Saturday, April 25, 2015

James Callan's Mystery, OVer My Dead Body

Back Cover Blurb: 
A large corporation is taking land by eminent domain.  Syd Cranzler stands in its way, threatening a court battle. After a heated meeting with the corporation representative, Syd is found dead from an overdose of heart medication.  The police call it suicide. Case closed.

But Father Frank, Syd’s pastor, and Georgia Peitz, another member of the church, don’t believe Syd committed suicide and begin to look for clues of what really happened. Will this affect Georgia’s romantic involvement with the lead detective?

When the priest is almost poisoned, the police are convinced to investigate further. Immediately, Father Frank becomes the target of rumors, plus speculation he might have had something to do with Syd’s death.

The more clues Father Frank and Georgia uncover, the more danger they find themselves in. Can they find the real killer before they become victims?   

 Book Excerpt:
Over My Dead Body

Chapter 1


S
yd snorted and thrust his chin toward his adversary. “Over my dead body.”
The man almost smiled. “If you insist,” he said easily.
Seventy-two year old Syd Cranzler squinted against the bright Texas October sun and scrutinized the well-dressed man in front of him. Syd was probably six inches shorter than the man, but Syd’s voice had more iron in it. “Was that a threat?”
“No sir, Mr. Cranzler,” Duke Heinz said.
Syd didn’t like this city slicker, wouldn’t have even if he weren’t trying to steal Syd’s homestead. Even Duke’s clothes irritated him. The conservative black pinstriped suit, power-red tie and black wing-tips polished to perfection made the man look like he was posing for a magazine picture in New York City. And what was this “Duke” bit? Did he think he was John Wayne? “Why don’t you just mosey on down the road a mile?” He jerked his hand up and pointed. “Lots of land there.”
They stood on pine needles under three towering trees. Forty feet behind them was Syd’s small, frame house, looking like a giant, square tumbleweed.
Bud Wilcox, Pine Tree’s City Manager pushed his straw hat back a little and took a step forward. “Syd, Pine Tree wants this shopping center here, inside the city limits. Think of all the tax revenue we’ll get.”
“So’s you can waste even more’n you do now? It ain’t your house and land, Pipsqueak”
Bud reddened at the nickname Syd often used on him, but kept his mouth shut.
A mud-caked ‘92 Camaro rattled to a stop half off the black-top road. A man got out and started across the yard to where Syd was shaking his finger at Bud.
Duke started to speak, but Syd cut him off. “And don’t tell me again it’s twice what it’s worth. You don’t know what it’s worth to me. And what’s this ‘fee simple’ bit?” He cocked his head to the side. “You think I’m simple? Take your money and go back to Jersey.”
Bud waggled his balding head. “It’s a lot of dollars.”
“He don’t need your money,” said the man from the Camaro. “He stole enough from me.”
“Stay out of it, W.C.,” Syd snapped. But his focus never left Duke. “You keep your money; I’ll keep my land.”
Duke spread his hands. “Mr. Cranzler, the Supreme Court says eminent domain can be used to obtain land needed for a project in the public interest.”
“I know all ‘bout the Supreme Court, and how they trampled all over people’s property rights. I’d like to see some private company try to take the land they live on. They’d change their tune right fast. But that case was decided for a Yankee town. This is Texas. We still believe in property rights down here. And this ain’t in the public interest. It’s in Lockey Corporation’s interest.”
Duke smiled as he pulled a folded paper from the inside pocket of his coat. “Here’s the court order, and it’s signed by a judge right here in Texas.” He held the paper out to Syd.
Syd ignored it. “Judge McFatage, right? He’d sign anything for a price.”
Bud Wilcox leaned in. “Now, Syd, you shouldn’t talk about the Honorable McFatage that way.”
“Honorable, my foot. He’s for sale. Common knowledge. You know what they say: he’s the best judge money can buy. And it looks like Lockey’s the buyer.”
“Look, Mr. Cranzler,” Duke said. “We’re going to start dirt work in three weeks. I’d like to have all the paperwork in order by then. You’ve lost this fight. You might as well recognize that. You can delay signing. But by fighting this, you may end up getting less money and paying a lot of it to lawyers. You can’t stop it. This project will be built. And it starts in three weeks.”
“Three weeks?” Syd pulled on his chin and a sly grin crept onto his leathery face. “I’m bettin’ my lawyer’ll have my appeal filed before then. And I’m thinkin’ I can tie this up for years. You sure Lockey wants to wait that long?” His head bobbed up and down as he continued. “Be a lot faster to go somewheres else.” Now he laughed. “Bet they’re gonna cut you loose when this don’t happen. Can your butt.”
Duke’s smile faded and his eyes turned hard. “Two months from now, this will all be asphalt.”
“Like I said, over my dead body.”
Duke put the paper back in his pocket. “Old man, you’ll hardly make a bump in the pavement.”


Author Bio:
After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He has written articles for a national magazine, and published several non-fiction books.  He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense, with his sixth book released in 2015.  His work has also appeared in a number of anthologies. In addition to writing, Callan presents workshops in the U.S., Mexico, and on the Internet covering various phases of writing

You may find James on the internet at these links:
Website:                     
Blog:                           
Amazon Author page:            
Twitter:  @jamesrcallan

You can purchase his book in Paperback or the Kindle version on Amazon
Or ask your local library to order it in for you!

James R. Callan is giving away a paperback copy of Over My Dear Body. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on the past few posts)



Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Warm Welcome to Caryl McAdoo!

It's a pleasure to welcome Caryl back to our Barn Door Book Loft today. She's an enthusiastic and vibrant author, and I'm sure you'll enjoy her interview! Caryl, can you tell us a bit about your family, and what it is like where you live?
May I first say thank you for having me visit today? I so appreciate the opportunity!

Well, as many grandparents in these days, O’Pa and I are rearing grandsons. We have two left, a twelve and fifteen year old. This will be the thirteenth year they’ve been with us. The two older brothers left last year when the oldest graduated high school and left for college. The sixteen-year-old left o live with his maternal grandparents after that grandfather fell and broke his hip; Gregory asked to so that he could help them do what Granddad couldn’t. So though we are legally old at sixty-five, we still pick up young’uns from band practice and attend teacher conferences. J

In 2008, we moved three hours from our life-long home of Irving to Red River County’s seat, Clarksville, and totally love country livin’.


Is there a story behind SING A NEW SONG? 
The story behind this new novel is that it gives me a platform to showcase another gift God has given me—well, many of them, actually—in the form of ‘new songs’! He gave me the first on back in the mid ’80s, and I’ve been blessed to continue to receive them through the years. Often when I need a song to sing about something I’m going through- - -like my brain wouldn’t quit thinking of negative things when I was going through a particularily bad time, He gave me “I Will Not Dwell on Any Thoughts That are Evil”, or “I Will Trust in You” during a time when my world crumbled around me. The ‘new songs’ kept me singing.
   
So I created Mary Esther, my heroine, as a gifted singer in a Christian band, and she gets to introduce many of my own ‘new songs’.


Wonderful, Caryl! What is unique about the setting? How does it enhance the story?
I love this question, because when we came to Clarksville back in 2008, it was to look at a little farm house on my brother-in-love’s hunting property (882 acres), but it was too far gone—though in the book, when Mary Esther comes back, the same house is still solid and worth moving back into the woods to the thrity-four acres we ended up building our home on that is surrounded on three sides by the 882. SO we have a big back yard for the boys to play in – fishing lakes, swimming lakes, deer hunting in season and hog hunting all year round! Samuel Levi Baylor, my hero in SING A NEW SONG, and his buddy take Mary Esther hog hunting with the dogs. J fun Fun FUN! I think this surely enhances the story as I’ve ridden my horse and the four-wheeler all over this property and know it so well.


An ideal place for boys to grow up in! Love it. Who is the most fun character you ever created?
In HEARTS STOLEN, book two  of my historical Christian Texas Romance series, I wrote about Charley Nightengale, a four-year-old who is born in a Commanche camp, the son of Bold Eagle who had traded for his red-headed mother when she was first pregnant with him. I had more fun with Charley than any character I’ve ever written because he’s so cute and so all-boy! I had three sons of my own and quick as we emptied that nest, the Lord filled it right back up with 4 more little boys, so I had lots of fodder!

Charley brings his little bird that he’s shot with an arrow to his mother and demands that she cook it for him. Heartborken that Bold Eagle—the only father he’s known—trades him and his mother off to the white men, Charley runs away, but Texas Ranger Levi Baylor goes after him and gets him to see the truth about the Comanche and that the boy belongs with his mother. Left with a sitter, he accosts her with a horned toad, and is all about catching the bad men on the flyers his new ‘partner’ (Captain Bay-LOR) has given him for safe keeping.


Who is the most annoying character you ever created?
This villain was introduced in HOPE REBORN, book three of that Texas Romance series, and is featured in book four, SINS OF THE MOTHERS that debuts next month. His name is Caleb Wheeler, and he’s as bad a cad as a reader has probably ever met. All through writing his character, I stayed angry with him for being so two-faced, knowing the pain he would be inflicting on such innocent hearts.


Ooooo! Sounds like a horrid person. I cannot abide two-faced people. If your stories are more character driven, what events kick off a change or growth in the character?
I believe that my stories are all about the characters. I love how using the tool of ‘deep point of view’ allows readers to so get to know the players in my stories on a personal level. I do believe that’s what’s made my series so popular, and it thrills me when I get reviews saying how much they loved the characters. It tells me I’ve done my job well. (Always by God’s grace and mercy toward me, as He’s the one gives them to me, and sent me to a wonderful writers’ workshop where I learned the craft of writing creative fiction.)


Reviews humble and make us happy, don't they? How much research do you have to do for the genre in which you write?
Very little research is necessary for the contemporary Christian Red River Romance series that SING A NEW SONG is book two in, though some is necessary as I’ve never traveled with a band or moved a house. I’m so blessed to have a husband who is a wealth of information as well as a wonderful writer in his own right.

But for the historical, I may have a whole book of research information on the early prairie days in what is now the greatest state in the history of the world! TEXAS! Ah ha ha ha ha. It’s true how Texans love Texas. The historical series starts in 1832 while it was claimed by Mexico and under the governing of President Bustamante as well as Arkansas who added the most of it to their Miller County.  And then as the dates in my stories go forward, so must my research.


When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it? 
My next book, already mentioned, is SINS OF THE MOTHERS, book four in the Texas Romances series that debuts in May – next month! Mary Esther is the oldest of four daughters born to book one’s heroine and hero, Sue Baylor and Henry Buckmeyer. Blind love forces her to defy her father and run off to marry—much the same as her mother. Poor seventeen-year-old must grow up fast in the gold rush days of San Francisco. All sorts of horrible breaks befall her, and she finds herself repeating the sins of her mother and grandmother.

Thank you again for having me!

Buy the book here:
Amazon


About Caryl:

Christian, hybrid (Simon & Schuster & Indie) author Caryl McAdoo is currently writing three series, all from a perspective of faith: her historical Texas Romances; the contemporary Red River Romances; and The Generations, her Biblical fiction. The novelist loves singing new songs the Lord gives her, and she paints. In 2008, she and her high school sweetheart-husband Ron moved from the DFW area—home for fifty-five years—to the woods of Red River County. Caryl counts four children and fourteen grandsugars life’s biggest blessings believing all good things come from God. Praying each story gives God glory, she hopes it will also minister His love, mercy, and grace to its readers. Caryl and Ron live in Clarksville, the county seat, in the far northeast corner of the Lone Star State.


Connect with her here:
All Books - http://tinyurl.com/CarylsAmazonPage

Website  - http://www.CarylMcAdoo.com    
                                     (All First Chapters are offered here)

Newsletter  - http://carylmcadoo.com/sign-up-to-the-caryler/
                                     (Get FREE books for subscribing!)

Reviewer? - http://carylmcadoo.com/christian-evaluaters/
                                     (Join Caryl’s Street Team!)

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/CarylMcAdoo.author

Blog        - http://www.CarylMcAdoo.blogspot.com

GoodReads - http://tinyurl.com/GoodReadsCaryl

Google+       -        http://tinyurl.com/CarylsGooglePlus

Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/CarylMcAdoo

Pinterest  - http://www.pinterest.com/CarylMcAdoo


CARYL is giving away a copy of SING A NEW SONG. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.







Happy Reading!

Caroline Brown




Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sing a New Song by Caryl McAdoo

Blurb

Persistent faith brings redemption and reconciliation. Propelled by blind love, Mary Rachel Buckmeyer defies her father to elope with Caleb Wheeler. The newlyweds run off to California then partner with his cousin in his dry goods business.

Unbeknownst to the young bride, her new husband sends his kissing cousin ahead. He wants his love and his new wife’s money, too. Betrayal and murder drive Mary, soon a young mother, to the depths of despair. But she hates the man who loves her enough to cover her sins and deliver her out of the horrible pit she’s dug for herself in. Or does she?


Mary Rachel travels from frontier Texas to the raw bone boomtown of 1850’s San Francisco gold rush days, then all the way to genteel New York to find redemption for the sins of her mothers.


Read an Excerpt:

With everyone on the porch for the clan’s sendoff, Mary Rachel decided for sure and for certain and could wait no longer. She took a deep breath and hugged his neck. “Daddy, I’m sorry. I really am, but I can’t go. No, I mean I’m not going. I can’t leave. I won’t.”

He leaned back and stared at her for too long a minute, his face suddenly stone cold. “What did you just say?”

She grimaced; steam rose to her cheeks. He softened just like he always had when her mother turned on him. Saying it aloud made it all the more real, strengthened her resolve. “I cannot be gone for seven months. I thought for a while maybe I could, but I can’t, Daddy.”

Her new mother stepped close. “But Mary Rachel, why? It’s the trip of a lifetime. I promise you’ll adore Europe.”

“It’s just Mary now, please. No Rachel. That’s what Caleb calls me.”

His voice lowered to almost a whisper, he slipped some of the steel back on. “So. This is about that boy.”

“He’s a man, Daddy, and you know it. We love each other.”

“If he loves you, baby, then he’ll wait. It’s only seven months. He should be thrilled you have this opportunity to travel Europe.”

“Well, I’ve made my decision, and I’m not going.”

“We’ve booked your passage.”

“I know, and I’m sorry. I should have told you sooner, but I knew you wouldn’t be happy about my decision.” She looked off at the tree line, hating the disappointment in his eyes. But that was a coward’s way, so she faced him again. “Like I said, I thought I could. Anyway, let Bonnie take my place.”

From somewhere, her youngest sister burst into the middle. “Can I, Daddy? Please take me! I’ll be good. Mama, tell him how good I’ll be.” She turned those doe eyes on him. “Pleeeease.”







Buy the book here:
Amazon











About Caryl:
Christian, hybrid (Simon & Schuster & Indie) author Caryl McAdoo is currently writing three series, all from a perspective of faith: her historical Texas Romances; the contemporary Red River Romances; and The Generations, her Biblical fiction. The novelist loves singing new songs the Lord gives her, and she paints. In 2008, she and her high school sweetheart-husband Ron moved from the DFW area—home for fifty-five years—to the woods of Red River County. Caryl counts four children and fourteen grandsugars life’s biggest blessings believing all good things come from God. Praying each story gives God glory, she hopes it will also minister His love, mercy, and grace to its readers. Caryl and Ron live in Clarksville, the county seat, in the far northeast corner of the Lone Star State.



Connect with her here:
All Books - http://tinyurl.com/CarylsAmazonPage

Website - http://www.CarylMcAdoo.com    
                                     (All First Chapters are offered here)

Newsletter - http://carylmcadoo.com/sign-up-to-the-caryler/
                                     (Get FREE books for subscribing!)

Reviewer? - http://carylmcadoo.com/christian-evaluaters/
                                     (Join Caryl’s Street Team!)

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/CarylMcAdoo.author

Blog       - http://www.CarylMcAdoo.blogspot.com

GoodReads - http://tinyurl.com/GoodReadsCaryl

Google+       -        http://tinyurl.com/CarylsGooglePlus

Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/CarylMcAdoo

Pinterest - http://www.pinterest.com/CarylMcAdoo


CARYL is giving away a copy of SING A NEW SONG. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.









Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown



Friday, April 10, 2015

Detours by Michelle Levigne

A Tabor Heights novel
Year One

Back Cover Blurb:
A year in the life … Roommates Bekka, Kat and Amy had a lot in common: Theater students, pursuing writing careers, supporting each other in crises and heartaches. Amy kept breaking up with her boyfriend. Kat never dated a boy more than twice. Bekka was too busy with part-time jobs and writing to even want a relationship. Especially seeing how miserable her roommates were.

So she thought, until Shane showed up, but Kat saw him first, and once she dumped a boyfriend, he never came back. Bekka could help hoping, though.

Shane kept trying to catch up with Bekka and get to know her, but people and crises, school and work continuously got in the way.

Through it all, Bekka and Shane kept hoping, dreaming, and working their way around all the detours life kept throwing at them.


Excerpt


"Shane, what brings you here on a gorgeous afternoon like this?" Joel greeted him as Shane stepped into the Green Room at Homespun Theater.
Joel looked a hundred percent better, just from two days ago when Shane had seen Max and Tony bring him home. He sat in a wheelchair with his cast propped up horizontally in front of him like a battering ram.
"How'd it go last night?"
"That's what I like. My lighting crew, positive we can't go on without them." Joel grinned and gestured at one of the couches. He sighed and rubbed at his forehead, which was still mottled with bruises from the accident just about a week ago. "You don't realize how great your friends are, and how many friends you've got, until something like this happens and everybody just jumps in and pulls off miracles." He shook his head, his grin going crooked, and Shane was dismayed to realize that gleam in his eyes was from tears.
"How's Miss Emily doing?"
"Coming along. Can't wait to get home. She didn't get banged up like me, but it hurt her more than me." Joel looked around in all directions, focusing on the door into the theater, where Shane could hear sounds of activity behind the stage. "Help me with something? But don't tell anybody, okay? Max is on my case, but it's driving me crazy." He pulled a wooden ruler from under the blanket covering his lap and his good leg. "Scratch my foot, would you?" He gestured at his toes sticking out of the cast.
Shane almost choked, trying not to laugh, as he stood up and slid the ruler in and out of the cast. Especially when Joel groaned and rolled his eyes up in his head and slouched like he had gone boneless.
"For that, you get an A for the semester. You have just saved me hours of agony." Joel winked at him as Shane handed the ruler back to him and he put it back into hiding. "Okay, now, what really brings you here?"
"How well do you know Bekka Sanderson?" slipped out far easier than Shane had hoped. When Joel just looked interested, he spilled everything, as fast as he could, detailing some of the close calls, the times he had tried to find Bekka to talk and missed, and then different people telling him she was engaged.
"Bekka? Not a chance. She's close enough to Max, we'd be the first to know. As far as I know, she hasn't even dated since senior high. The girl's too busy." Joel nodded for emphasis. "She deserves somebody who'll treat her right, and take care of her." His grin widened. "I hope you're planning on applying for that position."
Shane grinned back at him. "I'd like to, but there's this problem -- I dated her roommate." When Joel groaned and shook his head, grinning, Shane went on to explain how he had mis-stepped and fell into dating Kat the first time, and then made a similar mistake setting up the second date. Joel laughed with him when he related what had happened at the girls' apartment that morning.
"It's a mess, but I think I know Bekka well enough that she'll see the funny side of it and not hold it against you. Honestly, Shane, if you don't take the chance and ask her out, I'll be very disappointed."
"I was kind of hoping you'd help me corner her tonight, maybe get her alone somewhere so nobody can walk in on us, because it's like I've got a jinx getting in the way whenever I do try to talk to her."
"Tonight?" Joel shook his head. "Bekka's not working tonight. She did a great job, but with all that work she has to do on her book and final exams to study for, I set her free and took over her job as soon as I could."
"So she's free tonight?" Shane said slowly, testing the words as they came out of his mouth.

"You won't know until you ask her." Joel held out his hand. "Good luck," he said, as they shook hands.

Book Trailer




About Michelle:

On the road to publication, Michelle fell into fandom in college (she is a recovering Trekker, and adores “Warehouse 13” and “Stargate SG-1”), and has 40+ stories in various SF and fantasy universes. She has a BA in theater/English from Northwestern College and a MA focused on film and writing from Regent University. She has published 50+ books and novellas with multiple small presses, in science fiction and fantasy, YA, and sub-genres of romance. She has been a finalist in the EPIC Awards competition often since 2004, winning with Lorien in 2006 and The Meruk Episodes, I-V, in 2010. Her training includes the Institute for Children’s Literature; proofreading at an advertising agency; and working at a community newspaper. She freelance edits for a living, but only enough to give her time to write.



Purchase Michelle's book at:

Michelle Levigne is giving away a copy of Detours.  The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)



Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Warm Welcome to Michelle Levigne

Is there a story behind your book Detours?

Like a number of my books, Detours started out as a script. I had an idea for a stage play and/or screenplay about three girls sharing an apartment, getting through college, following their dreams. It went through several incarnations. Somewhere along the way, I set it in the Cleveland area, and used neighborhoods I was familiar with. From there, it was easy to transition Detours into a Tabor Heights story, because Tabor Heights is geographically set in the same spot as Berea, with some elements of Orange City, Iowa and Northwestern College (my alma mater) thrown in, and bits of Troy, Ohio as well.

As a bit of historical trivia: The names Berea and Tabor both come from the Bible, and at Berea’s founding, those were the two choices for the town’s name, which was decided with a coin toss. I was working at a community newspaper based in Berea at the time I was formulating my small town series, and the copy editor suggested Tabor for that very reason. I went so far as to take street names and change them enough so that those who know the layout of Berea will recognize the names -- for instance, Bridge Street was changed to Span Street, Prospect was changed to Aspect, etc.

As I played with the backgrounds of the three roommates, I of course discovered tie-ins to other books I was planning to write, or had already rough drafted, and tweaking everybody’s histories and relationships helped create a concrete place for the girls in the community. I knew where their apartment building was, their neighbors, how far they had to walk to get to class, where they bought their groceries, all the little details that made them certainly feel more real to me. The big breakthrough was in Kat’s story -- in the original screenplay, the girls’ theater professor shows up for Thanksgiving dinner, then Kat’s mother and stepfather show up and things are revealed to the audience that the girls don’t witness -- such as the fact he is Kat’s father and didn’t expect her mother to be there, and Kat doesn’t know he is her father. By the time it got to the book, I decided Dr. Morgan doesn’t know Kat is his daughter until that moment, when he looks at Lynette, realized she is Kat’s mother, and makes the connection. Of course, I got a spin-off book that is totally Morgan and Lynette’s story, The Second Time Around.

The hardest part of the book was changing it from a story about three roommates and their intersecting lives, to focus on Bekka and Shane’s romance. In the original stage play and screenplay, he doesn’t even show up until he comes to take Kat on a date. I had to do a lot of new writing to show Bekka and Shane constantly running into each other, looking with longing, but being discouraged because their lives were so complicated they kept getting sent on detours. Hence the name … though originally the detours referred to were the detours the girls had to take to finally reach their dreams and goals.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?

I don’t think it’s a question of “most interested” but “most identified with.” And that would be Bekka, because she’s trying so hard, doing so many things, and all she wants is time to just sit and write, no interruptions, no obligations. And yeah, she would love it if “that one guy” noticed her, but of course, there are lots of distractions to catch his attention before he ever comes near her. And while I did get lots of support from my mom, there were people around me who told me to my face that Christians shouldn’t write fiction, Christians shouldn’t write romance, fiction was a lie, I was wasting my time, I should find a more reliable, sensible career. Etc.

And yes, I got scammed by a would-be agent. I didn’t lose the rights to my story, but I did waste money on someone who made false promises and never did anything. Then I had another agent who let my books sit for weeks before asking me where they should be sent and to whose attention. Umm, shouldn’t she know the market? Then when the so-called business relationship was over, she said if I ever sold any of the books she tried to sell, she had a claim on my profits. I responded with requiring a list from her of exactly what publishing house she sent the books to, and the names of the editors who actually saw my books, and she only had a claim if those specific editors bought. She actually had the nerve to respond with, “What makes you think I want money I didn’t earn?” Uh, because you said right here, if I sold any book you represented, you got a share of the profits. No mitigating factors listed. You can’t just let something like that slide, because what if one of those books sold for a huge advance, and then someone bought the film rights?  Yes, I dream BIG for my books.

So yeah, I identified most closely to Bekka, with her struggles. Still haven’t found my Shane, though …

Do you travel? Has a place where you have traveled ever sparked a story idea?

Not as much as I’d like. However, I did take a “behind the scenes” tour of Playhouse Square once where we heard about an old theater in Michigan that sparked an idea for a book. Our tour guide told us how this old, old theater, with wide staircases and all the gilding and velvet drapes and fancy woodwork was gutted to build a parking garage. When they built the particular buildings on that street, they were all connected together, and they couldn’t tear down the theater completely because it would compromise the structure of the buildings on either side. So there’s a parking garage where, on different floors, there are doors leading nowhere, bits of staircases, fragments of plaster and scrollwork.

I got an idea for a ghost story, essentially, where on certain nights you can see the portions of the old theater that were destroyed, filled in, and the echoes of the actors who used to perform at that theater can be seen and heard. Well, of course, I don’t really “do” ghost stories … so it turned into a time travel kind of story, where the fabric of reality has grown thin and someone with the right equipment can look backwards and see what happened in the theater where a parking garage now sits. But of course, this creates a doorway from past to present. Right now, it is a screenplay called “Echoes, Whispers and Lies,” and as the hero interacts with the past, the past changes, affecting the people he has met in the present who were there at the time of the supposed murder and/or disappearance of starlet. By the end of the movie, everybody knows where the starlet is -- she traveled into the future to be with the hero. This will be a book someday. Just don’t know when …

What character that you’ve created most resembles you?

I actually have two characters, both belonging to my Tabor Heights series. First is Max Randolph, whose parents run the local community theater, Homespun Theater. She is trying to make her break into screenwriting, and she’s somewhat reluctantly writing romances with her longtime friend and writing partner, Tony Martin.

Then there’s Bekka Sanderson, professional student. She works three part-time jobs, has several projects on the market at any one time, studies drama at the local university, and shares an apartment with two college friends who are also into drama and writing. Despite her common sense, she is almost taken in by a con-man who preys on hopeful writers. What sounds like her big break, with a publisher who wants her book, suddenly turns into a nasty trick, trying to bully her into signing away all her rights, plus make her pay for everything in the publishing process. I fell for someone pretending to be an agent when I was in college, paying (NEVER pay someone for work they haven’t done yet) for representation. I realized I had been taken when I kept asking who the so-called agent sent my book to, and the only answer was that “the market is very slow right now.” When the money ran out, the crook at least had the sense not to ask me to pay for another year of no answers. I have yet to find an agent with the guts to take on my … hmm, shall we say “odd” type of books? Well, Bekka got an agent by fighting the crook. I hope that fiction will eventually become reality!


Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Yes, several book ideas have started out based on fragments of dreams. I rarely remember more than a few images or a general feeling. I try to write down everything I remember, but there isn’t much.

On the other hand, I often solve problems with current works-in-progress in my dreams. I can’t remember what I dreams, but I know what to change, what to add, what to cut out of the story right where I’m blocked.

Some stories that started out based on dreams are “Heir of Faxinor,” and the Sunsinger (YA science fiction series) books and “Taksearhe,” from my Wildvine fantasy series. The funny thing is that often, the images that started the actual story often don’t make the final cut in the finished draft of the book.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write your first draft?

It’s not a conscious thing anymore, but yes, I’m very conscious. I notice I make more mistakes with spelling when I write with the Neo, mostly because I don’t really look at the 6-line screen as I write. I often close my eyes when I’m writing with the Neo. When I write on my computer, however, I am looking at the screen, and even if I’m not really paying attention, I can “feel” when I make a grammar or spelling mistake and I stop and go back and fix it. I really hate it when the auto-correct anticipates what I’m writing and turns it into a word I don’t want! That usually happens in my fantasy or science fiction, when it’s a made-up word or name. There have been times I have changed a character’s name because the wretched computer keeps changing it and I give up fighting. Weird, how technology interferes.

Since editing is my “day job,” yes, I’m always conscious of grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes, of sentence structure, of continuity. I am constantly griping about the idiocy of people who use the wrong forms of words, who can’t tell the difference between principal and principle, between it’s and its, between they’re, there and their, between assure, ensure and insure, between affect and effect. On and on. So … seeing the stupid mistakes, I am more conscious, and since I spend so much time catching other people’s errors (and snarling about them) I have to take even more care with my writing.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
My next book due is CHARLI, a Quarry Hall novel. It’s due in May.
Charli is one of my “recycled” books -- it started life as a screenplay about an injured heroine, her wolf cub, and solving a mystery from her past. Charli’s father was killed and she was injured when she was a child and a late-night visit to her father’s lab interrupted someone trying to steal his research. Charli can’t remember much from that night, but now she walks with a limp and wears a brace on her leg. She and her mother have retreated to a research lab and greenhouse in the middle of a wildlife preserve. She rescues a wolf cub from poachers and raises him, trying to get him to go wild again.


It was very easy to turn it into a Quarry Hall book because one of the story threads through the whole series is the search for a cure for a genetically engineered illness that is killing Harrison Carter, the founder of the Arc Foundation, and the father of the main character, Joan. Carter has a shady past and has devoted his ill-gotten gain to God’s service since getting his soul back. Charli and her mother are doing research to re-engineer medicinal plants lost in the destruction of the rainforests. That brings Joan to them, looking for a cure for her father. When trouble comes looking for Charli and her mother, Joan brings the resources of Quarry Hall and the Arc Foundation to help them.

MICHELLE LEVIGNE
DETOURS
A Tabor Heights novel
Year One

Back Cover Blurb:
A year in the life … Roommates Bekka, Kat and Amy had a lot in common: Theater students, pursuing writing careers, supporting each other in crises and heartaches. Amy kept breaking up with her boyfriend. Kat never dated a boy more than twice. Bekka was too busy with part-time jobs and writing to even want a relationship. Especially seeing how miserable her roommates were.

So she thought, until Shane showed up, but Kat saw him first, and once she dumped a boyfriend, he never came back. Bekka could help hoping, though.

Shane kept trying to catch up with Bekka and get to know her, but people and crises, school and work continuously got in the way.

Through it all, Bekka and Shane kept hoping, dreaming, and working their way around all the detours life kept throwing at them. 

To buy Michelle's book:

About Michelle:
On the road to publication, Michelle fell into fandom in college (she is a recovering Trekker, and adores “Warehouse 13” and “Stargate SG-1”), and has 40+ stories in various SF and fantasy universes. She has a BA in theater/English from Northwestern College and a MA focused on film and writing from Regent University. She has published 50+ books and novellas with multiple small presses, in science fiction and fantasy, YA, and sub-genres of romance. She has been a finalist in the EPIC Awards competition often since 2004, winning with Lorien in 2006 and The Meruk Episodes, I-V, in 2010. Her training includes the Institute for Children’s Literature; proofreading at an advertising agency; and working at a community newspaper. She freelance edits for a living, but only enough to give her time to write.

To connect with Michelle:


Michelle Levigne is giving away a copy of Detours.  The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)


Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

More Book Winners

Once again, we offer you a warm welcome to the Bookshelf of the Barn Door Book Loft. 

And before we announce our winners we’d like to offer a special thanks to these Christian authors who offered a sample of their writing to our faithful readers:

Joseph Bentz who offered his Speculative Fiction  Dreams of Caladria.
Renee Blare who offered her Romantic Suspense  Beast of Stratton.
And Lena Nelson Dooley who offered her Contemporary Romance  8 Weddings and a Miracle. 

And now: We're pleased to announce this week’s winners:
Rachel Bookworm has won Joseph Bentz’s Speculative Fiction  Dreams of Caladria
Robin Bunting has won Renee Blare’s Romantic Suspense  Beast of Stratton
And Tammy Cordery has won Lena Nelson Dooley’s Contemporary Romance  8 Weddings and a Miracle. 
Congratulations Winners! Remember, it's your responsibility to contact me  sharonalavy {at} gmail {dot} com) with your address so the author can send you a book. 


Be sure to check past winners posts. Subscribing by email will ensure you don't miss seeing the winners list.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Interview with Hawaiian Author Hannah Duggan

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Hannah. 

Is there a story behind your book Dear Kate?


Hannah: I love working with kids! I’m a nanny and a dance teacher. My class of little ballerinas inspired the heart of this story. They are so sweet and inquisitive. I wanted to create a character that personified that innocence and child-like faith. The character of Emily Blake was a culmination of their unique personalities. As a teacher you start out thinking you’re purpose is to teach children something valuable, but I find again and again that I learn so much from these wonderful little girls. In that sense I wanted to create a story in which Kate believes she is saving Emily, but realizes more and more that Emily is saving her from her own fear and doubt. 

Question: Which character in Dear Kate most interested you while you wrote? 

Hannah: The character that interested me most in this novel is probably my hero Jack. I loved developing a character who was at war with himself. Jack’s life and many of his decisions are guided by the fact that he is trying to please two mentors who are opposed to one another. This central conflict of his life intrigued me and caused me to invest time and development into his character. I also enjoyed the chance to poke fun at my heroine through his sarcasm and humor. I so appreciate the people in my own life who cause me to laugh when I’m prone to take myself too seriously. I knew Kate needed someone like that even if she didn’t appreciate it at times.

Sounds like a fun read!
Question: What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Hannah: Last week I donned knee socks, took a whack at my phony British accent, and put the Andrews sisters on repeat for a few hours. I then collected rubbish for the Allied War effort, served Befordshire Clangor (Pot Pie) to a dozen teenage girls, and held a mock air raid drill. Before you think I’ve lost my mind I should probably mention it was all part of girls’ retreat I helped to develop and teach. The theme of the retreat was “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe,” and we wanted to immerse the girls into what it was like to live in the 1940s. It was a blast!

How fun. My parents were married in the 1940s.
Question: What do you like most about the area where you live and/or grew up?

Hannah: I could write a book about the perks of living on the Big Island of Hawaii. (Someday I probably will!) My favorite part however, would have to be the pace. Honoka’a, the small town in which I’ve grown up is a heritage town. It’s like stepping back into the 1950’s. Little storefronts, locally owned restaurants, and a movie theatre that was built in 1930 give the lovely little town its character. I loved growing up here because it was always easy to disconnect. Trends and fashions always ran a few years behind the rest of the world, so there was less pressure to look and be a certain way. The lack of winter and added bonus of the beach never hurt either!

Well visiting Hawaii is on my bucket list! 
Question:  Can you share a favorite memory from your childhood?

Hannah: A favorite childhood memory of mine is when we moved to Hawaii from Southern Oregon. The events that took place to get us here were so clearly orchestrated by the hand of God that I remember sensing His presence even as a seven-year-old. I remember a specific evening when I was sitting on the front porch watching the sunset with my dad right after we’d settled into our new home. I remember telling him that my Sunday school teachers had always said God was with us wherever we went, but now I really believed it. I still think of that moment whenever I feel that God is calling me into a new area in my walk of faith. It was the first time I can distinctly remember seeing God’s faithfulness in my life.

Hannah that makes me shiver. God is there, isn't He?
Question: Are there spiritual themes you like to write about? 
 
Hannah: I love to write about stepping up. My generation is so prone to miss out on God’s plan for us because of our complacency. That’s why I enjoy writing adventures. I love to pull my characters out of their shells and out of their comfort zones in order to display what they’re capable of.

Another spiritual theme that I’ve seen consistently in my writing is God’s all-knowing love. I always try to incorporate a character somewhere in my book that knows everything about my heroine, and loves her anyway. I find it one of our Lord’s most intriguing and unfathomable traits, and it also makes for a great plot twist!

Question: Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. 

“Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
This is one of my favorite verses because it reminds me that God gave me the desire to write. As a kid I hated writing and English assignments. The fact that writing is now my passion and my career is in itself an act of God. It causes me to delve deeper into who He is in order to find out what other desires He will place in this stubborn little heart of mine.
Question: On a more personal level...what's your favorite meal with family and friends?

Hannah: My family has all sorts of amazing meals! Thanksgiving is a huge deal at our house, birthday dinners are always special, and then there’s plenty of “just because” dinners. My favorite family meal, however was Christmas Eve, and not for the reason you would think. As a pastor’s family Christmas is the busiest time of our year. We always put on an extensive Christmas Eve service. For us it’s an insane rush of microphones, technical glitches, Christmas carols, and glitter. Lots of glitter. We usually have to grab something small for dinner right between rehearsal and the service, but we don’t mind. We’re so wound up and excited we never feel much like eating anyway. Last year when we all got home from the service it was the middle of the night. We were wired from the performance, moved by the things the Lord had done, and starving. We all crowded into the living room around the Christmas tree and scarfed down sandwiches, passing around a bag of chips. It wasn’t fancy. It certainly wasn’t pretty, but it was one of the sweetest moments all year.

Giggle.
Question: When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Hannah: I’m so glad you asked!
My next book Time T.H.I.E.F. will be released in early 2016. I’m so excited about this novel because it’s a new genre for me. Science fiction might just be my new love. Here’s a peak into my latest creation!

“I can’t keep lying to you.”
With those words Lacey Ryan’s world shatters. Since the accident two years ago Lacey has struggled to live her life again in spite of her injuries and complete memory loss, but the life she’s been living is a lie. With her father’s confession Lacey soon discovers that her fabricated life has been nothing more than a cover-up for a failed time-travel experiment.
In order to find the home she can’t remember Lacey must defy her own instincts, the government’s top minds, and time itself. 

Thanks for sharing. Time travel, eh? The new book sounds fascinating. 
Readers, Hannah Duggan is giving away a copy of her NOVEL Dear Kate. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post)

You may also purchase Hannah's book on Amazon: 


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