Interview with Carla Laureano, Author of Under Scottish Stars

What can you tell us about your new release, Under Scottish Stars?

This is the third and final book in the MacDonald Family series, centering around Serena MacDonald Stewart, whom we met in the first two books but remained a little bit mysterious. Since the death of her husband five years before, she’s devoted herself completely to her two children, to the detriment of her artistic pursuits, her personal life, and her sanity. When she returns to the Isle of Skye to help oversee the family hotel in her brothers’ absence, she clashes with hotel manager Malcolm Blake, who opens her eyes to all the things that her safe and carefully managed life has been missing.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

That’s difficult to answer. I’ve always loved books, and I’ve written stories since I knew how to write. I finished my first, predictably terrible novel at sixteen, but it took another nineteen years to actually get published. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be an author. I guess I can thank my mom for all the time she spent reading to me as a preschooler!

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

You might as well ask me which is my favorite child! Let me see if I can break it down into categories to make it easier…

Favorite Childhood Novel – The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Favorite Romance Novel – Stealing Adda by Tamara Leigh
Favorite Fantasy Novel – The Well of Shades by Juliet Marillier
Favorite Inspirational Novel – Long Way Gone by Charles Martin
Favorite Mainstream Novel – A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask

I’d love to interview Beth O’Leary, British author of The Flatshare and The Switch. Her books are such a sweet spot of brightness amidst a booklist that is trending darker and more serious, and from what I can tell from her social media, I think she’d be as delightfully entertaining as her writing. I’d love to ask her inspiration for her books (two of my favorites of the last two years) and if she purposely set out to write uplifting books for our tumultuous world.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Being finished! That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the writing process (sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t) but I typically put away my book when I’m done and then pull it out a couple of months later to do the first round of edits. I love that first readthrough. I’ve forgotten enough of what I’ve written that it’s like getting to see it through a reader’s eyes for the first time. There are, of course, always things that need to be changed, but there’s something miraculous about the first time I get to read the complete story. It’s a bit like holding your baby for the first time—you forget the process of childbirth when you see the results!

What is a typical day like for you?

Lately, there’s no typical, due to having everyone home on quarantine and for the summer. But during the regular school year, I get up early, make lunches, drop my two sons off at school, and then drive home. (I call this my commute.) I then do my Pilates workout (my apparatus is in my office, so it stares at me accusingly if I skip it), make a cup of tea, and sit down at my desk with my breakfast while I read through emails and plan my day. If I’m actively writing a new book, hitting my predetermined daily word count comes first, which normally takes me between two to three hours. Otherwise, I’ll spend that time editing or plotting a new book. Then I’ll break for lunch and go back to the computer to do marketing and social media tasks. After that, it’s time to pick up the kids from school, make dinner, do chores, sometimes play a game with the family, then bedtime for everyone! No matter what, my day ends with a cup of tea with my husband on the sofa after everyone has gone to bed. Even if we’re not talking and instead reading or watching TV, it doesn’t feel right to end that day without that little time together.

What scene from Under Scottish Stars was your favorite to write?

Pretty much any flirtatious scene between Serena and Malcolm! The romantic tension was so fun to write, especially since Malcolm loves to get under Serena’s skin. But I have to say, the epilogue that wraps up the stories of all the characters in the trilogy was really satisfying as well.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

“What’s the worst that can happen?” (Given the way 2020 is going, maybe I should rethink this.) Seriously, though, I can overthink, overanalyze, and worry, and this question always helps me reframe the situation. My dad would always follow up with the statement “they can’t eat you” which used to drive me nuts as a kid, but now makes me laugh. Put in that perspective, there’s really no reason to be overly concerned about anything!

Carla Laureano is the author of the new book Under Scottish Stars.

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Interview with Michael Lechner, Author of Beautiful Prison

What can you tell us about your new release, Beautiful Prison?

Beautiful Prison is the story of my childhood when my father uprooted my family from the Florida suburbs to go live in the mountains of Idaho. The story follows the struggles my family and I experienced all due to my father being unprepared and absent. We lived miles away from anyone in a “cabin” my father built in the middle of a forest. Our residence resembled more of a shack than a cabin with no electricity, running water, or insulation. We lived on that mountain for four years, barely surviving, neglected, and abused by my father, with little to no education, food, and warmth. Beautiful Prison is our survival story, and the story of my mother’s redemption when she gained the confidence to leave her husband.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

Reading was my only form of consistent education I had growing up. When the nights came earlier in the freezing months, there was not much to do because we had no way to see except by the illumination of candles and lamps. Before we would head off to sleep for another hard day of felling trees for the next winter, I would sit by the wood stove reading books. I do not know what I would have done if I did not have my stories to keep me company. I believe my inspiration for writing my memoir is a combination of my love of books and wanting to tell my story. I have told it many times in person, each time met with either disbelief or with encouragement to write a memoir. I decided to stop attempting to disbelieve I had a messed-up childhood and write it down so I could not forget.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

I am a sucker for anything Tolkien has written. He created a fantasy world that no other author has ever come close to beating – or ever will. I used to imagine I was in Middle Earth, somewhere lost in Mirkwood with all the miles of endless trees engulfing my every minute. I could not tell you which of his books are my favorite as they are all dear to me.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask

My fascination with fantasy does not stop at Middle Earth. My first guest on my talk show would require a little bit of divination and maybe a séance. I would want to call upon the bards who wrote the story of Beowulf. My inquiry would revolve around Grendel: who/what was he? Was the story inspired by true events? Were Grendel and his mother just some poor reptiles who became a hunter’s trophies?

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I love being able to think of creative ways to explain and show my world through words. Writing is a wonderful method of sharing the beauty that is all around us.

What is a typical day like for you?

A typical day consists of going to work, exercising, relaxing with a good book, writing, and spending quality time with friends, family, and my love of my life.

What scene from Beautiful Prison was your favorite to write?

Living on the mountain was not all misery and pain. I was surrounded by unmatched beauty. I loved describing the scenery and nature that I called home.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Disadvantages are not an excuse for who you are, they are inspiration to others for how far you have come.

Michael Lechner is the author of the new book Beautiful Prison.

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Interview with Judith Keim, Author of A Summer of Surprises

What can you tell us about your new release, A Summer of Surprises?

A Summer of Surprises is a stand-alone novel that takes place at The Seashell Cottage. It is the third book released as part of the Seashell Collection. It is what is known as romantic women’s fiction in that romance is present but the story is really about the women’s growth. Readers are loving it 4.8 out of 5 star ratings on Amazon.

Here is the blurb:

Jill Conroy is tricked by her sister into becoming the housekeeper and cook for the summer at Seashell Cottage where Greg Campbell and his nephew, Brody, have been hired to do maintenance projects on the house. Annoyed at first, Jill soon realizes how wonderful it is to be away from her home in New York and the memories of her deceased, emotionally abusive husband.
Soon the magic of the beach heals Jill enough for her to decide to move to Florida permanently to make a new life for herself. Her part-time work at a summer camp and the promise of a new job as a third-grade teacher in the fall make it seem as if her future is set. But a visit from her sister, followed by her mother, reveals secrets that surprise them all. Jill learns to accept the idea of love not only from Brody but from his daughter, Kacy, as the summer brings even more surprises.

While it is a sweet story, it deals with emotional abuse for not only Jill, but for Brody’s daughter Kacy. Readers have reported back to me that they really connected with the aspect of the story.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I grew up in a household where books were read. My mother read at least 2 books a week. As a child, I played librarian with my sister and later, I loved to write stories of my own.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

Not in any particular order and only for the impact they had on me as I was growing up: Barbara Taylor Bradford’s Women of Substance, Alan Paton’s Cry, The Beloved Country, James Clavell’s Shogun, James Michener’s Hawaii, and as a young teen I read Mary Stewart and Phyllis Whitney books.

I see a theme here and realize these are books I read sitting on the porch in my small town, learning about different parts of the world when the level of communication was extremely low compared to the ease of communicating today.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I love being able to take an idea and turn it into a story, even though I don’t outline and don’t always know how things are going to turn out. I love when I know what the next scene is going to be because I’m in my character’s head and I’m letting the story play out.

What is a typical day like for you?

The first thing in the morning, I check all my numbers, answer emails, catch up on reader news, do marketing tasks. That usually takes a couple of hours. My writing work begins after that. I work every day and stop at 5 or 6, unless a promo party or some other reader group activity is taking place in the evening. During the pandemic, I’ve been trying to take a two-hour break in the afternoon to watch a movie or read a book, just to relax.

What scene from A Summer of Surprises was your favorite to write?

I loved writing the scene where Jill finds Kacy. It was a sweet, tender scene between the two of them, showing how close they’d become and how much they’d grown.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

• I always try to treat other people as I would want to be treated. Kindness is so important on many different levels.

Judith Keim is the author of the new book A Summer of Surprises.

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Interview with Meagan Brandy, Author of Be My Brayshaw

What can you tell us about your new release, Be My Brayshaw?

My love for romance novels is what drove me to write my first one!

What or who inspired you to become an author?

My go to reread is Emerge by SE Hall! A few others are Our Worlds series by Lindsey Iler, and Forever Red by Carina Adams.

What scene from Be My Brayshaw was your favorite to write?

My favorite scene would definitely have to be when the main character receives a gift he never expected.

I can’t say what it is or why it’s so important, but once you get to that spot in the story you will see why!!

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

You will never know if you don’t try! ALWAYS push for the things you want. Working hard might just get you there!

Meagan Brandy is the author of the new book Be My Brayshaw.

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Interview with Cynthia Kumanchik, Author of Automation Nation

What can you tell us about your new release, Automation Nation?

Automaton Nation is a coming-of-age novel that relates to anyone who has experienced the excitement and difficulties of a first love. The story transcends time and place where the characters must overcome insurmountable odds.

Automaton Nation is perfect for fans of Twilight and Hunger Games, where the stakes are high, love is unexpected, and characters survive in a dystopian world. Val Tate, daughter of a prominent scientist, falls in love with robotic Dat against her parents’ objections.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I’ve always liked sci-fi and YA genres. I’m intrigued with future worlds and characters that adapt and change to evolving societal values.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

Divergent series

Becoming

Game of Thrones series

Kindred

Small Great Things

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask

George RR Martin would be my first guest. How did you develop the badass character Tyrion who conquers all odds and is still very relatable?

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Escaping to other worlds through the magic of words and images.

What is a typical day like for you?

The morning starts with coffee, a walk and meditation. I dedicate a block of time for book promotion, editing and writing copy. Then in the evening I watch a good sci-fi movie for new ideas.

What scene from Automation Nation was your favorite to write?

I enjoyed writing the first chapter where Dat is introduced as one of the new Model 500 series at the governor’s Gala, showing his robotic and human tendencies. The reader is inside his mind as he becomes attracted to a young woman, the daughter of the prominent scientist who created him, yet disgusted by the influential people who inspect him like an object. Dat charms his prospective buyers by speaking French and is quickly purchased. But he shows his true colors when robot terrorists invade the Gala and he rescues the beautiful Val from death and mayhem. Their attraction is ignited and from then on, they are destined to be together. The suspense of the terrorist attack with the spark of love at first sight, was a great and fun way to start the novel.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

“Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life. “

Thich Nhat Hanh

Cynthia Kumanchik is the author of the new book Automation Nation.

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Interview with Cynthia Kumanchik, Author of Automation Nation

What can you tell us about your new release, Automation Nation?

Automaton Nation is a coming-of-age novel that relates to anyone who has experienced the excitement and difficulties of a first love. The story transcends time and place where the characters must overcome insurmountable odds.

Automaton Nation is perfect for fans of Twilight and Hunger Games, where the stakes are high, love is unexpected, and characters survive in a dystopian world. Val Tate, daughter of a prominent scientist, falls in love with robotic Dat against her parents’ objections.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I’ve always liked sci-fi and YA genres. I’m intrigued with future worlds and characters that adapt and change to evolving societal values.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

Divergent series

Becoming

Game of Thrones series

Kindred

Small Great Things

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask

George RR Martin would be my first guest. How did you develop the badass character Tyrion who conquers all odds and is still very relatable?

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Escaping to other worlds through the magic of words and images.

What is a typical day like for you?

The morning starts with coffee, a walk and meditation. I dedicate a block of time for book promotion, editing and writing copy. Then in the evening I watch a good sci-fi movie for new ideas.

What scene from Automation Nation was your favorite to write?

I enjoyed writing the first chapter where Dat is introduced as one of the new Model 500 series at the governor’s Gala, showing his robotic and human tendencies. The reader is inside his mind as he becomes attracted to a young woman, the daughter of the prominent scientist who created him, yet disgusted by the influential people who inspect him like an object. Dat charms his prospective buyers by speaking French and is quickly purchased. But he shows his true colors when robot terrorists invade the Gala and he rescues the beautiful Val from death and mayhem. Their attraction is ignited and from then on, they are destined to be together. The suspense of the terrorist attack with the spark of love at first sight, was a great and fun way to start the novel.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

“Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life. “

Thich Nhat Hanh

Cynthia Kumanchik is the author of the new book Automation Nation.

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Interview with Brian J. Purcell, Author of The Divination of Celia Connolly

What can you tell us about your new release, The Divination of Celia Connolly?

The Divination of Celia Connolly is the first book in a new mystery series. The series revolves around Celia Connolly, a private detective who uses magic to solve mysteries. She is quirky, witty, intelligent, and crass. She often seeks guidance from her friends and mentor, Maya Patel. In The Divination of Celia Connolly, Celia investigates a case for an attorney to help get his client out of jail. The investigation leads to a series of murders with a personal connection to Celia. Numerous obstacles and challenges hinder her pursuit for justice, but she continues to move forward, even when her advisers tell her to rest. It is a mystery full of unapproved magic, conspiracy, intrigue, and wonder as she navigates a world with real magic.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I was inspired to start writing by a junior-high teacher who liked an assignment enough to let me read it to the class. I’ve always been an avid reader, starting with The Boxcar Children and Goosebumps and progressing through Harry Potter and then more explicit mysteries from the likes of Robert Ludlum and John Grisham. My favorite stories were always Sherlock Holmes books. At the end of it all, the support of my Great Aunt, Sister Maura Purcell, always inspired me to push myself.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

My top five books are more a list of my favorite series and books: 1) Sherlock Holmes Adventures, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; 2) The Matarese Circle and The Matarese Countdown, by Robert Ludlum; 3) The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle that Brought Down the Klan; 4) The Game of Thrones series, by George R.R. Martin, and 5) Ready Player One.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask

I think my first guest choice would be J.K. Rowling. She weaved fantasy and mystery together perfectly in the Harry Potter series, and I would ask her what her inspiration was for creating her world and the mysteries within it.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

My favorite thing about writing is immersing myself in the world I create, and letting the characters grow in ways I did not imagine at the outset of the story.

What is a typical day like for you?

Typical days for everyone changed recently. I am lucky enough that my job allowed me to work from home during the pandemic. As a tax attorney, most of my time working is spent researching and writing about tax laws and policy throughout the country. I’m also a big sports fan and I love to watch soccer and baseball when they are on. I find time to fit in reading new books, which has been true crime and legal thrillers, and writing my stories.

What scene from The Divination of Celia Connolly was your favorite to write?

I think there is a tie between two scenes for me. In one scene, Celia is being interrogated by agents of the fictional Bureau of Magic Use and Regulation (BMUR), playing with the English language and frustrating the agent. The second scene was at a park early in the book which started to build the magical world the series is set in. Introducing magic to our world was a challenge, but it was fun and interesting.

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Brian J. Purcell is the author of the new book The Divination of Celia Connolly.

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Interview with Kelly A. Nix, Author of Kaji Warriors: Shifting Strength

What can you tell us about your new release, Kaji Warriors: Shifting Strength?

I am very excited about it. It’s the first entry of the Kaji Warriors series, which centers around a group of young warriors surviving a culture dictated by strength and honor. In Shifting Strength, you’re introduced to the world of Kaji as Atae and her friends navigate the dangers of their training, the Sula Academy Tournament, and the royal egos of an unstable monarchy.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I’ve been an avid reader since elementary school, and I’ve never been shy about diving into a new fictional world. It started with K. A. Applegate’s Animorphs series, and I haven’t stopped since. Also, fan ficiton helped lanch my confidence as a writer. I enjoyed writing story lines for everyone’s beloved characters, and the feedback from readers was really positive, so I decided to create something original. I’m hoping my readers enjoy it too.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

I prefer book series’. When I discover new characters that I enjoy, I latch onto them. I love Kim Harrison’s Hallows Series. I am a big Rachel & Trent shipper. I also enjoy Jim Butcher’s Dresdan Files series,Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series, Rachel Vincent’s Shifter series, and Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask

I would invite K.A. Applegate, and I’d ask her how she came up with such a unique story line. She created wonderfully well-developed characters with rich back stories and an adventure that spanned 54 short novels. Because of her, I looked forward to every scholastic fair my school held.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I experience this high after completing a scene or chapter that really speaks to me. There are several chapters like this in my new book. Everytime I re-read them, I get chills because I’ve written them exactly how I’ve seen it played out in my mind, and I hope the reader experiences everything that I’ve intended for them.

What is a typical day like for you?

I have a full-time job that is seperate from my writing, and it requires me to travel often. I usually write on planes and in hotels, but I get the most done when I’m in my recliner at home. It’s my creative space. I work from my home-office when I’m not traveling, so I spend most of my work day on the computer. I usually write in the evenings when I’m winding down for the day.

What scene from Kaji Warriors: Shifting Strength was your favorite to write?

The first scene between Atae and Kandorq is my favorite scene. I mean, I really like their second scene together too, but the first one is kind of the beginning of Atae’s mental struggles. It’s the first time that she’s ever truely felt weak and vulnerable. This scene sets the stage for her character arc over the next several chapters.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

“It is what it is.” I don’t know who said it or when I picked it up, but it has changed my total persona. It keeps my anxiety levels at a minimum and helps to identify the things that I cannot change. That way, I can focus my resources on the things that I can change.

Kelly A. Nix is the author of the new book Kaji Warriors: Shifting Strength.

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Interview with C.J. Foster, Author of A Seaside Story

What can you tell us about your new release, A Seaside Story?

This is a compelling and touching story of family, responsibility and love. I first started writing the “A Seaside Story” during one of my military deployments oversea years ago. I was missing someone very close to me and was inspired to write a story that touched on our love. While this is not a military story in any way, the feelings of belonging and the deep meaning of love between two people and responsibility to family are very much a part of the story.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I was inspired by telling stories to friends and family, encouraged by them to put these words to paper.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

How about my top five authors instead: Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Tess Gerritson, Henry David Thoreau, Edgar Allen Poe

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Creating realistic scenes where the characters emotions come through.

What is a typical day like for you?

Get up a few hours early before work to write, then spend the evening with my family after work.

What scene from A Seaside Story was your favorite to write?

Towards the end, there is a very emotional letter written from one of the characters to another. It was very cathartic for me to write, as it echoed the deep feelings I have for my spouse.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Never quit, never give up on your dream.

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C.J. Foster is the author of the new book A Seaside Story.

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The Story Behind The Romeo Arrangement by Nicole Snow

By Nicole Snow

Writing rarely goes as planned. Some books need major time and energy to be whipped into shape. Other times, you just hit a groove with a book that brings together everything you love. My latest and greatest romance novel, The Romeo Arrangement, definitely falls in the second category, and it shows!

Surprise chemistry, a pretend love scheme, harrowing suspense, comfy small town feels, and one wildly funny mad rooster. That’s just a taste of what’s happening when one high-stakes fake engagement gets way too real.

Grace Sellers is at the end of her rope. She’s lost her home, her father’s worryingly sick, and every stitch of sanity holding her life together is about to be unraveled when she hits the road for a new life. Grace has lost her faith in wishes by the time she’s cornered at a bar in Nowhere, North Dakota, by a brute looking to finish her off.

Then an unexpected Romeo steps in. The handsome stranger. The man who declares her his fiancee. The beast with an exasperated butler who runs off the bully, and then practically drags Grace and her dad back to his large ranch for the night.

It’s too good to be true. And it only gets crazier when Grace finds out who her mysterious hero really is, and it’s officially time to freak out.

Ridge Barnet, billionaire heartthrob, moved to small-town North Dakota to escape the Hollywood limelight and start over after a tragic case of revenge. The pretty stray he picks up one stormy night at his favorite bar threatens to wreck his low profile.

Too bad fate could care less. Soon, he’s doubling down on his Romeo scheme to save Grace’s life while fighting back a very real obsession that with dynamite potential to upend his life.

If there’s one thing I’m hooked on as a writer, it’s the deep dive for love. Throwing two emotionally scarred characters together in their darkest hours always makes the chemistry extra intense, the fight so much more satisfying, and the Happily Ever After that much sweeter.

Ridge and Grace go through the ropes without mercy. We’re talking a relentless gauntlet with everything on the line and a fierce attraction that won’t be denied. But of course I threw in lighthearted comic relief and everything sweet-as-pie about small town life. And when the fireworks hit and these two hearts meltdown, it’s a beautiful frenzy.

I’m insanely proud of the vivid punch The Romeo Arrangement packs and I hope you’ll agree! Don’t miss this romance thriller while it is free with KIndle Unlimited!

Nicole Snow is the author of the new book The Romeo Arrangement.

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