Thursday, September 20, 2018

A Bookish Conversation with Shawn M. Beasley, Author of Killing the Rougarou @mamashawbeasl1

September 20, 2018 0 Comments

“Being from South Louisiana, you hear a lot of folklore. You never actually believe the old tales. You pass the stories on down to your babies and so on. You never quite believe in them until you meet a monster. Maybe then, you wonder: Could these stories be true?”

--From Killing the Rougarou by Shawn M. Beasley

Author Shawn Beasley was born and raised in small town Louisiana. She has a BSRN and has traveled the world only to return to the same small town where she was raised. Shawn has three grown children, one girl and two sons. She lives with her oldest son and grandson and has three other grandchildren that she adores. She has two fur babies, Pete and Taz. Killing the Rougarou is her debut novel and is the first book in a series of five. She is a member of Romance Writers of America.

Book Description:

Author Shawn Beasley captivates readers with the enthralling saga of two southern families-the Gauthiers from the South Louisiana bayou country and the Thomases from rural Texas-and the nightmare that will ultimately touch them both. In her sweeping and richly evocative novel, Beasley unfolds two remarkable family histories, populated by unforgettable, deeply human characters, and then rocks their worlds with tragedy and true horror. A novel that succeeds brilliantly on many levels, Killing the Rougarou is, at once, moving and terrifying, tense and thrilling, while capturing the sights, sounds, and vibrant life of Louisiana's Cajun country and Brazos County, Texas.

Welcome Shawn! Your book, Killing the Rougarou, sounds absolutely thrilling! For those
not familiar, can you explain what a Rougarou is?

Shawn: A rougarou is the Cajun werewolf.

Killing the Rougarou is your first novel in a five part series. How long did it take you to complete this first one and have you started on the others yet?

Shawn: It has taken me a little over 31/2 years to get to where I am now. I am working on 6 stories now. Four are with the series.

Can you tell us a little about the main characters?

Shawn: James and Cat are the main characters in this story. James is a Cajun beauty and is a little off-balance due to the vicious attack on her as a small child. Cat is the typical alpha male until he meets her.

They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point where the reader just can’t put the book down. Can you tell give us one of the pivotal points in your book?

Shawn: I think one of the pivotal points in this story is; when her daddy sees her in the hospital for the first time after the attack.

Can you explain to us why it was important for you to write your story?

Shawn: I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. It took a while but I did.

I noticed that you are a member of Romance Writers of America. Did being a member of this organization help with writing your series?

Shawn: Absolutely.

Final question (promise!): do you have any advice for the yet-to-be-published writers reading this?

Shawn: Breathe and write!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A Conversation with 'A Highland Emerald' Brenda B. Taylor @rayburnlady

September 13, 2018 0 Comments

“The words spewed from Da’s mouth. A sinister, dark shadow cloaked his face. Muscles twitched in his jaws and his hands clenched in tight fists. I stepped back. He abruptly turned, making his way up the stone steps to the upper story bed chambers, feeling the wall for security. When his foot struck the arisaid I’d dropped on the stair, he reached down, seized the garment, flung it with a vehemence I rarely witnessed from him, and continued up the staircase. The large dog followed at his heels. Not knowing what to do, I grabbed the arisaid, wrapped it closely around my shoulders, pulled the hood over my head, then ran toward the door of the great hall. Ellic waited in the garden. I wanted to be near him, feel his embrace, and listen to the sweet words he would whisper in my ear.”

From A Highland Emerald by Brenda B. Taylor

The desire to write historical fiction has long been a passion with Brenda B. Taylor. Since elementary school, she has written stories in her spare time. Brenda earned three degrees: a BSE from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas; a MEd from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas; and an EdD from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; then worked as a teacher and administrator in the Texas Public School system. Only after retirement could she fulfill the dream of publication.

Brenda and her husband make their home in beautiful East Texas where they enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and working in Bethabara Faith Ministry, Inc. She crafts stories about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people in her favorite place overlooking bird feeders, bird houses, and a variety of blooming trees and flowers. She sincerely thanks all who purchase and read her books. Her desire is that the message in each book will touch the heart of the reader as it did hers in the writing.

Her latest book is the Scottish Historical Romance A Highland Emerald.

Book Description:

Aine MacLean is forced into an arranged marriage with Sir William, Chief of Clan Munro, yet her heart belongs to a handsome young warrior in her father’s guard. She must leave Durant Castle, the home of her birth on the Isle of Mull, and travel across Scotland in a perilous journey to her husband’s home on Cromarty Firth. William agrees to a year and day of handfasting, giving Aine an opportunity to accept him and his clan. He promises her the protection of Clan Munro, however, Aine experiences kidnapping, pirates, and almost loses her life in the River Moriston. She doubts the sincerity of William’s promises and decides to return to Durant Castle when the handfasting ends. William determines to win Aine’s heart. Will the brave knight triumph in his fight for the bonnie lass?

A Highland Emerald is the third book in the award-winning Highland Treasures series. The novel tells the story of Aine MacLean and William Munro and is the prequel to A Highland Pearl.

Welcome Brenda! The desire to write historical fiction traces back to when you were a child. What sparked the interest of writing this genre at that young age?
Brenda: I loved studying history and making up stories, so combining the two came naturally. I made up stories in my head for many years until I retired and could put them on paper.
Are you a detail freak when it comes to writing your novels?
Brenda: My research for the historical novels is extensive, so I do attend to detail. I like to have the facts correct, but then the stories are fiction. Although the storyline, characters, and some places are fictitious, I try to make them correct according to the setting and time period.
How hard for you was it to sit down and start writing your novel? Did you have all these ideas swirling around your head or did it take some time before you were actually ready to sit down and begin?
Brenda: My first novel took several years of thinking about it, attending conferences, and studying the art of fiction writing before I finally typed the first word.
Writers are often associated with loner tendencies. Is there any truth to that?
Brenda: Out of necessity, writers are very introverted and self-absorbed. I spend a lot of time alone with my thoughts and ideas, yet I enjoy being with others and schedule times I can interact with friends and family.
I am so excited about your novel, A Highland Emerald. Can you tell us a little bit about the main characters?
Brenda: Aine MacLean, whose home is Durant Castle on the Isle of Mull, Scotland, is the heroine of A Highland Emerald. Her father, Lachlan Og MacLean, Chief of Clan MacLean, arranged her marriage to William Munro, Chief of Clan Munro, who resides across Scotland in Fàrdach Castle on the banks of Cromarty Firth. William understands Aine’s hesitancy in marrying him and agrees to a year and day of chaste handfasting or trial marriage. The couple must make a perilous journey across Scotland from Aine’s home on the Atlantic Ocean to William’s home near the North Sea. Aine is a pampered daughter at the beginning of the story who grows into a responsible wife and mother. Most of the time William is understanding with Aine, trying to win her affection and respect, but she does try his patience.
They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point when the reader just can’t put the book down. What is one of the pivotal points in A Highland Emerald?
Brenda: The pivotal point in A Highland Emerald is when Aine is forced to choose between ending the chaste handfasting and taking William as her true husband or enduring the imprisonment of her body guard, Sion.
What’s next for you?
Brenda: I recently finished a novella in the Highland Treasures series entitled, A Highland Bride. Next I plan to write a novel or novella in the post-Civil War series, The Wades of Crawford County.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A Bookish Conversation with Nancy Gray, Author of 'Spine Chillers: The Scarecrow'

September 12, 2018 0 Comments

“Sophie got into the backseat of the car and didn’t glance back in the direction of the scarecrow until they were driving. When she did turn to look, even though she knew it wasn’t possible, the scarecrow’s head seemed to be cocked in a different direction, slightly upward, as though it was watching them leave. Just as she was about to say something to her parents, a wall of crows flew up from the cornfield and obscured her view. When they were gone the head was resting down again. Sophie made a whimpering sound in the back of her throat that she was glad her parents didn’t hear and shifted further down into her seat, hoping that even the top of her head wouldn’t show through the back window.”

From Spine Chillers: The Scarecrow by Nancy Gray

Nancy Gray has published a number of works including her young adult fantasy series Blood Rain. Her short story “Chosen” appeared in Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal Author Quest: a Penguin Special from Grosset & Dunlap. Her work also appears in various anthologies.

Nancy Gray has been writing for over ten years. Gray lives in South Carolina with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys books, video games, anime, manga, and horror.

Her latest book is the mid-grade horror, Spine Chillers: The Scarecrow.

Book Description:

Eleven year old Sophie arrives at her Aunt and Uncle’s farm to horrible news: her cousin, Hunt, has gone missing.  When Sophie starts searching for clues to where her cousin went, strange things happen.  The scarecrow wanders around the cornfields at night and murders of crows lash out at other animals for no reason at all.  

An ancient spirit wants revenge. Sophie will have to be brave and clever in order to save her cousin…and herself!


Welcome Nancy! How did you get into writing horror novels for mid-graders?

Nancy: I’ve been inspired to write horror for a long time. I’ve always been a fan of many different horror authors, especially Stephen King. After reading Stephen King’s IT, I started a novel about a haunted school. Originally the story was going to be about the teachers. Basically the nightmares of the children were coming to life, and children were disappearing. Some of the teachers realized that something similar happened to them when they were children. They decided to band together to try to figure out what was going on to try to stop it.
Even though this series started as an adult novel, I began to remember there was always something special about the horror books that I read as a child, like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and the Goosebumps series. So I decided to scrap the original idea and decided to focus on the students in the
school. Each book of Spine Chillers focuses on the stories of children that have encountered a monster or spirit. They discover that not all scary stories are made up and some legends are true. The five main characters appear in the other stories, and eventually they will form a club to help other children with similar experiences. 

Are you a detail freak when it comes to writing your novels?

Nancy: I wouldn’t call myself a “detail freak” because I don’t tend to write long descriptions in most of my stories. I like to give hints about what a character is like through dialogue and their actions. However, I must admit that I write extensive character backgrounds, descriptions, and details about the setting in a notebook before I get started. Though this is considered old school, there’s something to be said about writing by hand in my opinion. Also I can easily take my story notes with me wherever I go.

Every character in the story, from the main characters to the minor characters, has a background that drives their actions. In this way, maybe I am a bit of a detail freak, but not all the details show through in the story. I strive to show enough of the character’s personality for the reader to make their own assumptions about their background. I like the fact that this way the reader can build upon the character’s personality based on their own experiences.

How hard for you was it to sit down and start writing your novel? Did you have all these ideas swirling around your head or did it take some time before you were actually ready to sit down and begin?

Nancy: I worked on ideas for this series off and on for a little over a year. It took a long time to begin because I was working on ideas for it while I was also working on my young adult fantasy series, Blood Rain. If I had focused entirely on developing notes for Spine Chillers during that time it would’ve been a shorter process. However, Blood Rain was a long work in progress that I was finally ready to complete.

As I mentioned earlier, I started by writing up the setting, basically the school and teachers involved in most of the stories. I also wrote up the character descriptions and the backgrounds of the characters. For Spine Chillers: The Scarecrow I was inspired by descriptions of the farm where my husband lived as a child, and I knew I wanted to use that setting. I’d say the initial planning is the longest part, but when I have an idea I jot it down in my story notes as soon as I can. 

After I had the setting and characters ready, I started right away. I did a short outline to get ready so that I would have a “road map” to follow for the project. Still, one thing that’s interesting about writing is that the characters don’t always do what you expect. Because of that the outline is always a loose one to accommodate any changes. There were several times that the main character, Sophie, surprised me as the story unfolded. When I’m inspired, I can write very quickly as inspiration pours out of my mind onto the page either with my notes or the manuscript itself.

Writers are often associated with loner tendencies. Is there any truth to that?

Nancy: Well, I can’t speak for other writers, but in my case that isn’t true. I’m married and have two children. I also have a good group of friends. We hang out just about every other day of the week to watch anime, play games, and cook out. I also throw a very big Halloween party and Christmas Pot-Luck party every year.

There are also several writer support groups. One such group is National Novel Writing Month where writers in the area meet up to discuss plots, character concepts, etc., in an attempt to finish writing a novel in a month’s time. I’m not as heavily involved in that group as I used to be primarily because I don’t like to push myself to finish in a month’s time. But I have made some good friends through that group. 

What makes writing midgrade horror books so special to you?

Nancy: During elementary school, my friend and I would read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark at recess and during sleepovers in an attempt to scare each other. Also, one of my favorite times of the year is Halloween. I have very fond memories of dressing up, carving pumpkins, and watching scary cartoons. Even though I don’t remember much about elementary school, I remember the Halloween carnival at my school vividly.

As I got older, I started reading the Goosebumps series and watching the television series, as well. I also watched other scary television shows like, Are you Afraid of the Dark, Amazing Stories, and Tales from the Crypt. Every year around Halloween, I think about how special Halloween made me feel as a child and how much fun it was to have a “safe scare.”

The world has become, and I guess in some ways always has always been, a scary place. Middle school is a hard time in a child’s life. It can be scary to go through all the changes a middle school child experiences. Reading about characters around the same age facing something that is frightening sometimes makes the things that scare a child in real life more bearable. I feel honored to try to provide my readers with a feeling of empowerment.

I am so excited about your novel, Spine Chillers: The Scarecrow? Can you tell us a little bit about the main characters?

Nancy: Absolutely!. Sophie is an eleven year old girl who tends to be shy at school and likes to read. She tries to be nice to everyone, even people that she doesn’t like very much because her mother taught her to be polite. She doesn’t do much active playing during recess, preferring to talk to her friends or to read a good book. Adventure stories are her favorite. She does have a mischievous side, though, but only if it is encouraged by a friend. Particularly, her cousin Hunt tends to get her into trouble when she goes to her Aunt’s farm. People sometimes poke fun at her because she is a little bit of a “fraidy cat” at heart, but she is brave when it comes to helping others.

Her cousin Hunt is mischievous and gets into lots of trouble with his parents. He tends to run away for short periods of time to worry them, but mostly does this for attention. His parents are very busy so he runs off to reassure himself that they are thinking about him. In The Scarecrow during one of these times, he doesn’t return. They fear he drowned in the pond, but Sophie doesn’t believe he’s dead and decides to look for him.

Edward is a mysterious character. He’s a boy that is hiding in the barn on the property and says Hunt gave him permission to stay there. He’s hiding something throughout the book, but Sophie doesn’t know exactly what. There is something odd about him, and she begins to wonder if he has something to do with her cousin disappearing.

They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point when the reader just can’t put the book down. What is one of the pivotal points in Spine Chillers: The Scarecrow?

Nancy: This is a difficult question for a writer to answer, but from what my test readers say, one of the earliest pivotal points in the book that grips the reader is in the opening chapter. Sophie sees the scarecrow for the first time while it is being pecked by crows. The crows are pulling off one of its button eyes and the creases in the burlap sack used for its head give it an almost angry expression. She gets scared and runs back to the car and, as they drive away, she thinks she sees the head of the scarecrow watching them as they go. For a moment it is obscured by a wall of crows flying up from the cornfield and when she can see it again it’s back the way it was before.

The next pivotal moment is in chapter two when Sophie learns that her cousin Hunt is missing. His parents think he drowned in the pond, but Sophie knows him well enough to believe that he’s still alive. He was too good at swimming to die in that way, and she thinks he’s hiding somewhere on the farm. She decides that she’ll investigate the next day but is disturbed by terrifying dreams that night of something hiding in the cornfield, that isn’t her cousin.

What’s next for you?

Nancy: There will definitely be more Spine Chillers coming in the future. The next book is called Spine Chillers: Big Bad Wolf. Here is a preview of what the book is about.

Jane is ecstatic when she gets the role of Red Riding Hood in her school play, but she didn’t realize that they’d be using the stuffed wolf prop as the Big Bad Wolf. That tattered old prop has always scared her, and lately she has been having strange dreams about it that make it seem like it’s something more.
Jane will have to get help to save herself from the hungry spirit that has haunted her people and her nightmares before it consumes her, or worse, escapes the prison of the last creature it took to satiate its horrible appetite.

Currently there are five books in the Spine Chillers series, The Scarecrow, Big Bad Wolf, The Beast of Black Pond, Empty Eyes, and The Firefly. Most of the monsters in my stories are based loosely on legends and folklore so there are many more to come. If all goes as planned, the first five books should be published within the next few months. So please keep checking for updates. Thank you again for this interview. It has been a pleasure!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Bookish Conversation with Jeanine Kitchel, Author of 'Wheels Up' @jeaninekitchel

September 11, 2018 0 Comments

“The Gulfstream jet, loaded with two tons of Colombian cocaine, careened over dense Yucatan jungle as Layla stared out the compact window, horrified. If they weren’t running on empty and destined to crash, it might have looked lush to her, even beautiful.
Without fuel, the engines starved into silence, she heard only the whooshing sound of the aluminum plane as it cruised over mangrove swamps and fast-approaching mahogany trees. All thoughts of her hasty departure from Guatemala to escape Don Guillermo’s wrath had vanished along with any hopes of safely landing in Cancun. They were going down.”

Jeanine Kitchel, a former journalist, escaped her hectic nine-to-five life in San Francisco, bought land, and built a house in a fishing village on the Mexican Caribbean coast. Shortly after settling in she opened a bookstore. By this time she had become a serious Mayaphile and her love of the Maya culture led her and her husband to nearby pyramid sites throughout southern Mexico and farther away to sites in Central America. In the bookstore she entertained a steady stream of customers with their own Maya tales to tell—from archeologists and explorers to tour guides and local experts. At the request of  a publisher friend, she began writing travel articles about her adopted homeland for websites and newspapers. Her travel memoir, Where the Sky is Born: Living in the Land of the Maya, and Maya 2012 Revealed: Demystifying the Prophecy, are available on Amazon. She has since branched into writing fiction and her debut novel, Wheels Up—A Novel of Drugs, Cartels and Survival, launched May 2018.

Book Description:

Layla always wanted to run the family business. But is she willing to kill for it?

When her notorious drug lord uncle is recaptured, Layla Navarro catapults to the top of Mexico’s most powerful cartel. Groomed as his successor, Layla knows where the bodies are buried. But not all the enemies. She strikes her first deal to prove her mettle by accepting an offer to move two tons of cocaine from Colombia to Cancun by jet. Things go sideways during a stopover in Guatemala whe Layla unexpectedly uncovers a human trafficking ring. Plagued by self-doubt, she must fight off gangsters, outsmart corrupt officials, and navigate the minefield of Mexican machismo. Even worse, she realizes she’s become a target for every rival cartel seeking to undermine her new standing. From her lush base in the tropics, she’s determined to retain her dominant position in Mexico’s criminal world. If she can stay alive.


Welcome, Jeanine! Your book, Wheels Up—A Novel of Drugs, Cartels and Survival sounds thrilling! Can you tell us why you wrote it? 

Jeanine: Thank you. I've always loved Mexico. It was my home for 15 years and I guess it's just ingrained in me to write about it. Wheels Up, of course, is fiction, but as a former journalist, my first two books were non-fiction, and I've written for a number of newspapers and websites, about Mexico, the Maya and the Yucatán. Being there gave me an insider's insight into the country's multi-faceted culture as well as a closer look at the creeping dominance of the cartels and their effect on that society and how the average person trying to live a normal life copes, or doesn't.

Your protagonist, Layla, sounds like a powerful woman. Can you tell us more about her?

Jeanine: Sure. Layla Navarro is the niece of El Patrón of the Culiacan Cartel, the most powerful drug lord in Mexico. When her uncle is recaptured after eluding the law for 11 years, Layla's catapulted to top spot while he's in prison, waiting to see if the US will extradite him for international crimes. As cartel accountant, she's been groomed as her uncle's successor; she knows where the bodies are buried, but not all the enemies. Her older brother who was next in line died in an ambush, and now it's up to Layla to carry on. In Mexico, it's all about family and dynasty. She's competent just by her DNA and can be ruthless if necessary, but lacks "on the job" experience.
Even though Layla ends up at the top of Mexico’s most powerful cartel after her uncle dies, what makes us want to be on her side? Or do we?

Jeanine: Actually, her uncle doesn't die, he's recaptured and imprisoned. In any other country this is like a death, but in Mexico, drug lords rule even from behind bars. Initially Patrón's calling the shots and still schooling her. She visits him frequently at the prison. What makes Layla real is that, as a woman in Mexico, she's coming from a position of no power. In Mexico, machismo rules. She's an underdog but with a fancy title. Her associates play her and test her. We end up liking her because she's nuanced and strong, she's for family (or what's left of it) all the way. And with one of the novel's twists, she's forced to take a daring stand against one of her uncle's unsavory associates. She's tough and learns on the fly, has her own set of demons. At times, she's plagued by self doubt and appears unconfident and vulnerable.

Can you tell us a little about the other main characters?

Jeanine: Clay Lasalle is a Canadian pot grower extraordinaire who's branched out from the pot trade and into running cocaine. He's leader of his own gang in Canada, the Rainbow Tribe, and is into martial arts and Buddhism. He offers Layla a deal to move two tons of cocaine from Colombia to Cancun which she accepts. Layla's bodyguard, Carlos, is also her lover. He's a moody, handsome hulk of a man, and their impulsive relationship plays out best in the bedroom; they're basically stuck with each other. Donavon, a Vietnam vet, pilots the jet that transports the contraband from Colombia. He's cocky and worldly wise. El Zoyo is Patrón's first lieutenant and childhood friend. He ran the cartel during El Patrón's first prison sentence, before he escaped. Zoyo is controlling and not exactly happy that Layla is now stepping into the picture. Don Guillermo runs Culiacan Cartel operations in Guatemala and has a lurid secret. 

They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point where the reader just can’t put the book down. What is one of the pivotal points in your book?

Jeanine: During the Colombia to Cancun coke deal, it becomes evident Layla must meet Clay in Guatemala to grease the inroads to Cancun. Layla unexpectedly uncovers Don Guillermo's secret and the fallout from this leads to a fast and furious escape from Guatemala at dawn, with fuel hovering on empty. The plane crashes in the Yucatán jungle and the survivors must trek out or die. I think this is one of the book's pivotal points.
You actually lived on the coast of Mexico. How did this factor into the writing of your book being a local? Do you hear of much drug trafficking going on and what is Mexico doing about it?

Jeanine: Living in Mexico full time gives one incredible insight into how that society works. I speak and read Spanish and the local newspapers tell the news that doesn't make it into the international papers. I read that Dostoyevsky would pull articles from newspapers to use as "prompts" for his novels. Not a bad idea. When we first moved to Mexico, we hired an attorney to assist in various aspects of going through the immigration process. She told us at the time, late 90s, that people feared the Russian mafia was making a move on Cancun because as Mexico's most popular tourist resort, it was an attractive cash cow. That fear fell aside when the cartels started to claim territory. Cancun, however—because of its powerful draw as a tourist destination—has escaped the problems that exist in many border cities, and the states of Guerrero, Michoacán, and Tamaulipas. Those in power, both legally and illegally, realize the need to keep top notch resort cities like Cancun, Baja, Puerto Vallarta and the Yucatán with its amazing pyramids, free of problems. Corruption is actually Mexico's main problem, and that is difficult to reverse. Mexico is struggling with it, and that is part of the basis of my book.

Tell us about the bookstore you opened in Mexico!

Jeanine: We built our house in a fishing village, Puerto Morelos, on the Mexican Caribbean coast. It's just 30 miles south of Cancun, but lightyears away in everything else. When we bought land there in 1989, a class 5 hurricane had devastated our little pueblo, and absolutely no one wanted to live there. Except us. We bought beachfront land a mile out of town and with the skills of an American expat contractor, we built our house, Casa Maya. We rented it as a tourist rental until we could afford to move lock, stock and barrel (with our cat) to Mexico. I'm an avid reader and the more we traveled back and forth, the more friends we accumulated, readers all. I found myself schlepping suitcases of used books to Mexico. So an idea was born. Paul, my husband, and I decided to open a bookstore. We began the process 3 years in advance, rented a shop on the main "plaza" which was hardly a plaza at all. (Rent was $70 USD a month). And we collected used books in the US from estate sales, library and garage sales, eventually outgrowing our garage and spare bedroom and moving them to a nearby storage warehouse. When we moved south, we had the carpenter who'd made our windows and closets for the house build floor to ceiling red cedar bookshelves (they were beautiful). Our contractor said no one reads here— remember, Puerto Morelos was not even a blip on the map, so I decided I'd be open 3 days a week, maybe 5 hours a day with a siesta in between. There was an uproar when people heard our reduced hours. They wanted us open all the time! There were only 6 other bookstores in the entire state of Quintana Roo and we were the only English language bookstore. A star was born! Alma Libre Libros. We kept prices low, gave discounts to teachers and the military, had a darling children's reading room, and it was buy-sell-trade. People loved it. It was great fun and I met a ton of interesting characters along the way. Great fodder for an author's mind. Lots of stories still to tell.

Do you have other books you’d like to tell us about?

Jeanine: Thank you for asking. My first book, Where the Sky is Born: Living in the Land of the Maya, is a travel memoir and details how we bought land and built a house in Puerto Morelos. My second book, Maya 2012 RevealedDemystifying the Prophecy, explains the Maya calendar phenomenon.

Wheels Up is a trilogy and the second in the series, Layla's Law, should be out end of 2019. 

What's next for you?

Jeanine: As mentioned, Wheels Up is a trilogy, so writing Layla's Law is front and center stage now. With travel in between of course!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Conversation with 'Wyoming Tryst' Charlene Whitman #historical #western #romance

September 04, 2018 0 Comments
Wyoming Tryst
“Thinking about her lawless town made her thoughts settle back on her father and the never-ending feud between the Carsons and the Morrisons—a feud Julia neither wanted nor understood. Yet here she was, in the midst of it, her party just one more piece of wood to throw on the fire of contention. She hoped it wouldn’t add to the blaze and worried that rather than enjoy her sixteenth year celebration, she would suffer the heat of her father’s ire for Stephen Morrison, and it would leave her scorched.”
--From Wyoming Tryst by Charlene Whitman

Charlene Whitman

The author of "heart-thumping" Western romance, Charlene Whitman spent many years living on Colorado's Front Range. She grew up riding and raising horses, and loves to read, write, and hike the mountains. She attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins as an English major. She has two daughters and is married to George "Dix" Whitman, her love of thirty years.

The Front Range series of sweet historical Western romance novels (set in the 1870s) includes Wild Horses, Wild Hearts, set in Laporte and Greeley. Colorado Promise, set in Greeley, Colorado; Colorado Hope, set in Fort Collins; Wild Secret, Wild Longing, which takes readers up into the Rockies, Colorado Dream (Greeley), and Wyoming Tryst, set in Laramie, WY.

Her latest book is Wyoming Tryst.

Book Description:

Two ranching tycoons. A decades-old feud. A sheriff bent on ridding the town of lawlessness . . .
In the midst of the trouble brewing in Laramie City in 1878, Julia Carson yearns to be free of her parents’ smothering and wonders whether she’ll ever find a man worthy to love in such a violent town rife with outlaws.

But when Robert Morrison sneaks onto her ranch the night of her sixteenth birthday party, Cupid shoots his arrows straight and true. Aware that their courtship would be anathema to their fathers, who are sworn enemies, Robert and Julia arrange a tryst.

Yet, their clandestine dalliance does not go unnoticed, and forces seek to destroy what little hope their romance has to bloom. The star-crossed lovers face heartache and danger as violence erupts. When all hope is lost, Joseph Tuttle, the new doctor at the penitentiary, is given a letter and a glass vial from Cheyenne medicine woman Sarah Banks.

The way of escape poses deadly dangers, but it is the only way for Robert and Julia to be together. It will take the greatest measure of faith and courage to come through unscathed, but love always conquers fear.


Hi Charlene! Your book, Wyoming Trust, takes place in 1878. Can you tell us what it is about that era that you love the most?

Charlene: All my novels in the Front Range series are set in this decade. I chose it because it’s when the railroad has finally made inroads into the region and a lot of people were settling into new towns. I also go deep into the Indian issues, as most were just sent to Oklahoma to reservations, and some of my characters are half-breed and dealing with prejudice. Colorado was also inducted as a state in that time, so there was a lot going on in the state/territory that impacts my characters.

I love western romance! Can you tell us a little about Julia and Robert, the main characters of your book? Are they soul mates?

Charlene: Wyoming Tryst is a very close adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, set in Laramie. That should tell all! Robert is the heir to a big cattle ranch, and Julia’s father owns another huge ranch. These two feuding families hate each other, and the novel follows the Bard’s play closely. Yes, you could say Robert and Julia are soul mates. They are both oppressed by their fathers, and they both have deep faith and the belief that they were meant to be together.

I love the phrase you use regarding the two lovers ‘love conquers fear.’ What are the two lovebirds fearful of the most?

Charlene: They fear others forcing them apart, which happens in a big way in the novel. But they find a way, miraculously, to not only be together but escape the hatred between their families.

They say that all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point when the reader can’t put the book down. Can you give us one of the pivotal points in your book?

Charlene: Probably when Julia gets hauled to the sheriff for shooting and killing the creepy cowboy that tried to rape her in the alley in the brothel district in Laramie.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Charlene: Both!

When writing books, do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Charlene: You have to do both. You must please your readers and meet their high expectations. But you also need to write a fresh, new story that hasn’t been done before. That was a fun challenge when paralleling Romeo and Juliet, but I think you’ll see how original this plot is.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Charlene: To spend years studying novel structure, to really master the craft!

What’s next for you?

Charlene: At some point I will be writing book 7 in the Front Range series, again set in Laramie. I don’t have a plot yet but it will also include the wonderful Doc Tuttle and the feminist Cathryn Povey. I hope readers will dive into the Front Range series and go on my characters’ journeys with them. I believe they’ll be thrilled and moved by the heart-thumping romance! And if readers join my mailing list with THIS LINK, they’ll get the first book, Wild Horses, Wild Hearts, for free!

Monday, August 27, 2018

A Bookish Conversation with 'Three Brothers' Joerg H. Trauboth

August 27, 2018 0 Comments
“Buddy McAllen is not far away. In fact, they almost trip over his ejector seat. The wind fills his parachute, causing it to pull away from the long, slender body of the American pilot and then deflate again. Buddy is shaking. The right side of his head along with his short blond hair is covered in blood. George sees a large dark stain on Buddy’s olive-green flight suit just above his right hip and, underneath him, a rather large pool of dried blood on the ground…”
--From THREE BROTHERS by Joerg H. Trauboth

Joerg H. Trauboth (Wikipedia) was born just outside of Berlin in 1943 during an air-raid. He discovered his love for writing early in his career as an officer and was awarded top honors by the General Inspector of the German Bundeswehr. Along the way, he flew over two thousand flight hours as a Weapons Systems Officer and instructor in the Phantom RF4E (in which he survived two critical lightening strikes). After a training in George AFB (CA), Major Joerg H. Trauboth flew the  Phantom F4F  and finally – followed by another conversion training in Cottesmore (UK) –  the Tornado aircrafts. Trauboth became a General Staff Officer in the Military Academy of the German Armed Forces in Hamburg-Blankenese and enrolled as LtCol  in the NATO Defense College in Rome. He has served in the German national operational headquarters as well as in the NATO Headquarters in Brussels as the German representative in the areas of Crisis Management, Operations, and Intelligence.

At the age of fifty, he retired early from his post as a Colonel in the German Air Force to become a Special Risk Consultant at the Control Risk Group in London. He was trained and engaged in negotiating extortion and kidnapping situations in South America and Eastern Europe.
The former Colonel, eager to start making money on his own soon founded the Trauboth Risk Management company. He received a startup award and quickly made a reputation for himself internationally as an top-notch crisis manager in Europe. During his time as CEO, he conceptualized crisis prevention strategies for a number of European companies and employed a 24-hour task force to protect them from product tampering, product recalls, kidnappings, and image crises. He was also a co-founder and the first president of the European Crisis Management Academy in Vienna and wrote a standard reference book on the subject of crisis management for companies at risk of threat.
Today Joerg H. Trauboth is an author, filmmaker with more than 75.000 youtube clicks, and an enthusiastic Grumman Tiger pilot. (See this latest night flight-video here. And if you want to know who his favorite Co-Pilot is, have a look here.)  The crisis manager and active pilot has served as the European Director and President of the US – based international American Yankee Pilots Organization.

His advice on crisis management is continually sought after and he is present as expert in radio and television interviews regarding his opinion on  international crisis situations.

Joerg H. Trauboth has been  53 years married with Martina. They have two sons, three grandchildren, and both live near Bonn, Germany. In addition, Trauboth voluntarily contributes his expertise to the Crisis Invention Team of the German Federal Foreign Office in Bonn and reads from his fiction and non fiction books on readers’ tours followed by discussions with his readers about the dramatically changing world.

Joerg’s latest book is the thriller, Three Brothers.

Book Description:

Marc Anderson and his two commando brothers Thomas and Tim are highly respected elite soldiers in the secretive German Commando Special Forces, the KSK. Together with the American Navy Seals, they successfully rescue the crew of a downed American F-15 tactical fighter jet in the Hindu Operation Eagle is betrayed, causes Marc, Thomas, and Tim to narrowly escape death. The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) starts the hunt for the informant.
Kusch Mountains under a barrage of heavy fire from the Taliban. However, their next mission – in Northern Iraq – to save two German hostages taken captive by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ends in disaster for the three brothers in arms. The perfectly laid-out strategy of

The devoted commando brothers decide to leave the KSK and start a new career together as security advisors with a family-owned company based in Cologne. But the terrorist activities of ISIS continue to determine their fate. The brothers are faced with one of their greatest challenges when ISIS kidnaps company heir Johannes Ericson and his partner Karina Marie. Moreover, the terrorists demand a ransom and extort the German government to immediately suspend its military intervention in the fight against ISIS. It is a race against time to save the couple from assassination.

Joerg H. Trauboth has written more than just an exhilarating novel. Three Brothers unites the current omnipresent threat of terrorism with the author’s first-hand experience as a crisis manager and a military and terrorism expert. The result is an unrivaled political thriller. In this gripping novel, Trauboth foretells possible scenarios for our society in light of the rise of radical Islamic terrorism. Read the full chapter 1 here …

Three Brothers is the English translation of the successful German thriller Drei Brüder (ratio-books), highly appreciated by thousands of readers, as well as military organizations and government officials alike. Jörg H. Trauboth’s storytelling skills can be compared to those of Tom Clancy and similar authors as James Patterson. The German version of the novel will also soon be available as an audio book.

Drei Brüder has been translated into English by (US native) Leanne Cvetan.


Welcome to Literarily Speaking! It’s interesting to find out how you got published for the first time. Can you share that experience?

Joerg: A well-known German publisher invited me to write a non-fiction book about Crisis Management. That was quite easy for me as a new author since prevention and response was my daily business. In 2001, the book became a standard source of information for all companies and persons who find it wise to be prepared; to think the unthinkable. In 2017, I developed that book further together with 5 other authors and it’s now used as standard lecture material in businesses and universities, but not is projected for translation.

How did you find a publisher for THREE BROTHERS?

After about 15 unsuccessful attempts and losing time, I sometimes felt with the early housewife Joanne K. Rowling who had more than 30 unsuccessful trials with her Harry Potter idea. Publisher said the book was too long and not a seller. And now look at this lady! As she, I found by recommendation a small publisher in my local area, Franz Koenig He was fascinated from the beginning. We started 2015 with the German edition “Drei Brüder” and this year we are going international followed by an audio book. And we are friends.

As an ordinary citizen in Germany, how did that you make you feel to become a published author?

Joerg: In Germany, they say you need to be a either a doctor or an author to be accepted as somebody different. I was always different in my life and did not need one nor the other. Therefore, after my first non-fiction book, I just continued to work in my real job as a crisis management consultant. But after my first thriller, devoted to my wife Martina, there was a noticeable difference. We went out for dinner and I dreamed of a successful career like Tom Clancy or Brad Thor and of Hollywood. Who knows…?

During your 29-year military service, how did you have time to write or did you write back then?

Joerg: I always loved writing. But due to my 29-year military service, the results were seen only by very few people - if not shredded. My dream was to write for a big audience. I started writing as author at the age of 50 after my retirement. I have produced 2 non-fiction books about Crisis Management and now my first thriller, Three Brothers. Today, I am 75 years old and already in the middle of my next political thriller. Writing keeps you young. A well-written thriller with the perfect plot is an unbelievable challenge. And translating that into another language is an additional one – for the translator, the publisher and the author.

Are you a detail freak when it comes to writing your novels?

Joerg: I am a detail freak but force myself not to divulge everything, I like to leave room the readers’ imagination. Also, I work with emotions but try to minimize clichés. The book should have the potential for a second reading even after you know the end. I decide relatively early whether the book ends positively or negatively. Three Brothers ends positively and the reader closes the book, hopefully, with a peaceful feeling. That’s my plan or it is what I wish happens. Would anyone recommend a book that ends in disaster?

I adjust my wording to the scenery.  In the romantic parts, the words are soft and match the backdrop or the general feeling. In a shooting or crisis situation, the sentences are short like the shots of a bullet. Sometimes I speak out loud and record a page and listen to my written words. At the latest, once your book has become an audio book is when you become very aware of what you have written.

What’s next for you?

Joerg: There will be a follow-up political thriller with my main protagonist Marc Anderson. But this time, the story will start in the White House. The plot is set, writing will start in September, and it will be published next year.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Interview with Catherine Wyatt-Morley & Jalyon Welsh-Cole, Authors of I Am The Product of Rape: A Memoir @cwm_women

August 23, 2018 0 Comments

A ferocious human predator ripped through our family, drooling over the innocent―leaving none untouched. Generations of child predators have devoured their vulnerable offspring and siblings, molesting our family’s youth unconcerned about the magnitude of their actions. Silence has become the gateway to mental health issues throughout our lineage.  I Am the Product of Rape―A Memoir exposes generational secrets, lies, cover-ups and denial and their consequences. Told from my perspective, this is my family story, a glimpse into four women irreversibly scarred by traumatic abuse.”

From I Am The Product of Rape: A Memoir by Catherine Wyatt-Morley and Jalyon Welsh-Cole

Catherine Wyatt-Morley is the founder, chief executive officer and heartbeat of Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit social service organization for the at-risk and HIV-positive community. In 1994, Wyatt-Morley founded Women On Reasons To Heal (W.O.R.T.H.), the first and what has become the oldest HIV-positive women’s support group in Middle Tennessee. 

Wyatt-Morley has appeared in countless media outlets nationwide, including SELF Magazine, the Today Show, A&U Magazine, POZ Magazine, CNN, Voices of America, MSNBC, Talk America Radio, FX Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, the Palm Beach Post, the Indianapolis Indiana Recorder, the Los Angeles Times, the Canadian Sun, Nashville Scene, and the Tennessean. 

Jalyon Welsh-Cole has been director of Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit social service organization, since 2010. Welsh-Cole began writing when she was very young, starting with short stories and poems. As a teen, she was inspired to draw, finding comfort and creativity in her art. She joined forces with Wyatt-Morley to share her story in I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR. Together, they also have created #HealingSecretHurts workshops, which bring the spectrum of traumatizing sexual assault into the light. 

Book Description:

The phrase “secrets and lies” takes on terrible new meaning in Catherine Wyatt-Morley’s devastating book, I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR.

Wyatt-Morley’s shocking story traces the repeated patterns of rape and incest that plagued four generations of her family, including Wyatt-Morley’s birth in a filthy basement to her 12-year-old mother, who was sexually abused by her step-father.

“…In the process of writing this book, an extremely difficult journey that has taken years, I was taken to unfamiliar destinations and exposed to unfathomable pain,” Wyatt-Morley relates. “Part of that pain was learning that I was created through the atrocities of incest by a brutally manipulative monster and, while only moments old, (I was) denied by a heartless grandmother who never bothered to look at me.”   

Wyatt-Morley wrote I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR, she says, “as my way of dealing with my personal healing. But through conversations with many diverse women, I quickly began seeing I was not alone. So many had never told anyone of the abuse that has happened to them; yet they have a need to heal, to not feel isolated.”

Wyatt-Morley’s daughter, Jalyon Welsh-Cole, also suffered the terrible legacy of her family when she was abused by her eldest brother. She wrote the epilogue to I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR, an essay she called BURNING HOUSE, in response to the continued pattern of abuse that formed her familial legacy.

“Most of my family members who have learned of this are dealing with it as well as one can,” Welsh-Cole says. “However, others are still in disbelief and struggle to understand. For over two decades I kept this heinous secret to myself. I have had time to bury it, cry over it, and finally seek therapy and come to grips with it.

Welsh-Cole’s mother’s story “made me feel as if our bloodline was full of secrets and lies that I wanted to expose,” she continues. “I knew after learning of my grandmother’s story that I wasn’t alone. Today, I cannot allow this to continue to happen in our family.”

As dark and unrelenting as it is, the story told in I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR leads to a conclusion of overcoming tremendous odds, leaving readers riveted, inspired, and empowered.


Thanks for visiting us today! I Am the Product of Rape: A Memoir is quite a heart-wencher. Can you tell us the reason why you wanted to share your story with the world?
Speaking with many ethnicities worldwide regarding the sensitive subjects of incest, rape and sexual abuse, I noticed in private, they freely disclosed their deepest painful experiences trusting me enough to reveal the real decay that lay behind the smiles. Overtime I saw so many people dealing with similar issues literally suffering alone, in silence. I saw a gap in leadership, a void needing correcting, and a position which needed to be up-righted.  I saw no one taking up the mantel on this issue which is real and happening daily, impacting thousands. I decided to lead! I am determined to be the voice that speaks proudly, gives encouragement and leads our generation of wounded people towards their healing place. My mother instilled in me at a very young age the gratification of helping others and being a leader. She ingrained in my head how though being a follower is easy, being a leader builds character. I choose character. I want to change lives and I want to be remembered for my selfless diligent fight. You ask why I want to share my story with the world? Because I want to give people like me the opportunity to hold their heads up high and say they are survivors not victims.

Can you tell us at what point did you decide that you couldn’t harbor this secret anymore? 

I had kept the secret for so long it had begun to affect me mentally, resulting in a bipolar diagnosis. In a manic state of mind I felt while I had the courage to say it, I just needed to get it out. I felt I needed to tell my mother. If I had not been in a manic state I don’t know if I would have disclosed such horrific news to her or where I would be in my healing process, as disclosing to her was my first step towards healing. Also the next step was when my mother recognized that I needed help and she proactively got that help for me that day. Because of my mental health issues with bipolar disorder I was suffering from the inside out constantly. As I stated in the Epilogue Burning House as part of I Am the Product of Rape―A Memoir, there was nothing anyone could do to my abuser to make it all better. The mental and physical scares his actions caused remain embedded in me. 

Some people judge rape victims saying that they must have provoked their victims to come on to them. What do you tell those people? 

To those who think this way I would say, there is no way an 8 year old little girl who had no interest in anything sexual nor had a fully shaped body could suggest to a predator that she would WANTED to be Raped/Molested. I am using myself as an example. However, there are adult women who are also victims. No one wants to be assaulted or violated. I would say they are wrong to assume a person willingly wants to have their life dramatically changed forever in that manner. That is a misunderstood misdirected assumption. I would hope sexual assault never happens to them or someone they love, unfortunately then there may be a change of heart.

Who was the first person you told and why?

The first person I told about being molested by my eldest brother was my boyfriend at the time. He was the first real/serious relationship I had ever been in. Prior to engaging in sexual activities with him we were both tested for HIV and I disclosed to him that I had been repeatedly rape/molested by my eldest brother. After telling him, he was very upset and supportive of me.

How are you helping other women deal with rape and can you tell us about Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit social service organization for the at-risk and HIV-positive community?

At the soul of the authors of I Am the Product of Rape―A Memoir is assisting others in need of healing from trauma. The authors of I Am the Product of Rape―A Memoir, have developed an interactive Workbook they have titled #HealingSecretHurts or (#HSH). In conjunction with I Am the Product of Rape―A Memoir, #HSH and utilizing other tools we conduct small to mid-size acquisition sessions which, with attendees, explores the raw subject matters exposed in I Am the Product of Rape―A Memoir.  Sessions are implemented in safe, confidential, comfortable environments. Making trauma a priority, the author’s ability to listen, believe, and care then encourage, empower and initiate behavior change is their principal. Their mother daughter synergy educates, enlightens and empowers as they share their experience while bringing the spectrum of traumatizing sexual assault into the light.

In addition to #HealingSecretHurts, Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit social service organization for the at-risk and HIV-positive community offers care and recovery through a thorough intake and assessment, the development of safety plans, safety kits, navigation, legal advocacy, court connection, prevention, counseling, support group, justice system advocacy, community coordination and collaboration, crisis intervention, employment counseling, culturally and linguistically specific resources and services targeting safety, locates emergency shelter and the establishment of new housing, transportation, and community outreach. The authors of I Am the Product of Rape―A Memoir alien with community based organizations, professionals and others to establish programs and services for domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault rape and stalking victims.

Thank you again for this interview. What advice can you give women to help them avoid rape/incest?

I would say don’t be naive, thinking that because it’s a family member or a boy/girlfriend they won’t hurt you or that it can’t or won’t happen to you. Get educated, read I Am the Product of Rape―A Memoir, attend one of our #HealingSecretHurts acquisition sessions, take a self-defense class, be prepared at all times, carry some type of protection, watch for signs of grooming, do your best to never put yourself in situations that can lead to something you don’t want to be involved in and lastly do the same for your friends. 

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