Just an Ordinary Tuesday…EXCEPT MURDER IN THISTLECROSS IS HERE!

 

I have been waiting for this day since September 8, 2017,  the day after Highland Peril was released.

Murder in Thistlecross is the third book in my Malice series and follows Eilidh Cameron, who left the Highlands of Scotland for a new life in Wales after the events that took place in Highland Peril. 

You’ll find family intrigue, murder (of course), upstairs-downstairs tensions, and secrets from the past that erupt in a present-day Norman castle in the peaceful Welsh village of Thistlecross.

Here’s the teaser you’ll find on Amazon:

“The emerald hills and violet valleys of Wales seem the ideal place to start over after murder—and divorce—shattered Eilidh’s life in the Scottish Highlands. But within the stone walls of an ancient castle, a family’s dark, violent past threatens much more than her newfound tranquility . . . 
 
For the past two years, Eilidh has called the quaint Welsh village of Thistlecross home, embracing her new life as estate manager of a restored fifteenth-century castle. But the long-anticipated arrival of her employer’s three estranged sons and their wives transforms Thistlecross Castle from a welcoming haven to a place seething with dangerous secrets. When the escalating tensions culminate in murder, Eilidh must sift through a castle full of suspects both upstairs and downstairs. She can trust no one as she follows a twisting maze of greed and malice to ferret out a killer who’s breaching every defense, preparing to make Eilidh the next to die.”

The book is available in paperback and as an ebook. The links are below:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

Google Play

Your favorite independent bookstore

As always, thank you for your support and a special thanks to everyone who has preordered the book! If you’ve read the book or plan to, I ask that you consider leaving a review, since the Amazon algorithms take into account the number of reviews of a particular book when promoting books in that genre.

Looking for a 99-cent deal? House of the Hanging Jade is available for just 99¢ for a few more days! Find it here:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

Google Play

And thank you!

Until next week,

Amy

P.S. Shares would be greatly appreciated…and don’t forget to send your recipes for next week’s post to amymreadeauthor@gmail.com!

It’s Release Day!

House of the Hanging Jade cover with USA Today (2)

House of the Hanging Jade comes out today! I hope you’ll join me in some virtual fresh pineapple and Kona coffee to celebrate its release!

Over the next couple weeks you’ll be hearing from me often, as I update the sites where I have interviews, guest blogs, giveaways, and excerpts. I invite you to take a minute and check out any or all of the blog tour stops- I had a great time with them and I hope you do, too.

Here are today’s appearances and events:

Interview on Island Confidential.

Giveaway on Three Partners in Shopping.

Thanks for taking a look!

Until next time,

Amy

The Islands of Aloha

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As you probably know, Hawaii is called The Aloha State. The word “aloha” actually has more than one meaning. It’s commonly used when greeting someone or going away from them, but it means more than “hello” or “farewell.” It also connotes love and affection. But more than that, its meaning is inextricably linked with the spirit of the Hawaiian people and the idea that life should be lived with respect, love, and gratitude for family, friends, the earth, the sea, fish and animals, and anything else that brings goodness to people. To live with the spirit of Aloha means that a person spreads joy, peace, and respect to others and is grateful for the aloha given in return.

You don’t have to be Hawaiian to spread aloha. My son was once scolded and lectured (he was 4) by a Hawaiian woman who was offended that he used the word “aloha” when he greeted her, a stranger. In truth, my son was the one exhibiting the aloha in that encounter. The woman spread no joy, treated a small boy with disrespect, and showed her contempt for anyone not obviously of Hawaiian descent using a Hawaiian word. But that didn’t stop my son from continuing to greet people in that manner. And he found that most people did respond with aloha- with smiles, kindness, and gratitude.

So now that you know a little about the use of the word “aloha,” I’d like to tell you a bit more about the Hawaiian islands.

Hawaii is made up of eight major islands and hundreds of tiny uninhabited islands and atolls. The southernmost island is the Island  of Hawaii, commonly called The Big Island. It’s where my new novel (available next Tuesday- woo hoo!), House of the Hanging Jade, is set. What makes the Big Island so fascinating are its climate zones- its mass contains almost every climate zone on earth. You can go from a polar climate (yes, it does snow in Hawaii!) to dry and arid to rainforest in a single day. The island also has a green sand beach (one of four in the world), and black sand beaches, too.

Pololu Valley

Moving north, you’ll see tiny Kaho’olawe, an uninhabited island which the US government used for target practice. There is always a cloud cover over Kaho’olawe. No one is allowed on the island without special permission, as there may still be unexploded ordinance on the island.

Next you’ll come to Maui. Also known as the Valley Isle, Maui is the home to Lahaina, a former whaling town and now a great place to stay, play, eat, and shop. Maui has the largest dormant volcano crater in the world, Haleakala. Seeing the sun rise over Haleakala is an unforgettable experience.

Breach

Not far off Maui’s western shore (just 9 miles!) is the island of Lanai, a sparsely-inhabited island with a population of just a few thousand. It’s commonly called the Pineapple Island, a nod to its important role in the history of the pineapple industry. It’s a dream destination for people who want quiet and calm- there are no traffic lights on the island!

North of Lanai and Maui is the Island of Molokai, which is probably best known as the place where a Hansen’s Disease settlement (often called a leper colony) was founded, just beyond the cliffs of Kalaupapa. Also called the Friendly Isle, Molokai is home to the world’s largest sea cliffs. Much of the population of Molokai are people of Native Hawaiian descent, and this is an island where Hawaiian culture thrives and lives on.

You can’t miss Oahu as you travel north from Molokai. Often referred to as The Gathering Place, Oahu lives up to its apt name. It is the most densely populated island in the Hawaiian archipelago and is home to Hawaii’s capital, Honolulu, as well as Pearl Harbor. It’s where you’ll find the only royal palace in the United States and where you’ll find major surfing championships along its legendary Banzai Pipeline.

North of Oahu is the Island of Kauai, or the Garden Isle. It’s a haven for people looking for spectacular mountains, valleys, rainforests, and otherwise stunning scenery. Kauai is home to one of the wettest spots on earth, Waialeale. Kauai is not as busy as the islands farther to the south, so it’s a great place to go if you want to relax and kick back without a lot of people around.

And finally, the last of the inhabited islands on your trip north through the archipelago is the Island of Ni’ihau, also called The Forbidden Island, a privately owned island with a population of under two hundred people. Visitors to the Hawaiian islands generally do not make the trip to Ni’ihau, as it is home to only Native Hawaiians. Its inhabitants speak Hawaiian and live without most of the conveniences we take for granted in the rest of the United States- including indoor plumbing, paved roads, cars, emergency services, and much more.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your virtual tour of the Hawaiian Islands, and I hope your day is filled with the spirit of aloha which gives the islands their name.

Until next week,

Amy

P.S. There’s still time to support my Thunderclap for the release of House of the Hanging Jade! Click here to sign up- Thunderclap does all the work!

House of the Hanging Jade cover with USA Today (2)

Just Two More Weeks!

House of the Hanging Jade cover with USA Today (2)

House of the Hanging Jade comes out in two weeks: at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, April 26th. In case you’re counting (I know- I’m the only one who’s counting), that’s just 356 hours and 1 minute from the time this post goes live. So it’s time, don’t you think, for an excerpt? Maybe two?

***

I was still working for Geoffrey a couple weeks later, still floundering through the endless winter weather and finding our relationship a bit awkward. He made excuses to be wherever I was, whether it was in the kitchen or the basement of the restaurant or while I was coming to work or leaving work to go home. I was actively looking for a job on the Big Island, and didn’t want to return home without any employment prospects, but I was seriously beginning to consider going home without a job just to get away from Geoffrey. I had told all my friends and colleagues in DC and on the island of Hawaii that I was going back home; everyone wished me well.

One night I worked very late at the restaurant. I couldn’t catch a cab, so I had to walk home. I walked briskly on the dark sidewalk, trying to stay warm. I slipped on a patch of ice at one point, dropping my bag. As I stooped down to pick it up, I noticed a man walking not too far behind me. He had a toque pulled low over his forehead. I walked a little faster after that, not wanting to be the only woman on the street late at night. I glanced over my shoulder and noticed that the man walked a little more quickly too. A shiver of apprehension crept up the back of my neck. I ducked into a tiny twenty-four-hour grocery store and browsed for a few minutes, buying nothing, but giving the man plenty of time to walk past me and continue on his way.

When I went back outside, I looked left and right to make sure no one was following me. Seeing nobody, I kept walking, but it wasn’t long before I noticed the same man walking slightly behind me and on the other side of the street. I wanted to run, but I couldn’t because the sidewalks were too treacherous. All I could do was fumble for my cell phone and have it handy to call 911 if he came any closer. I looked over my shoulder again; he was crossing the street, walking a bit faster. I went faster too.

I took off my gloves and shoved them in my coat pocket so I could dial 911 quickly. I was almost in front of my building, pulling my phone out of my other pocket when I heard footsteps directly behind me. The man grabbed my elbow and I let out a cry.

“Kailani, it’s me.”

“Geoffrey! You scared me to death! What on earth are you doing?”

“I was just following you to make sure you made it home okay,” he said, still gripping my elbow.

“You’ve never done that before,” I said, my voice grating in irritation. “Why start now?”

“I was just concerned about you, that’s all.”

“Thank you, but I’m fine. Don’t ever do that again. You really scared me.”

“I’m sorry.”

I shook his hand off my elbow and walked away. As I unlocked the door to my apartment building, I saw him out of the corner of my eye, watching me. I shivered, but not from the cold. Now I really couldn’t wait to leave Washington. And Geoffrey.

***

I was crouched down, looking for a Dutch oven, when Akela came in. “Kailani, there’s someone here to see you.”

“Who is it?”

“He didn’t give his name. He’s waiting at the end of the driveway. The police wouldn’t let him come up to the house, so one of them came to escort you.”

I followed Akela to the front door, where an officer stood waiting. He explained that he and his partner could not allow anyone on the property and said he would take me to see my visitor. We walked in silence to the end of the driveway. Another officer was stationed by the large gate, and on the other side of it a tall man in shorts and a T-shirt stood with his back to me. Even before he turned around I knew who it was.

“Geoffrey? What are you doing here?” I asked, incredulous. I had only emailed him a couple times since leaving Washington, and none of those emails had included an invitation to visit or the location of my new job. I opened the gate slowly.

He turned to look at me, a big grin spread across his face. “Surprise!” He came forward and gave me a big hug. I pushed myself away gently.

“I can’t believe you’re here! What made you decide to come all the way to Hawaii?”

“You! What else?” I stole a glance at the officers, who were politely looking in the other direction.

“Wow. I’m flattered. I wish you’d told me you were coming, because I could have met you at the airport or something.” I faltered, searching for the right thing to say. I thought he had realized that I didn’t want to see him anymore. That he wasn’t part of my life in Hawaii the way he had been in Washington.

He stepped back a bit. “Is it okay that I’m here? I mean, do you mind? I just thought it would be a nice surprise.”

“Oh, no,” I assured him quickly. “It is a nice surprise. I just can’t believe you came all this way, that’s all. How did you know where to find me?”

“It’s a long story,” he said vaguely. I let that go for the moment.

“Why are the police here?” he asked.

“Someone died here last night.”

His eyes widened. “Really? Who?”

***

As release day approaches, I will be updating my blog about my blog tours (lots of giveaways!) and other places online where you can find excerpts of House of the Hanging Jade, other guest blogs, and interviews. I hope you’ll take a look!

And one more thing: I’m 51% of the way to my goal in my Thunderclap campaign! I hope you’ll consider lending me your voice of support on the day my book comes out- Thunderclap does all the work. All you have to do is click the link and sign up to support me on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr! Here’s the link: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/38945-be-a-part-of-a-book-birthday. And thank you!

Until next week,

Amy

 

Meet Phyllis Moore

 

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My guest this week is Phyllis H. Moore, author of Opal’s Story and the Sabine Trilogy. She’s here to discuss her newest release. Welcome, Phyllis!

Tell me about your new book.

My latest book is Tangled, A Southern Gothic Yarn. It is a saga of the Kirkland family, an east Texas oil tale of new money and bad blood. Nettie Randall, the newest generation and protagonist, is desperate to discover her father and try to redefine the Kirkland legacy. However, she is still tied to her dysfunctional mother, Delores Cecelia Kirkland and the haunted mansion built by Nettie’s great grandmother, Roberta. Nettie is sensitive to spirits, human and animal, and looks to these angels for guidance and information. She has choices to make, but she does not always distinguish between the heroes and the culprits.

Who is the audience for the book?

I think all of my books would appeal to women who enjoy fiction with some mystery, twists and a touch of humor.

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 live close to the fictional scene of my book. It is a sparsely populated rural area near the Texas coast between Houston and Beaumont. It is a productive oil field in close proximity to east Texas and the Louisiana border. When I worked as a social worker, I frequently rode the ferry from Galveston Island down the Bolivar Peninsula. I liked the birds and landscape of the area and made up stories in my mind about the families that might live in large houses down isolated roads. I am familiar with the beaches, storms and barriers to daily living in the area.

I did some research regarding life in New Orleans in the early 1900’s to formulate Nettie’s great grandparents and how they arrived in the area. The other characters I drew from my years of social work and situations I found families in during my visits.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Originally, I wrote the story from Nettie’s view point as a precocious child. After attending a writer’s conference, I decided to rewrite it from a third person point of view and change Nettie’s coming of age story to more of a reflection of her childhood. It was difficult to reimagine her older. I also added two characters. Weaving these characters into the story took time, but I enjoyed it and love the characters: Pup and Tess.

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

I envisioned people when I was writing and I clearly saw Margo Martindale from August Osage County, playing Mrs. Sophie and I saw Woody Harrelson as her husband, Joe. I am so out of touch with the young actresses, but Jennifer Lawrence or Abigail Breslin would be Nettie and DeCe would be Ashley Judd. DeCe is the most colorful character- and the most flawed.

Have you written any other books?

Yes, I have written a novel, Opal’s Story. It is set in west Texas, a place I visited often as a child. A tragic event occurs in the late 1940’s and a family has to deal with that history in preparation for the death of the central character in 2008. I have also written a trilogy, The Sabine Trilogy: Sabine, Josephine’s Journals and Secrets of Dunn House.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

Yes, I am in three Facebook groups and talk with a group of self-published authors in my area.

Do you write every day?

I try to write every day. When I do, I write all day and I do not want to stop.

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

I like Fannie Flagg, Rebecca Wells, Rick Bragg, Jeanette Walls, and Kathryn Stockett. Women’s Fiction in the gothic style is what I enjoy most. Occasionally, I will pick up something my husband is reading in the thriller/suspense genre and I always enjoy it, but it is not what I am drawn to first.

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

Scotland. I want to look at castles, men in kilts and sit in a pub.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write and write, then write some more. Read From Where You Dream by Robert Owen Butler and then write again.

What is your favorite movie and why?

I like the old horror movies, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? The movies before gore and blood became popular and Bette Davis wore gauzy gowns and red lips. Anything by Alfred Hitchcock. Those remind me of my childhood.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Enjoy your skin and body because it is going to be downhill . . . and pay attention to what you enjoy and do that. Follow your passion.

Describe yourself in three words.

Gardener, reader and writer.

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

I began writing three years ago when I was sixty. I had no idea I would enjoy it as much as I do. Then when I started thinking about publishing what I had written, I soon found I may not have time to wait for agents, editors, etc. I made the decision to self-publish. I have learned to format, design covers, and this marketing thing. The things I have learned about social media and algorithms boggle my mind and I still don’t understand it, but there are new things to learn every day. It has been a learning curve of major proportions, but a terrific ride.

Here’s a bio I’d like to share with my readers about you, Phyllis:

Phyllis H. Moore is a retired social worker. She has reinvented herself twice since retirement in 2004. Her first reinvention was to own and operate a bed and breakfast with her husband for seven years. You never know people until you sleep with them. After selling the B & B, they moved to a cabin in the country and she began to write three years ago. Phyllis lives on a small ranch with her husband and their adopted terrier, Ollie Bubba. They also claim a gopher-eating feral cat. Phyllis enjoys travel, reading, gardening, writing, and visiting her adult children on Galveston Island, Texas

Where can readers connect with you?

http://www.phyllishmoore.com

https://www.facebook.com/phyllishmooreAuthor/

http://www.pinterest.com/corazon

https://www.Amazon.com/author/phyllishmoore

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6047212.Phyllis_H_Moore

https://www.twitter.com/phyllishmoore

Where can readers find your books?

http://www.phyllishmoore.com

https://Amazon.com/author/phyllishmoore

Thank you so much, Phyllis, for visiting Reade and Write. Readers, do you have any questions for Phyllis? Please feel free to ask them in the comments below.

And before you leave, please consider lending me your voice for the release next month of my new novel, House of the Hanging Jade. I’ve set up a Thunderclap campaign. It’s like an online flash mob. It’s easy to participate. You just click on this link: http://thndr.me/RgNkzh and sign up to support House of the Hanging Jade through your Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr account. It doesn’t cost you a cent and Thunderclap doesn’t share your information or do any other nasty thing. On April 26th, release day, a blurb hits your feed that says you support the House of the Hanging Jade Book Birthday. Thank you!

Until next week,

Amy

 

Happiness is Pineapple…and a Book Birthday!

House of the Hanging Jade cover with USA Today (2)

Only six more weeks until the release of House of the Hanging Jade! I’ve spent a lot of my time lately writing guest posts, doing interviews, and updating my social media sites in preparation for the new book. At the bottom of this post I’ll provide you with a list of all the places you can find me online. I hope you’ll visit!

One of the many things I love about writing is the research that I get to do. Sometimes it’s online, sometimes it’s in a library, sometimes it’s on a field trip. This time it was in one of my favorite places, the kitchen. I thought this week I would share with you one of the recipes I found while I was writing House of the Hanging Jade. It comes from Betty Shimabukuro, a managing editor and writer for the Honolulu newspaper, the “Star-Advertiser.” One of her most popular columns is called By Request, and it’s where she tries to find answers for cooks looking for old recipes, ingredients, and inspiration. I have two of Shimabukuro’s books- By Request and By Request 2, both featuring reprints of some of her most popular and requested recipes.

I haven’t even made it through the entirety of Book 2 yet, because the recipe for Pineapple Nut Bread stopped me in my tracks and I can’t seem to move past it. The best way I can think of to thank Betty for printing the recipe is to share it with as many people as I can. It’s got crunch, sweetness, and a moist cakey texture that is delicious.

Pineapple Nut Bread

1 and 3/4 c. flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 c. chopped macadamia nuts or walnuts

3/4 c. packed brown sugar

3 Tbsp. butter, softened

2 eggs

1 c. crushed pineapple, undrained

2 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ loaf pan. Sift together dry ingredients. Stir in nuts.

Cream brown sugar, butter, and eggs. Stir in dry ingredients (mixture will be dry); fold in pineapple. Pour into loaf pan.

Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over loaf. Bake 50-60 minutes.

You’re welcome.

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Please note, I didn’t check my macadamia nuts for freshness and I made the loaf with rancid ones. Sooo gross. I had to spit out that first bite. It was actually my only bite.

I hope in these weeks leading up to the release of House of the Hanging Jade that I can provide you with a few more Hawaiian-style recipes that you’ll find delicious, too. In the meantime, here are those social media links I was telling you about:

Webiste: www.amymreade.com

Blog: www.amreade.wordpress.com

Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/Amy-M.-Reade/e/B00LX6ASF2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Goodreads author page: www.goodreads.com/author/show/8189243.Amy_M_Reade

Facebook: www.facebook.com/amreadeauthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/readeandwrite

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/amreade

Tumblr: www.amymreade.tumblr.com

And here’s one more thing I want to tell you about: it’s called Thunderclap, and it’s like an online flash mob. I’ve set one up for the release of the book. It’s easy to participate, and I hope you’ll consider supporting me. You just click on this link: http://thndr.me/RgNkzh and sign up to support House of the Hanging Jade through your Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr account. It doesn’t cost you a cent and Thunderclap doesn’t share your information or do any other nasty thing. On April 26th, release day, a blurb hits your feed that says you support the House of the Hanging Jade Book Birthday.

Once you sign up, let me know in the comments below and I’ll enter you to win a paperback copy of House of the Hanging Jade. Even if you don’t win, you’ll still get my undying thanks.

Until next week,

Amy

 

 

 

Meet Sally Cronin

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Please welcome Sally Cronin, author of a short stories, a copious and impressive blog, novels, and a number of books on health, wellness, weight loss, and media training. Her most recent book is called Tales from the Garden. I’m particularly thrilled to have Sally on Reade and Write because she is a tireless and selfless promoter of other authors.

Hi, Sally!

Thank you so much Amy for inviting me along today to talk about my books and blog.

Tell me about your new book.

My latest book is a collection of fairy stories called Tales from the Garden and the stories cover the usual fairy story themes of love won and lost, evil witches and handsome princes.

Tales From the Garden small- Cover

Who is the audience for the book?

Judging by the comments it would seem that fairy stories appeal to all ages and I was surprised by the reaction from men and women when they read the stories originally on my blog. It would seem that ‘Happy Ever After’ is still popular.

I love “Happy Ever After” stories. 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?

The setting is primarily my garden here in Spain in the mountains to the north of Madrid. Most people assume that Spain is hot the entire year but being at 900 metres we have alpine weather. At night in the winter it can be minus four to five but in the wind shade, with the sun out, you can sit out and tan. The garden reflects this with evergreens and colour most of the year around. We bought the house 17 years ago and the original owners had collected stone statues that were dotted around the garden and sometimes hidden in the hedges.

We have the house on the market and apart from the glorious weather and views, I will miss the large figures that are far too heavy to take with us. I realised that if I created stories for each of them, I could take those with me instead. I did do some historical research on the area in general for some of the stories based in previous centuries but apart from that it was just letting my imagination run riot.

What a charming way to take the statues with you wherever you go! What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Probably the hardest thing was to keep up to date with the photographs as there are 80 in the book. I also took some pictures when back in the UK and Ireland in gardens of my family to enhance some of the stories and also to add more snow or grey skies when needed for a story line.

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

I would love to see the book as an animated film in which case I think there would need to be a central narrator with a great voice. Someone with gravitas such as Patrick Stewart… Captain Pickard from Star Trek… Make it so!

Tell me about the other books you’ve written.

I published my first book in the late 90s based on my weight loss and the programme I designed to lose that weight. Size Matters is now in its fourth edition and Ebook. This was followed by three other health books: Just Food For Health which is one for the whole family, Forget the Viagra; Pass me a Carrot which is a men’s health manual, and Turning Back the Clock which is an anti-aging guide. My fiction is a romantic comedy for ladies of a certain age called Just an Odd Job Girl and a collection of short stories – Flights of Fancy and Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story, the book co-authored by our Rough Collie. I also have a Media Training guide that I have used in my training consultancy in the UK.  They have all been converted to Eversions in the last 18 months which has been a great opportunity to promote them again.

You must be a very busy woman. Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

Actually only a personal one. My husband is a book designer and we work closely together not only on my own books, which David reads and adds constructive feedback, but also for our authors we work with.

Do you write every day?

I do write every day but not always on my current book. I find that particularly with books on health it helps to take a break and write in a different style with a more creative topic. I post on my blog at least once a day and if I am promoting another author it is more likely to be twice a day.

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

I was weaned on Wilbur Smith and fell in love with epic novels that brought terrific characters and adventures together. I am currently reading Bernard Cornwell again, alternating between Viking novels and Sharpe. That will probably keep me busy for a couple of years!  I also love books that explore our origins so have Jean M. Auel, author of the Clan of the Cave Bear and the rest of her books in the series about Ayla in hard and paperback.

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

We have travelled a lot in the last thirty-six years and I also lived in South Africa, Malta and Ceylon as a child. We have lived abroad for 22 years of our marriage although I have been back and forth to the UK for extended periods to look after my mother. Once we move back to Ireland we have one more long haul trip to make and that is to take the train across the Rockies in Canada, visiting friends and family and taking in that stunning scenery.

It sounds like your own life would provide you with lots of ideas for books and stories, both fiction and non-fiction. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t force yourself to write in a genre because you think it will sell better than another. Your first book should be about something you are passionate about, understand and can communicate well. Once you have finished the writing… At the very least spell check and then if you feel you cannot edit yourself find someone who can. If you cannot afford to pay an editor then check your local colleges or university for someone who is majoring in English or your native language; see if they will take the book on as part of their course. Read and read again and it helps if you read out loud to establish how the narrative flows. Then decide how you are going to publish the book but do not be too disappointed if you do not get an agent or mainstream publisher. That may happen if your first book is successful in time. These days there are plenty of ‘how to’ blogs and books that will guide you into self-publishing especially in Ebooks. Nothing should stop you if that is what you really want.

What is your favorite movie and why?

I have loved the movies since early childhood from “Lawrence of Arabia” through to “Mama Mia.”  If I had to pick a movie that I can watch at a drop of a hat, “The Last of the Mohicans” would be the one. From the opening scene as the three men chase a stag through the forest to the last scene as they look out over the changing world they now face, it keeps the pace and flow beautifully. The cast is magnificent with Daniel Day Lewis in the lead role, the script is brilliant and the music superb. You cannot beat an incredible story brought to life with exceptional direction and acting.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

That the decisions that you make on the spur of the moment can have long lasting effects on your life but that is not necessarily a bad thing. And to be grateful for what you have and delighted when you get more than you thought possible.

Describe yourself in three words.

Writing, music and chocolate.

A woman after my own heart! Can you see yourself doing what you are right now for the rest of your life?

Absolutely. I would like to publish a book at 100 years old and still be able to make people laugh.

Where can readers connect with you?

My blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

Social Media: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1
https://twitter.com/sgc58
https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin
https://www.facebook.com/sallygeorginacronin
https://plus.google.com/+SallyCronin/about

Where can readers find your books?

All my books can be found via my Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2.

Also I have my own bookstore and the books are slightly cheaper there links can be found along with reviews. https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books/.

Thank you again Amy for your hospitality.

And thank you, Sally, for your thoughtful and inspiring responses to my questions. I’ve loved having you on Reade and Write.

Until next week,

Amy

P.S. My end-of-winter newsletter is now out! You can view it by clicking here. If you haven’t signed up to receive it yet via email, click here. All my subscribers are entered for a chance to win a Hawaiian Swag Bag to celebrate the release of House of the Hanging Jade. Void where prohibited.

 

 

 

Book Recommendation: Rooftops of Tehran

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You probably knew this was coming, since I posted part of it accidentally over a week ago, but now I’ve written more than just the first two paragraphs.

What first drew me to the book Rooftops of Tehran was its cover and the beautiful title font. But once I started reading, I quickly realized the cover isn’t the only beautiful thing about the book.

Mahbod Seraji has written a haunting story about a small circle of friends living in Tehran in the mid-1970s. At the center of the circle is Pasha, a young man with lots of questions, ideas, and conflicting dreams. The story follows Pasha through a trying time in his life, a time which makes him question everything, including whether he wants to be part of his own future- the future planned for him by his parents and other family members.

Tehran in the 1970s is a turbulent place to be. Pasha and his best friend, Ahmed, spend much of the summer on the roof of Pasha’s house. Sleeping and spending time on the roof is a common practice in that city to escape the heat and dust and noise. They talk about books and neighbors and girls, but mostly girls. And in particular, two girls- Zari and Feheemeh. Feheemeh is the love of Ahmed’s life, but it’s Zari who has captured Pasha’s heart. Unfortunately, Zari has been betrothed since birth to another friend of Pasha.

It’s the relationship between Pasha and Zari, and their respective feelings for her betrothed, Doctor, that makes this story heartbreaking, shocking, and beautiful. One fateful night, Pasha unwittingly attracts the attention of the Shah’s secret police, leading to a series of events which will forever alter the course of Pasha’s life.

The suspense initially comes from the back-and-forth of the storytelling. Part of the tale is told in the present from a psychiatric hospital, part in the recent past in Pasha’s Tehran alley. From the hints given in the present, the reader knows something horrible has happened to Pasha. The present and the past come closer and closer together until they collide in an electrifying event that suddenly makes Pasha’s presence in the hospital achingly clear.

But the suspense builds from that moment and Pasha’s release from the hospital is not the end of the story. The reader continues to follow Pasha through his halting recovery, wondering what the future holds for someone as broken as he is.

I can’t say any more without giving away the ending, but I can highly recommend the book. I’m so glad I read it. I hope you’ll check it out, too.

Until next week,

Amy

P.S. I’m working on my next newsletter, which should be out in a few weeks. If you haven’t joined my mailing list, click here to sign up. I’ll be doing a giveaway in the next newsletter to celebrate the upcoming release of my next novel, House of the Hanging Jade.

Book Club Resources

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I’ve got book clubs on my mind this week. My first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House, is being discussed at the inaugural meeting of a local book club during March and they’ve invited me to attend (woo hoo!). Once the meeting is over I think I’ll join the book club (because I already know I love their taste in books).

Recently I tried to join a pop-up book club which meets at a hotel about a half hour from my house. They meet for three months a year and this year the topic is Ernest Hemingway. They’re reading The Sun Also Rises by the man himself, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, and Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck. Alas, the book club was full by the time I heard about it, so I’m on the wait list and it doesn’t look like they’re going to have any open slots for me. I’ll just have to make sure I join early next year.

You may remember a while back I mentioned I was writing book club questions for my new novel, House of the Hanging Jade (coming out in about three months!). They’ll be in the back of the book. I also composed lists of discussion questions for Secrets of Hallstead House and The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, though those questions are not in the books– they’ll be going up on my website instead. While I was researching book clubs and discussion questions, I came across some useful and interesting websites. I thought I would share them with you in case you’re part of a book club and are looking for discussion ideas. They’re even good if you’re not in a book club and just want a way to dig deeper into a book you’re reading.

  1. The best site I found was for the Westfield Memorial Library in Westfield, NJ. It has an extensive list of discussion questions for fiction. You can find the list here: http://www.wmlnj.org/bookclubkits/generalquestionsfiction.asp.
  2. Another great site is https://multcolib.org/talk-it-book-groups-kids. It’s billed as a list for a kids’ book group, but I think the questions are great for anyone, adults or children.
  3. Here’s another: http://classiclit.about.com/od/bookclubs/a/aa_bcquestions.htm.
  4. This is a good one, though you have to scroll down to find the sample discussion questions: https://www.bookbrowse.com/bookclubs/advice/index.cfm/fuseaction/diy_guides.

I’ve also composed a list of a few good websites to find discussion questions for non-fiction books. You’ll note the first website is familiar–the Westfield Memorial Library again!

  1. http://www.wmlnj.org/bookclubkits/generalquestionsnonfiction.asp.
  2. http://www.bellinghampubliclibrary.org/yourlibrary/specialcollections/bellinghamreads/Reading%20Guides/General%20NF%20Bio%20Discussion%20Questions.pdf.
  3. http://lagrangelibrary.org/lagrange/images/general%20questions.pdf (this list contains questions for both fiction and non-fiction).

Want to know my favorite place to look for discussion questions? Go right to the source–the author! If there isn’t a list of discussion questions at the end of a book, email the author or visit his or her website to ask if there are any questions he or she could suggest for your book club. Trust me, the author will love it!

Do you have any resources you’d like to share?

Until next week,

Amy

Need Last-Minute Gift Ideas?

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This year I’ve noticed something a little unusual on social media. With each passing day, there are more and more posts by people who can’t seem to get into the spirit of Christmas. Now, I know not all of you celebrate Christmas, but since I do, this is something that’s caught my attention.

It seems there are more than a few people who aren’t interested in decorating, baking, shopping, going to parties, hosting parties, singing carols, you name it. And many of them say the same thing: this year they just aren’t interested. Their apathy reminds me of a short story I read online recently by Nancy W. Gavin (to read the wonderful story yourself, click here). The story is about a man who didn’t like the commercialism of Christmas. He thought it was all too much– too much money, too much stuff, too much everything. So his wife came up with a solution. Every year she secretly invested in one thoughtful gift which would benefit a person or a group of people who were in need of help. Eventually, that one gift, which she shared with him and their children on Christmas morning in a white envelope tucked among the branches of the Christmas tree, became the gift the family most looked forward to opening.

Reading the story got me thinking about the post I wanted to write for today’s blog. With Christmas just ten days from tomorrow, time is getting short for buying stuff, having it shipped, wrapping it, etc. But ten days is plenty of time to think about opportunities out there for giving to those who are in need. Today’s post highlights just a few places you can visit online and in person to give a helping hand.

First, start local. Many communities have food banks which always need donations of food, toiletries, and school supplies. In my community, the grocery stores, churches, schools, and other organizations have food drives. Many of those same institutions also have “mitten trees,” which don’t collect just mittens, but all kinds of cold weather gear, including hats, gloves, scarves, and even coats.

Second, many local organizations have an angel tree, sometimes called a giving tree. Instead of ornaments hung on the tree, there are tags with the gender, age, size, and a few wish list items of a person in need (usually a child, but not always). You simply take one or more tags, pick up a gift or two for the person on the tag, and return the gifts, usually unwrapped, to the place where you got the tag. These angel trees are a great way to help families who might not otherwise be able to provide their children with any Christmas gifts.

Third, go online and find a charity that needs your help. Some people like to give to the same charity every year, some like to mix it up a little. Whichever you prefer, there are about a gazillion charities to choose from. A good place to start is Give Well, which gives online visitors a primer in charitable giving. A valuable site if you want to make a charitable donation is Charity Navigator, which has a pretty cool tool for rating charities from around the world. The navigator scores charities based on objective data on financial performance, accountability, and transparency.

So now that I’ve listed the basics I think are important, let me suggest a few places which could use your help.

How about an organization which provides service animals? Check out 4 Paws for Ability.

Want to help defeat cancer? Check out Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

Disaster relief? Try International Relief Teams.

There are so many organizations out there that need help, not only at this time of year, but every single day. I encourage you to check out Charity Navigator to have a look at the sheer number of charities seeking financial assistance.

And if you can’t provide financial assistance, how about reading holiday favorites to kids at the local library? How about visiting a nursing home and offering to play carols on the piano for residents? How about volunteering to ring the bell for the Salvation Army? There are lots of things you can do without having to open your wallet if you can’t do that this year.

If your holiday spirit has gone missing or if it just needs a kick-start, try visiting some of the places I’ve mentioned. Because sometimes it’s the act of helping others that puts people in the spirit of Christmas. After all, that’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it? And if you find that missing holiday spirit? Share it with someone!

Until next week,

Amy

P.S. Show an author some holiday love! Is there a local author you like? Contact him or her and ask to buy an autographed copy of one or more books. I guarantee that author will be thrilled to accomodate you! And ahem, I know of one author in particular whose books make great gifts, in my humble opinion. Here’s her website, check it out: amymreade.com. Just sayin’.