Saturday, March 30, 2013

Interview with Laura Lee, author of 'Angel'

Today, I would like to welcome author Laura Lee to the blog, as she shares with us more about herself and her new book 'Angel.'

What was the inspiration behind 'Angel'?

Angel was inspired by a trip I took to Mount Rainier in 2000. My tour guide revealed towards the end of a day-long tour that he had been a minister before he “burned out.” The question of why a minister would retire to become a mountain guide seemed like the good basis for a story. I wanted to explore the mystic nature of places and what would draw a person to the church and to a beautiful natural setting. I wanted it to be a certain kind of conflict, a crisis of faith or a difference of opinion with his congregation. I had a “feel” for the story long before I had the specifics. The idea that the minister fell in love with a man came to me much later, but it seemed to be just the right kind of conflict. It would hit on all the right notes.

Which character spoke to you the most?

I suppose I would have to say that Ian Finnerty provided the most inspiration. Ian is the titular “angel." The story is told from Paul’s point of view. I wrote it thinking as Paul. Paul was inspired and moved by Ian, so I had to be inspired and moved by Ian also to tell Paul’s story.

What was your favorite scene?

There is a scene that takes place in the shopping mall. Paul and Ian go shopping and run into a person that Ian knows from his past. The scene does a lot in the book. It explores Paul’s feelings about his own sexuality, the nature of his jealousy, his worries about his social status. There is a lot packed into that scene.

What message are you trying to send to readers?

I’m not trying to send a message. The questions I’m exploring have to do with how our private and public lives intersect, what is the nature and meaning of love, how do you find meaning in a world of impermanence? I don’t know the answers to those questions. So what I’m doing is painting a picture of someone going through an episode in his life and confronting these questions. What I’m saying is, “Here’s what happened to Paul. What do you think?”

Have you ever had your own sort of angel and/or spiritual awakening?

Writing Angel was probably my greatest spiritual experience. In some ways Ian can be taken as a metaphor for the creative process, for the muse, the spark of inspiration that leads you in a whole new direction.

But while we’re on the whole angel/spirit world kind of subject, I did recently remember a couple of interesting things. The first happened when I had just graduated from college with a degree in theater. At that time, I went to England with a six-month work visa. During my orientation for the program, I was walking around London when a man came up to me. He stopped me and said, "I can see your aura. You're supposed to be writing." Being totally taken aback, I responded with something like, "Uh...okay..." "You're supposed to be writing," he said again, in a serious tone. Then he just walked off. I recorded this odd encounter in my diary, and went on with my life and into a career in radio. I had not remembered this until I went back and read the old diary.

A few years later, I had burned out on my radio career and fallen into writing as if by default. I was working part-time as a newspaper reporter and had just gotten a contract for my first non-fiction book. I decided to stop at a local New Age shop that offered tarot readings. I remember the reader's face and his name: Rene. I took some sketchy notes of what he said that day. I think at the time I might have been most interested in an unrequited love affair I was trying to have. In retrospect, one thing in particular stands out. He said that "the angels said" I was supposed to be writing, and I was not. He said, "the mystic nature of places is how you're going to really connect."

This must have happened before I went to Washington, so maybe this primed me and the mystic nature of mountains theme became a self-fulfilling prophecy. In any case, it is interesting.

You have primarily published nonfiction in the past. What kinds of projects, fiction and/or nonfiction, do you currently have in the works?

I’m trying to sell a novel that I actually wrote prior to Angel and recently revised. I have some people looking at it and I’m cautiously optimistic. After Angel, I did write a sequel from Ian’s perspective. At the moment, though, I’ve decided not to try to release it. I also started working on a theological project. I became quite interested in the Bible after writing from the perspective of a Christian minister. I wrote quite a bit of that, but It’s on pause right now. I’ve started working on a stage play, which I hope to have completed fairly soon. My degree was in theater, and my first writing was theatrical, so I would like to get back to it. The particular story, which is ballet related, just seemed like something that would be better told in a visual, theatrical setting than as a novel. I had a non-fiction book called Don’t Screw It Up! published by Reader’s Digest come out last week. I might be doing a follow up of sorts of that as well. That is in discussion.

How do you conduct your research for your writing?

Of course it is quite different for fiction and non-fiction. The fiction I’ve written hasn’t required extensive research. I think the only thing I looked up for Angel was the positions of various mainstream Christian denominations on homosexuality. They are changing quite quickly. The official church position that is referenced in the novel is from the United Methodist Church although I did not want to identify Paul with any particular denomination. Non-fiction research tends to be defined by the project. I’ve only done one book that required primary historical research. That was actually quite fun. It is like a treasure hunt going through old newspapers on microfilm (at the time not much of that had been digitized) and hunting through documents in local historical archives. The local history librarians I worked with in the Berkshires were so helpful. Most of my books are in the “Did you know” humorous reference category. I get my information from articles, books and sometimes interviews. I am known for writing books that take huge amounts of research to write and which can be read really quickly.

Does your work with ballet ever influence your writing?

Of course, the play I am writing now is highly influenced by my experiences with ballet. I wrote a children’s book also called A Child’s Introduction to Ballet. Everything a writer experiences, though, influences the writing. Actually, most of Angel was written while I was on tour with my ballet classes. There is a scene set in a Chinese buffet because at the time, while on tour, my partner and I were eating in a lot of Chinese buffets. I think of a novel as being sort of like a dream. You know how your dream is a sort of mis-mash of the things that are going on in your life? Novels are like that too.

You are a Metro Detroit native. I grew up an hour south in Toledo, OH, and have fond memories of going to visit Detroit, despite its bad rep. What are some its finer features of which people should be aware?

I grew up in the suburbs, so any kind of “8 Mile” notion of my life would be totally off the mark. My parents met at the Detroit Institute of Arts, so that institution holds an important place in my heart. I have fond memories of taking the Bob-Lo boat. I’m sorry that Bob-Lo isn’t a park any more and that that era has passed.

Where are some of your favorite places to visit? Which destinations are on your bucket list?

Some time I will have to get to Moscow. My partner is a Russian ballet dancer, and I bring him here twice a year to do tours and we’re on the road here in the U.S. half the year. We’ve seen most of the country. We have friends all over, so there are a lot of places we enjoy going. We’ve especially enjoyed the South Carolina coast, the upper peninsula of Michigan, Duluth, Minnesota, the mountains of West Virginia and Kentucky and, of course, Florida is nice in winter.

What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?

Do you suppose they know enough about me to have formed a mythology that I can bust? Hmm. Let me think... Nope, I can’t think of anything that would strike readers as wildly out of character. I studied theater with a goal of being an actress and I hate being the center of attention. I don’t know if this is surprising, but it is paradoxical.

Anything else you would like to add?

In conclusion, buy my book. Are you allowed to say that?

Ha, of course! Thanks for your time!

About the author:

I am the author of 14 books, best known for my non-fiction titles including Blame it on the Rain (Harper Collins), The Pocket Encyclopedia of Aggravation (Black Dog and Leventhal), Broke is Beautiful (Running Press), and the forthcoming Don't Screw It Up! (Reader's Digest). Angel is my first novel. I divide my time between writing and producing educational ballet tours.

Twitter: @LauraLeeAuthor
Fiction blog:
Non-Fiction blog:

Literary Fiction

Date Published: September 2011

Since the loss of his lively, charming wife to cancer six years ago, minister Paul Tobit has been operating on autopilot, performing his church duties by rote. Everything changes the day he enters the church lobby and encounters a radiant, luminous being lit from behind, breathtakingly beautiful and glowing with life. An angel. For a moment Paul is so taken by his vision that he is tempted to fall on his knees and pray.

Even after he regains his focus and realizes that he has only seen a flesh-and-blood young man, Paul cannot shake his sense of awe and wonder. He feels an instant and overwhelming attraction to the young man, which puzzles him even as it fills his thoughts and fires his feelings. Paul has no doubt that God has spoken to him through the vision and he must figure out what God is asking him to do.

Thus begins a journey that will inspire Paul's ministry, but will put him at odds with the church he loves as he is forced to examine his deeply held beliefs about himself, his community and the nature of love.

Friday, March 29, 2013

'Mail Order Bride' by Daris Howard

Prize Winning Story - Clean Romance!

*****4.7 out of 5 Stars average rating*****

It was to be the big day for Eli. His fiancée, Molly, was coming in on a ship. Two years earlier, unable to find work in England, he had headed for America. His ship was caught in a storm, and he ended up, not in Pennsylvania as he planned, but in Newfoundland.

But that was all behind him now. He had written to Molly every day for the two years, and now she was coming so they could be married.

But Eli was in for a surprise. Unknown to him, Molly had married. She had bought him a mail-order bride, and Eli's life was going to suddenly take an unexpected twist.

This is a fun story about differences of culture, love, and life. The play based on this book is winner of many awards and has been produced internationally. This is a story you won’t want to miss.

Get it for Kindle for just 99 cents!

Or in paperback from Amazon. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Read an excerpt from 'Spin the Plate' by Donna Anastasi

Today we have an excerpt from Spin the Plate, by Donna Anastasi, currently on tour with Walker Author Tours. Here we get a little insight into the mind of our heroine, Jo. Enjoy, and don't forget to pick up your copy of Spin the Plate!

The walk from the station was the roughest stretch in Jo’s day. Normally, she’d stick to the main thorough-fare for the distraction afforded by the jostling crowds: clumps of women in suits and lunch-hour sneakers, shoppers, theater-goers, and the occasional homeless guy. She’d take either Arlington or Charles Street to Beacon and then follow one of the “nut” side streets to get to work. But she was late, so instead she cut through the Public Garden right past the Swan Boats. The park was empty except for a small cluster of pre-school children, a few moms hovering nearby, and an older man on a bench nibbling a bologna sandwich.

Jo knew she must avoid downtime. When her mind was allowed to wander, it roamed to dangerous places. To distract herself she focused her thoughts on her physical strength, her weight, and the rigorous regimen she followed to maintain both. She cultivated a layer of fat, for protection, around a muscular build. She ate and trained following the practices of Sumo wrestlers. Loose-fitting clothing completed the illusion of obesity, though she was in top health and extremely strong.

She enjoyed using her power to hurt men who deserved it. The rush was all the better when it came with an element of surprise. She never tired of seeing that look of bewilderment mixed with pain when she smashed her fist into a man’s face. They never saw it coming.

Jo found herself relaxing in the warmth of the approaching afternoon, surrounded by the smell of turning leaves in the air and the squeals of laughter from children in an impromptu game of tag. As her mind strayed, she wondered desperately, Why can’t I be like everyone else and be blessed with repressed memories? The images, the pain, every emotion was raw and fresh—time had done nothing to dull the wounds inflicted more than a dozen years before.

Title of Book: Spin the Plate

Length: 234 pages

Genre: 1) Contemporary, women’s fiction, 2) Love-story/Romance, 3) Abuse/inspirational

Warnings: this book contains profanity and descriptions of sexual abuse

Note: this book contains Christian themes, although they are not the primary focus.

Brief Synopsis:

Jo is a survivor of a bleak and abusive childhood who roams the city streets at night as a powerful vigilante. Francis is a mysterious man she meets on the subway train. In this story, the average-guy hero battles to win the battered heart of the wary, edgy, less-than-perfect heroine. "A fast-paced, edgy, darkly comic tale of resilience, romance, and redemption that breaks over you in waves." - Holly Robinson, author

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Interview with Donna Anastasi, author of 'Spin the Plate'

Today we have an author interview with Donna Anastasi, author of Spin the Plate, who is currently on tour with Walker Author Tours. Enjoy, and don't forget to pick up your copy of Spin the Plate!

What have been your most successful marketing techniques? 
Getting good reviews – especially from, entering contests, offering a free e-book version, doing giveaways and virtual tours.

Who is your favorite author of all time, and why? 
C.S. Lewis. I like that he can describe very complex ideas simply, that he writes both fiction and non-fiction, and writes on the topic of theology. He draws you right in with characters and storyline and is neither sentimental or pessimistic.

If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be, and with whom? 
I’ve been to Europe twice - once on my honeymoon and once with our children – I’d love to go back. May favorite way to travel is to stay with people who live in the country and have them show me around.

If you could choose your last meal, what would it be? 
Probably sample everything on the menu from my favorite Chinese restaurant and have it with diet coke. I’d eat it on a Chinet paper plate because I always enjoy my meals most when I know I don’ t have to do the dishes afterwards.

Is your family supportive of what you do? 
Yes – though I’m missed when I go away on my weekend writing jaunts.

Tell us about your book.
This book is not your usual bodice-ripper romance where an unnaturally gorgeous heroine meets a buff, alpha-male for hot nasty sex.

Not even close.

Jo is a survivor of a bleak and abusive childhood. She channels her pain and rage into weight training and roams the city streets at night as a powerful vigilante. While she is more than capable of defending herself against physical danger, she is defenseless against the memories of the past that torment her.

Francis is a mysterious man she meets on the subway train. He doesn’t have a regular job and is still living at home. But he is gentle, likeable, friendly, intelligent, sensitive, respectful, generous, patient, and understanding. Just what a brave, but damaged soul like Jo needs.

In this story, the average-guy hero battles to win the battered heart of the wary, edgy, less-than-perfect heroine.

“Spin the Plate is a fast-paced, edgy, darkly comic tale of resilience, romance, and redemption that breaks over you in waves. All you can do is gasp, stay afloat, and enjoy the ride.”
-- Holly Robinson, author of The Wishing Hill and Sleeping Tigers

Where can we find out more about you and buy your book?
The novel is free from Smashwords and iTunes. It is a 99 cent kindle and available in paperback from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Make sure to get the January 2013 (full length novel) version titled “Spin the Plate: A novel.

Donna Anastasi is the author of two non-fiction small animal books published by Bowtie press: The Complete Guide to Gerbil Care (2005) a popular how to breed, raise, and care for gerbils book and The Complete Guide to Chinchilla Care (2008) a chinchilla handbook promoting these exotic and intelligent creatures as companions, not coats. Spin the Plate is Anastasi's debut novel. The 2013 printing of Spin the Plate is a completely revised and expanded version of her 2010 indie-award winning novel: Living Now Book Awards (Gold Medal), Reader’s Favorite Awards (Silver Medal, Contemporary Romance), International Book Awards (Finalist, Women’s Literature), Best Book Awards (Finalist, Cross-Genre Fiction).

Donna Anastasi lives in the woods of Southern New, Hampshire with her husband, two teen-aged daughters and an ever-changing menagerie.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Review of '17 Women Who Shook the World' by Preethi Burkholder


Have you ever wondered why some people seem to achieve success effortlessly while others just don’t? In this motivational and historical book, discover how you, too, can master the inner abilities to become successful. Becoming informed about the thinking and behavioral patterns of 17 of modern history’s most amazing women will drive you, too, to take action to attract success into your life. Learn  a dynamic and attainable program for changing your inner model of achievement with a formula that supports your happiness. Read about accomplished women such as Shirley Chisholm, Esther Morris, Wilman Rudolph, Aung San Suu Kyi, Valentina Tereshkova, Harriet Tubman, Madam C.J. Walker, Meryl Streep, and Victoria Woodhull. Like the 17 women showcased here, build your own Global Positioning System (GPS) for success.

 Preethi Burkholder inspires women, men, and children to achieve their dreams, find success, and lead meaningful lives. Originally from Sri Lanka, she does humanitarian work there to improve the lives of underprivileged women and children.

**My thoughts**

When I agreed to review this book, I was under the impression that it was a book for kids, as it was listed under children's nonfiction. I was thrown off when I started reading it. The beginning is more of a self-help guide to empowering women. Preethi Burkholder has a list of 24 steps to "program into your internal GPS." All of these are great ideas to build a woman toward success. And most children will not understand this "program" as it is written.
The next part of the book gets into the history of women in society over the past few centuries. It shows the evolution of women's rights, ending with an argument for why a woman should be in the White House.

The third part of the book focuses on the biographies of women who were movers and shakers in their time. Some of them are expected to be on the list, such as Susan B. Anthony, who opens the section, and Amelia Earhart. Others are more contemporary and not ones I would have necessarily thought of, such as Suze Orman and Meryl Streep. Still others, such as Aung San Suu Kyi, help to represent the whole world.

The biographies in and of themselves are interesting. I was surprised that not all of them had an accompanying photograph. I appreciated the emphasis on certain quotes and the summary of each woman's specific strides made for women. This area felt more like it was written for the younger generation. It is definitely very researched. I just think it would have done better being separated into different works, or with a better wrap-around section.

I can understand what the author was trying to do with her book, but it felt more like I was reading three separate books put under one cover. The first part definitely felt more like it was meant for the adult or late teen audience. The second and third parts were more like a history section that could possibly appeal to middle school and up.

I received an eARC in exchange for my honest review.

Buy links: Amazon \ Barnes & Noble

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Read an exclusive excerpt from 'How I Got Him to Marry Me: 50 True Stories' by Cherise Kelley

Book Description:

He likes it. Now get him to put a ring on it! Learn from these 50 stories of women who have been there! You don't have to interview 50 married women to find out how they managed to get that ring on their finger. The author has done that for you. All 50 were married after 1990, so this is modern information for our changing times. Read and find out how you can get him to marry you and not just live together!

Please see the end of the eBook to learn how to claim a free paperback copy after you post an honest review! Limited to the first 25 reviewers at, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes. (226 pages in paperback.)

Read an exclusive excerpt!
I was 23 when I was finally ready to get married. By then, the year was 1986, and none of the guys I knew wanted to tie the knot! One who I wanted to marry said:
"Children are the only reason I can see to get married, and I don't want any of those."
Saddened, I slowly let go of him and moved on. After that, I guess I was getting long in the tooth. By the time I was in my late 20s, men were no longer begging me to marry them. The stakes had decreased considerably.
In 1989, a guy pursued me urgently, sending roses even. Expecting a proposal, I asked him what he wanted, and he told me:
"I want to buy a house with you."
"Oh." (Is that all? That's not very appealing!)
In 1990, a man who was a bit of a player had the chance to propose, and said:
"I want you to be my one and only girlfriend."
Nuh Uh.
I finally did get married in 1994, and like I said, I was 31 years old. It took me eight years to find him, once I made up my mind that I wanted a husband and not just another boyfriend. For me, that's what it took: I just needed to stick to the decision that I was not going to have another boyfriend. I was only going to have a husband.

Buy Links:

How I Got Him To Marry Me: 50 True Stories, is now available in eBook form at Barnes and Noble for Nook, Amazon for Kindle, and Kobo for the Kobo Reader. The paperback will be available April 1 through Amazon. The eBook should be on iTunes soon.


Friday, March 8, 2013

'Love in Provence' by William Auch Super Book Blast!

William Auch


When John Martin is forced to sell his tech company, he decides to take a six-month vacation to the south of France.

When he meets Madame Garcin, her daughter Sophie, and her granddaughter Isabelle, his life is changed forever. What began as a long vacation becomes a journey of self-discovery marked by love, loss, and tragedy.

He is molded by this family of three generations of women, tempered by tragedy themselves, in ways that he could never have imagined.

It seemed to John that the next three weeks could not go by fast enough. He was energized and quickly got back into the routine of jogging along the Embarcadero. It was a Sunday morning and John had made it all the way to the Marina Green, which was farther than the length of his usual run.
The green was filled with joggers, mothers pushing strollers, and the sailors heading for the yacht harbor. The sky was bright blue and cloudless, and a stiff breeze blew into the harbor from the other side of the Golden Gate. John stopped in the middle of the green to catch his breath and looked up to see a sky full of kites. There were large ones, small ones, one that looked like a dragon, and another which resembled a bird, all in a kaleidoscope of colors that were enhanced by the sun from above. They all danced in the wind, some darting side to side, and others diving toward each other as if to demonstrate who owned the skies. Some would descend to the ground then dart back up into the sky again.

Off to one side was a small girl with a pony tail, who ran across the grass as though she were about to lift off like a bird. Behind her she towed a small red kite, which stubbornly refused to become airborne despite her best attempts to launch it. Each time the kite plunged to the grass she would tighten the string again and make another run at it, only to have the kite rise about ten feet, then plummet to the grass. She tried over and over again with such determination, John wondered how long she had been at it. After each failed attempt she would look over at her mother who was keeping an eye on her from a distance, then the girl would continue with more determination than the previous attempt. John thought about Isabelle and how much he missed her. He could not wait to see her. He could imagine Isabelle when she was young, pulling on the kite string with the same determination as the little girl.
John walked over to her mother sitting on the grass and asked with a smile, “Do you mind if I give her a hand?”

Her mother raised her eyebrows at first and studied John from top to bottom, but then a smile slowly crept onto her face. “Sure, why not?”
**My thoughts**

Reading this book, I desperately wanted to hop on a plane and hang out in the south of France for an extended period of time. I haven't been there in 20 years and long to practice the language and enjoy the beauty, possibly even recreating some of it in artistic means.

John has one of those rare chances in life to almost reinvent himself. He has just sold his multimillion dollar business, and is in a place where no one knows his true identity. Sophie is the first person he has met in a long time with whom he can imagine settling down. Not many people are given that opportunity!

William Auch is a physician residing in Sacramento, California. When not seeing patients, he writes, studies French, and travels the world.

Author William Auch is awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commenter during this tour. Follow the tour for more chances to win!