Friday, February 28, 2014

Washington Author H.L. Wegley

Welcome back to the Book Loft, Harry. Is there a story behind On the Pineapple Express?

Yes, there is a story. I live near Seattle, Washington. A little over a year ago, statistics collected by the media said that the greater Seattle area was the worst place in the nation for child sex trafficking. My wife and I attended a local awareness meeting that painted a very ugly picture of what is happening at the mall, on street corners near schools, anywhere kids gather. I played around with the idea of taking my hero and heroine from Hide and Seek and placing them in a situation where they had to choose between coasting safely from courtship a wonderful life together and risking it all to try to save a group of girls who were going to be sold by international human traffickers. From that idea, the plot for On the Pineapple Express was born.

What’s your favorite genre of writing?

I like action, danger, and suspense. My favorite genres to read or write are high-action romantic suspense or thrillers with a romantic thread.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so how often do you get it? How do you fix it?

I do believe that writers sometimes find they simply cannot write when they want to write, or should be writing. In my own life I’ve observed a pattern for more than 45 years. When my mind reaches a certain state of fatigue, it doesn’t want to obey my command to write or perform any other mentally taxing activity. If I let it have its way, my mind will gravitate toward some relaxing activity and, following a bit of fun time, I’m ready to write again. But if I disregard the “block” and try to force the writing, the words soon slow to a trickle and the quality is terrible.

Do you type or write by hand? Computer? Typewriter? Legal pad?

I do all of the above, except the typewriter. Ever since college, when I was completing a term paper and the final two words simply wouldn’t fit on what I wanted to be the last page, I’ve hated the typewriter. The two words that wouldn’t fit were “foolish mistake.” I left them as two abandoned orphans on a page by themselves. My professor laughed when she read the last page. She put something like the precursor to LOL on my paper and reduced my A to a B+.

My favorite mode of writing first drafts is sitting in the sun with a spiral notebook and a handful of my favorite mechanical pencils. I use Dragon Naturally Speaking to dictate my drafts onto the computer. But there’s something else I hate almost as much as the typewriter … homonyms. Dragon loves them, but MS Word’s spell checker couldn’t give a hoot. It just ignores them. But I hate those slippery little demons.

Do you archive everything you write?

Yes. I continually backup my data in near-real-time. Then I have 3 flash drives each with a copy of my entire body of writing work on them. I update each flash drive at 3- or 4-day intervals using a batch program that I wrote. Call me paranoid. If it has to do with data on a hard drive, I am.

What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will?

Fantasy. I have written a highly allegorical child’s novel that could perhaps be called fantasy. But I simply do not enjoy creating story worlds that have a zero probability of existing. I want my readers to say, “This could really happen. I wouldn’t want it to happen to me … at least not all of it. But, still, it could happen.”
  
What are your five favorite words?

The book contract is attached.

Love that answer! 
How many writing projects are you working on right now?

I’m working on three: evaluating a completed manuscript for a potential rewrite, doing final polishing on another, editing the first draft of a third manuscript. I’m afraid those sweet days of working only on that first manuscript are gone forever.

Where do you most like to write?

Anywhere where there’s warm sunshine. My writing rate goes up by a factor of 5 to 10 when I’m sitting in the sunshine.  I wrote 27 of the 31 chapters in my first manuscript in 7 days sitting on the sunny shores of Lake Havasu one spring—I should add, after the college spring breaks had ended. During spring break, they rename Lake Havasu to Lake Havawhatever. You really don’t want to be there at that time. If you don’t believe me, try searching YouTube for “spring break at Lake Havasu.” On second thought, just take my word for it.
But the sunshine thing begs the question, “Why do I live near Seattle?” The answer is simple, grandkids. The solution to the gloom is pretty simple too, Starbucks. But I’m not telling how much I put on my gold card each month.
  
Do you have a mentor?

Not exactly, but I have a critique group consisting of two other authors I know I can trust to tell me the truth about my writing.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?


Book 3 in the Pure Genius Series, Moon over Maalaea Bay, will release on June 13, 2014. The story picks up about 5 hours after On the Pineapple Express ends. I can’t say why it begins there without introducing a huge spoiler. Book 3 is set entirely in Maui and it involves an international human-trafficking ring, their rich, powerful clients, kidnapping, espionage —you know … your usual fare for a Maui vacation.

Sounds intriguing. Thanks for sharing with us today!

Connect with H. L. Wegley at:


H. L. Wegley is giving away a copy of On The Pineapple Express. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.




Thursday, February 27, 2014

On The Pineapple Express by H. L. Wegley

In one of the most beautiful places on earth, the ugliest of crimes holds young innocent lives in its evil grip. An intercepted cell-phone call from a remote area on the Olympic Peninsula tells beautiful, brilliant NSA researcher, Jennifer Akihara, that a group of girls will soon be sold into slavery by human traffickers. She enlists her fiancé, Lee Brandt, to help find the holding location and convince the FBI to intervene.

With the clock ticking off the last few hours before both the sale of the girls and the arrival of a deadly storm, and with international criminals pursuing them, can Jennifer and Lee save the girls, or will their wedding plans be cancelled ...permanently?

Excerpt

Olympic Peninsula, Saturday, November 2, 11: 00 AM 

Jennifer Akihara’s SUV slid sideways on Highway 101 when she turned in at the Lake Quinault store. She jerked the wheel left, tapped the brakes, and coaxed the vehicle into a parking spot. Huge raindrops assaulted the windshield like bullets trying to blow holes in the safety glass. The wipers slapped out their liveliest rhythm, but her heart thumped even faster as she hit Special Agent Peterson’s speed dial number on her cell.

Lee Brandt, her fiancé, sat silently in the passenger seat, but his foot tapped out a tempo somewhere between andante and presto.

She pushed the speakerphone.

Lee needed to take his fair share of the coming abuse.

 “Peterson, this is Jennifer Akihara.”

 “How is my favorite NSA sleuth on this miserable day?”

 “I stumbled across something near my research site on the peninsula… something you should know about.”

 “Is there a little smuggling going on along the coast?”

 “You could say that. Drugs smuggled in, young girls smuggled out.”

Peterson’s end went silent.

"This morning I analyzed the data downloaded from my wireless scanner near Forks. Nearly thirteen days ago, it recorded an encrypted cell-phone conversation."

"Cell-phone conversation? You chose that location for your testing because there’s no cell service. But you need to—"

"You mean no legal cell service. When I had a colleague from Fort Meade decrypt the call, I heard traffickers selling girls.‛

Silence again.

"Can you get the unencrypted conversation to me today?" His usual booming voice of authority had softened.

"I’ll e-mail it from my cell when we’re finished talking. But, Petersen, the next exchange of girls is set for tomorrow night. Can you move quickly enough to stop it?‛

"You intercepted a private call. That raises some legal issues we—"

"Legal issues? There’s nothing legal about that call, and what they’re doing is worse than illegal."

"You’re not thinking like a defense attorney. First, I need to analyze the conversation. If we have enough to go on, I can form a team by late tonight or tomorrow. But without specific information, no, I can’t guarantee we can stop the exchange. If we botch things, we might never get a conviction."

"Lee is forecasting the Pineapple Express rainstorm to transition to a strong windstorm by tomorrow. The message indicated they don’t do exchanges if there’s even a small craft advisory. So the storm may delay the exchange and buy us a little more time, but we can’t count on that. We do know they’re holding the girls at an abandoned mill site on the peninsula."

"Where’s the mill?"

"We haven’t located it yet." She had lit the fuse on her bomb.

Lee plugged his ears.

She waited for the FBI agent to explode.

"We? Yet? Where are you, Jennifer?"

"At Lake Quinault. Lee’s with me, and we have five possible sites to check out."

"Far enough so I can’t stop you." Peterson mumbled. "So…you don’t know where the girls are, but you’re driving around to abandoned mill sites?"

"Something like that."

"Jennifer, you need to back off. If you’re right, these people will kill anyone who is a perceived threat. You could get the girls killed by charging in."

"Look, Petersen, Lee and I have collected some information. We’ve planned well, and we won’t do anything stupid. But there’s no way I’m going to stand by and let a group of girls be sold into a living hell. So you get your team out here as fast as you can. We’ll call you when we find the girls. But for now, Lee and I are proceeding."

"You can’t do that! It’s too dangerous. At least wait until we can get out there."


"There’s not enough time. I’m going to terminate the call now so I can send you the intercepted message. And, Peterson, ten days ago one of the girls hanged herself with her own shoelaces rather than let these guys sell her. Lee and I are going forward. I suggest you do the same. Good-bye."


About The Author

H. L. Wegley served in the US Air Force as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He is a Meteorologist who, while working as a forecaster and a research scientist in Atmospheric Physics, published extensively in the scientific literature. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked more than two decades as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area, where he and his wife of 47 years enjoy small-group ministry, their grandchildren, hiking beaches on the Olympic Peninsula, and where he writes inspirational thrillers and romantic suspense novels. Besides his scientific publications, he published one non-fiction work, Colby and Me: Growing up in the '50s, a humorous collection of the childhood adventures of an early baby boomer.

Purchase On The Pineapple Express at:


(This book releases to other sources on 2/28)

H. L. Wegley is giving away a copy of On The Pineapple Express. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Warm Welcome to Joan Hochstetler

It's a treat to welcome you today, Joan. Tell us, is there a story behind your book Northkill?
Indeed there is. Northkill is closely based on the true story of my Hochstetler ancestors, and it’s one of the reasons why I developed such an interest in history and such a love for the Lord. It’s truly impressive how many facts were recorded about this event at the time it happened 257 years ago and how much of the oral tradition handed down through the generations has been documented to be true

There are a couple of important details, however, that don’t appear in the historical record but were crucially important to the story. The name of Jacob’s wife and the little daughter who was killed in the attack were forgotten, and clearly we couldn’t write this story without naming them. We finally made a decision based on some speculation in a few articles published in the Jacob Hochstetler Family Association newsletter. Because Anna is the only female name that appears in the families of every one of Jacob’s surviving children, and because of how the Amish have traditionally named their children, it’s highly probable that her name was Anna. And since their oldest daughter was named Barbara, which was likely the name of her grandmother, the second daughter was probably named Anna after their mother. So that’s how we named them in Northkill.

It was a very emotional moment for me when I was finally able to give my great-great-great-great-great grandmother a name when she had been a nameless shadow for so many years. For the first time she stepped out of history and became a real person, and that was so precious to me. I still tear up thinking about it.


Sounds wonderful and inspiring! What started you on your writing journey? 
A dream. Seriously. One night back in 1977 I had a dream that was so intriguing I realized I had to write the story to figure out who these people were and what in the world they were doing. That became my epic medieval tragedy, which I’m determined to one day complete and publish! From there I went on to working on my multi-volume series on the American Revolution, the American Patriot Series.


What kind of books do you enjoy reading? (Book recommendations very welcome!)
As you can imagine, I particularly love historical fiction, including classics that weren’t historical at the time they were written, but read so today. I also enjoy a wide range of contemporary fiction. My favorite authors include Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Goudge, Rafael Sabatini, Zane Grey, Diana Gabaldon, Athol Dickson, W. Dale Cramer, Laura Frantz, and Lori Benton. Being a publisher as well as an author, I also love the stories of the authors I publish. Obviously I wouldn’t be publishing them if I didn’t!


Ooooo! Many of my favorites too. Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?
That’s a hard choice because I grew to love and relate to all the characters. But it would have to be Jacob because he had to make the hardest decision of his life, a decision that was completely counter-intuitive to the values of this world. The choice he faced was a stark one: Remain faithful to God’s commandment not to kill, and face his own death and the deaths of his wife and children by the most violent means. Or disobey God and kill their attackers.

It seems like an easy choice to make when you’re living at peace. It’s a totally different story when a violent enemy is trying to break down your door. It couldn’t have been easy to stand firm in his faith, but he did, and his example is still inspiring people today.


If you could paint or sculpt like a famous artist who would it be and why?
Caravaggio. Definitely. He’s an Italian artist who lived in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. I absolutely love the astounding mastery and beauty of his work and his powerful, dramatic use of light and dark that just grabs you and draws you into the scene he’s portraying. In high school my ambition was to be an artist, and Caravaggio and Rembrandt were my ideals—and the reason I gave up that ambition since I don’t have the genius for painting on the level they did!


What is your favorite season of the year?  
Autumn, without a doubt. I love the beautiful colors of the leaves and the coolness of the wind before it gets really cold. Bittersweet and acorns, corn drying in the fields, pumpkins, and the brilliant hues of mums. Bonfires outside and a crackling blaze in the fireplace. The rich, tantalizing aromas of good food cooking, and the family gathering for Thanksgiving. Everything that goes with the season. There’s just something about the melancholy, thoughtful mood of autumn as summer gives way to winter that speaks to me most deeply.


Love Autumn. What is a favorite memory from your childhood? 
I was a tree climber as a child, and one of my favorite memories of growing up is sitting high in the branches of a tree with a good storybook. Nobody could see me, but I could spy on them from above. And I loved hearing the wind whisper through the leaves and looking up high into the sky with birds and clouds flying by.


A fellow tree climber. I remember . . . Nevermind. Please share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. (and why it's special)   
My favorite is my life verse, Isaiah 6:8. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ’Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ ” I’ve felt the strong pull of that verse since I was a child, and my deepest desire is for my life to be a worthy testimony of God’s grace and mercy to all those I come in contact with.


When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
My next book is Valley of the Shadow, Book 5 of my American Patriot Series. It’s tentatively scheduled to release Spring 2015, which means I need to get busy and finish it! The Return, Book 2 of the Northkill Amish Series will follow in 2016.

Valley of the Shadow continues the compelling saga of Elizabeth Howard and Jonathan Carleton as they face the devastation and triumphs of the American Revolution. A daring rescue, the harsh winter at Valley Forge, the inconclusive battle at Monmouth, and an unforeseen change of plans will force both Elizabeth and Jonathan to make hard choices that teach them to trust the Lord’s leading as never before.

Thanks for joining us, Joan!

To buy her book, go here:
CBD
Amazon
barnesandnoble
deepershopping



Joan's Bio:
J. M. Hochstetler is an author, editor, and publisher. She is the daughter of Mennonite farmers and a lifelong student of history. Her American Patriot Series is the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. Her contemporary novel One Holy Night was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year. She is a direct descendant of Jacob Hochstetler through his oldest son John.


Bob's Bio:
Bob Hostetler is an award-winning writer, editor, pastor, and speaker who traces his descent from two sons of Jacob Hochstetler: John and Joseph. He has co-authored eleven books with Josh McDowell and won two Gold Medallion Awards, among others. Bob is a frequent speaker at churches, conferences, and retreats.


About Northkill:
Northkill is closely based on an inspiring true story well-known among the Amish and Mennonites. It has been documented in many publications and in contemporary accounts preserved in the Pennsylvania State Archives and in private collections. You’ll find more information about the history of the Hochstetler family on my website and at http://www.hostetler.net/.


To connect with Joan, go here:
Website: jmhochstetler.com
Blog: northkill.blogspot.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/joan.hochstetler
Twitter: @JMHochstetler
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=29292351&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile



Joan is giving away a copy of NORTHKILL. 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.








Happy Reading!

Caroline Brown

Monday, February 24, 2014

Northkill by Bob and Joan Hochstetler

Book Blurb:
Drawn into the savage clashes of the French and Indian War, Jakob Hochstetler faces an impossible choice—and the irreversible consequences.

In 1738 Jakob Hochstetler and his family arrive in America, seeking sanctuary from religious persecution in Europe and the freedom to live and worship according to their Anabaptist beliefs, which include the doctrine of nonresistance. Along with other members of their church, they settle in the Northkill Amish Mennonite community on the Pennsylvania frontier between civilization and wilderness. They build a home near Northkill Creek, for which their community is named.

For eighteen years, the community lives at peace. Then, while the French and Indian War rages, the Hochstetlers’ way of life is brutally shattered. Early on the morning of September 20, 1757, their home is attacked by a party of Delaware and Shawnee warriors allied with the French. Facing certain death with his wife and children, Jakob makes a wrenching choice that will tear apart his family and change all of their lives forever.



Read an Excerpt:

Chapter 1
September 22, 1752

“Christian!” Stiffening, seventeen-year-old Barbara Hochstetler came to an abrupt halt on the stone threshold of the log house.

Out in the yard, her little brother, sky-blue eyes wide, reached up to touch the silver baubles that hung from the neck and ears of the Indian warrior who bent over him. While Barbara watched in breathless terror, the man returned the boy’s smile and trailed claw-like fingers along the soft curve of the child’s cheek, speaking in a melodious language she could not understand.

The sight of the wide bands of black and red paint slashed across the warrior’s lean, pockmarked face, caused Barbara’s heart to contract so painfully she felt lightheaded. “Maam!” she gasped, frantically searching the farmyard for her mother’s ample form.

On the near side of the barn by the chicken house, she saw her mother, Anna, swing around, the pan of crushed corn she had been scattering for the hens dropping to the ground. Barefoot, Maam ran back toward the house with astonishing speed for one so plump, her full petticoats bunched in her clenched fists, the wide brim of her flat straw hat bouncing with every step.

“Christli, ins Haus! Schnell!” In the house! Quickly!

Christian jerked around at her scream, his expression registering confusion and fear. A flurry of squawking, flapping fowl scattered out of Maam’s path as she crossed the dusty yard to pull Christian away from the warrior.

Biting her lip hard, Barbara focused on the man’s face, which darkened into a frown. Eyes narrowed, he straightened to his full height and spoke again as he reached for Christian. This time the menace in his voice and gesture was all too clear.

Maam shoved the boy in Barbara’s direction and, hands on hips, planted herself protectively between her children and the warrior. Her stance reminded Barbara of an angry hen guarding her clutch of eggs.

If she had not been so frightened, she would have laughed. Instead, she sucked in another sharp breath as five more warriors, painted and armed like the first, emerged from the woods behind the springhouse. 

Before she could cry out a warning, Christian collided with her so hard he almost knocked her to the ground. She staggered, then regained her balance and caught the six-year-old in her arms. Sobbing, he pressed hard against her legs, burying his tear-streaked face in her petticoats. She was shaking as much as he was.

To her astonishment, her mother did not shrink back at this new threat. Instead, she kept her narrowed eyes on the man in front of her, whom Barbara took to be the roving band’s leader. He was angry, that was clear. But Maam held her ground, even when the other warriors advanced.

They all carried muskets, with a tomahawk hanging from their belt, and a hunting knife dangling from a rawhide thong against their chest. The weapons glittered in the sunshine.

Barbara pressed her clenched fist against her mouth and breathed a fervent plea for God’s protection. She tried to think where the rest of her family would be at that hour.

By now ten-year-old Joseph should be driving the cows up from the pasture for the evening milking. Today, as usual, he lagged in performing his chores, and she added a prayer for his safety.

Early that morning, twelve-year-old Jake had gone with their father to Christian Stutzman’s plantation a mile away. The men of their Amish Mennonite community were completing the roof of the new house Crist was hurrying to finish in time for his and Barbara’s wedding in October, only a few weeks away. Daat and Jake should be on their way home along with her oldest brother, Johannes, who lived with his wife, Katie on the adjoining plantation.

She wanted to go to Maam but dared not leave Christian alone. He clung to her so tightly that she was afraid he would panic if she pulled away.

If the worst happened, she and Christian might have time to escape through the house and out the side Stube door, intercept Joseph on the path to the barn, and make it to Johannes’s home. But seeking sanctuary with Johannes might lead the Indians to her brother and sister-in-law and their new baby. She felt sick at the thought.

Daat, come quick! she pled.


To buy her book, go here:
CBD
Amazon
barnesandnoble
deepershopping



Joan's Bio:
J. M. Hochstetler is an author, editor, and publisher. She is the daughter of Mennonite farmers and a lifelong student of history. Her American Patriot Series is the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. Her contemporary novel One Holy Night was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year. She is a direct descendant of Jacob Hochstetler through his oldest son John.


Bob's Bio:
Bob Hostetler is an award-winning writer, editor, pastor, and speaker who traces his descent from two sons of Jacob Hochstetler: John and Joseph. He has co-authored eleven books with Josh McDowell and won two Gold Medallion Awards, among others. Bob is a frequent speaker at churches, conferences, and retreats.


About Northkill:
Northkill is closely based on an inspiring true story well-known among the Amish and Mennonites. It has been documented in many publications and in contemporary accounts preserved in the Pennsylvania State Archives and in private collections. You’ll find more information about the history of the Hochstetler family on my website and at http://www.hostetler.net/.


To connect with Joan, go here:
Website: jmhochstetler.com
Blog: northkill.blogspot.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/joan.hochstetler
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/JMHochstetler
LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/jmshoup/



Joan is giving away a copy of NORTHKILL. 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.







Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Warm Welcome to Maddy Lederman

It's with real pleasure that I welcome Maddy Lederman to our blog today! Read on to find out more about Maddy.

Is there a story behind your book Edna In The Desert?
I’ve spent a lot of time in the Mojave Desert and the idea for Edna In The Desert started out as a short story. I kept seeing this family of four in a car on a desert highway. Cars can be pressure cookers for intense situations (I’m working on a collection of micro-stories that take place in cars). In this story, a spoiled, Los Angeles thirteen year-old finds out she’s going to be left in the desert with her grandparents for the summer. Her grandparents are like people I had interviewed for a local magazine. They had no cell phone service or Internet, and they lived in the middle of nowhere. It was so remote, I wondered how a modern, city kid could stand it. Eventually I read Edna In The Desert at a spoken word event in Joshua Tree, CA, called Desert Stories. Afterward, the short story version was published in The Sun Runner, a magazine about California deserts. So many people wanted to know what was going to happen to Edna, it inspired me to write the book!

Love it when that happens! What started you on your writing journey? 
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved getting lost in great stories, but what started writing for me was an assignment to make up an ending for The Lady or The Tiger in fourth grade. I had a great time with that. I wish I could find it. I wrote it on yellow, lined paper.

Has some place you have traveled inspired something in your writing?
Yes, the Mojave Desert! There is something about its open sky and mysterious landscape that has a calming and centering effect. I wanted to share this feeling with my readers.

I understand. The southwestern states are special to me likewise. What distracts you from writing the easiest?
Being hungry!

What kind of books do you enjoy reading? 
I like romance, family relationships, social satire, survival, dystopia/science fiction and comedy. I really love a story that has them all! I like to think Edna In The Desert does, except for the sci-fi component (although being without a cell phone, Internet or TV is like being stuck on another planet for Edna).

Who are your favorite writers?
Here’s an incomplete list of writers I love, not necessesarily in this order, but this is the order I thought of them in, so it might be significant: Jane Austen, Dorothy Parker, Kurt Vonnegut, Shakespeare, Charlotte Brontë, Ernest Hemmingway, Mark Twain, J.D. Salinger, Raymond Carver, Anton Chekhov, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Douglas Adams, Suzanne Collins, Tina Fey.

Some great choices. Which character in Edna In The Desert most interested you while you wrote? Why? 

Definitely Edna. Many of my friend’s kids don’t even look up from their phones to say hello, and I wonder where this is taking us socially. I wanted to create a believable, spiritual awakening in a modern, selfish, technology-addicted teen. In many cultures, thirteen is an age of transitioning into adulthood. I tried to capture this time in a girl’s life when she starts to see certain realities: what death really means, what love really means, and that the adults around her, specifically her grandparents, were young once themselves, and have challenges of their own aside from keeping her happy.

I should say. Haven't read the book yet, but she sounds fascinating and real. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I’ve done many quirky things, a lot of them in the desert! I took a “sound bath” at The Integratron. I hiked up a mountain in 110 degrees on a first date and eventually married the guy. My job in film and TV creates endless quirky opportunities, for example, covering Adam West, TV’s Batman, in creamed corn. We met years later in Palm Springs and laughed about it.

What makes you smile?
Any kitten will do it. Giving me chocolate also works.

Thanks, Maddy, for joining us!



To buy the book, go here:

electiopublishing

amazon.

barnesandnoble

itunes


About Maddy:
Edna In The Desert is Maddy Lederman’s first novel, and she’s working on its sequel. Other writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Sun Runner, a magazine about California deserts. Maddy has an M.F.A. in Theater from Brooklyn College. She works in the art department for films and TV shows, recently on Darren Aronofsky's Noah and The Amazing Spiderman 2. She’s a native New Yorker who loves to travel, hike, drive, go out to eat and be in the desert.

Connect with Maddy here:

http://www.maddylederman.com

https://www.facebook.com/edna.in.the.desert


Maddy is giving away a copy of Edna in the Desert. 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.









Happy Reading!
Caroline  Brown

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Edna in the Desert by Maddy Lederman

Back Cover Blurb:

Edna is a precocious troublemaker wreaking havoc at her Beverly Hills school. Her therapist advocates medication, but her parents come up with an alternative cure: Edna will spend the summer in the desert with her grandparents. Their remote cabin is cut off from cell phone service, Internet and television. Edna naturally finds this arrangement unacceptable. She’s determined to rebel until she meets an older local boy and falls in love for the first time. How can she get to know him from the edge of nowhere?




Read an Excerpt:


EDNA IN THE DESERT
CHAPTER ONE: THE CURE

The sun baked Edna’s forehead and brought her slight queasiness to a more threatening nausea. She tossed over. Changing positions sometimes helped, but pistachios and beef jerky on top of ice cream and the long ride did her in. Or was it what she’d just heard? She didn’t remember asking to pull off, only hunching over next to the family’s newest, silver Audi. It rocked softly as Brandon bounced around the back. The motion made her sicker, but Edna tried to stay near the car in its little strip of shade. At eleven in the morning, the sun was already relentless.

“Are you OK, honey?” Edna’s mother called from inside.

“What does it look like? Can Brandon stop that?”

The little boy looked out the window at his sister, crouched on the ground and heaving. Edna’s father stepped out of the car, saw there was nothing he could do, and stepped back in. The desert was a great place to throw up, and Edna did until there was nothing left. Everything that came out dried almost instantly in the sand. It was so much nicer than putting your head near a toilet, but it didn’t seem so nice for the little lizard racing away.

 Later, Brandon drooled on his iPad in the back seat. A map rustled up front. The more remote roads were still not on the GPS, and this presented a challenge to Jill, Edna’s mother, who had not consulted a paper map in years, not since the last time they came out to her husband’s parents’ house and got lost. Edward flew out to see them every once in a while, but the tiny airport he landed in was miles in another direction and down completely different dirt roads.

Jill was demoralized by the sight of her thirteen-year-old daughter crumpled in the backseat. Edna was a late bloomer, but she was becoming beautiful. Her wide-set eyes always turned heads, but her personality, left as it was, was going to spoil everything. Jill constantly wondered what she was doing wrong.

“Edna, sit up,” prompted no reaction from Edna. “You know, your rebellious stage is a drag.”

Jill didn’t see when Edna’s eyes widened because they were hidden by her palm.

“Can’t you see how much trouble you got into this year? Edna, I’m speaking to you.”

Edna peeked through her fingers to indicate listening under extreme protest, a gesture Jill ignored.

“Try to sit up. You’ll feel better if you sit properly,” Jill insisted.

“‘Rebellious’ implies that I’m rebelling against something when I’m clearly ill. You either have a serious lack of sensitivity, or you’re sadistic, or just stupid.”

Edna was matter-of-fact about it. Jill was speechless. She looked to Edward, who shook his head and offered the usual: “Don’t talk to your mother like that,” but Edna obviously did.

“Is that all you’re going to say?”

Jill knew her husband could assert more authority than that.

“There’s no point in arguing anymore. That’s why we’re doing this.”

Edward was one of the rare men who, as far as Edna could see, was the boss of his marriage. As a successful film director, he had a lot of practice manipulating actors, technicians, and studio executives, and Edna’s mother didn’t stand much of a chance. Jill picked her battles carefully, and this was not going to be one of them. She kept her cool. She had her own life.

Jill was a respected etiquette blogger and highly sought-after public speaker in what Edna considered to be certain uptight circles of privileged ladies whose main concern was how best to please themselves next. Their second concern was purging their collective guilt about the first one by gathering for self-improvement courses, which was where Jill’s lifestyle brand, Shimmer, came in. Shimmer dictated the best way to do anything that wasn’t a job and purveyed the products needed to do it. Edward wasn’t excited about the subject matter, but he was impressed with the amount of money it raked in and all the perks that went along with it.

Because of Shimmer, Jill remained an elegant version of herself at all times. This took work. Her perfect example deterred any of Edna’s possible, similar ambition, as opposed to cultivating it, which was the desired effect. Even without any enhancements, Edna thought her mother was gorgeous and intimidating. Lately she’d gotten into the habit of provoking Jill to step outside her notion of appropriate behavior, and if Edna was successful, Jill might raise her voice or let out a scream from inside her shoe closet. Edna wasn’t aware that she tortured her mother on purpose; the less perfect Jill became, the closer Edna felt to her. This could be called “negative attention getting,” but naming it didn’t do any good.

Jill and Edward would tell each other that Edna was “intelligent” and “gifted,” but, positive people though they were, these words were hollow. Edna had gone off the charts. Instead of flowering, she’d become combative, impossible to reason with, and there was an embarrassing incident at school involving a pair of dirty gym socks and a teacher’s aide. The aide was fired, of course, but when Edward secretly sympathized with the guy, he knew it was time to do something about what he laughed off as Edna’s severe case of “wiseact-itis.”

So, about an hour away from Grandma and Grandpa’s, Edna’s parents explained: they’d given it a lot of thought and that something would be for Edna to spend the summer in the desert with her grandparents, starting now. Edward told her that her grandmother was a tough woman, and he meant that as a compliment.

Edna’s grandparents lived in a small cabin on a large acreage near the town of Desert Palms, California, but Edna wouldn’t call it a “town.” She’d call it “coordinates on a map.” Edna knew that this was at least partially because of the sock incident and that, in fact, her father blamed her for it. It was so unfair. If someone doesn’t know the difference between “strained” and “sprained,” they should not have authority in a school. Besides, the act was clearly premeditated; no one could fish socks out of their gym bag that quickly. Edna would have the memory of that lunatic charging at her and the smell and taste of his filthy socks burned into her brain for life, but that didn’t seem to matter to anyone.

Edna whimpered things like “the whole summer?” and “it’s not my fault!” and that she “would be really good,” but she was still too sarcastic, and it didn’t matter what she said anymore anyway. Her parents had undertaken a military-like approach to this maneuver, and they were not turning back.

“I want you to be an exceptional woman, Edna, and I want you to be yourself,” Jill explained, “but you’re always out to prove something. You’ll find that not everyone appreciates your constant one-upmanship, certainly not Grandma.”

“What’s the problem, exactly? ‘One-upmanship’ or that your words are poorly chosen and you don’t know what rebellious means, and I simply take the trouble to point it out?”

“The problem is that you’re a...word that rhymes with witch—”

 “Edward!”


“She needs to know how she’s perceived.”


Jill couldn’t deny that she’d called Edna the same thing, but not directly to her. She didn’t immediately agree to leave Edna in the desert when Edward presented the idea. He refused to put Edna on medication, and there was increasing pressure from the therapist to send her to a psychiatrist. It was time to do something radical, he explained. After Edna handed a bottle of mouthwash to the genius she’d worked so hard to get for piano lessons, Jill agreed. The award-winning pianist was insulted and embarrassed, and he never came back.

“Edna, you have no respect for others. It can’t go on, and it’s not going to be tolerated,” Jill said.

“If it can’t go on, it won’t need to be tolerated. You’re getting illogical—”

“And you’re getting a lot of time to think.”

Her father’s tone was sharp enough to end the exchange. Edna pictured herself trapped in her grandparents’ dreary world. She was no longer sure if she was breathing. Hopefully she would pass out quickly and die. Until then she couldn’t reveal any further weakness. Perhaps if she seemed happy about this idea it wouldn’t seem like enough of a punishment, and her parents might change their minds. She could only hope that there was no way they were serious and that this was merely a sadistic joke, but the main challenge at the moment was to keep from crying.

Garbled in the background, while this momentous challenge was underway, was Jill’s voice suggesting that Edna do her best to get on well with Grandma.

“—and try not to worry about Grandpa. He can hear, I think, and he can stand up. The way to be a good guest, Edna, is to be cheerful, to offer help, and to never need to be entertained.”

Edna had no idea why Grandpa liked to sit on the porch for the entire day, but that was his story, and she certainly didn’t expect Grandpa to entertain her. Sometimes it looked like he was going to get up, but usually that was a cough or a sneeze, and it almost always disgusted Edna. He ate on a TV tray that Grandma brought, and at the end of the day he’d come inside and go to bed. It never occurred to Edna that that had been going on, all this time, since she was last there two years ago. Edna didn’t like to think about Grandpa, and she hardly ever did.

“Grandma and Grandpa came to live out here because Grandpa was very sick. That was a...a long time ago, before you were born, but many years after Grandpa fought in a war that—”

Edward told Jill not to make it so complicated.

This was the speech Jill had been selling to make Grandma and Grandpa seem more human. It was all starting to make sense: the speeches, the snacks, the ice cream in the morning. This kidnapping scheme disguised as a fun little trip was not appreciated. Edna might have at least packed her clothes or said good-bye to her friends. Instead she was going to disappear like some freak.

“Grandma and Grandpa have a phone now,” Jill reminded her.

It was a landline. Edna’s grandparents had just acquired a 100-year- old technology. It was not likely that they also had Internet. Or a computer. Edna checked her phone, a useless, pink object with games on it and no service. For all practical purposes, Edna had died. She didn’t know if she’d ever fully recover from this; she’d just gotten things perfect after changing schools over some other problem that was totally not her fault either.

“Edna, you have to be a little brave. It’s a hard life. Grandma has no place to go. There’s no one around, there’s nowhere to go to dinner—”

Edward interrupted to point out that there were a couple of restaurants, not that Grandma and Grandpa go out very much, and a few stores.

Edna silently gasped against her carsickness and the future. She rested her head by the window so air could rush over her face. The rhythmic whir of the wheels on the road gave her something else to focus on. Creosote bushes whipped past, creating streaks of green ribbon in the sand, and the road sloped up into forever, the low horizon line ahead promising an ocean of anything beyond it. Even though hell and, hopefully, a swift and merciful death were in that direction, it was beautiful and Edna was hypnotized. For a moment the whole family was.



To buy the book, go here:

electiopublishing
amazon.
barnesandnoble
itunes


About Maddy:

Edna In The Desert is Maddy Lederman’s first novel, and she’s working on its sequel. Other writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Sun Runner, a magazine about California deserts. Maddy has an M.F.A. in Theater from Brooklyn College. She works in the art department for films and TV shows, recently on Darren Aronofsky's Noah and The Amazing Spiderman 2. She’s a native New Yorker who loves to travel, hike, drive, go out to eat and be in the desert.


Connect with Maddy here:

http://www.maddylederman.com
https://www.facebook.com/edna.in.the.desert


Maddy is giving away a copy of Edna in the Desert. 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.









Happy Reading!
Caroline  Brown

Friday, February 21, 2014

From The Midwest, Author Jerusha Agen

Welcome to the Book Loft, Jerusha! Is there a story behind your book, This Shadow?

The story behind This Shadow is first told in This Dance, Book One of the Sisters Redeemed Series. In This Dance, readers meet Oriana and Nicanor, two characters who have more minor roles in This Dance, but then have their story fully told in This Shadow. I fell in love with the characters of Nicanor and Oriana when they showed up in the first book, and I just had to follow them and see where their journey took them in This Shadow.

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

Definitely Nicanor Pessoa. His deep emotional issues and compelling personality really drew me to his character. As a tango dancer originally from  Argentina, he seems to have it all—good looks, talent, and success, but his soul is being slowly destroyed by the guilt he carries. Nicanor was great fun to write because of these complexities in his character, his artistic personality, and the heavy issues that I got to sink my writer’s teeth into as I told his story.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?

Life! Though I’m a full-time writer, I find that one can make a full-time job out of so many unpaid tasks. There’s always cleaning to be done, business to be taken care of, appointments to go to, and people to talk to. Probably my greatest distraction, however, would have to be email and marketing efforts. I’ve learned that I have to write first and go online much later in the day if I want to avoid the time-sucking vacuum that is the internet.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

I most enjoy reading the classics, primarily nineteenth-century British novels. Jane Austen’s works are among my favorites, as well as Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories are also a delight. I love to discover all the classics that I haven’t yet read and learn the art of storytelling from the masters.

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud?

My dogs and cats. There’s nothing like the playful quirkiness or sweet affection of a cute furry friend to put a smile on my face.

What is your favorite season of the year? 

Winter. I know, that makes me peculiar, but I actually adore the snow and cold of Midwest winters. The more snow and cold, the better!

You must have really enjoyed this winter. Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

Oh, yes. Too many things. I must admit that book plotting and writing become the things that I dread and avoid when the process is slow or frustrating. At those times, I just need to remind myself to keep trying and trust God to let things happen in His timing. The trick is to make myself keep working, even when the going gets tough.

Has some place you have traveled inspired something in your writing?

A trip to Ireland ended up being much more inspiring than I expected when I came home with an idea for a future book! I had the privilege to take a tour in Dublin, where I learned of an historical unsolved jewel theft that launched my writer’s imagination into overdrive. That book idea has been put to paper, and I hope will reach the market sometime soon.

We've wandered Ireland as well. You're right. Inspirational. Could you share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you?
I posted on my website this passage that means the most to me as a writer:
Oh, that my words were recorded,
that they were written on a scroll,
that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,
or engraved in rock forever!
I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes--I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
Job 19:23-27
This passage seems as if it were written specifically for writers! Knowing the story of Job and the suffering that he had endured before (and while) he proclaimed these words makes them all the more meaningful. I get goose bumps when I read Job’s desperate cry to have his words preserved forever, and here we are, thousands of years later, still reading those very words! The most important part of this passage and most meaningful to me is how Job clings to the knowledge that his “Redeemer lives” and will be victorious in the end. Ultimately, even in the midst of suffering or feeling the transience of our lives and work, all we need to remember is that our Redeemer lives, that He is the victor over all, and that we will be victorious with Him and be with Him when all the suffering is done.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

My next release is This Redeemer, the third and final installment in the Sisters Redeemed Series, set to release Summer 2014. This book sees Nye and Oriana, the sisters from the first two books, encountering difficulties they never dreamed of when an unexpected visitor arrives and turns their lives upside down. The story promises the emotion and romance of the first two books, along with more darkness, danger, and a relevant message of redemption that I hope will touch readers’ lives.


Also, the book I co-authored, A Dozen Apologies, was just released and will only be 99 cents on Amazon. 

Thanks for visiting today and sharing with us!

Connect with Jerusha Agen at:

Read Jerusha’s film reviews at www.RedeemerReviews.com

Jerusha Agen is giving away a copy of This Shadow. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.

 





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