Monday, July 30, 2012

TBR welcomes Lorrie Unites-Struiff

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Lorrie. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Lorrie: Well, I hail from Pittsburgh, Pa. I’m an, ahem, older broad that finally found time for writing after retirement and the empty nest syndrome. I have one daughter—my other daughter passed away—and seven grandchildren I’m very proud of. I stay young by hanging out with them and my young author friends.

TBR: Tell us about GYPSY BLOOD and where it's available.
Lorrie: My latest release is Gypsy Blood, available at BookWeLove and Amazon.

Available  on Amazon.

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Lorrie: I’d like to introduce you to Homicide Detective Rita Muldova.
This book is for you mystery, thriller, paranormal, romance lovers out there. I included a little gypsy lore I’m sure you’ll find interesting..
I’ve had quite a few tell me they couldn’t put the book down. Try it. Lol. It’s very inexpensive. I write to entertain readers.

Homicide Detective Rita Moldova has a secret, a crystal amulet from her Roma bloodline that allows her to see the last image a victim had seen in their eyes before they died. Now, a ritual killer is terrorizing her town and the crystal’s magic has suddenly stopped doing its job.
FBI agent, Matt Boulet, is sent to lead the task force and gives the group strange orders. Worse, Rita senses he is holding back a deep, dark secret about the killer.
When she confronts her seer mother’s advice, she learns another secret about their clan that she finds impossible to swallow.
Rita swims through a whirlpool of confusion as the investigation continues. Can Rita deny the lore of the ancients? Can she deny her growing feelings for Matt Boulet?

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Lorrie: I’ve always been interested in gypsy/Roma lore. I found the research absolutely fascinating. I’ve learned so much that I had to include customs and such into the book.

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Lorrie: Definitely a punster. I’m what you would call a “layerer”. Ha, I just made up a new word. I write the bones, then I go back and layer. On every rewrite, I layer more. I’ve tried working with outlines but most times my characters want to take off in a different direction. So I go with the flow.

TBR: How do you develop your characters?
Lorrie: Strictly from my imagination. Most times, I like to throw odd characters together and see what trouble they will get into. I have a book being released in the fall where I threw an old west sheriff together with a cute monkey. Talk about trouble, it’s there.

TBR: Any tips or tricks for world building you’d care to share?
Lorrie: I’d love to learn how to world build and admire authors that do it well. Moi? I’ll stick to the one I know, lol, this one.

TBR: Which of your characters would you most/least like to invite to dinner, and why?
Lorrie: I’d invite Della from Gypsy Blood. She is a detective, Rita’s best friend, but most of all, she tells it like it is. A straight shooter, loyal, and fun. One day I may write a book with Della as the main character.

TBR: While creating your books, what was one of the most surprising things you learned?
Lorrie: All the fascinating lore of the Romany people. Some quite scary and some beautiful. Their customs and beliefs are truly wonderful. To me, anyway.

TBR: Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Lorrie: My setting takes place in today’s world. I used many places of where I live, although I gave some fictional names. I did build a theme mall. I think what really makes it different is how close knit the Roma community is, and of course Rita’s magic heirloom that has been passed down through the maternal generations.

TBR: What's next for you?
Lorrie: I have a series due out, and another book in the fall, the sheriff and the monkey, titled “A Heap of Trouble.”

Let me share a bit about them with your readers if you have room on the blog

Being released within the next two weeks,The COD club series with BTGN.
Story 1&2 will be included in the first book.
Come and meet Winnie Krapski who hugged a cherry tree during a lightning storm. The bolt slammed her, splitting the tree in half. The near-death experience bestowed her with a gift–one she’d rather not have.
Drafted into the C.O.D. Club (Call on the Dead) by Fat Phil Phillips, her mission is to grant the newly deceased’s ghost one last reasonable request. Can Winnie honor her oath?
Well, she tries, but not before she lands in humorous situations that almost get her killed. She’s one spunky broad.
I hope you try a copy and look forward to more of Winnie’s adventures.
I’ll put the real cover up and release date soon.

Also coming this fall from MuseItUp, A  Heap of Trouble.
      Cole Walker, Sheriff of Cold Creek, has more woes than he can handle.  He thought chasing rustlers would be the worst of his problems, until the newly arrived, Mattie Wells, jingles his spurs with a smile, and he falls head over heels for her.
 Cole's fear of critters comes to light when a runaway monkey named Beggar takes a liking to him. He remembers when his pa's hound dog left teeth marks on his butt when he was just a tyke.
         But, Mattie thinks Beggar’s adorable, so what’s a man supposed to do? Now, he’s forced to put up with the little fur ball...uh...ringtail monkey even when the furry thief starts stealing the townsfolk’s trinkets.
          The rustlers roaming the hills, stealing the Double J’s cattle are a mighty puzzling crew. JJ blames the farmers and an all out war is in the making.
      Trying to keep the peace between the farmers and the cattleman, Cole and his deputies, Wade and Sully, have their hands full. Mayor Farley gives them a month to find the thieves before calling for outside help.
Mattie has a dark secret and vows never to marry. While harboring a secret of his own, Cole pushes to pry out her secret in hopes of changing her mind.
       Cole chases Mattie, the rustlers, and Beggar in a town full of fun characters and chaos.         
Can he bring the rustlers to justice, peace and order to Cold Creek, the townsfolk’s loot back to their rightful owners, and win Mattie’s heart?
      Yep. Cole has a heap of trouble on his hands.

TBR: Any other published works?
Lorrie: Yes, many short stories that you can see on my website.

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Lorrie: Challanging—the promoting.
Most rewarding is when someone tells me, “Hey, you can really write good books.”  That one still surprises me because all I do is write to entertain readers.

TBR: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Lorrie: “You have to write a sequel.”

TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Lorrie: Why, Cate, you are one of my favorite authors. I’ve read all your novellas. Plus Ginger Simpson, she does have a way with words I envy. And of course Marva Dasef. Really too many favorites to name or we’d have this whole blog covered.

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Come on over and see what’s cooking.

TBR: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Lorrie: I write across the board with genres. I guess it depends on what mood I’m in. What do you think is the biggest selling genre today?

TBR: Readers, Lorrie will give away a PDF copy of Gypsy Blood, or one of the short stories I have listed on my website, whichever they prefer, to one lucky commenter. She'll pick a winner next week and announce the winner here. Be sure to leave your email address so she can contact you.

Thanks so much for visiting TBR, Lorrie. All the best to you!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

This week on TBR

Three wonderful authors you won't want to miss!

Monday, July 30 - Lorrie Unites-Struiff

Wednesday, Aug. 1 - Linn B. Halton

Friday, Aug. 3 - Donna Del Oro

Thanks to the authors who shared their blurbs in the Military/Espionage Blurb Fest this weekend! There's still time to share your blurb in the comments section of the post below, if your stories contain spies or soldiers. :)

In September, watch for the Suspense Blurb Fest, and another for all genres.

Last chance to visit with the Judith Graves, TBR's July Featured Author! The month has dwindled down to days, so don't miss out.

Thanks, as always, for your support!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Military/Espionage Blurb Fest!

Do you love stories whose heroes or heroines are in the military? Or with a military setting? Maybe stories with a spy or two keeps you turning pages?

This weekend, you might find a few new stories to add to your TBR pile, because it's the Military and Espionage Blurb Fest weekend.

Authors, it's easy to participate. In the comments section, post:

- book title
- your name
- blurb
- buy link

One blurb per author, please.

Hopefully your blurb will snag a few new readers!  And if you know of others who write in these genres, please encourage them to share their blurbs too.

I'm looking forward to reading some great blurbs this weekend. Post away!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TBR welcomes Natalie G. Owens

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Natalie. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Natalie: I write stories of romance, suspense, and the paranormal - and I like to set my stories in exotic locations. My stories are populated with real-life characters that sometimes go through the wringer :). Occasionally I do have my dark moments, which is when I usually drum up the odd literary horror piece to quench the thirst, lol.

I got my first taste of serious writing in my teens by penning poetry, short stories, and articles for college and local publications. At university, I trained as a lawyer (sucked at it!). In 2006, I came to my senses and started freelancing as a writer and editor; and later still, I finally turned to thinking up plots and talking to my characters when everyone else was asleep. I sold my first story to an e-publisher in 2007.

I am married and have one son. I lived in Atlanta, Georgia, for a long time but since 2009 I call the beautiful island of Malta home. When I'm not working or writing - or muttering to myself about it like a batty old maid - I enjoy spending time with my family and friends (both online and offline), cooking, watching a good movie, taking trips, and most of all, reading. My taste in books is a bit all over the place, but I proudly possess an extensive collection of romance and thriller/mystery novels, both in print and on e-reader. I LOVE to meet and communicate with readers, as well as other authors. My strong belief is that creativity shouldn't be put in a neat little box. All writers should write what's in their heart - as long as they give it their best.

TBR: Tell us about SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR and where it's available.
Natalie: Something to Live for, it’s a romance novella with a paranormal twist. Presently you can find it on Amazon (, Kobo (, Smashwords ( and B&N (

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Natalie: Here’s an excerpt from SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR (#1 Moonlight Dating Series):

The solid wood front door was slightly ajar so he didn’t have to use his key. Discarding it on the inlaid wood console table by the entrance, he walked into a welcoming, classic modern sitting room steeped in earth tones. He stepped on an expensive-looking brown and beige Persian rug that covered most of the floor.
Someone had put money into this place. After looking at the outside, one wouldn’t think that such luxury and comfort waited inside. It was a two hundred year old structure, painstakingly renovated with a welcoming, state-of-the-art interior.
The large room flowed into an L-shape that carried beyond a large teak dining table with seating for six.
“You can close the door behind you,” said a lilting voice from the back of the L-shape.
His stomach made a flip like that of a schoolboy’s with a budding first crush. Laughing inwardly at the thought, he clicked the door shut and walked past the chocolate leather couch, around the table, toward the beautiful voice.
He found her sitting on a bar stool at the kitchen counter. A couple of large trays laden with cold meats, cheeses, and assorted appetizers sat untouched in front of her.
She turned toward him and looked straight into his eyes. Her eyebrows drew together.
“You must be starving,” she said.
Upon meeting her gaze, his belly did a bigger flip and he had difficulty swallowing the big lump that lodged in his throat.
God, she was beautiful.
He stared at her. Soft burnished locks flowed richly around her oval face to just below her collarbone. Tall and trim, she wore a simple silk green sheath dress that stopped above the knee and unpretentious flat gold sandals.
 An artist’s muse.
The best part of her, though, were her eyes. Fine jade eyes that looked at him, into him, through him. There was something infinitely alluring about that light green gaze. It was unique, and frightening. It was… intense. Would any man be able to keep secrets from this woman?
A deeper frown creased her brow. “Is something wrong?”
His gaze fell to her full lower lip that she was now biting on. “No.”
Boy, was he charming tonight. If he went on this way, she would think him a dunderhead and call off the whole thing.
“I was saying that you must be hungry,” she tried again, while she extended a hand toward him.
“As a matter of fact, I am.” He was at her side in two strides and took her offered hand as he sat on the stool next to her. It was supple and warm against his. He briefly rubbed his thumb above her knuckles and raised her hand to his mouth to drop a light kiss on it.
She laughed, a sweet, musical sound. “Men haven’t done that in centuries.”
“Does it matter?”
“No, but you don’t need to seduce me. We both know why we’re here.”

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Natalie: Romance is my bailiwick. I enjoy writing about characters who are flawed or have been through some sort of trauma in life. Who hasn’t had challenges? My stories draw from reality and twist it into a happy ending. They are escapism that a person can relate to. Both Alex and Melita have been through some tough times, but together they work through it all.

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Natalie: I used to be a pantser but that got me in trouble! Especially for the longer novel I wrote over a long period. Even with short stories now, I need to have a clear idea of the main GMC and the character personalities. Otherwise things won’t gel. With the novel, the plot is quite complex with many elements and twists. After writing the first draft without a set outline, I found I still didn’t know the characters well enough. I had to rewrite it several times and now am on my last rewrite. This won’t happen again if I can help it, lol.

TBR: How do you develop your characters and plot?
Natalie: To engage with writing one has to look at the world somewhat with the eye of a therapist or detective. It’s all in the details and the intuition to dissemble behavior and/or a particular situation. Years ago, I started to realise, through compulsive reading, the fascination of creating characters that are so diverse. I’d ask myself, would this person truly act this way if confronted with a situation like this? When one writes a book, one looks outward at the world, not only inward. True, experience is important. In fact, I feel that a mature author with extensive life experience has an advantage; yet, experience is nothing if one is not able to decipher or interpret one’s environment in interesting ways. With a wider perspective, all limitations vanish, and the vastness of life and all its possibilities are at the author’s fingertips. All that is required is a sense of understanding; as I mentioned already, a keen, layered intuitive ability. Without this kind of empathy, a character will not seem authentic enough. As far as the story goes, who knows where reality stops and fantasy starts…

From the practical perspective of developing an idea into a book, I like first to have a very general, sketchy idea of a plot. Following this, I figure out who my main characters are going to be. Then, I scout for pictures on the Internet so I can see what my characters look like. At the same time, I develop their back story, which gives me insight into their GMC (goal-motivation-conflict) and helps me determine how they’re going to behave and react in particular situations. From this point on, I refine the plot/sub-plots and do a chapter by chapter breakdown. Writing a rough synopsis is a good springboard. In case of fantasy, I will need to do extra work related to world-building, and identifying the culture/norms of a particular society. These, of course, will have a direct bearing on the story.

TBR: Any tips or tricks for world building you’d care to share?
Natalie: I think the number one thing is that no matter how fantastical the world is, it must appear real to the reader.

TBR: Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
Natalie: "My mission in life is not to merely survive but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." - Maya Angelou

TBR: Did any music inspire your book? Do you have a playlist?
Natalie: For my upcoming paranormal romance novel, “My Immortal” by Evanescence played a huge role in my character and plot inspiration. It defines my heroine perfectly -

Strangely, I didn’t have a song for this last release, although the lyrics of Rascal Flatts’  “I’m Moving On” are pretty evocative.

TBR: While creating your books, what was one of the most surprising things you learned?
Natalie: That my love of travel and researching places bleeds into my writing. Or perhaps it wasn’t that surprising J.

TBR: Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Natalie: It offers a high emotional charge because the characters are “seasoned”. I want to draw the reader in seamlessly, pull them into the story as though they are sinking into a pool of scented water.

TBR: What's next for you?
Natalie: Book #2 in the Moonlight Dating series, Everything to Lose, is scheduled for release very soon – in August! In this book I take the reader from Richmond, London to a quaint medieval town in Italy. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this story of kiss and make up :). Please stay tuned!

Second, I’m currently working on polishing up my fantasy/paranormal romance novel that I previously mentioned, An Eternity of Roses, Book 1 of The Valthrean Legacy, to be released this year. For the most part I love complex stories with happy endings, a bright sun to follow the storm – what can I say, I’m a romantic at heart! I say this even though my first published piece this year classifies as literary horror or dark fiction. An Eternity of Roses is a lot different, although the gothic feel is there. It’s about star-crossed lovers who are separated by an evil witch's curse (Think Romeo and Juliet meets Snow White meets Highlander). A strong heroine fights impossible odds to get back the man she loves through a series of obstacles—including his total loss of memory. When thinking up An Eternity of Roses, I asked myself: what great love wants to be forgotten? The main characters' destiny is tied to that of a group of immortals called the Valthreans. (I posted the Valtrean legend on my site at under the Works in Progress tab). But all is not well in the Valthrean world... danger lurks around every corner.

Another project I’m really excited about is a fantasy series I’m co-writing with my bestie. Details TBA in the coming months :).

TBR: Any other published works?
Natalie: I have a literary horror short called, “A Kind of Judgment”. (

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Natalie: The most challenging aspect is balancing the author’s life with the personal life. The most rewarding aspect is to share your work with the world.

TBR: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Natalie: I think the one that most made me smile was that I give “hope to the HEA-Deficient”. LOL.

TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Natalie: There are so many and not only romance authors! Some of my favorites – Jon Trace, Agatha Christie, Edgar Allan Poe, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, Lisa Kleypas, Amanda Quick, Robin Schone, Elizabeth Kostova, Liz Fielding, Erica Yong, Stephen King, Karen White, and the list goes on! And I have to give a nod here to the unlikely one who “introduced” me to the romance genre a long, long time ago – Dame Barbara Cartland :)

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?

TBR: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Natalie: What do you look for most in a book and in what ways can an author entertain you better?

TBR: Readers, Natalie will give away an ebook to to one lucky commenter – winner’s choice! She'll pick a winner in one week and announce the winner here. Be sure to leave your email address so she can contact you.

Thanks so much for visiting TBR, Natalie! All the best to you.

Monday, July 23, 2012

TBR welcomes Janet Lane Walters

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Janet. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Janet: I’ve been writing since the dark ages. Actually since the days of typewriters and carbon paper. Sold my first short story in 1968 and the first novel in 1972. I’ve won awards for my writing and the proudest is the EPIC award in 2003 with my friend Jane Toombs for How To Be Your Own Critique Partner. I live in the scenic Hudson River valley and this has been the setting for many of my stories. Writing is my obsession and I try to put a few words on paper every day, even when on vacation. As a mother and grandmother, I encourage my family to read. I’ve published some thirty plus books in both fiction and non-fiction. My chosen genres are romance, paranormal, fantasy for YA and adults, mystery, suspense.
TBR: Tell us about Code Blue and where it's available.
Janet: Code Blue is actually a re-release, issued by Books We Love LTD and is a particular favorite. The book can be purchased here.

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Janet: When Susan Randall finds the body of the hospital’s gossip queen she doesn’t realize she is the object of the killer’s obsession. Widowed, Susan doesn’t want to be involved with another controlling man so she holds the hero at a distance since she fears he will attempt to control her life. As he friends and colleagues at the hospital die the appearance of courtship gifts like candy, books, jewelry, begins to frighten her. Can she find the identity of the killer before she joins the dead.

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Janet: Having been a nurse for years and reading many medical suspenses I wondered what would happen if the murderer wasn’t an evil doctor or a disenchanted nurse or a mad scientist, I decided to choose a different kind of villain, a nuce guy but one with twisted emotions. From the moment he appeared in the story, he fascinated me. This splitting of his personality and his obsession triggered the other characters obsessions and the story took flight.

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Janet: I’m kind of both. I start with a general outline and know where the story begins and how it ends. I may also know several of the scenes where there are dramatic turns. But when I sit down to write, I go with the flow of the plot and the characters. I’m a draft writer so everything in the rough draft is subject to change as the story and the characters view of what’s important evolves.

TBR: How do you develop your characters?
Janet: Developing characters involves Astrology. After Iknow what kind of character is needed to express the story, I choose a name. This is important because with the name the character becomes alive. Then I decide on a Sun sign, A Moon sign and an Ascendant. This provides me with the character’s inner nature, emotional nature and the nature they show the world. Knowing these things gives me an insight into what their goals and motivations will be important.

TBR: Did any music inspire your book? Do you have a playlist?
Janet: I know many writers have music to write by. I do as well but not the usual music. Instrumental works are good. Love the 1812 Overture and anything else by Tchaikovsky. The waltz from Eugene Onegin for love scenes and also Swal Lake. Beethoven is also good for writing stormy scenes. Listening to music with words and singers and I start listening and analyzing the words and forget to write.

TBR: Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Janet: Since I have so many worlds I’ve created, this question is hard to say. In Code Blue, the difference is that the nurses and doctors aren’t the bad guys. The hospital setting is a familiar one to me since I was once a nurse and I try to keep this as real as possible. When writing fantasy, the worlds are developed as the story goes on and the difference here is in the magical powers of my characters. The mystery series takes place mainly in the Hudson River Valley village where I live, though I have combined three small villages into one.

TBR: What's next for you?
Janet: At the moment I’m working on the fifth Katherine Miller Mystery, The Micro-manager Murder. Kate’s wedding day brings news that makes her leave the reception and go to a friend’s rescue. I am also working on Lines of Fire, a fantasy series that I hope will encompass at least three books. This brings an interesting idea using my knowledge of Astrology in a different way.

TBR: Any other published works?
Janet: I have many published works some aren’t available any longer since they’re from my writing past. In my current list is Shortcut to Love, Code Blue, The Doctor’s Dilemma, Heath Throbs, A Double Opposition, Gemstones, The Henge Betrayed Refuge, Quests, Murder and Mint Tea, Requiem Murder, The Midas Murders, The Hudson House Murders, Whispers Out of Yesteryear, Prescription for Love, The Quest For The White Jewel, The Brotherhood of Mages, The Secret of the Jewels, The Temple of Fyre, The Dragons of Fyre, A Savory Seduction, A Silken Seduction, A Second Seduction, A Sudden Seduction, On Opposite Sides, A Minor Opposition, All Our Yesterdays, A Marriage Inconvenient and How To Become Your Own Critique Partner written with Jane Toombs.

TBR: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Janet: That I have a knack for developing villains who seem rather normal and nice but aren’t. I like the bad guys and gals and always hope they can match the heroes and heroines in the stories I write.

TBR: Thanks for visiting TBR, Janet. Best of luck to you.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Coming up on TBR this week

Two wonderful authors are confirmed:

Monday, July 23  - Janet Lane Walters
Wednesday, July 25  - Natalie G. Owens
Only a week and a half to visit with Judith Graves, the July Featured Author! Don't miss out!

And for all you writers who include characters in the service or who dabble in espionage, I hope you'll share your story blurbs next weekend.

Thanks, as always, for your support,

Friday, July 20, 2012

TBR welcomes Shonell Bacon

Why I Write

Shonell Bacon

 A few years ago, I had to write an essay in which I had to answer the question, “Why is writing important to your life?” It's a question I had to think deeply about because they expected no more than five pages, but surely more than one sentence. My response was a simple one, “I write to breathe.” Eventually, after some brainstorming and a little cajoling, I was able to expand upon that one sentence, but everything I wrote came back to that one sentence: “I write to breathe.”

I always found it hard to say aloud to people what I always felt in my soul: “I was born to write. God told me this is what I was to do with my life.” I didn't want people to think I thought I was ALL THAT or high on myself. So, I kept it to myself and diligently wrote, waiting for the day when the truth would come to light. Slowly, now, light trickles upon the truth though I am still on my journey to the full flooding of light.

Developing Into the Web was an illustration of that needing writing to breathe. Jovan and Cheyenne Parham, the main characters of ITW and the first book of the series, Death at the Double Inkwell, endeared themselves to me. Here, I had two characters that I could follow throughout the course of several books and watch them grow, learn, change, develop. In the midst of writing DDIW, I assumed it would be the only book about these women, but as soon as I wrote the final words, I knew there would be another. Their stories were not done, and I was the only one that could pen their stories and bring them to live.

At the end of the day, I know that my major goal in life is to tell stories, stories that cover an array of black experiences, stories that allow others to see a part of themselves and hopefully, to see a part of me reflected within the words.  I write to smile, I write to cry, I write to laugh, I write to understand, but ultimately, I write to breathe.  Without my words, without my ability to translate what bothers me, excites me, annoys me, hurts me, I'm not really sure how I would survive.  Words are my truth, and the truth will set me free.

About The Author

Shonell Bacon is an author, doctoral candidate, editor, educator–everywoman. She
has published both creatively and academically–novels, short stories, essays, and textbooks.

She has had an essay of hers developed as part of a live theatre documentary production. In addition to her love of writing and what the future holds in her literary life, she is also an editor who loves helping writers hone their literary craft. Since 2001, she has edited for hundreds of writers who have gone on to pursue self-publishing careers and have been published within the traditional publishing arena. Her love for helping writers also moved her to begin writing articles and commentaries regarding the writing life and craft, and she publishes these articles on various websites. She is an educator, having taught English and mass communication courses in addition to fiction writing and other courses related to creative writing. And while taking part in all of those things, Shonell also finds the time to pursue her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University. Now a doctoral candidate, she is conducting research and writing her dissertation.



October 21

Take down.

Those words rang in Jovan Parham’s mind as she danced around the ring, staring into the eyes of Derryck, her kickboxing trainer.

“Come on, Jo,” Derryck said while holding up his padded hands. “Pay attention. Jab left, cross right, jab right.”

“I’m doing it,” she said, her voice nearing a whine.

“You look lazy.” Derryck’s left hand made its way to Jovan’s headgear. She just managed to move, but heard the sound of his fist whizzing by her face. “I haven’t tagged your face in nearly four months.”

Jovan smiled and took two jabs to the side of Derryck’s face; the second one connected.

“And you didn’t get me this time either,” she replied.

The two continued to spar, sharing words and punches and kicks, but Jovan’s mind was still stuck on two words: take down.

She woke up in the middle of the night after a horrific nightmare, one she had almost every month since she moved into her new condo a year ago. The nightmare was always the same: she watching as a host of characters took part in killing her. She lay, shackled to a metal table, dressed in a white loose gown that had been ripped to shreds. Every few minutes, someone would come into the dimly lit room and cut her with a sharp, curved blade. No words were ever exchanged. She screamed with each flick of the blade, begged for her life, but it was all for naught. Cordell came in and took a chunk of her. As did his mother. As did his brother. Alisha took her share as well, as did Sarah, which broke Jovan’s heart more than Cordell wanting to kill her. She had thought Sarah was her best friend. Finding out she had slept with Cordell and carried his child tore at her heart. To know that even in her nightmares Sarah wanted to hurt her more nearly broke her.

The last person to come in was always Linda Hayes. And unlike the others, who were more like automatons, coming to do their robotic bidding, Linda had a sparkle in her eyes, a curl of her lip, an extra dig of her cut when she took her swipe of Jovan. She had hoped that her time at the altar during service that morning, where she begged God, begged him to remove the nightmares, might give her a night of respite, but it wasn’t to be. If she actually took time to think about it, she’d realize that her continuous thinking about the nightmares would only create more of them.

When she woke up last night from the nightmare, Jovan rushed to her office—a place that held warm, soft thoughts for her as it was the place where words took to life. She reached for the small blue bible she kept on the desk and rifled through the pages before landing her finger on Luke 10:19, I have given you authority …to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

The words brought her peace, but she had an even better way of using her authority to overcome her enemies. She took out a pad and pen, and spent a good hour creating a list of people she needed to take down.

Linda Hayes was at the top of that list. For going on two years, the Trés Chic head reporter-now executive producer had been relentless in her pursuit to find something bad to report about Jovan. Even after everyone else had put the murder of Jovan’s husband and the fallout of it behind them, Linda was determined to continue to bring up Jovan’s painful story: Cordell’s murder. Cordell’s affair with Alisha. Cordell’s affair with Sarah. The baby Sarah carried. The complex scheming and plotting that revealed Cordell’s drugged-out brother was supposed to kill Jovan but instead killed Cordell. Jovan’s reaching out to Mark, Sarah’s husband, in a time of need and the subsequent relationship that continued long after Cordell was buried. The justice (though not peace) that was brought to Jovan and her family.

In all parts of the world, Jovan’s soap opera of a life had come and gone as new, crazier stories unfolded. But in Baltimore, where she and her twin Cheyenne were deemed stars for their bestselling-authors status and their charities, Jovan’s story continued to live—mostly thanks to Linda Hayes.

And somehow, she had managed to overcome her anger at Linda and this ferocious, tenacious need Linda had to break her down.

But then yesterday arrived, and Jovan became undone.

She had tried to go about her day. She went to a speaking engagement for her solo inspirational non-fiction, Picking up the Pieces, a book that detailed the story of her life with Cordell and the aftermath. She met with Cheyenne to work on the outline of their next mystery, Vanishing Keys. She even got ready to meet Mark for a dinner date down at the Inner Harbor. Not once did anyone in her inner circle mention the significance of the day: the second anniversary of Cordell’s death. They knew it wasn’t needed. They knew Jovan would have stayed up the entire night prior, still crying over the loss, still angry over the betrayal, still unsteady on what to do with her life. She was still fragile from the coming and going of Cordell’s birthday nearly three weeks ago. She had spent that day in quiet reflection, wondering why, yet again, she couldn’t find out about Cordell’s lies before anyone had to die. She still felt like an idiot over believing Sarah was her friend. She had spent hours talking to Sarah, telling her about the decline in her marriage—never realizing that her supposed friend was sleeping with her husband.

Any normal person, knowing what she’d been through, would have given Jovan this day to grieve, to feel, to think in her own personal space.

But not Linda Hayes.

Jovan had expected to hear from her. After all, she saw commercials regarding Linda’s anniversary special. Linda had her assistant call her earlier in the month, trying to get her to talk about Cordell on the day of his birthday. Jovan had told her to “Go read Picking up the Pieces if you’re so damn interested in learning what I’m willing to say about Cordell. Other than that, leave me the hell alone, Miss Hayes.”

It was only a matter of time that Linda would call her again, trying to get some comment to use for her latest special.

Linda’s assistant called. Six, seven, eight times. Every time, Jovan would hang up.

On the ninth time, as she slipped her feet into her black stilettos, Jovan finally relented.

She picked up the phone and yelled, “Let me speak to Linda.” She quickly raced into the office and picked up her digital recorder, turning it on and setting her phone on speakerphone. Linda came on to the phone, her voice warm and soft as she said, “I’m so sorry for your loss, Jovan.”

“If you’re so sorry, why are you harassing me? Obviously, I have nothing to say to you.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

TBR welcomes LJ Garland and Debbie Gould

TBR: Welcome to TBR, LJ and Debbie. Will you share a little bit about yourselves?
LJ GARLAND : Though born and raised in the south, I’ve lived on both the east and west coasts. I love traveling, and  the latest adventures I’ve added to my Bucket List: Machu Pichu and Australia’s Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef. Someday, I hope to get to those places! I’ve been married to my best friend for over twenty years, spend my time home schooling three rambunctious boys, editing in the epub industry, and writing stories that I hopes catches readers’ imaginations as much as the characters and plotlines captivate me. In my spare time (what there is of it LOL), I have tons of hobbies, including building archery equipment from scratch and creating stained glass. I have a passion for anything that goes Boom! …from fireworks to high-powered combat rifles…it’s all good. My hubby and I are both rated helicopter pilots and spent our 10th anniversary flying cross-country from east to west coast…an adventure I highly recommend.

DEBBIE GOULD : Born in Wichita Falls, Texas, at the age of two my mother and I moved to New Jersey, spending many happy years on my grandparents' horse farm. You'll sometimes find this setting as a backdrop in my stories. As a teenager, my mother and I found a new home in Vermont, which is where I currently reside. With a daughter in the Air Force (along with my six-year-old grandson), and two sons working for the family Well Drilling business, I now shuffle my time between a full time job as a nurse and my writing career. About seven years ago, while looking at over three hundred treasured books lining the shelves, I realized there was a multitude of stories of my own clamoring for release. Since then, I’ve seriously persevered in keeping the keyboard in constant motion.

 TBR: Tell us about Sins of the Mind and where it's available.
LJ and Debbie: Our latest release is the first book from the Red River series. It’s a romantic suspense from Decadent Publishing called Sins of the Mind.

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
LJ and Debbie:

Seven years ago, Abby Montgomery survived a brutal attack. Now she is ready to put her pain in the past and move on with her life. The problem is, one by one the men in her life are being viciously murdered.
The detective assigned to the case, Ethan Parker, has demons of his own to hide. As the danger gets closer to Abby, so does Ethan. But can they get past his secrets before the killer gets to them? Sometimes the sins of the mind are more depraved than the sins of the heart. 

“Moment?” He raised his eyebrows, tried for a surprised expression. “We were having a moment? Where was I?”
A husky laugh escaped Abby’s lips. She gave him a playful shove, but he caught her hand, his fingers encircling her delicate wrist. With great care, he bowed his head and pressed his lips to the center of her palm. Her sharp intake of air told him she liked it.
“Is this the moment you were referring to?” He kissed her wrist. “Or this?” His mouth grazed along her skin, up the side of her neck to the tender point below her ear.
“Mmm.” She shivered.
He inhaled, reveled in her unique scent. A mixture of spicy vanilla and exotic flowers invaded his senses and sent the room slowly spinning. Primal lust roared through him, demanded he possess her in a rush of carnal passion.
But Ethan resisted.
Intent on enticing Abby into a wild, heated frenzy, he trailed the tip of his tongue along her throat. Her pulse hammered beneath his ardent attention, and he reveled in her response. His fingers slid over her supple skin. One hand sought the silky tresses adorning her head while the other coaxed her legs across his lap and then slipped around her waist.
He pulled back, stared into her lovely face. Eyelids fluttering, she sighed in his arms. When she looked at him, desire burned bright in her eyes. His heart stuttered at the sight, and hot need rushed to his groin.
“Abby.” Her name rolled from his tongue in a mix of desperation and lust. A voracious hunger to taste every inch of her body washed over him. The urge to kiss the small of her back, to run his tongue along her skin, delving and dipping into her secret, sensitive places, all but overwhelmed him. “Tell me to stop. If you’re not ready, honey, tell me to stop right now and by all that’s holy, I will. But you need to know how much I want you right now.”

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
LJ GARLAND : Well, it was all Debbie! LOL As I recall, we were both on the same Internet forum. We’d known each other for…what? Two years, Deb?

DEBBIE GOULD : Yup, about that. We had been brainstorming a plot in one of the books I was writing (still unfinished, lol) and I showed her the first chapter of another story that had been screaming in my brain at me. She liked it, and I asked her if she wanted to co-write it.

LJ GARLAND : That’s right! And I was excited because the story was interesting. Romance and murder, what’s not to like? So, we started brainstorming ideas and things got pretty intense and…what’s the word I’m looking for?


LJ GARLAND : Yes. That’s a great descriptor. But we both loved it and voilà, Sins of the Mind!

DEBBIE GOULD: From there, came the town of Red River.

LJ GARLAND : And we loved so many of the characters—

DEBBIE GOULD: *cough* The ones that didn’t get killed.

LJ GARLAND: Right. The characters that made it through the first book. So, we thought the town might make a good series.

DEBBIE GOULD: Course that doesn’t mean those characters are safe.

LJ GARLAND: LOL Nope. Anyone can get murdered at anytime.

DEBBIE GOULD: Well, we can’t become predictable.

LJ GARLAND: Nope. Gotta keep things interesting. Course, if readers like a character, say Elliot Swanson or dear sweet Mrs. Fitzgerald, who runs the bakery, well, we might hear about it….

DEBBIE GOULD: If readers aren’t begging for Elliot’s head, then they’re crazy. Of course he’s probably the last one they have to worry about. Besides torturing our characters, we like to torture our readers now and then, so Mrs. Fitzgerald might want to buy a guard dog, lol. 

TBR: Are you plotters or pantsers?
LAURA: Plotter or pantser? Neither. J Um, both? Hmm…

DEBBIE GOULD: We outline lightly so we know what we are supposed to be accomplishing in each chapter, but we are always veering off course and re-arranging. Our characters don’t seem to like to be fenced in. 

LAURA: Yeah…we got ourselves some free-range characters! Hahahaha!

DEBBIE GOULD: (huge eye roll) We’re not talking chickens here. 

LAURA: Better not be! If they were chickens, they’d be dead. I mean, all that murder and mayhem going on in our story? Well, they’d be running around like chickens with their heads cut off!

TBR: Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
LJ GARLAND: “Never give up, never say surrender.”  -Jason Nesmith, Galaxy Quest

DEBBIE GOULD GOLD: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

TBR: What's next for you?
DEBBIE GOULD : We are working on the next book in the Red River Series, yup more murder, mayhem, and romance, lol.

LJ GARLAND : Yep, we’ll be torturing the next characters even more than the first. Though, I think Sins of the Mind had several unexpected twists…and the characters got banged up pretty good.

DEBBIE GOULD : Think we should tease?


DEBBIE GOULD : Okay. So, here’s a little bit of our latest WIP….

FBI Agent Will Donovan jogged down the platform toward the train. Each step jolted the flashlight in his hand, sending the beam of light dashing over the concrete in front of him. Would he be too late?
Rows of light illuminated the abandoned trains, left in an old offshoot line of Boston’s Boylston Street Station. He rushed past a wall decorated with graffiti and cobwebs, his footsteps ringing hollow in the old concrete-lined tunnel. Behind him his partner, Kate Yarbrough followed.
“Will,” she called, her voice a harsh whisper filled with warning.
He slowed up. Kate was right. Rushing in could get them both killed. Just because the psycho bastard hadn’t set traps before didn’t mean there weren’t any this time. With both hands, he swept his flashlight beam and Glock 23 across the area, searching out the monster who’d murdered so many women. But only dirt, gravel, and rusted tracks were revealed.
He twisted back to his partner, who tilted her head toward the train car. Get on the train, Will. Find the girl. He nodded.

TBR: Any other published works?
L.J. Garland & Debbie Gould
Sins of the Mind –  Everyone she loves is dying. Is he next on the killer’s list?
Romantic Suspense

L.J. Garland
On the Fringes –  He’s an intergalactic thief. She’s the law. He’ll cross the universe to steal her heart.
Sci-fi Romance

Cadence Interrupted –  He knows she’s keeping secrets. The only thing she can trust are her skills as a pilot.
Romantic Suspense

Dreamspell Revenge – a collection of stories dedicated to the age-old thirst for getting even.

Dead or Alive – Accused of a murder he didn’t commit, he turns to the only woman who can save him. Too bad she’s a bounty hunter who holds a grudge.
Sci-fi Romance

Debbie Gould
Second Chance – He’s built a wall around his heart. Only she can break through to help him love again.
Military Romance
November Rain – They share a connection halfway around the world. Will she survive when that bond is severed?
Military Romance
Infidelity -  Somebody wants her dead. Can he figure out who and mend their relationship before they succeed?
Romantic Suspense
Mountain’s Echo – He left her ten years ago. Can he convince her he’s back to stay this time?
Romantic Suspense

TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
DEBBIE GOULD : Suzanne Brockmann, Stephen King, Tami Hoag, Cindy Gerard, Kat Martin, Lori Foster…oh the list goes on and on. Right now I’m reading Christine Feehan’s Spirit Bound

LJ GARLAND : LOL I know! There are so many! Anne McCaffrey, Dean Koontz’s, Orson Scott Card, Suzanne Brockmann for just a few. I’m reading Suzanne Collin’s Mockingjay on my Android pad right now.

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
- We can be tracked down at where we blog, chat about stuff, and interview other authors.
- L.J. can be caught at and emailed at You can also tweet her at @LJ_Garland1
- Debbie can be found at and emailed at
- We love hearing from people who have enjoyed our stories!

And you can find Sins of the Mind here!

TBR: Thanks for visiting TBR, LJ and Debbie. All the best to you.

LJ GARLAND : Thank you so much for having us here today!
DEBBIE GOULD : Yes, thanks! We had an awesome time!