Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Five Secrets from Author Zanna Mackenzie

From Zanna Mackenzie


Zanna Mackenzie lives in the UK on the Derbyshire/Leicestershire border with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read.

Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!

If You Only Knew is Zanna’s third novel; her previous books The Love Programme, and How Do You Spell Love? were both published in 2013.

Hi Zanna, please tell us Five Secrets we may not know about your latest novel If You Only Knew - or about you, but will after today!

1)    My latest novel If You Only Knew was originally going to be called Do You Want The Truth Or Something Wonderful? I liked the quirkiness of the title and it fitted with the concept of the story but I decided it was too long to fit on the cover of the book!!!

2)    I fell in love with the character of Zane – he was tricky to create but I really enjoyed writing some parts of the book from his point of view. He’s a tough guy in respects of his job and his hobbies but completely different when it comes to matters of the heart.  His initial reluctance to get involved with Faith who runs the trendy coffee shop in the village in the book was due to his past and some  serious relationship insecurities. Getting the balance between those two aspects of his personality was a challenge.

3)    The book is set in the adventure sports mecca of Derbyshire’s Peak District  National Park. Carelton, the village in the book, with its stone cottages cascading down the hillsides, the tourists, the climbers and mountain bikers was loosely inspired by the real life and very picturesque village of Castleton.

4)    When I created the character of Matt I pictured him as looking like a rugged, mischievous version of Ryan Gosling! Matt is Zane’s business partner, they both run the Carrdale Extreme Sports Centre in the village. Matt is trouble with a capital ‘T’ – oh, and he also happens to be Faith’s first love which builds animosity between Matt and Zane.

5)    And one ‘secret’ about me – I’m obsessed with the weather! I even have a mini weather station at home so I can, at a glance, tell you the temperature outside and the humidity – it’s currently 22.3 degrees centigrade and 24% humidity with heavy cloud!!!!

Blurb :

Faith owns The Coffee Pot in the outdoor adventure sports mecca of Derbyshire’s Peak District. She hasn’t had a man in her life for a while, as she’s been too busy serving cakes to weary rock climbers and mountain bikers to find time for the complications of a relationship with the male of the species.

At least, that’s what she tells herself. The truth is that since she got her heart broken she’s had problems trusting men.
When she meets Zane, one of the new owners at the Carrdale Extreme Sports Centre, Faith finds herself enjoying his company even though part of her can’t help wondering why he’s so reluctant to talk about himself.

Then the past comes back to haunt her in the shape of Zane’s business partner Matt, who just happens to be the guy who broke Faith’s heart all those years ago.

With Matt out to cause trouble and Zane keeping secrets Faith’s life is about to get very complicated indeed…
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Last Friday of the Month Recipe ~ Green Chili Stew from J.C. Conway

When J.C. Conway said he had a recipe with green chili I was all over it.  I LOVE anything with green chili.  And this looks easy and yummy.  Give it a try. 

Also J.C. Conway's book is set in New Mexico, home to the famous Hatch Green Chili.

Recipe of the Month

New Mexico Green Chile Stew

The recipe and why you love making it:
There is nothing quite like the flavor of Green Chile grown in New Mexico. It’s spicy and flavorful in a way that is unique to the region. I first learned how to make Green Chile Stew from Aunt Mary when our family visited her in Santa Fe. There are other recipes out there, and this one is slightly modified to suit my own taste, but it is certainly true to what I learned. Also, this recipe is simple and straightforward. It can be prepared in well under an hour—a terrific quick and full meal.

1 tbsp. Olive Oil
2 lbs. ground turkey meat*
3 large potatoes, red or white, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1-3 cups (1 cup hot, 2 cups medium, or 3 cups mild) roasted, peeled, chopped Roasted New Mexico Green Chile**
Salt to taste
Ground White Pepper to taste

1. Prepare the roasted Chile by peeling, smashing and mixing with garlic.
2. Heat oil in pot over medium-low heat. Add the ground meat, onion and garlic. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, to brown the meat and prepare the onion and garlic.
3. Add the green chili, potatoes, salt and pepper. Stir well for about a minute.
4. Add water to cover everything. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes, until potatoes are just soft.
5. Serve with warmed tortillas.

Ingredient Notes
*The ground meat can be lean beef, pork or turkey. I use turkey burger, which blends well with the Chile and garlic and does not require draining grease. (Cubed pork or beef works well also; for thicker broth you can dust the cubes with flour).
** The quality of Chile in New Mexico is wonderful. Hatch Chile is considered best by many. It can be purchased in season in or near New Mexico and can be ordered through the mail. In California, Anaheim Chile doesn’t quite taste the same, and when using them as a substitute, I also add one can or Ortega Diced Green Chile to recapture some of the spice.
Many substitutions and additions are possible. Sometimes I use half chicken stock and half water for a richer broth requiring less added salt.

Short Book Blurb:
Andrea had one goal in life, a quiet career as a mainstream archaeologist—nothing more nothing less—and she's one ancient secret away. When she is teamed with maverick prodigy Daniel Fuchs at his controversial pre-Clovis dig on tribal land, she soon realizes his wild theories may sidetrack her career. Her smartest move is to expose him and that is exactly what she plans to do. Except…he’s hot, sexy, and there is a chance his theories may be right. 

As the dig deepens and outside forces mount, Andrea and Daniel find their careers and their shaky relationship on the brink of ruin. Who can she trust? To survive professionally and emotionally, Andrea must decide between what is expected and what she believes, because time is running out and the developers' bulldozers are poised to level the site. 

Delve into the mystery and excitement of an archaeological dig in the New Mexico desert and experience the drive, determination, and passion surrounding the quest to unlock the Paleolithic past in this contemporary, romantic suspense. Hearts In Ruin…no shovel required to join this adventure to discover an ancient truth! 

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HEARTS IN RUIN is available as an eBook in all standard formats, and can be found at most major eBook outlets, including:
J.C. Conway writes romance, science-fiction, and fantasy stories for adults, young adults and middle-grade readers. He is a long-standing member of Romance Writers of America, Yosemite Romance Writers, the World Science Fiction Society, and Mystery Writers of America. He is also a complex-litigation attorney, a former high-school math and computer science teacher, a family man, and a fan of great fiction that stretches the imagination, probes the depths of the human condition or otherwise illuminates the unknown or the misunderstood.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Five Secrets from Author Elizabeth Rose

Five Secrets From Elizabeth Rose

Bio: Elizabeth is the author of over 30 books. She writes medieval, paranormal, and contemporary romance. In the past, her books have been seen on Wild Chicago and also the History Channel. She has been a finalist nominee for the Sapphire award as well as nominated for RT’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for best paranormal romance from a small press. She loves anything paranormal and also loves to garden. She lives in the Chicago suburbs, is married, and has two grown boys.

Hi Elizabeth, please tell us Five Secrets we may not know about your books or you, but will after today!

1) Thanks for having me as a guest today, Leslie. My first secret is about my book, Curse of the Condor. This book takes place in the jungles of Peru, and was inspired by the fact I took a trip to the jungles of Peru many years ago with my husband. So, when you see the Yagua tribe in my novel, I have met this tribe, and a lot of the things in my story are from real experiences.

2) Secret number two is about my Tarnished Saints Series. This is a contemporary series that takes place on a lake in Michigan. My secret is that the setting of these books are places I’ve gone to since childhood. My grandparents as well as my parents lived on a lake and when you hear me describe the Bed and Breakfast and the old couple who run it in Doubting Thomas – Book 1 of the series, it is really my parents’ house and the characters are . . . let’s say a lot like my parents in many ways. Smile. Shhhh . . . just don’t tell them.

3) Secret number 3 is about my book, Lady Renegade – Book 2 of my Legacy of the Blade Series. My heroine, Wren is blind. This was inspired by the time I realized I needed glasses after never having worn them at all my entire life. I had no idea how much I couldn’t see until I put them on. Then I started thinking what it would be like to be blind, and decided to make my heroine blind. And actually, if you look at the sword on the cover of the Free Prequel to the series – that is my sword, given to me by my cover model Leland Burbank years ago after he posed for the covers of my Greek myths that are in print.

4) And that brings me to my fourth secret. My Greek Myth Series was inspired by the fact I loved to watch the Xena and Hercules TV shows years ago. The late Kevin Smith who played Ares was my favorite, and so I put Ares in my novel, Kyros’ Secret. Ares has cursed my hero to be man by day and centaur by night.

5) My last secret is how I decided to write Amber – Book 3 of my Daughters of the Dagger Series. Amber, my heroine is a novice nun in training. Well, when I was young – very young, I wanted to be a nun. But then again, I also wanted to be an Indian with a tomahawk and feathers and the whole works and ride a horse, so we can see why I ended up as an author instead, I guess. Maybe I’ll have to write a Western next.

Blurb: Lady Renegade – Book 2, Legacy of the Blade series. Wren is blind and also leads a band of renegades. Storm MacKeefe is a Highlander who is hired to hunt down and bring back the leader of the renegades who are hiding in the Scottish Highlands. Will a Scottish warrior be brought to his knees by a woman who holds a power over him so strong, he forgets she is even blind? Or will her deception make him feel like the blind one instead. . . in Lady Renegade.

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Also available at Barnes and Noble, Apple and Kobo.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Take Five with Author Susan Oleksiw

Welcome to An Indie Adventure, Susan.  Tell us, what inspired you to write your book  For the Love of Parvati: An Anita Ray Mystery?

India seems exotic to those of us in the West, but the country has many of the same problems we have. This novel grew out of my discovery that India struggles with illegal immigrants just as the US does. Unlike the US, however, India doesn't believe it can force them back across the border, since most are war refugees (Tibetans, Bengalis, Muslims, and others). Many live in refugee camps, some spread out into the rest of the country, and some states have flare-ups between the locals and the newcomers. It's all very familiar.

What were your experiences as a child that contributed to you becoming a writer?

The home I grew up in was filled with books, and my father let me explore the shelves by his desk. I could pull out anything and read it. In addition, I loved making up stories, listening to others tell stories, and set up small plays with my toys. Then one day the mother of a friend talked about the book so-and-so wrote. I knew him! My friend baby-sat for his children, and I went with her. Real people wrote books, people I knew. I was fascinated.

The reason I write about India in the Anita Ray series also came from reading. At the age of ten or eleven I received a book of Asian fairy tales, and that began a lifelong love of India. I was fortunate enough to go to a progressive girls' school where I studied Asian history and then to a small college that introduced Asian art history while I was there. The stars aligned, and I went to graduate school, where I earned a PhD in Sanskrit, the classical language of India.

It would seem that the lesson of my life is expose me to books and I'll keep on going. I will follow an idea for as long as I can, and then write about it, with or without a murder.
The other experiences include photography. My mother was an avid amateur and my grandfather, her father, was an experienced semiprofessional (if there is such a thing). We always had cameras around, and when I met my husband he was just beginning to explore photography. I didn't do much with this till a few years ago, when I began taking photos seriously in India. I've done a couple of exhibits and been in two juried shows, but that's all.

When I cleaned out my parents' house I found boxes and boxes of old photographs. My husband insisted this was unusual. I've decided that some of what he do, some of what interests us, must be in our genes. I'm making Anita Ray a serious photographer, and learning an enormous amount as I do so. Her success means I have to learn a lot to keep up with her, but its loads of fun.

Do day-to-day life experiences influence your stories?

Absolutely. All day long I'm thinking about what I'm writing or what I'm going to write, and if I hear someone say something in an especially interesting or quirky manner, that's liable to end up in my writing. I see people walking along and there's something about them that has to go into my current WIP. Years ago my parents' dog was shot by a woman who lived on a remote farm. She told my father, "He was worrying my pigs." That line, and the woman who spoke it, stayed with me for years until I found the perfect place for it.

Here's another example. A few months ago I was in a coffee shop reading when I heard a woman's voice. She was talking to her friend about something and her voice was so distinctive, so riveting, that it stayed in my mind for days. And then I saw her whole life (or enough for a short story), wrote a story about her, and sold it to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (it's in the October 2014 issue). This kind of thing happens all the time. I don't have to write down the incident because I know it will stay with me, fresh and ready, until I need it.

What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?

When I have an idea for a book that I am pretty confident will work I write a short paragraph, perhaps five or ten lines, describing the story, including the challenge to the main character. It's a short summary, with some detail. After that, I think in terms of scenes, a particular character who would fit, snatches of dialogue, a clue and how to deliver it. I make lists of these, checking things off as I write. Since I know how the person died (usually), I have a list of clues that I have to deliver as well as motivation and other aspects of the story. When I begin writing I have lots of notes, though they only take up two or three pages, and these guide me and keep me on track.

If you were a TV, film or book character, apart from one you've created, who would you be?  And why?

This is so hard for me because I go blank at such questions. I think perhaps I would be the detective on Midsomer Mysteries. He's down to earth, imaginative, and with a good sense of humor.

Give us a brief summary of For the Love of Parvati: An Anita Ray Mystery:

Anita accompanies her aunt on a visit to family in the hills of South India. The monsoon is raging, but even worse the military seems to be searching for someone. After being stopped and searched, Anita and her aunt drive on, picking up a relative at a temple and a friend he has promised a ride to. The family visit does not go as planned--everyone seems to be hiding something. Even worse, someone seems to be stalking the house. In a break in the rain, Anita sets out to photograph and take a walk. She comes across a body washed up by the river, but the corpse shows signs of having been tied up and then attacked.

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Susan Oleksiw writes the Anita Ray series featuring an Indian-American photographer living at her aunt's tourist hotel in South India (Under the Eye of Kali, 2010, The Wrath of Shiva, 2012, and For the Love of Parvati, 2014). She also writes the Mellingham series featuring Chief of Police Joe Silva (introduced in Murder in Mellingham, 1993, the first of six books). Susan is well known for her articles on crime fiction; her first publication in this area was A Reader's Guide to the Classic British Mystery. Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and numerous anthologies. Susan lives and writes outside Boston, MA.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Five Secrets from Author Jean Joachim

Five Secrets From Jean Joachim

Bio: Jean is a best-selling romance fiction author, with books hitting the Amazon Top 100 list since 2012. She was chosen Author of the Year in 2012 by the New York City chapter of Romance Writers of America. The Renovated Heart was chosen Best Novel of 2012 by Love Romances Café, Lovers & Liars was a finalist for Best Novel of 2013 by Love Romances Café. 

Her series, Hollywood Hearts was a finalist for Best Series of 2013 and Megan Davis and Chaz Duncan (from If I Loved You) finaled as Best Couple, 2013 by Love Romances Café. The Marriage List tied for third place from Gulf Coast RWA Chapter and, most recently, Lovers & Liars was selected as a 2013 Reader’s Crown Finalist in Contemporary Romance by RomCon. Jean has 25 works of fiction published. Married and a mother of two sons, she lives in New York City with her family and a rescued pug named Homer.

Hi Jean, please tell us Five Secrets we may not know about Rescue My Heart or you, but will after today!

1)   I spent 5 years volunteering for a local pug rescue. Experiences during that time have paved the way for Rescue My Heart.

2)   I’m left-handed, but I bat, golf and cut with a scissors righty.

3)   I love to sing, though I can’t carry a tune.  Shhhh, don’t tell anybody.

4)   The part about Alfred, the pug plucked from the kill shelter at Christmas, in the book really happened to me.

5)   I have a grudge against selfish bicycle riders in Central Park. Hack Roberts’ character grew out of that personal peeve of mine. I have  seen people carted away in ambulances who were hit by bikes. 

Blurb :
One smug veterinarian on a bike runs into one sharp-tongued dog walker, literally. Injury leads to insult. Adversion leads to attraction. Pug rescue brings them together. A funny, sarcastic, heart-warming ride. 

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Take Five and Meet Author Kristen Beairsto

Welcome to An Indie Adventure, Kristen Beairsto.  Tell us, what inspired you to write your book, Behaving Badly?

I actually got the first idea for the story after watching the movie Magic Mike. J  What woman wouldn't get inspired after watching Channing Tatum dance around for an hour and half? ;) After watching the movie, I just got to thinking about what kind of hero it would take to have been a stripper.  And before I knew Cyrus formed in my mind.

How do you use setting to further your story?

I'm a big believer that the setting can be almost like a whole other character in the story because of its effect on the characters.  So I try to make sure there's a balance between the reader understanding the full extent of the setting along with the focus on the characters so the reader can get a good sense of how the setting as formed who the characters are.

How do you construct your characters?

The characters are usually the first to form in my stories.  As I think about them, they come more to life.  Then the story forms around them based on how I think they'd react to specific situations.

How is your main character completely different than you?

One of the main factors that drive Delaney, my heroine, is her relationship with her mother.  So much of her life is consumed with doing everything she can to not be like her mother.  Me, on the other hand, my mom is awesome so I wouldn't mind being like her.  But I just worry about being me. :)

Tell us something about yourself we might not expect!

I've fallen in love with country life!!! J  I'm originally from San Diego, CA, and have always considered myself a big city girl.  My dad is from New York City so I was raised with that kind of mentality.  But having recently moved to southern Oregon, and the small town where my husband was born and raised, I've discovered a whole other side of myself that really loves the slower pace.

Give us a brief summary of Behaving Badly :
          Delaney Pierce is desperate, no, determined, to rebuild the family business, Manners Matter, after the disaster her own mother brought down on it, and her, a year ago.  With two crazy aunts living life moving from one misadventure to the next and her younger sister waitressing to help make ends meet because Manners isn't bringing in enough money to sustain them, she pins her hopes on her commission to curb the undesirable habits of Cyrus Chapman, one of New York's premier businessmen and one of the city's most eligible bachelors.
          Cyrus Chapman is less than thrilled to find out his father hired a life coach (whatever the hell a life coach does) of all things to help him cease the behaviors his father finds unfavorable rather than just discussing the manner with him.  He’s not really surprised by his father’s heavy handedness, however he isn’t about to comply that easily.  But when his father threatens him with his future position as CEO of Chapman Industries, Cyrus has little choice but to agree to the farce.  At least, until he can come up with an alternative.
          Delaney’s resolve to succeed with Cyrus is immediately put to the test during her very first meeting with him and she realizes that no matter how much she prepared for all that was Cyrus, it all paled in comparison to the real man.  She believes they come to an understanding, even going so far as to agree to act like his girlfriend to hide their arrangement from the press.  But when her reputation, along her mother’s antics, get rehashed and dragged through the mud by the press less than twenty-four hours after being hired because of Cyrus’s actions, she’s rethinking her ability to handle the situation.
          When his new life coach aptly puts him in his place, Cyrus finds himself in the unfamiliar position of feeling guilty.  And intrigued.  Before long, he also finds himself in the unaccustomed position of fighting for more than just a professional relationship with Delaney while she tries to keep him at arm’s length.
          But Delaney can’t entertain the idea of having more than a professional relationship with Cyrus.  After all, that’s something her mother would do and she’s not about to start emulating that woman now.  However, fighting her attraction to Cyrus becomes harder and harder the more she’s around him and she finds herself wondering if she’s become so wrapped up in trying not to be her mother that she’s forgotten to just to be herself. 

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In between her to-be-read pile and trying to bring the characters in her head alive, Kristen spends as much time as she can with family and friends.  Much to her husband’s dismay, she enjoys collecting purses, shoes, and jewelry.  During those rare times she’s not working at her day job, rushing her daughters somewhere, watching movies with her husband, and trying to meet a deadline, she can usually be found energetically cheering for one of her favorite New York sports teams.

As with just about every other writer on the planet, Kristen grew up an avid reader.  She started with young adult before she technically hit the age range and moved on to sci-fi classics by Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury.  At fifteen, her best friend gave her a book she just had to read!  The book was Honest Illusions by Nora Roberts.  Always a sucker for a happy ending, she was a goner and fell in love with the romance genre.  Having started writing novel length stories at the age of eleven, Kristen’s stories all took a romantic turn from that point on.

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