before. Will it help?”

Madame Toulescent could sense her hesitation. “You seem frightened to talk with your friend or at least have your friend communicate with us. Let’s see what else we can do.”

“I didn’t know you talked with spirits,” Dottie said. “Can you tell me how that works?”

“Well, there are quite a few things I can do,” Madame Toulescent said gently. She could see Dottie was upset about channeling Camilla. “We’ve mostly done psychic readings when you’ve visited. The psychic readings are about getting advice, guidance or direction around things that are happening in your life. There’ve been a couple of times when you’ve been here in crises and you wanted some help or direction. It is my belief that a reading is getting confirmation on what our own intuition is already telling us. Most of the time, I’ve simply confirmed what your intuition had already suggested. I’ve validated what you already knew. Often as a psychic, I only teach and help people confirm their own wisdom.

Dottie nodded, “Yes, I agree with that. Most of the time you’ve validated what I’ve thought and believed and have helped me decide what to do next.”

Madame nodded. “Yes, this is true.”

“But, Countess,” she said taking Dottie’s cold hand into her warm one, “I also work as a medium and I can contact your friend Camilla and we can learn about the last few moments of her life.”

Dottie’s eyes filled with tears, “But I don’t know if I want to know about Camilla’s last few minutes. She looked so horrible and I think she was scared and in pain,” she ended with a choked sob.

Madame Toulescent nodded. “I understand what you are saying. I just want to tell you that it’s possible we can learn from Camilla. Perhaps she can help us solve the poisonings.”

Dottie was silent for a moment as she considered the possibilities. Certainly, she could be uncomfortable and upset for a few moments, particularly if she could help Michaela and the police solve these horrible murders. Besides, that would prove to Mic that she wasn’t old and helpless… although she really didn’t think Michaela thought that. That was her insecurity popping up. “Um, okay. I’ll do it. But first, could we just look at the murders in general. Could you tell me what you see and perhaps give me some direction that I can share with the authorities?”

“Of course I can, Countess. In no way do I want to upset you or frighten you, but I’m sure your friend wants to send us a message. I can feel her trying to get though,” Madame Toulescent said. “In the meantime, let me focus on the poisonings. Give me a few moments to think and commune.”

It was a lovely day. The birds were singing, the cattle were grazing contently in the field. Dottie smiled and focused on a mother deer and her fawn that grazed in the grass about twenty yards from the back window. They were beautiful. The fawn was young and still had its spots. She watched as the mother nudged her and encouraged her to eat the grass, but the fawn just wanted to play. She smiled as she saw them frolic in the sunshine.

She heard a low moan come from deep in Madame’s throat. The sound sent shivers up Dottie’s back. She wondered what Madame Toulescent saw in her vision. The moaning became worse and Dottie could hardly sit still. Her eyes returned to the view outside. The mother and fawn were staring into the window. The birds were no longer chirping. I think they know something is about to happen here.

Madame Toulescent was in a trance and her body swayed from left to right as she moaned and said ‘no’ over and over. She had a conversation with someone, smiled gently and said, “Yes, yes. I will.”

Dottie’s eyes returned to the bucolic scene in front of her. Everything was okay now. The mother deer and her baby were gone, and she could see several cardinals feasting on the seed in the birdfeeder. She could hear other birds chirping in the distance. The cows chewed their cud contentedly in the fields and the sun was bright on the early spring wild flowers. Something must be right with the world, she thought. Yes, all is right with the world, at least for a moment.

It seemed forever before Madame Toulescent rose from her trance. She looked at Dottie and asked, “Are you okay?”

Dottie shrugged her shoulders and said, “Yes, yes, I’m fine. Can you tell me what you saw?”

A dark shadow flashed across Madame’s face and she said, “I saw a lot. I felt the fear of Camilla and the three young women at the bar. I could feel the pain the women endured as the poison struck their internal organs.”

Dottie nodded and waited for more.

“Regrettably, I heard the screams and felt the fear of the school children. I talked with the children that had died and wiped their tears.”

Madame Toulescent paused for a moment to rest. Dottie watched as her shoulders relaxed and her breathing returned to normal. She went into the living room and returned with the teapot. She refilled their cups and said, “There are two men who are killing these people. One man has an agenda to kill, but the other man kills for sport. They are evil and will stop at nothing to reach their goal.” Madame Toulescent was silent for a moment and sipped her tea.

Dottie waited patiently which was one of the most difficult tasks ever for her. She was simply not patient and wanted what she wanted the second she wanted to have it. As she waited for Madam to continue, she found herself replacing the bobby pins in her hair and picking at her nails. She crossed and uncrossed her legs several times until Madame Toulescent reached under the table and put her hand on Dottie’s knee to quiet her.

“Please stop that, Countess. I can’t focus. I’m trying to remember things. We’ll talk in a moment.”

Dottie fell like a child in kindergarten. She hung her head in shame because she had interrupted Madame. A couple of minutes later, Madame said, “The two men will continue to kill as they have for a few more days. Then they plan to poison a large number of people, possibly thousands at a major event. I don’t know where but it is coming soon.”

Dottie’s heart jumped into her throat. She was so frightened she could hardly speak and beside herself with anxiety and fear. She stared at Madame Toulescent until she found her voice.

“But wait… when and where will they attack?”

Madame Toulescent repeated, “I do not know when the attack will be. Perhaps the men have not planned a date and they do not know.”

Dottie could feel fear and anxiety creep up her spine and she asked, her voice quavering, “What else, what else is there that you won’t tell me?”

Madame Toulescent stared into Dottie’s ice blue eyes and said, “Camilla said to tell you the poison was in the tea. She said when she drank the tea she began to feel sick and then she couldn’t talk or see anymore. She also said to tell you that she is okay now. She wants you to tell the General she’s fine and not to worry.”

Dottie nodded slowly and said, “I guess that’s good, if you have to be dead, right?”

Madame Toulescent nodded as she watched Dottie pull herself together and gather her purse. She stood up and offered the Madam her hand. “Thank you. Thank you for seeing me on such short notice. I truly appreciate it.”

Madame Toulescent nodded and said softly,” There’s one more thing, Countess. Do you want to hear it?”

Dottie nodded and said, “I suppose so.”

“Michaela is in grave danger. You must watch out for her carefully.”

Dottie’s spine stiffened and she stood even straighter as she looked down at the psychic, “Danger how? What kind of danger?” Dottie’s heart fluttered in her chest and she held on to the back of the chair for support. She couldn’t let anything happen to Michaela.

Madame shook her head and said, “I don’t know. I could not see her danger but I can feel it and it’s real. Please watch out for her. These men are cruel and evil. They will stop at nothing.”

Dottie said simply, “I will. I always do.”

“And, Dottie,” Madame Toulescent, “I believe you are in danger as well. So I urge you to take no chances and to stay safe.”

Dottie grinned and flashed Madame Toulescent her favorite aristocratic smile. “I’ll be fine, Madame. I’m always in danger. After all, I’m eighty-two years old.”

Madame smiled, “I am serious, Dottie, please watch yourself and stay safe.”

“I will, I promise, thank you.” Dottie’s voice sounded a lot stronger than she felt as she left Madame’s modest home and walked the short distance to her car. She opened her door and sat down, grateful for the softness of the plush, soft leather cushions. She closed her eyes and a million rays of light invaded her head. She was stressed, deeply scared and worried. These were different feelings for Dottie who usually only feared forgetting something or losing her memory. I’ve got to take care of Michaela.

Madame Toulescent watched Dottie back up her big car and continue carefully down the deeply rutted road. She felt intense fear for the Countess but she feared mostly for Michaela McPherson. These were evil men.

***

I loved writing this book because I love the characters! Michaela is based on a friend of mine who is indeed a retired homicide detective and Dottie is exactly who I would like to be when I’m 82 years of age. Angel… well, anyone who knows anything about me knows that I love dogs and Angel is a personification of the perfect canine.

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I have three goals in my books. The first is to engage the reader so they keep reading, the second is to entertain with a great story and the third is to education my readers. In both of my series, my Alexandra Destephano medical thriller series and my Michaela McPherson crime thrillers, I advocate for vulnerable populations and disenfranchised people. In the Michaela McPherson series, I bring attention to military and police working dogs such as Angel, and their value in law enforcement. I focus on the usefulness, respect and wisdom of the elderly such as Dottie. I also am very supportive of law enforcement in both of my series.

My medical thrillers, the Alex Destephano novels, are based in New Orleans and Virginia. Alex is a nurse attorney from a politically prominent Virginia family who moved to the Big Easy to run a hospital. The fictional Crescent City Medical Center is located near the French Quarter in NOLA and sees the wealthiest of the wealthy and the poorest and most violent criminals in the city.   Alex is vulnerable … she’s been hurt in life and hurt in love, but she’s determined to make it alone. She smart, goal directed, ethical and a fighter. Alex’s personal values are high.  So far, Alex hasn’t been able to catch a break and finds herself involved in one horrific situation after another. All of my books have won The Readers’ Favorite Five Star seal. Recently, The Case of Dr. Dude won ‘Best Read of the Summer’ in the United Kingdom.

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In my ‘other’ life I’m a registered nurse, college professor and a researcher. Writing fiction was quite difficult for me from a technical standpoint because I’d been an academic writer most of my life and all of my early rejections comments on my ‘robot writing and characters’. I think I’ve finally achieved the ability to write good, expressive and meaningful dialogue and create memorable characters. I try to write every single day, generally in the mornings my goal is at least 2000 words per day but I really would prefer to do twice that. When I read, I read pretty much what I write… mysteries, crime thrillers, spy novels and action and adventure. I love historical fiction and I have many, many favorite authors – many of them are indie.

Thanks so much for allowing me to be a part of your blog.  Feel free to follow me on Facebook.  You can contact me at http://www.JudithLucci.com.

The links to my books are below.

Judith Lucci Book Links
Universal Bitly
Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/GetMedThrillers
Dr. Dude: http://bit.ly/ViewDrDude
Viral: http://bit.ly/SeeViralIntent
Toxic: http://bit.ly/ViewToxic
Imposter: http://bit.ly/ViewImposter
Chaos: http://bit.ly/ViewChaos

Dead Dowager: https://www.amazon.com/Case-Dead-Dowager-McPherson-Mysteries/dp/1539822311/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1480993203&sr=8-1&keywords=the+case+of+the+dead+dowager

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Thanks for visiting Reade and Write, Judith! Congratulations on your new release!

Until next time,

Amy