Blog Tour: Gus Kenney

You  might remember today’s guest from a post back in March of this year. Gus Kenney is the author of The Changeling and the Cupboard and The Complications of Being Lucy, among other books, and he’s here again to discuss his newest work, Traitor’s Niece, Book Three in The Complications of Being Lucy series.

Tell us about your new book, Gus.  

Traitor’s Niece: The Complications of Being Lucy Book 3 is categorized as Sci Fi/Fantasy / Action & Adventure / Folklore & Legend / Fantasy & Magic. Here’s a blurb:

Sever all ties.

Lucy is a pawn. A dark means to a deadly end.

An enemy, burning with centuries of betrayal, has made the opening move to shatter an already divided empire. His first step, the slaying of one of Lucy’s guardians. Broken with grief and compelled by rage, Lucy embarks on a journey of vengeance to the shadowed and forgotten corners of the five lands. With those she has left by her side, sacrifices will be made to bring her closer to retribution but only if she doesn’t succumb to the manipulations of a ruthless enemy first.

Buy Link: http://smarturl.it/traitorsNieceb3

Author Bio

Gus lives in western New York with his amazing wife and five four legged children. He decided he wanted to be a writer when he realized that he could never be a spy as good as Timothy Dalton’s Bond and that Hired Sword was not part of any growth industry. When he is not semi-busy writing, he spends his time pretending he knows what he is doing at a nine-to-five job and the rest of it complaining that it is taking way too long for them to start showing new episodes of his favorite cartoons. If you’re bored, or just a creeper, you can check out the insanity that doesn’t make it into his books on his social media outlets.

Author Links

https://www.facebook.com/gus.kenney

https://www.facebook.com/Lucybison/

https://www.twitter.com/LucyBison

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/telleroftalesoflucy

https://www.instagram.com/lucybison/

http://linkedin.com/in/gus-kenney-3599a2138

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13628983.Gus_Kenney

https://www.amazon.com/Gus-Kenney/e/B00UPGZ7SY/

http://bit.ly/ComplicationsOfBeingLucySeries

Email: guskenney@yahoo.com

Other Books In the series:

The Changeling and The Cupboard (The Complications of Being Lucy Book 1)

http://smarturl.it/CompOfLucyBk1

The Changeling and the Borrowed Family (The Complications of Being Lucy Book 2)

http://smarturl.it/CompOfLucyBk2

Care to share an excerpt with us?

“I feel bad for them.” I whispered to Frankie.

“Why?” He screwed up his eye as he pushed his glasses up his nose.

“Spending their whole life trapped in a fake world and having to constantly be under harsh scrutiny. Feeling like they have to act a certain way in front of total strangers. Not free to be themselves.” I shrugged. “Not to mention their diet.”

“I guess.” Frankie consented my point. “Sounds like it would be better to be locked up like an animal than be a popular kid.”

We watched as Regina and her clique posed by the fence while a trainer led a zebra over to stand behind them. They took multiple pictures with their phones of the animal they had been allowed to feed the watchful eye of the zoo staff while the rest of us got to hear all the interesting facts about the creature. So far they were leading the class in animal interactions, mostly in regard to things that were either very safe or cute. The teacher, a sucker to their machinations, let it happen as long as the other students turned down the opportunity to do it first. There were none that dared oppose them. It was only because kids from other schools that were touring the zoo today getting to the pens, cages, or habitats first that prevented Regina’s monopoly of feedings and petting.

“Trust me. I know what I’m talking about.” A fun phrase that I didn’t feel I often got to use on Frankie. “Popularity is overrated. Right, Palmer?”

Frankie and I glanced around and found the boy standing by the otter tank where we had been ten minutes ago. With the popular kids demanding the most attention, they congregated at the head of the tour and the rest of the class trailed behind like a comet of social hierarchy. Frankie, Palmer and I were at the back like little pieces of debris that get pulled from the trail when the comet’s flight takes it too close to an object of immense gravity. Right now that object, for Palmer at least, was otters.

“Buddy system.” I reminded Frankie, and he trudged over to get his friend. Uncle Mort turned around from his post amidst a few of the other parents and gave me a concerned look. I didn’t know if it was concern for my well-being or his own dissatisfaction with the situation. Mingling with the other adults he was forced to endure conversations about parenting woes, pro sports stories, job worries, and other problems faced by normal people. I managed a weak smile and this seemed to pacify him slightly. I almost felt bad for getting him involved with the field trip. I thought it might be fun going to the zoo, as I had never done so before, and he had been insistent that I travel nowhere, school function or otherwise, without him. Luckily for me the school was trying to save the money for getting us a bus and had parents volunteer to chaperone and drive. It had all worked out until we actually got here. The whispers and comments started quickly as my guardian, the mortician, joined us and his stern personality sealed my fate as forever a target of ridicule. He had asked me once after one particular comment reached his ears if I wanted him to speak to the teacher, since he was not prepared to assault a child in front of witnesses(his words), and I told him it wasn’t necessary. In truth it would only make things worse.

But worse came when I saw the animals and felt bad for their situation. It seemed that the first ten years of my life had been spent in a cage and some of these majestic creatures had been incarcerated long before I was born. They looked depressed and broken of spirit. Made me wish I could set them free like me. That’s a lie, I reminded myself. I was only living the illusion of freedom. As long as no one found out who I was then I was safe and free to live my life as my family saw fit. Monthly reports from Lord Cid’s adviser so far reported the illusion was holding. Just like the illusion that the animals around me were happy.

“He says he doesn’t agree with you.” Frankie said, walking back with Palmer in tow. It took me a moment to recall what we had just been talking about.

“Is that so?” I looked Palmer up and down, from his buzzed head to his ragged shoes.

“Yes.” He admitted. It was the longest conversation I had ever had with the boy.

“Well, you’re entitled to your opinion.”

“That’s it.” Frankie sounded shocked. “You normally argue with me whenever I say something in opposition to your ideas.”

“That’s because you’re my friend and therefore available to friendly discussions and disagreements about our views. Palmer is your friend and not privy to such treatments from me.” I informed my stunned friend.

“So because he is not your friend you aren’t going to disagree with him?”

“No. I’m not going to argue with him about his opinion because it doesn’t matter to me.” I glanced at Palmer and his face betrayed no sign of caring what I was saying about him. Clearly he shared my opinion on some level.

“But mine does?” Frankie scratched his head of unruly hair. “Because I matter to you?” He left it as a question which meant it was up to me to answer it or not. I decided not to since Frankie tended to draw his own conclusions. “I don’t think it works that way.”

“How about we go into the reptile house and discuss it?” I suggested, veering toward the enclosure in the center of the zoo. The class was being split up as the skittish and not surprisingly popular kids put up a fuss about dealing with the creatures contained within the building. The teacher left a few parents in charge of the group going inside and I whisked in behind them quickly. “Maybe you can find John Smith a girlfriend.”

“I think he would prefer a domesticated partner.” Frankie said, already excitedly running up to the first habitat he saw.

“You should mention that to your mom and dad and see what they say.” I laughed on the inside at the fun Cecilia and Tim would have with their son on the topic. I was unsure if my friend even heard me as his eyes were glazed in wonder at the large creatures piled up within their own coils in multiple enclosures. My fear of snakes had diminished thanks to Frankie’s pet python but being in a room full of them made me squirm as much as they did. I abandoned my friend to look at a few tanks full of turtles. Nice safe turtles. When I got bored watching them just look like parts of the scenery, I turned to find my friend. The room was mostly empty except for a man standing by the exit. I wasn’t sure if he had just arrived or was just leaving, but his presence was alarming to me. Not because of the large nose on his face or the tough look of his skin; it was simply because the Troll was looking at me with what felt like above average interest. I looked away to see if Uncle Mort had noticed him and discovered that he was not in the room.

Trying for calm and orderly, I went to the adjoining room and found the class and some adults, but still no uncle. He must be with the others, I grumbled in my head. How he would let that happen was a mystery, however I it put from my mind when I realized that the troll had followed me. I settled on finding Frankie and hurried to him.

“Do you recognize that guy?” I hissed in his ear and tried to not look obvious as I pointed the man out with a jerk of my head.

“No.” Frankie shook his head. “Do you think I know every Fey?”

“No. Just the famous ones.” And I was relieved that the Troll wasn’t one of them. “How do you approach someone that is probably glamoured?”

“You want to know how to go talk to a total stranger?” Frankie asked, and it made me feel like an idiot for even voicing the question. I had always figured that the Heralds had some kind of protocol, statute, or heck even a hand shake that let each of them know they were dealing with one of their own in the world outside the mounds. But Frankie was right, if you didn’t know them, why approach? And if you needed to you were probably someone of authority.

“Let’s go get my uncle.” I whispered and pulled Frankie from the class.

“Why? He is probably just some guy here to look at the–oh. Nope.” His eyes got huge in the refraction of his thick glasses as he saw, at the same moment I did, the shadow of a blade that appeared in the Troll’s hand. “Should we walk slowly and casually toward the exit?”

“I…” I shot a quick look to the man as Frankie and I angled from the group and around the central display, putting it between us and the Troll for a moment. He carelessly bumped an adult from another group of students and didn’t utter an apology. They say manners cost nothing but in this case it cost the Troll the illusion of being there on friendly terms. “No.” I took a deep breath to ready myself for what was to come next. “Run!”

I needn’t tell Frankie twice. He burst away from me in a blur that took me by surprise; much as seeing the Troll aggressively shoving people out of his path as he took chase. Knowing that looking back only impeded my progress, I focused on the distant exit and Frankie’s back, which I was gaining on. I caught up with him as the floor beneath us buckled and folded. Several people in the reptile house shouted in surprise at the tremors felt. I tripped over a piece of rock that suddenly jutted through the tile, skinning my knee when I hit the floor. I hissed in pain but knew better than to lay there. The Troll had managed to gain ground once the shifting ground settled back down.

“Ow.” Frankie moaned as I yanked him to his feet and we continued racing for the exit. By now several bodies were piled against it, sounding panicked.

“Capricorn.” I discovered the panic was because the frame had been crumpled in the Art induced quake and the heavy wooden doors would not budge.

“This way.” Frankie tugged my hand and I didn’t fight him as I thought he was leading me toward another exit. I didn’t see one beneath the dark shadows that formed when many of the light fixtures shook loose or just blew a bulb. “Sorry.”

“Oh no.” It dawned on me too late where Frankie was dragging me and I would never have been able to slow down anyway. “Nononononono!”

The senses-deadening darkness of the world inside the shadows swept over me as I was unwillingly shifted for the first time in almost a year. I thought my fear had peaked at running from a strange and hostile Troll, but being pulled into the land that Crouchers roamed ramped it up to nauseous levels. In times past I had, under my own volition, used Frankie’s ability to Shadow Shift to get places I needed to in a hurry. It had been uncomfortable and disconcerting every time, but being dragged into the darkness made the old fears of the first time I had shifted swell up in a suffocating wave that turned my insides nearly out. Blissfully, it lasted only a second and we were soon running (mostly Frankie dragging me for the first delirious steps) from the shadows just outside a thick canopy near the reptile house. My eyes screamed a discomfort to match my stomach as they adjusted and I searched for direction in the crowded zoo.

“Where’s your uncle?” Frankie asked the question I had been screaming in my head. I had a vague idea of where the tour was supposed to progress but quickly realized that we were running the wrong way. I jerked Frankie to a stop, needing a moment to catch my breath and explain. Before I could open my mouth to do more than suck air, the doors to the building we just fled exploded outward and the Troll came rushing toward us.

Thanks for stopping by, Gus! Best wishes with your new release.

Until next time,

Amy

 

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Author Spotlight: Iris Chacon

Good Tuesday morning! Today on Reade and Write I welcome Iris Chacon, another member of Mystery Authors International. You may remember recently I featured another MAI author, Nicole Fitton (you can read that post here). Iris is here to talk about her book Duby’s Doctor.

Take it away, Iris!

When he can steal time away from his undercover assignment (as an arms dealer’s bodyguard), Agent Yves Dubreau jogs with all the other muscular Coconut Grove athletes. He enjoys the morning tai chi group in Peacock Park, and he quietly remains on the fringes of the Grove’s art scene — until he blows his cover and gets himself murdered. When resuscitated, he is a scarred, nameless giant with no memories, no language, and only his drawings with which to communicate. Of course, he still has the same deadly enemies he had in his former life; he just doesn’t know it. Neither does naive, lady surgeon, Dr. Mitchell Oberon. Soon, Duby’s unscrupulous supervisor forces the unsuspecting Mitchell to shelter this recovering “John Doe” in her home and begin teaching him how to live again. Both Duby and Dr. Oberon will learn a lot about living— they just may not be living long. A murderous arms dealer will soon be stalking them.

Tell us about the inspiration for the book.

Duby’s story was inspired by the landscapes, art culture, elaborate mansions, and live-aboard sailboats of Coconut Grove. For years I passed through the magical Grove community on my way to work in the high-rise offices of Miami. The unique aura and ambiance of the Grove always launched my imagination into a happy stratosphere of quirky characters and exotic locations. Sometimes the girls in my carpool would simply stop in the Grove and watch the panoply of beautiful people (mostly male) passing by. Thus, a secret agent, who lived on a boat and worked undercover in an arms dealer’s mansion, was born. And if he lived in Coconut Grove, he had to be an artsy type, so Agent Yves Dubreau, a/k/a Duby, became a talented sketcher and painter.

Got an excerpt you can share with us?

Sure. Here’s the context: Mitchell picks up John/Jean from his maintenance job at St. Luke’s Daycare.

“He’ll be right out,” the nun said. “He’s all right. We were just cleaning him up. It looked worse than it is. The bleeding seems to have stopped—”

“Bleeding?”

“—and the paramedics said—”

“Paramedics?”

“—they don’t think Mister Kavanaugh’s ribs are broken, just bruised—”

“Who?”

“—and the police said, since nobody seems to want to press charges, — ”

“Police?”

“—that we can just forget about it. Of course, Jean had to be punished for hitting—”

“Hitting?”

“—so he had to run laps. And that started the nosebleed again. But everything’s all right now. Here he is.”

Jean limped out of the back room, holding a bloodied washcloth against his nose.

Sister Elizabeth sighed. “It’s been an exciting day.”

Mitchell studied Jean from head to toe, incredulous. She pointed at his swollen left knee. “You ran on concrete? And hitting? You were hitting! The children?”

“Oh, dear, no!” said Sister Elizabeth. “He was hitting Mister Kavanaugh.”

Mitchell stared at Sister Elizabeth and back at Jean. “You ran on concrete and you hit Mister Kavanaugh? Who is Mister Kavanaugh?”

“Debbie’s father,” answered Sister Elizabeth.

Mitchell was looking at Jean. “Excuse me, Sister, but unless Kavanaugh cut his tongue out, I’d like to hear Johnny answer something. John, why did you hit Debbie’s father?”

Jean pulled the washcloth away from his face to say, “He hits Debbie.”

After a pause, Mitchell muttered, “I told you never to run on the concrete.”

Ooh, sounds good. Thanks for visiting today, Iris, and best wishes with Duby’s Doctor!

Iris’ bio:

Iris Chacon has written for radio, television, motion pictures, and magazines for more than 30 years. She has taught writing-related courses at Christian schools from grade 5 through college, and she has worked as a musician. Duby’s Doctor is her fifth novel, and it carries on the Chacon tradition of good, clean fun, mystery, humor, romance, and a “sunshine state of mind.” Iris hails from the Sunshine State, Florida, where her ancestors have lived since Florida was a Spanish colony, before the United States existed. She is working on her next novel, which incorporates many of the adventures she has enjoyed in the American Southwest.

And here’s where you can find Iris online:

Website: https://www.authoririschacon.com

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

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/IrisChacon1371

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2kmLxAq

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8551298.Iris_Chacon

Smashwords Author Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/guatemom578

Thanks for visiting Reade and Write, Iris!

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Ritter Ames

Today on Reade and Write I welcome Ritter Ames for our special Fourth of July edition of the Author Spotlight. Ritter is the author of two mystery series: The Bodies of Art Mysteries and the Organized Mysteries (I need to run, not walk, to get this series. Organization is often a mystery to me). She’s here today to discuss her most recent release, Fatal Forgeries. Glad to have you here, Ritter!

Tell me about your new book.

My June 2017 release is Fatal Forgeries, the fourth book in the Bodies of Art Mysteries. It begins with my main character, Laurel Beacham, in the process of rescuing a stolen masterpiece—then everything goes sideways and she scrambles to find a way to get things back on-track.

Who is the audience for the book?

Anyone who likes to read fast paced books with smart characters, quick dialogue, art crime, and amazing settings.

Speaking of amazing settings, 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?

London acts as kind of the hub for this series of novels. In each title, however, the crimes take my characters to different European locations as Laurel and her crew track the masterpieces and the master criminals. For Fatal Forgeries, the action runs from London to Barcelona and back.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Figuring out the title each time, and deciding how Laurel is going to lose her luggage.

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

In a perfect world, I’d love Grace Kelly to play Laurel and Cary Grant to play Jack. I have an idea for contemporary actors for both, but I think I’ll just leave it at that.

Tell us about your other books. 

There are three more books in the Bodies of Art Mystery series, and two books published in the Organized Mysteries, with another to be released soon. I also have another Organized Mystery I’ll be releasing in the coming months, and the first in a new cozy series will be out by the end of the year.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

Not anymore. I’ve been in three different groups through the years, but between beta readers, my editors, and just really kind of being a veteran of these series by now, I’m out of the group mindset.

Do you write every day?

Yes. A minimum of 1000 words, no matter how hard it is to get them written in a chaotic day. Usually I average about 5000 words a day.

What authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?

I’m a very eclectic reader, but mysteries are my overall go-to. This summer I’m rereading the Jackson Brodie series by Kate Atkinson, but since the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter just passed I’m really tempted to reread that series, too. One author I now have to read as soon as possible is Christopher Fowler, but there are truly too many to name. I dearly love reading series fiction—whatever the genre. When I get invested in characters I want to always know what happens to them next.

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

Switzerland. I’ve never made it there for some reason, but I’ve dreamed about going to that country since the fourth grade.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Just write. There will always be someone or something that will try to say you can’t do it. Don’t listen. Anything can be improved with revision, but you must get it written first.

What is your favorite movie and why?

Oh, that’s tough. There are three movies I can think of that I ALWAYS sit down and view again when they come on the schedule—no matter how many times I’ve already watched them: His Girl Friday with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, Ocean’s Eleven with Clooney & company, and Casino Royale with Daniel Craig. They’re all so different, but they each have the kinds of things I love in characters and a story—the characters are smart & brave & operate with their own personal integrity, the dialogue is fast & witty, and the stories all revolve around a stellar crime.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Start writing sooner. And take marketing courses in college!

Describe yourself in three words.

Curious, capable, constant. And no, I didn’t mean to start each word with the same letter, they just came out that way.

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

Nothing I can think of.

Where can readers connect with you?

I’m everywhere online—

My Facebook page:   https://www.facebook.com/RitterAmesBooks/

My Twitter page:      https://twitter.com/RitterAmes

My website:                http://www.ritterames.com

Where can readers find your books?

My Amazon page:         https://www.amazon.com/Ritter-Ames/e/B00I78AQEW/

Or for all booksellers:    https://ritterames.com/heres-where-to-buy-my-books/

Ritter, thank you for being my guest today. 

Amy, thanks so much for inviting me to your blog. This has been fun!

I wish everyone in the United States a happy, safe Fourth of July!

Until next time,

Amy

 

Author Spotlight: Judith Lucci, Part Deux

 

Today I welcome Judith Lucci back to Reade and Write. You may remember reading about her on this blog last December when she was promoting The Case of the Dead Dowager (you can read the interview here if you’d like).  Judith is back today to promote the release of The Crescent City Chronicles, her boxed set of three Alexandra Destephano medical thrillers.

And there’s great news…wait for it…the boxed set is only 99¢!

This is not a drill, folks.

99¢ for three fast-paced thrillers set in the Big Easy. I bought mine before I wrote this post and I can’t wait to dig into them.

Here’s a letter that Judith asked me to post for today’s blog:

Hi Everyone, I’m Judith Lucci and I write medical thrillers and crime. I’m a nurse with a doctoral degree and I have seen hundreds of patients, saved lots of lives, taught thousands of nurses and written and researched a bunch of stuff. I live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I love my family, painting, writing and all things DOG. I have five of them and they run my life and my home. I think my greatest strength as an author is using my medical knowledge to create unique ways to develop plots and kill people. Anyway, I’m here today, as Amy knows, because I need to sell 6,000 books to make the USA Today Best Sellers List.

I have created a boxed set of my first three medical thrillers, Crescent City Chronicles, Alexandra Destephano Novels Books 1-3 and it’s currently available right now for .99. It’s available EVERYWHERE at http://bit.ly/CCCPreRelease.

Here’s the blurb:  Exciting, dramatic hospital stories set in the Big Easy featuring Virginia -born nurse-attorney Alexandra Destephano, a New Orleans Police Commander and Alex’s former husband, a famous surgeon and a world-renown psychiatrist.  Books feature romantic suspense, malpractice, elements of the supernatural, political intrigue and the work of a grisly serial killer.  Anyway, once again here’s the link: http://bit.ly/CCCPreRelease.

Take care and have a fun, safe summer.

Judith

So let’s help Judith make that bestsellers list, shall we? Good luck, Judith!

Until next week,

Amy

 

 

 

 

Author Spotlight: Linda Berry

Today’s guest author is Linda Berry, whose new book, Pretty Corpse, was recently released. It’s getting fantastic reviews on Amazon and I’m honored to have Linda here today to talk about the book. The subject matter of the story is a little out of my comfort zone, but in Linda’s capable hands I think I’m going to enjoy it. I invite you to share your comments at the end of the post, but please note that Linda is very busy this week with promotion and other activities and may not be able to respond right away.

Tell us about Pretty Corpse.

The year is 1999. A serial rapist is targeting teen girls in San Francisco. While on patrol, Officer Lauren Starkley discovers one of the victims, and she’s shocked to find out the girl is a close friend of her daughter. The case instantly becomes intensely personal. Because she isn’t a detective, Lauren is restricted from investigating, but she does so nonetheless on her own time. Lauren has an uncanny ability to find obscure clues and link them together. Her relentless pursuit of the rapist draws her deeper into his world. He in turn, starts getting closer to Lauren and her daughter. Lauren needs to lure him out of hiding, fast, before her daughter becomes his next victim.

Your novels are filled with an interesting mix of characters. Tell us about that. 

My stories reflect the range of characters each of us knows in real life. We all have people we admire, people who threaten us or are just plain loony. I like to keep readers alert and surprised by creating several interrelated stories that and ebb and flow through the main story. We are all multi-dimensional, and have many stories happening simultaneously in our lives, and sometimes conflict erupts on many fronts. I like to get into those emotional tsunamis and explore a person’s breaking point, and how they deal with the challenge. Complex characters that are bitterly wounded or pathologically twisted are interesting to me. I like to contrast the most vile and repugnant aspects of human nature to the most heroic and noble, and throw some quirky characters in for good measure.

How did you research this police thriller?

To write authentically, I do extensive research. That doesn’t mean I let my fingers do the walking. I have to give a big thank you to the police officers at Mission Station in San Francisco in 2001, when I wrote this first draft. My research for Pretty Corpse came in the form of dozens of ride-alongs I did with various female patrol officers. I chose the night shift when the city was rife with criminal activity, and I got to see these courageous women in action. Several of my characters were inspired by the female cops I came to know, and also by the captain of the station, who gave generously of his time to help me authenticate my writing. Many of the side stories in Pretty Corpse are based on actual events relayed to me by police officers from Mission Station. 

Where do you write?

I write in a sunny office in my home overlooking a canal and peaceful wooded area. I live in Central Oregon, a resort town in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains.

You were an award-winning copywriter and art director for twenty-five years, and worked part of that time for the film industry. How did that experience shape your decision to become a novelist?

I had the privilege of collaborating with talented writers and some of the best editors in the business. I love books and have been an avid reader my entire life. I wrote novels as a passionate hobby. In fact, my three novels released this year by Winter Goose Publishing are the result of my efforts spanning a decade. Now that I’m retired, I write every day. It’s so much easier to produce good work when you can keep your train of thought moving forward, and are not constantly interrupted. 

What do you love most about your work?

I love the creative process itself—the challenge of developing and constructing plots that continually surprise the reader and hold them in a state of suspense. Writing is both a passion and a compulsion—a truly satisfying form of escape. My reward comes when a reader tells me they couldn’t put my book down and they talk about my characters as though they’re real people. Then I know I did my job well.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Happiness comes to me in many forms. Appreciation of life itself is the foundation of happiness. I find this planet miraculous, from subatomic matter to the galaxies in space. I enjoy the beauty of ecosystems, how so many forms of life—plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, insects—the smallest creature to the largest, are dependent on each other for survival. My idea of perfect happiness is living on a healthy planet where people live together in peace and are trusted guardians of nature.

What is your greatest fear?

Being impoverished, homeless, or mentally or physically impaired and dependent on others. I did undergo some terrible threats to my health six years ago. I had a bout of debilitating pain for about 8 months, which diminished my ability to enjoy life. I’m now completely recovered, and feel I’ve been given a second chance at life. The experience sharpened my awareness of how fragile life is, how it can be taken away in an instant, and how one might be forced to languish in pain for a period of time. It heightened my appreciation for the quality of life I have now, for every precious moment I’m healthy and independent.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Lack of patience. Sometimes I get caught up in the everyday demands of life, and the illusion that I don’t have enough time to do everything I want to do.  I have to remind myself at times to live in the moment, address what is happening right in front of me, and listen to people, even when I feel I’m short on time. Giving another human being a few minutes of conversation can make a huge difference in that person’s life. Kindness goes a long way.

Who in your profession do you most admire?

I read everything, and admire countless writers, from journalists to screen writers to poets to authors. I especially love mysteries, and I read an average of two books a week. If the writing is solid, and the story is well-constructed, I’ll read it regardless of genre.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Disconnecting from the world. Getting out in nature with my husband and our dog in our motorhome. I love being on a lazy schedule and disconnecting from social media, where the only decision I have to make is when to eat and what hikes to take. I can write in uninterrupted peace for hours at a time, surrounded by nature, sometimes listening to the gentle patter of rain, watching water drip off leaves. I love going to national parks, off season. We went to Bryce and Zion and Arches and the Grand Canyon two years ago. Last year we went to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, and this year we may be going to Yosemite.

On what occasion would you lie?

I don’t tell big extravagant lies, but I do tell baby lies frequently, mostly when complimenting people. For example: “no, your ass doesn’t look big in those jeans” or “you look marvelous” when in actuality, you look hungover, and you have stains on your shirt.

What do you dislike most in your work?

When I hit a brick wall and I have to stop writing, sometimes for days, while I process my story and play out different scenarios in my head. I never force the creative process. What generally helps me break through the logjam is reading. I’ll bury my nose in a good book, and before long, ideas start percolating to the surface. I also have a muse, my nail goddess, who’s held captive doing my mani/pedi for 2 hours, and I bounce ideas off her. She has a creative mind and has been a wonderful contributor to my stories for years.

When and where were you happiest in your work?

This current period in my life is the happiest. Now that I’m retired, I have the luxury of writing every day. I wake up eager to get to work. I take my coffee up to my sunny office and dig in. I believe I’m at my most happiest when my husband and I are traveling and we’re parked in a beautiful wilderness area and the peace of the place seeps into my bones. I can write with no interruption.

If you could, what would you change about myself?

I would take twenty years of physical wear and tear off my body. Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I would change nothing. If I had to lose twenty years of life experience to be in a younger body, I would say no. I’m more at peace with myself at this stage of life than I have ever been.

What is your greatest achievement in work?

Having three novels completed and coming out this year, 2017. It’s a wonderful sense of accomplishment to see the culmination of years of work and endless rewrites in a physical book. Hidden Part One and Pretty Corpse are out, and Hidden Part Two comes out in September. I’m expecting my fourth mystery, Quiet Scream, to be out in December or January.

What is your most marked characteristic?

My friendliness, and my sense of humor. I have always had a keen interest in people and I’m a good observer, passionately interested in humans and the world around me. I’m an optimist at heart, and I’ve been blessed with a jolly spirit. I enjoy socializing but the greater part of my waking life is spent in solitude, writing, reading, and doing projects.

What is your most inspirational location in your city?

I like to get out on the wilderness trails with friends and dogs. We have a beautiful river, the Deschutes, that meanders through town and its character changes every foot of the way. There are many meadows, sagebrush flats, waterfalls, and breathtaking views of the Cascade Range. The look of a wild river, the various sounds of water rushing, falling, cascading over boulders, is invigorating and soothing. Hiking clears my head of thoughts and worries and puts me in a state of peacefulness.

What is your best advice for beginning writers?

Write about something you love and then your passion will come out in your words. Write often, everyday, if possible. Read, read, read. I read one or two books a week, and I also watch movies and TV productions that tell good stories. I take notes. I have volumes of notes, and refer to them daily.

 

Watch Linda’s Youtube trailers:

Hidden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-bNoFgaD9U&t=7s

Pretty Corpse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QHSvirTYdw&feature=youtu.be

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/linda.berry.94617 

Website: www.lindaberry.net

Twitter:@LindaBerry7272

Contact: lindaberrywriter@gmail.com

Best of luck with the new book, Linda!

Until next time,

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

Spotlight: Rabbi Ilene Schneider

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Today on Reade and Write I welcome Rabbi Ilene Schneider, who is both an author and an avid reader. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a Malice Domestic convention in Bethesda, Maryland, and I’m thrilled to finally host her here. Ilene answers my questions for readers today, but I hope to have her back soon to answer my questions for writers, too!

Welcome to Reade and Write, Ilene!

How often do you read?

Constantly. When do I not read is easier to answer: when I’m talking with someone, when I’m driving, when I’m sleeping, when I’m in the shower, when I’m at the movies or a play or concert, when I’m at religious services … I can’t think of any other times I don’t read. I even read while watching TV. 

What is the name of the last book you finished?

The Cat in the Living Room, a natural and cultural history of house cats.

What are you reading now?

I just started Alexandra Sokoloff’s Huntress Moon.

What is your preferred genre?

Cozy mysteries, with ventures into natural history books (recently reread John McPhee’s Pine Barrens for the umpteenth time) and popular history (anything by Erik Larson).

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

The Cat in the Living Room.

Are you in a book club?

No.

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

Kindle. I’m addicted to it. I realized a while ago it’s not books I love but reading.

How do you decide which books to read?

Recommendations, reviews, new releases by authors I’ve enjoyed in the past, books by authors I’ve met.

What is in your To-Be-Read pile?

How much time and space do you have? 28 on my to-be-read list, 39 on my “classics” (books I may reread, including such books as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Maltese Falcon, as well as Sherlock Holmes, Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, etc.), 26 nature, history, biography, and research.

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

Yes, I want to see if any of the negative reviews contain criticisms of things I dislike, like excessively gory or gratuitous violence, explicit or gratuitous sex, lack of character development, stilted dialogue …

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

Whatever I’m currently reading. Assuming I like it to begin with.

Where is your favorite reading spot?

Wherever I am.

Anything else you want me to know?

If I have to lose a sense, I’d prefer anything but sight. I am a visual learner, so audio books won’t do it for me.

 

Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Ed.D., one of the first six women rabbis ordained in the U.S., has finally decided what she wants to be when she grows up. She retired from her day job to devote full time to writing. She is the author of the Rabbi Aviva Cohen mysteries: Chanukah Guilt, which was nominated for the Deadly Ink David Award for Best Mystery of 2007, was one of My Shelf’s 2007 Top Ten Reads, and was a Midwest Book Review Reviewers Choice Book; and Unleavened Dead, which won First Place from the Public Safety Writers Association, and was nominated for the Deadly Ink David Award for Best Mystery of 2012. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine called Unleavened Dead “… a solid, funny mystery that provides an insider’s look at Jewish life.” A resident of Marlton, NJ, near Philadelphia, she has completed  the third book in the series, Yom Killer, and is also the author of Talk Dirty Yiddish.

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Please visit her website/blog: http://rabbiauthor.com or email her at rabbi.author@yahoo.com.

Thanks for stopping by, Ilene!

Until next time,

Amy