A War of Deception: An Interview with Local Author P.A. Duncan


When retired U.N. spy Mai Fisher leaves a diplomatic reception on a cold, rainy night early in the new year of 2001, she dashes for the first cab she sees. The driver has a tattoo Mai has seen before on Serbian paramilitaries. Suspicious, she forces him to admit he was waiting for her–to deliver her to the Russian Mafiya.

After almost 40 years as a spy for the United Nations Intelligence Directorate, Alexei Bukharin is glad to be alive to enjoy time with his wife, Mai Fisher, and to finish raising his college-student granddaughter, Natalia. When Mai calls him out of bed to bring her dry clothes after she takes an information drop from a Serbian diplomat, he discovers she’s suffered something that can be death for a spy, retired or otherwise: Someone knows her true identity.

A raid on the Mafiya apartment where Mai was to be taken uncovers something more devastating. The thugs have a photograph of Natalia at her university. The investigation becomes two-pronged: Who burned Mai, and why is the Russian underworld interested in Natalia?

Their investigation uncovers a Russian mole in the FBI, one who has been selling America’s secrets to the Soviets and the Russian Federation for more than 20 years. When Alexei discovers the reason behind the interest in Natalia, he realizes a decision he made in 1974 has come back to haunt him.

Personal needs, professional standards, and a choice from the past collide in a war of deception.

Maggie - AWoD Kindle Cover
Hello there! I’m so glad you are joining me today to learn about your first full-length novel, A War of Deception. Tell me a little about the book.
A War of Deception is about a retired spy getting burned (i.e., her true identity revealed), and the investigation into that leads to two subplots that end up being related. The tag line is: “Past and present. Fathers and sons. Retribution and revenge.” That pretty much sums it up. It is based on a real event in 2001, the discovery of a Russian mole in the FBI who’d been selling secrets for almost three decades.
You have also written several novellas and short stories. Are the same characters in all of them or are they different?
The same two principle characters, U.N. spies Mai Fisher and Alexei Bukharin, show up in all of them (except for a collection of literary short stories titled Fences), and they’re joined by a large cast of supporting characters: analysts, enemy agents, friends, lovers, adversaries. It’s a lot of work to keep them straight.
Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
From recent history and current headlines. I’m a student of history and politics (domestic and international), and world events appeal to me. I’ve written a lot of fiction about the Balkan wars in the 1990s and the Troubles in Ireland. My characters start out as spies in the Cold War and have to make an adjustment after the fall of the Soviet Union, and I deal with that in my work as well. And, of course, this past presidential election is fodder for all sorts of fiction. I’m sure every thriller writer is salivating over what comes next. Indeed, I’ve written (and published) a short story (“Brave New World” in Spy Flash II) and a novelette (Who Watches the Watchmen? and its soon to be published sequel, Hidden Agendas) about the 2016 election.
Do you have to do a lot of research or is this subject area one you have extensive knowledge about already?
Well, I’m not a spy–or maybe I am. LOL. I have to research tradecraft in different eras extensively because I want the stories to be authentic. My history degree helps, but I still have to research technology, customs, clothing, etc., for the time period I’m writing in. In my case, a lot of it is a walk down memory lane, especially looking at 1980s and 1990s fashions. Did I really wear things like that?
If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to play your main characters?
I’m a big fan of Viggo Mortensen. A great actor and easy on the eyes. When I saw him in Eastern Promises, he became my model for Alexei Bukharin. Imagine Mortensen with hair like the scientist Michio Kaku, and you have Alexei. Mai Fisher has always been harder for me to “cast.” I’ve seen her in Angelina Jolie (Lara Croft movies and Salt) and Cote de Pablo (formerly of NCIS). Having recently seen Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot would be a great contender for Mai in the 1980s and 1990s. Other people have suggested a young Helen Mirren.
And in theat movie, would the Russian parts be dubbed with thick accents or subtitled? (Okay, this is just a personal bias of mine. I want Russian with subtitles! hahaha!)
Well, Alexei has a slight Russian accent, but there are long exchanges of dialogue in Russian, so subtitles would work. 🙂
So what’s next for you? Do you have more novellas or short stories coming out or more novels? Anything in the works?
I’m always working on short pieces. They are great diversions when I get blocked on a novel. I have a couple of straight literary fiction novels I’d like to pitch to agents, but the big announcement is starting in April of 2018, a four-book series (aka a tetralogy) will begin, based somewhat loosely on the siege at Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing, though both those events have been “moved” to other locales for decency’s sake. I’ll continue to do NaNoWriMo, so I’m pretty much set with a backlog of manuscripts.
So, you’ve pretty much had one of the coolest careers prior to being a writer of anyone I know. Can you tell us a bit about this?
I held a number of jobs in the Federal Aviation Administration for thirty years, including reporter, editor, aviation safety inspector, and finally Flight Standards chief of staff. I was your basic bureaucrat for most of it, but I got to do a lot of interesting things: accident investigation, task forces, special investigations, and so forth. It was a good career, and I still keep my eye on pilot and flight attendants when I’m on an airplane. LOL.
Tell us something interesting about yourself that people might not guess.
I’m certified in the Commonwealth of Virginia to perform weddings. I specialize in nondenominational or humanistic weddings. A lot of the couples I’ve married have been from mixed religious backgrounds but who want a ceremony that’s spiritual but doesn’t favor one religion over the other.
If you had to go undercover as a spy, what would be hardest for you and why?
The lying–to your family, to the people you’re trying to recruit. I’m a lousy liar myself, so I’d likely not be successful at it. The deception, particularly with a spouse or your family, is something I’d find hard to overcome.
Thank you, P.A. Duncan!!!
Get your copy of A War of Deception here: http://bit.ly/PADuncan

Maggie - Me

P. A. Duncan is a retired bureaucrat but one with an overactive imagination—at least that’s what everyone has told her since she first started making up stories in elementary school prompted by her weekly list of spelling words.

A commercial pilot and former FAA safety official, she lives and writes in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. A graduate of Madison College (now James Madison University), she has degrees in history and political science. Politics and history manage to work their way into her writing.

She is president of the Virginia Writers Club, one of the oldest writer organizations in the country.

Her fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. When not writing, reading, reviewing books, singing in a UU choir, watching the Yankees, or cheering on Dale Earnhardt, Jr., she delights in spoiling her grandchildren.

Connect with P.A. Duncan here:

Http://www.facebook.com/unspywriter (Facebook author page)

@unspywriter (Twitter)

@PADuncan1 (Instagram)

The Demon Duke: An Interview with Local Author Margaret Locke


Margaret - DemonDukeCov

Behind every good man is a great secret.

Banished to Yorkshire as a boy for faults his father failed to beat out of him, Damon Blackbourne has no use for English society and had vowed never to return to his family’s estate at Thorne Hill, much less London. However, when his father and brother die in a freak carriage accident, it falls on Damon to take up the mantle of the Malford dukedom, and to introduce his sisters to London Society–his worst nightmare come to life.

He never planned on Lady Grace Mattersley. The beautiful debutante stirs him body and soul with her deep chocolate eyes and hesitant smiles. Until she stumbles across his dark secret.

Bookish Grace much prefers solitude and reading to social just-about-anything. Her family may be pressuring her to take on the London Season to find herself a husband, but she has other ideas. Such as writing a novel of her own. But she has no idea how to deal with the Duke of Malford.

Will she betray him to the world? Or will she be his saving Grace?

Margaret - 517BlackCover

Thank you, Margaret, for you allowing me to interview you today!!! Tell us a little bit about your newest book The Demon Duke.

How did you get the idea for the book? 

My son has Tourette Syndrome. A few years ago, he announced he’d never have a girlfriend, much less get married, because “nobody would want him.” It broke my heart – and still does. So I decided to craft a book in which a duke with Tourette’s (though it wasn’t called that in the Regency period) finds the love and acceptance he’s always wanted.

If your book was made into a movie, what actors would be in it?

 Oh, this one is easy! Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev of Vampire Diaries fame were the physical inspirations behind Damon Blackbourne and Grace Mattersley. J

 Bradley James and Colin Morgan would play James Bradley, Duke of Arthington, and Morgan Collinswood, Marquess of Emerlin, respectively. Hugh Jackman inspired Deveric Mattersley, and Reese Witherspoon makes a perfect Eliza Mattersley.

 I have other family members cast in my mind, and have pinned many of them to Pinterest boards – though of course I hope readers make up their own people in their minds if these names don’t fit for them!

Margaret - 518Cerberus

Should people read the other books in the Magic of Love series or is this a stand-alone book?

The Demon Duke is the first in my Put Up Your Dukes Regency series and is a stand-alone, without any of the magical elements that pop up in my Magic of Love series. However, our bookworm heroine Grace is the sister of Deveric Mattersley, the hero from A Matter of Time. So if you’ve read that book, you’ll have fun seeing familiar names and places in this one, but it’s not necessary to have done so to enjoy the story on its own.

 Margaret - 525Dialog

You are starting to become pretty popular and winning some awards. What is that like for you?

 Surreal! That I have readers who rave about my books still feels totally bizarre. Though I think I have a ways to go before you could truly call me popular. But it’s a dream come true to have people read my work and like it enough to want to read more. I hope I can keep living up to their expectations!

What would be your favorite and least favorite things about living back when The Demon Duke lived?

Favorite? Likely the furnishings. Yeah, I’m a weirdo. The furnishings, that is, if I were rich – more likely I’d be a barmaid or a seamstress or something, and then life would be much less fun. My least favorite thing? Lack of air-conditioning, modern medicine, and showers. Oh, that’s more than one? Well, they’re all important! 😉

 Margaret - 519Dancing

 What else are you working on right now? Will there be more Magic of Love books coming soon? 

 I do have at least one more in the Magic of Love series planned, maybe two, but as to when it will appear, I’m not sure, as I’m thrilled to be part of an upcoming series of books based on legendary figures with fellow Regency authors, and so therefore I need to work on that first so I don’t let the crew down! My contribution will be The Legendary Duke, set to debut in June 2018.

 I also want to write a short story or novella about the origins of the magical manuscript that first appears in A Man of Character.  And then there are several side characters in both my Magic of Love series and my Put Up Your Duke series whom I feel need their own stories told, but whose tales likely won’t contain magical elements or dukes, so, well, new series remain to be born!

 Thank you, Margaret! Can’t wait to read it! Get your copy today by clicking on the link below!

Amazon: http://bit.ly/TheDemonDuke

B&N: https://www.books2read.com/u/4DAddP

iTunes: https://www.books2read.com/u/4DAddP

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-demon-duke

Margaret - MLPic
A lover of romance novels since the age of ten (don’t tell her mom!), Margaret Locke declared as a teen she’d write romances when she was older. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grown-up things, not penning love stories. Turning forty cured her of that silly notion. Margaret is now happily ensconced back in the clutches of her first love, this time as an author as well as a reader.
Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fabulous kids, and three fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window); she’s come to terms with the fact that she’s not an outdoors person.
Margaret loves to interact with fellow readers and authors! You may find her here:

Website/Blog: http://margaretlocke.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMargaretLocke
GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/MargaretLocke
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/margaret_locke
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/Margaret_Locke
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Margaret_Locke

Unleash the Inferno: An Author Interview with Tamara Shoemaker


Find Unleash the Inferno on Amazon!

INTERVIEW WITH TAMARA SHOEMAKER

Why hello, dear Tamara. So lovely to have you back on my blog today. Our last interview was when you released the second book the Heart of a Dragon series. Tell me a little about your newest release, Unleash the Inferno.

After the Battle at ClarenVale, Kinna Andrachen unites those who spurn King Sebastian’s tyrannical reign, mustering a rag-tag army of soldiers and creatures to face Sebastian’s far larger Lismarian army. Victory is elusive and allies are scarce, but Kinna’s tenacious spirit cannot succumb to injustice. Her fiery heart must learn to lead.

At last mastering control of the four Touches of the powerful Amulet, Ayden finds himself at the center of an epic struggle to destroy the corruption that has tainted the throne of Lismaria for centuries. As time runs out, his options for survival fade, surrendering him to a dark destiny.

Tied to a fate he does not want, Cedric Andrachen resists his inheritance, fleeing the lust for power it sparks in him. As war looms, Cedric faces his choices: will he turn his back on his throne and his kingdom? Or will he enter the struggle against tyranny, bringing the freedom his people have so long sought?

Sebastian sits, at last, on the Lismarian throne, stolen from him twenty years prior. But now the Rebellion, led against him by his niece and nephew, threatens his security from across the Channel, and the Amulet’s promise of power tempts him into even darker shadows. Ghosts of the past brutalize Sebastian’s present until the lines of reality blur with nightmare.

Flames of war ignite between nations. Peril threatens the Andrachen line.
Who will survive the inferno?

Ooh, sounds exciting! Is this the last book in the series?

Yes, the trilogy starts with Kindle the Flame, increases its action and cinematic scale with the second book, Embrace the Fire, and ends in an epic battle between kingdoms with the third book, Unleash the Inferno.

Do people need to read the other books or can they jump into the series at this book?

While I think a well-written book can sort of initiate readers and introduce them to the story without too much of a jar, so much of a trilogy’s rich history is lost if someone begins with the third book. I’ve compared it before to the idea of introducing oneself to the Lord of the Rings trilogy by beginning with Return of the King. You’d get to enjoy the scope and scale of epic warfare and big-screen cinematic beauty… but you miss out on the events that brought you to that point in the story. I definitely recommend reading this trilogy in the order it was written. But if you start with Unleash the Inferno, it won’t be the end of the world.

Heh heh. Or will it? 😉

Oh my. Better read the others, then! What inspired you to write this series?

I’ve always been a fan of epic fantasies, hearkening back to when I was a pre-teen, huddling under my blankets with a flashlight and reading Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring. Before I began my Heart of a Dragon trilogy, I had an urban fantasy trilogy out on the market. I knew I wanted to add a fantasy based in a medieval world with knights and horses and battles and dragons and other fantastic creatures. This was confirmed when I went to New York City a few years ago to pitch an urban fantasy to some agents. One of the agents I spoke with listened to my pitch with interest. She invited me to send her my manuscript, and when I did so, she returned this comment: “I had really hoped for a medieval setting with ladies in impractical gowns and knights on horseback.”

Of course, I didn’t scrap my book based on her advice—I went ahead and published it independently (see my Guardian of the Vale trilogy)—but it did cement my desire to write a medieval-setting fantasy. That’s how Kindle the Flame was born.

What do you hope readers will experience while reading Unleash the Inferno?

Oh, loads of stuff! On a surface level, I just want them to get wrapped up in an action-packed, intrigue-filled plot. Beyond that, I want them to appreciate the nuanced and layered characters that fill the pages. Romance fans I hope will enjoy the angsty Ayden and the green-eyed, gorgeous Kinna. Fantasy fans will love those dragons, I think. Literary fiction fans will find some depth in the introspective soul-searching carried out by heroes and villains alike. Anywhere there is a clashing battle of dragons in the skies, there will be cinematic, big-picture beauty. I hope readers get to experience all of these with clear word pictures playing out in their imaginations.

Why are you obsessed with dragons? And have you seen someone about it yet? 🙂

Ha! My psychologist kicked me out and told me never to come back (just kidding). 😉 I love the idea of “good” dragons. I grew up with Smaug and similar ilk in my literature, so the idea of dragons with sympathetic characteristics was intriguing to me. Really, these dragons I included in this trilogy could be overgrown puppy dogs, just with, you know, fangs and Dragonfire. I love the mind-connection I set up between the characters and their respective dragons. It just seemed like a really cool concept.

Your ability to multitask continues to astound me. How do you juggle being a prolific writer and an amazing editor while being the awesome mother of three?

*Shrugs and looks around for an answer to drop out of the sky. 😉

I don’t know, quite honestly. I take one day at a time. I set goals and work my rear end off to reach them. Some days I succeed, some days I fail, but I never give up. I love what I do. I love being a mother, a wife, a homemaker, an author. I love volunteering my time to things that are important to me. I love embracing life. I have no idea how I juggle it; I just go from one thing to the next, and somehow it all works out. 🙂

What’s next for you? What books/series are you working on now?

I’m finishing up another line-edit (Tamara is also my editor and just finished my line edit!!!) for a client during the month of May, and then I’m planning to lay down the first draft for a brand new YA fantasy featuring fairy-tale settings, political intrigue, and world-travel in June. We shall see if it actually happens or not. 🙂

And now time for my fun/silly question. If you were trapped on a deserted island with only three books, what books would they be?

My Bible, Anne of Green Gables (that, when you open it, somehow magically includes the entire Harry Potter series, all Jane Austen books, Jane Eyre, several Gilbert Morris books, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder series), and How to Construct a Sea-Worthy Vessel and Escape Desert Islands Using Only Pages Torn From Books, Sand, and Palm Leaves. I’ve heard it’s a best-seller…

Haha! It’s been great talking with you, Tamara! I look forward to reading your new book!

Find Unleash the Inferno on Amazon!

Tama Author Pic

Tamara Shoemaker authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, another Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the Heart of a Dragon trilogy: Kindle the Flame, Embrace the Fire, and Unleash the Inferno, as well her Guardian of the Vale trilogy: Mark of Four, Shadows of Uprising, and Guardian of the Vale. In her spare time, she freelances as an editor for other works of fiction, chases three children hither and yon, and tries hard to ignore the brownie mixes that inevitably show up in her cabinets.

Follow her on social media:

Twitter: @TamaraShoemaker

Website: www.tamarashoemaker.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tshoebooks

Instagram

A Scandalous Matter: Interview with Local Author, Margaret Locke


Independent, spirited Amara Mattersley may live under scandal’s shadow, but at least the nineteenth-century Regency society judging her is familiar. That’s all about to change when she finds herself in twenty-first-century Charlottesville, Virginia—and locking horns with one very befuddling, very male, UVA professor. 

Computer science professor Matthew Goodson has no time for love—no time for anything, actually, but his quest for tenure and his obsession with the screen. The last thing he expects is to get side-swiped by this adorably odd British miss. Yet something in her calls to him, pulls at him, in a way unknown—and uncomfortable. 

Can the past and the present blend together into a mutual future? Or will old wounds and new complications sabotage any chance at a twenty-first century happily ever after? 

 

Margaret (teehee), I’m so glad to chat with you today about your next book in your Magic of Love series, A Scandalous Matter. Tell us what it’s about!

Thanks so much for having me, Allison! I’m delighted to be here. J

Here’s a short summary of A Scandalous Matter:

 Scandal-scarred Amara Mattersley has had enough of men and the woes they cause. She wants only independence – and an education on par with that of her brothers. To find both, she time travels to present-day Virginia, determined to stay free from emotional attachments. Until she finds herself entangled with very attractive, but also very befuddling, computer science professor Matthew Goodson. Can past and present blend into a Happily Ever After future?

 

So I’ve read the first book in your series, A Man of Character, and I love love loved it! How does this new book compare and differ from your first? And can someone who’s never read the first two start with this one?

A Man of Character features the same setting as A Scandalous Matter—present-day Charlottesville, Virginia. Both books also have intelligent heroines encountering likewise brilliant computer science professors. Go figure. But A Man of Character’s main peeps are both from this century, as opposed to Amara and Matthew’s story, which has the time travel element, and therefore marked cultural differences and experiences, tossed in.

And yes—any of my books can be read independently from the others, though if one wants to avoid potential small spoilers, I suppose starting from the beginning makes the most sense. But no one has to, so dive in where it most interests you!

 

I heard you’re getting famous and winning some awards! 🙂 How does it feel?

I like the way you exaggerate!

I am extremely privileged to have finaled thrice in the 2016 Virginia Romance Writers HOLT Medallion competition (Best First Book for A Man of Character, and Best Paranormal Romance plus Best Book by a Virginia Author for A Matter of Time).

mlockeholt

I didn’t win, but finaling means I was in the Top 5, and that’s pretty darn amazing. Me? Little old ME? Who’d never written a book before?

It’s super exciting, but also feels quite surreal. Most of this new venture has felt surreal at times, actually. It’s a wild ride, often high, occasionally low, but I love it!

 

As a budding author, I always love to know how you got started with writing and how you got published?

I’d said since I was a teen that I was going to write romances when I grew up, but I went on to follow different dreams. Though the recent discovery of romance plot ideas I’d scribbled down in my 20s shows the interest never fully left.

In the fall of 2011, when my daughter entered kindergarten, I needed to figure out what I wanted/needed to do, since both kids were now in school full-time. I’d been a doctoral student in medieval history at one point, but had spent ten years as an at-home mom. Did I want to enter the work force? Did I have any marketable skills remaining after such a long hiatus? One night over dinner, my husband asked me what I truly wanted most. My immediate answer was, “to write.” His answer? “Go for it.” (See why I married him?)

As for publishing, that was a long and winding road. I originally embarked on the traditional route of seeking an agent and getting published by a company. I queried a zillion people and some small presses. I had nibbles and one big bite from a small press, but by that point, I’d read a lot about self-publishing and met other authors having lots of success with that route (including Katy Regnery, who’s now a USA Today and NYT Bestselling Author, but she took the time then to give me advice!). I decided indie publishing suited my and my family’s needs and temperament best – but it’s definitely not an easy road. Not that any path to publishing is, but being an indie author means I’m in charge of it all—and I’m battling to prove my worth against the still-lingering notion that indie authors aren’t as good as traditionally pubbed authors (as with anything, you’ve got good and bad on both sides of the fence, right?). Lots to learn, lots of mistakes to make, but in my heart I know it was the best choice for me.

Margaret – hanging out with famous author, Eloisa James (left) and with fan, Annie (right)

I am a sucker for romantic comedy movies but have never gotten into reading romances. The reason I loved your first book is I felt like I was reading something that might have starred Meg Ryan (before her weird Joker-looking plastic surgery). What inspired you to start this series?

It’s true that A Man of Character is not fully a traditional romance, mostly because the whole premise–What if a woman discovered the men she was dating were actually fictional characters she’d written long ago?—wasn’t quite typical from the start. Most romance doesn’t feature a heroine who dates more than one guy, or a female friendship that is nearly as dominant as the love story. That’s why I call it a romantic comedy (code word these days for chick lit, as that phrase has fallen out of favor.) Chick lit tends to feature women in their 20s and 30s dealing with life and career and friendships – and yes, often romance, but that isn’t the sole focus of a chick lit book.

I didn’t set OUT to write chick lit, though – it just happened. Once the idea popped into my head, I couldn’t let go of it. The rest, they say, is history.

 

What’s next? Is this the last book of the series?

 You’d think I’d have that all figured out, wouldn’t you? A Scandalous Matter is definitely NOT the last book in my Magic of Love series—I have at least two more planned, perhaps more, since readers (and characters) keep asking for further stories. Hooray!

But my fourth book, The Demon Duke, will launch a new, purely Regency series, Put Up Your Dukes. The Demon Duke features Grace Mattersley (sister to A Matter of Time’s hero Deveric Mattersley) and Damon Blackbourne, Duke of Malford. It will debut in early 2017.

As you might gather from the series’ name, the heroes will be dukes (like A Matter of Time’s James Bradley). Some of the heroines will hail from A Matter of Time’s Mattersley family, and some won’t.

Not only will I have a ducal series, but I’ll also write stories for the other Mattersley siblings in my Matters of Love series. With this many books to write, I better get busy. Or busier, as the case may be.

If you could time travel to any era, where would you go and what crazy things do you think you’d get into?

I have to pick just ONE? Because I want to see ancient Greece and ancient Rome, Charlemagne’s era, Germany in the Ottonian and Salian periods, medieval England, renaissance Italy, Regency England, the American West, America in the 1950s (okay, that’s just for the shot to meet Elvis, mostly)…

And I think I’d rather stay on the sidelines and observe, like Scrooge. Don’t want to risk that whole butterfly effect, you know? Though I’m dying to know who built Stonehenge and why, what WAS it like in Egypt thousands of years ago, what would it sound like to hear kids in Caesar’s time speaking fluent Latin, what was it like to be alive during the middle ages, etc, etc…

 

If your novel was a movie, who’d play the main peeps?

Whew, an easier question! In my mind, A Scandalous Matter’s Amara Mattersley and Matthew Goodson are physically modeled after Jennifer Lawrence and Matthew Goode. (A Matter of Time’s Eliza James and Deveric Mattersley are a plumper Reese Witherspoon and Hugh Jackman to me, not that you asked – and I have Pinterest boards showing those inspirations, as well as those for the characters in A Man of Character (http://www.pinterest.com/Margaret_Locke).

 

If your life was made into a German telenovela (soap opera), what would it be called?

Can I just call it Eichhörchen (squirrel)? Because that’s such a fun word to say. But probably, Die Frau, die zuviel spricht (The Woman Who Talks Too Much). Which might also be my native American name.

 

Please tell me a humorously cool story about yourself that somehow relates to your book (like fitting in somewhere you don’t belong etc).

Humorously cool story? About ME? Well, I’ve never time travelled (sadly), but I DID just get back from a trip with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop to New York City—and this Iowa girl now living in relatively rural Virginia definitely felt like a fish out of water. So many people, so much noise, so many gigantic buildings. How does anybody live there, with the high prices and mass chaos? Not quite the same as skipping centuries, but I could easily see myself gawking about as much as a Regency transplant might. Luckily, Central Park provided me the same refuge UVA’s Lawn provides for Amara in A Scandalous Matter.

 

Finally, I know you love 80s music. Please change the chorus/lyrics from a popular 80s song and make it about your book! 🙂

I do love 80s music, but man, this is a lot of pressure!

Let’s go with Prince, to honor his late greatness, and because When Doves Cry gets a shout-out in A Scandalous Matter:

When Time Flies… (apologies to Prince)

Click, if you will, the picture
Of you and I engaged in a kiss.
The brim of your bonnet covers me.
Can you, Amara,
Can you picture this?

Dream, if you can, a stone circle–
An ocean of violets in bloom.
Manuscripts bring love stories
That tell the heat,
The heat between me and you…

 

That was amazing! You are the best, Margaret! Thanks for indulging my random, fun interview! 🙂
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A lover of romance novels since the age of ten (shh, don’t tell mom!), Margaret Locke declared as a teen that she’d write romances when she grew up. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grown-up things (such as earning that master’s degree in medieval history), not penning steamy
Turning forty cured her of that silly notion. Margaret is now happily ensconced back in the clutches of her first love, this time as an author as well as a reader. 

Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fabulous kids, and two fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window); she’s come to terms with the fact that she’s not an outdoors person. 

Margaret loves to interact with fellow readers and authors! You may find her here:

Website/Blog: http://margaretlocke.com

Ariel: My Interview with Sydney Scrogham


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Back cover copy:  Abuse survivor Ariel Harte doesn’t need anyone. Ever. But her companion animal is infected with a dark, magical force. Only an ancient purification ritual, the mind link, performed with another human can cure this infection.

Ariel must ask her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Tracey, for help.

But she’s racing time. She’s infected, too. All the walls will have to come down so Ariel can heal or she will lose herself to the darkness forever. 

Ariel: The First Guardian is a story of true love that wins over time, the power of second chances, and redemption from abuse. This is a prequel to Chase in the Guardians of Agalrae series but can be enjoyed as a standalone novel.

Preorder it now on Amazon 
Hello, Sydney! I’m so excited about your new book, Ariel, that’s coming out tomorrow, June 17th. I’ve got some fun questions for you. Here we go!
What inspired you to write this book?
In all honesty, it was a bad breakup. Writing for me is a spiritual process transforming painful circumstances into something life-giving that I can understand. That’s exactly what I did with Ariel’s story. I won’t confess what parts are based on real-life events, but this story does hit close to home. As I wrote Ariel’s story and she got her happy ending, I did, too.
 
What other books/movies can you compare your book to?
When it comes to the voice of this story, definitely James Patterson’s Maximum Ride books. And then I took some of the romance aspects from my favorite TV show Castle. This was also kind of my way of ironically striking back at Fifty Shades of Grey. There are a lot of ironic connections between the stories for me, but I’ll leave it up to the reader to figure out how. (Don’t worry, Ariel’s story doesn’t contain any graphic sexual scenes.)
 
Is this the first book you have published? If not, what are some of your other books out there?
This is the second book for me. The first was Chase, published in August 2015 with Koehler Books.
 
I hear you have mild to moderate obsession with horsies…when did this all begin?
Probably when I started writing. 🙂 Actually, it was before then. There’s a picture floating around my family of me as a baby sitting on the back of a gray horse. (Yes, someone is holding me up there.) I got my own horse when I was 12, and I’ve had a horse ever since. Snowdy is my second four-legged child. I met him working at my college’s equestrian center. He picked me as his person, and when the college was ready to retire him from his school horse career, he came home with me a few months after.
 
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Explain the feeling you get when you are riding a horse.
It’s simultaneously peaceful and empowering. My mind silences to focus on a single thing-communicating well with my horse. A horse is always speaking to its rider if they have the ears to listen. When I reach that sweet spot where we’re understanding each other, I feel invincible.
 
What’s your favorite type of horse?
It’s never been about the “type” for me. It’s about the heart. That’s what drew me to Snowdy. He was a rather aggressive lesson horse, very unhappy with life, and I remember the days when people would refer to him with expletives I won’t repeat. That made me so angry. I could see something in Snowdy’s eyes from the beginning, even when he was angry. He was intelligent, always thinking, full of potential, but frustrated. All he needed was someone to believe in him. And in that moment, I saw myself in his eyes. That was it. I was sold. Long story short, I learned Snowdy is a Selle Francais (French Thoroughbred) with a fancy sire and siblings that have gone off to be big names in the show jumping ring. But that was never important to me in the beginning. It just so happens that he has incredible natural talent. He’s been with me for three years now, happy as can be, and though he isn’t mean anymore, he did keep his sass. 🙂 It’s amazing how sometimes all animals (and people) need sometimes is a little bit of love.
 
Finally, what song would play in the opening track of your book turned into a movie?
Funny you asked that. I asked Ariel the same thing when she was teaching me her backstory before I started writing. She told me that her opening song would be “Hero” by Nickelback. The rest of her playlist includes “Hero” by Skillet, “I Know” by Seventh Day Slumber, “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence, “Invincible” by Crossfade, and “Erase” by Building 429.
 
For more from Ariel’s initial interview with me, check it out: http://www.sswriter.com/lions-tigers-characters-oh-my-interview-101/ 
Thanks so much, Syndney! Can’t wait to read the book!
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SYDNEY SCROGHAM loves creating happy endings. She started writing when she was 12. Her first book, Chase, was published by Koehler Books in August 2015. When she’s not writing, she’s at the barn with Snowdy or catching up on reruns of the best TV show ever – Castle. She lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia with an adorable dachshund named Zoe. To learn more, visit her website at sswriter.com.

Interview with Tamara Shoemaker: Author of Mark of Four


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  1. Tell me a little about who you are and what you write.

I’m a bookworm masquerading as a wife, mother of three, writer of books, freelance editor. Imagination is my middle name. Or chocolate, one or the other.
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  1. How did you get into writing?

It’s always hard to know how to answer this. I’ve doodled stories from little on up, but didn’t actually finish a novel until 2006. It took me six years to find a publisher, but I loved the creation of novels so much, I haven’t stopped making books since.

  1. If you were on a deserted island, what three books would you bring with you and why?
    1. How to Build a Boat and Other Interesting Things You Can Do with Palm Fronds – for obvious reasons.
    2. 1001 Travel Games – in case of boredom
    3. 400 Ways to Cook Seaweed – for, you know, the meals I’ll need to host.TamaraShoemaker-300dpi-3125x4167(1)
  2. Give us an idea of what Mark of Four is about.

Seventeen-year-old Alayne Worth wields four elements in a world where all other Elementals wield only one, and every force on CommonEarth, both good and bad, wants to use her talents with fire, air, earth, and water. How will she survive the struggle for the power she possesses?

  1. What books are similar to Mark of Four?

A test-reader just got done reading Mark of Four yesterday and gave me his opinion. “It’s Harry Potter meets Avatar,” he said. As a lifelong Harry Potter fan and a loyal follower of Avatar, I’ll take that as high praise.

  1. If your book gets made into a movie, who would play the main characters?
  • Alayne – a slightly younger Adrianne Palicki (Bobby, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
  • (Diving into the cartoon world) Marysa – Rapunzel from Tangled (with shorter, dark hair)
  • Jayme – Flynn Ryder, also from Tangled
  • Kyle (Departing from the cartoon world again) – Luke Mitchell (Lincoln, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
  • Daymon – Theo James (Four, Divergent)
  • Manders – Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man, The Avengers)
  • Malachi – Woody Harrelson (Haymitch, Hunger Games)
  1. What are some of the other books you have written?

I have four mysteries out: my Shadows in the Nursery series, and another mystery, Soul Survivor. This past summer, I released the first book of my Heart of a Dragon trilogy, Kindle the Flame, and its sequel will follow in March of 2016. Mark of Four is the first book of my Guardian of the Vale trilogy.

  1. How do you juggle being a stay-at-home mom and an amazing author?

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Sheer insanity. Lots of coffee. And an understanding and supportive husband.

  1. Name your favorite animal and why…(this was a sneaky, three-point question…) 🙂

Gorillas fascinate me. When I visit the zoo, they are the one animal that I would sit and watch for hours, if I could. Of course, I’ve never cuddled with a gorilla, so if I ever had the chance, it’s possible I would choose the more normal cat or dog answer.

  • Could you give me three words that say what you like about a gorilla?
    • Gorilla: Three words or three phrases? I’m having trouble coming up with anything besides big, hairy, or funny for the words. Phrases could be: a.) He plays peek-a-boo with my kids and saves me a whole lot of energy, b.) he picks his nose just like my son, and c.) he uses his toes like fingers. Wish I could do that. 🙂
  • Okay, so using your phrases about your fav animals (big, hairy, funny, plays peek-a-boo, picks his nose, uses toes like fingers) – tell me how those characteristics relate to you.
    • Hahaha!! Hmm, I’m not very big or hairy, but I do have an occasional funny moment. I play peek-a-boo with my kids, but not as well as said gorilla. In shocking news, I have picked my nose before, but have trouble using my toes like fingers–they just don’t have that piano flexibility that I’ve developed with my hands. 🙂
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  1. Who inspires you?

I am amazed every week by the work of the Flashdogs, writers from around the world who come together online to offer pieces of absolutely stunning work on various flash fiction sites. When I hit writer’s block, I go search for their work, and generally reading over their stories shatters the wall, and the stories begin flowing again.

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Tamara Shoemaker lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, three children, a few jars of Nutella, and a never-ending carafe of coffee. She authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, another Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the beginning of the Heart of a Dragon trilogy: Kindle the Flame, as well as the upcoming Guardian of the Vale trilogy.

Follow her on social media:

Twitter: @TamaraShoemaker

Website: www.tamarashoemaker.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tshoebooks

 

Loca for Local: Doña Eva’s (versión en español)


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¡Finalmente estoy siguiendo mi serie de blogs sobre restaurantes y lugares locales en el Valle de Shenandoah! Entonces, mi próxima parada estaba en: Doña Eva’s, una taquería local localizada en Kenmore Street en Harrisonburg, Virginia.

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Los dueños de Doña Eva’s, Evangelina (Doña Eva) y su hijo, Victor, vienen de Michoacán, México (hogar de las mariposas monarcas). La abuela de Doña Eva era la que le enseño a cocinar hace varios años, y ¡qué buen trabajo hizo!

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Crecen algunos de sus propios verduras (jitomates, tomates/tomatillos, chiles, etc.) y compran lo más local y fresca y que puedan para hacer una comida deliciosa.

Para mi, hizo dos de sus creaciones especiales, Enfrilojadas de Queso (tortillas frescas y hechas a mano enrolladas en frijoles refritos y llenados con queso fresco y con lechuga, aguacata, y salsa casera encima) y Entomatadas de Queso (lo mismo pero enrolladas en salsa casera de tomate). Mmmm…los dos eran deliciosas pero mi FAVORITO era la Enfrijolada de Queso. Las salsa eran deliciosos y perfectamente picante. Tomé un Jarrito pero aprendí después que hace aguas frescas también.wpid-20150823_184513.jpgwpid-20150823_184521.jpgwpid-20150823_184336.jpg

(yo probando la salsa – ¡uno nunca sabe que picante puede ser!)

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Mi amiga, Leigh, probó la agua fresca de jamaica.

Doña Eva’s sirve una variedad de comida mexicana fresca, incluyendo: Tacos de Bistec, Tacos de Carne Asada, Gorditas, Tamales, Sopes, Guaraches, y, claro, las Enfrijoaladas y Entomatadas que probé el otro día! 🙂

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Abren para lonche Lunes a Viernes de 11:30am-3pm y Sábados de10am-8pm y Domingos de 1-7pm

Entonces, cuando te antoja algo auténtico y mexicano, ¡ve a Doña Eva’s para comer! No te vas a arrepentir. 🙂

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