Tag Archives: Kathy Reinhart

Sha Renee

Recently I had the opportunity to talk with Sha Renee, author of Forbidden Kisses, which is part of the Story of A Kiss anthology.

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Sha Renee

IDI – First, let me thank you for taking the time out to chat with me. I hear your short story, Forbidden Kisses was recently released.

SR – It was. It released on February 1st as part of the Story of a Kiss Anthology, which features 13 short stories by 13 different authors. Each of the stories focuses on an unforgettable kiss, although some of the stories feature more than kissing. Within 48 hours of release, Story of a Kiss hit Amazon’s top ten lists in two separate categories.

The story I contributed is entitled Forbidden Kisses. In it, Layla, who is an enlisted member of the Navy, meets the perfect guy while she is on leave. After several fun-filled days and passionate nights, she discovers that Ethan is also in the Navy and he’s an officer. According to military regulations personal relationships between officers and enlisted members is prohibited. In order to avoid disciplinary action and protect both of their careers, they need to put an end to their relationship. Unfortunately, they’ve already fallen in love.

IDI – New releases are always exciting. What works for you? Give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product.

SR – My story ideas almost always come to me completed from beginning to end. By the time I begin writing, I know the course the story is going to take and how it will turn out. So the first thing I do is write an outline: girl meets boy, boy gets into fight with girl’s father, girl has to choose between two men she loves, etc. Once I have the full outline written out, I can fill it in later with character names, dialogue, city names and the gist of the action which takes place within the story. But this doesn’t always happen if I sit at my laptop and will myself to fill in the outline of my story. My scenes come to me while I’m going about my daily life -driving, showering, working – so I end up scrambling to write down information before I lose it.

IDI – What is the hardest or most frustrating aspect of writing: ideas, getting started, writer’s block, re-writing?

SR – Ideas coming to me faster than I can get them written down is both a blessing and a curse. Scenes and sometimes entire stories will unfold in my mind from beginning to end while I’m driving or while I’m assisting my boss in a dental procedure. I don’t always have a way to make notes and my memory is not great, so I often miss out on good information. Sometimes I am able to jot down a few notes, though. When this happens, and it’s a new story rather than a scene of a current story, I absolutely cannot rest until the entire outline is written beginning to end. Then I can leisurely fill in the body of the story with dialogue and action.

IDI – There are magazines and blogs full of what’s new and what’s hot in the publishing industry. Do you keep up with the latest news, advice, trends and such? What are your thoughts?

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Story of a Kiss

SR – As far as advice and tips for writing, publishing or building a social platform – definitely. If I come across information that pertains to me and can help improve my writing, then I’m willing to try it. As far as trends, no. I won’t use a certain software, website, or style or technique just because it’s popular at the moment or it’s what everyone is using or doing. I don’t allow myself to be swayed by the latest trends because it may be something that doesn’t work for my writing style, my lifestyle or my budget.

IDI – Do you have a blog and if so, what types of posts would a visitor find on it?

SR – I do: http://sharenee.com/

Right now my blog has random topics about life and about writing. I have info about my published work, my works-in-progress and since I love taking pictures of nature scenes, I also have a page where I’ve uploaded some of my photos.  In the near future however, I plan to have blog posts that feature military personnel and veterans. I’d like to know how they feel about their service, adjusting to civilian life and for those who are authors, I’d love to post about their work.

IDI – How much time/effort do you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?

SR – I love connecting with people via social media. In fact, I have very few ‘tangible’ friends. Except for a very small handful, my friends are online. Making connections via social media is great for promoting my work and I try to share and post information regularly to keep my peers up to date with my projects. The downside though, (and this is huge for me) is the higher the number of people I “meet” online, the less I’m able to connect personally with each of them. If two thousand tweets come through my feed in a day, and I have a 15 minute break to look at it, there’s no way I’m going to see everyone’s posts. So there are people I follow who I never re-tweet or even get to see what they’re up to. I’m also a firm believer in “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” I try to ‘like’, ‘share’ and ‘re-tweet’ because we all need support. We need to help promote each other – whether it’s an author with a new book being released, a musician trying to get his music heard, or just someone hoping to draw people to their blog.

IDI – Online cafés or writers groups (aside from social networking). Do you belong to any and if so, help or harm?

SR – I love being a member of Scribophile. I’ve met wonderful people, I read some awesome stories and I love the fact that it’s a community where the “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” comes into play. But we don’t help each other (by critiquing work and answering questions) only to get help in return, we help each other because we genuinely want to see our peers grow and succeed.  Since I write Erotic Romance, this is the one place I know I can ask questions about relationships and sex – very direct, detailed questions, and not be judged.

IDI – Can you tell us three interesting things about you that you’re sure we don’t already know?

SR – The first is that I absolutely love my job. I work as a dental assistant, for a wonderful boss, in a nice office, in great location, with the best hours. HOWEVER, if someone said to me, “Pick a job. Any job and it’s yours.” Without a doubt, I would be a driver in a car commercial. You know, the ones that have three or four cars doing synchronized driving, zig zag, down the hill, around the bend, high speed. Yeah.

The second is that I feel somewhat uncomfortable when people thank me for my military service. After I enlisted, I traveled, I made friends, fell in love, got married, had a baby, even had ‘mandatory fun’.  I didn’t see combat. I never set foot on a ship. I don’t feel like I did anything significant in support of my country. Of course, in my head I know military service is a team effort. As for standing security watch, accounting for tools to ensure no foreign items end up on the flight line, washing aircraft, etc. I know these were significant to the overall mission, but I still wish I’d done more. So when people say, “Thank you for your service,” it takes a lot for me not to say, “I really didn’t do anything.”

Lastly, I used to feel guilty about what I write and about letting people know what I write -especially people I go to Church with. My characters engage in sex outside of marriage, which clashes with my Christian beliefs. There is a lot of judgement, whether it’s expressed or not, when an author reveals that they write Erotic Romance or Erotica. I’ve even been accused of leading people to sin by what I write. I disagree with this completely. First, because my work is for adults who should be able to read the warnings and decide whether or not reading about sex is going to make them have sex. If they feel weak in this area, they shouldn’t read erotic material or watch anything in which the characters have sex. Second, I don’t think (and this is my opinion because I don’t know everything about everything) that people – no matter what their religious beliefs – should refrain from writing murder mysteries, because it will cause people to commit murder. I don’t believe authors shouldn’t write stories about kidnapping because someone might not be able to control their urge to kidnap. I’m not encouraging anyone to mimic the actions of my characters, whether they’re having sex, singing karaoke or drinking coffee.  And if authors who write about murder and bank robberies are not judged by the actions of the characters they write about, then I will continue to write what I like.

IDI – Define a great book.

SR – One that evokes strong emotion in me especially early in the story. I recently read a story in which I felt deep sympathy for the MMC right from the first chapter, possibly even the first scene.

A great book makes me think about the characters and their situations even after I’ve closed the book and I’m engaged in other activity. And a great book is one that I never want to end. When I see that I’m nearing the last chapter, I tend to read more slowly, savoring those last few scenes. So I guess I’d say a great book is like great sex. It evokes emotion, we want it to last, taking measures to delay the culmination and we think about it and even talk about it long after it’s over.

IDI – Who is your favorite of the characters you’ve written?

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Forbidden Kisses

SR – Ethan from Forbidden Kisses. Besides the fact that I’ve made him physically attractive – with dimples, dark hair, thick eyebrows, over deep-set eyes which are the color faded blue jeans. He’s got a good sense of humor. He’s playful and fun loving. He’s got a good heart, caring for his best friend’s widow as well as his girlfriend’s mother. He’s romantic and loves intensely. One of his great qualities – something Layla really loves about him, is his take-charge attitude. If there were a hurricane, a fire or any type of disaster or urgent situation, he’d be the one who immediately steps up and makes decisions. He’d give everyone directions, let them know what they should be doing. He’s a leader and he leads with confident authority. But from those who fall under his authority – including Layla, he requires compliance without any question.

IDI – What does success as an author mean to you?

SR – Of course a shit-load of money from my writing would be great, but I’d consider myself successful when I hear that people know and enjoy my work. When readers – who are not friends or family – excitedly discuss my characters or a particular scene in my story (and like it) then I’ll consider myself successful.

IDI – Thank you so much, that was great.

If you’d like to learn more about Sha and her work, here are a few links that you’ll find interesting.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shasplace

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShaShaRenee

My Blog: http://sharenee.com/

My E-mail: ShaRinay@yahoo.com

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1SLa63D

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1nitKb6

Story of a Kiss Teaser: http://bit.ly/1ZKHVY7

Order my first short story: http://amzn.to/1KDs7KA

Order Story of a Kiss:  http://amzn.to/1VjrlIg

 

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The Deepest Secret… by Carla Buckley

Synopsis:

Twelve years ago, Eve Lattimore’s life changed forever. Her two-year-old son Tyler on her lap, her husband’s hand in hers, she waited for the child’s devastating diagnosis: XP, a rare genetic disease, a fatal sensitivity to sunlight. Eve remembers that day every morning as she hustles Tyler up the stairs from breakfast before the sun rises, locking her son in his room, curtains drawn, computer glowing, as he faces another day of virtual schooling, of virtual friendships. But every moment of vigilance is worth it. This is Eve’s job, to safeguard her boy against the light, to protect his fragile life each day, to keep him alive—maybe even long enough for a cure to be found.
Tonight, Eve’s life is about to change again, forever. It’s only an instant on a rainy road—just a quick text as she sits behind the wheel—and another mother’s child lies dead in Eve’s headlights. The choice she faces is impossible: confess and be taken from Tyler, or drive away and start to lie like she’s never lied before.

Review:

Buckley uses every element of writing to her advantage in her suspenseful family drama, The Deepest Secret.

My biggest compliment to the author is that she executed her plot so well, other than whether Eve would do the right thing, the story was not predictable.

The Deepest Secret

The Deepest Secret

*Spoilers:

I thought David was going to have an affair with Renee. He didn’t.

When Melissa took her father’s car, I thought it was either foreshadowing of what really happened the night of the accident (she was the car in front of her mother) and she saw what her mother did, or that it was a red herring to throw the reader off)

I thought that (possibly) Tyler would pay the ultimate price to protect his mother. He didn’t. (The UV rays/disease hook was always somewhere between the background and the foreground, making me think it might have more to do with the story)

It kept me guessing on many levels, which is the mark of any good novel.

The author added just enough ‘extras’, or non-essential details, to bring realism to the tale without making me feel as though she were bloating it for length. The phrasing was fresh, the characters well developed (likable, but not cliché perfect), description enough, but not too much. It was well crafted story, from the minute details such as which way she turned out of the driveway, to the use of Tyler’s camera (and love for his sister) to plant evidence, the author was thorough.

The only area of the book I felt didn’t quite fit the tone of the rest of it, was the scene outside when Sophie was having/had giant lights put up. I understand she was afraid of the peeping Tom and I understand Eve’s reaction, but the everybody-talking-at-the-same-time scene was a little unrealistic. Fortunately, coming in at 420+ pages, that one scene didn’t take away from the read.

Worth a mention, but not specifically about the writing – I’ve read books where a child dies and somehow, it almost always brings a tear to my eye. I was surprised at the fact that this book did not. I can’t say what was missing in the writing that it didn’t induce that emotion in me, but there were no ‘Oh my God’ moments, or ‘that’s so sad’ scenes, even though the subject matter was sad, somehow, the author was not able to pull that emotion from me.

Still, a worthy read I would recommend. As a parent, it will make you think, ‘how far would I go to protect my child?’

Kathy Reinhart is the award-winning author of Lily White Lies, among other titles.
Website

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Once in a Lifetime… by Jayne Nichols

Synopsis:

Is it possible for a poor hash-house waitress to find love with a wealthy Irish horse breeder? Not as long as he thinks she conned his father into leaving her his cottage on the island of Inish Mor in the Aran Islands. To prove his assumption false, Samantha St. John sells her new inheritance to Kieran McDade for one Euro, receives his thank-you kiss on her cheek, and bids him farewell. Never expecting to see him again, she is surprised to receive his invitation and a plane ticket to Ireland. He’s had second thoughts and offers Samantha a holiday at his home on FastTrack Farm where she charms not only his race horse, but Kieran himself. For Samantha, it is like a fairy tale, complete with a wicked witch, an elegant ball, and a horse race that could decide whether her Cinderella story will have a happy ending. Book One in the Wish Fulfilled Series, Once in a Lifetime is a contemporary romance set in Ireland.

Once

Once in a Lifetime

Review:

Although my love of reading began with my mother’s romance novels during my teen years, I rarely pick up a romance novel now. I think my reason being that after countless dozens of them; they seemed to lose their uniqueness. Even the covers began to repeat. A strikingly beautiful woman in a stunning dress fit tightly over her incredibly tiny waist snared in the arms of a shirtless Indian, a square-jawed pirate, or a rogue cowboy.

The title, Once in a Lifetime, was a nice play on words. If you are a tried and true romance reader, you will enjoy this book.

Although the storyline is predictable, it is a pleasing read. The characters are likable, yet rather clichéd: Young, inexperienced, naïve girl thrown in the path of a virile, slightly damaged, (but deep-down noble) handsome man who unknowingly needs her to save him. Ever notice how both the hero and heroine always have either blue or green eyes?

I digress. It was a very pleasant read; although at no point did I feel it upped the game from the romance novels of the seventies. Overall, it was well written. There were a few spots where the author went into a bit too much detail on things that the reader would have known without any explanation at all. Example: Page 36 – when talking about the sale of her inheritance that has already happened, the narrative takes you through the steps of notary, legally binding, witness, no coercion, etc. It had already been stated that Cherise was a notary and the sale was done, there was no reason to itemize the steps for the reader. It’s equivalent to talking down to them as if they would not understand how the sale was completed otherwise. Another example was the explanation as to why Sam has a passport. Her relationship with Jason was brought up at another point, making that a needless info-dump. Most people have passports. No one questions why.

Fortunately, there weren’t many info dumps and they weren’t detrimental to the read.

I ran across a few senseless items, such as: Kieran sent her a ticket to fly to Ireland alone. He spots her helping an elderly woman off the plane before her and the elderly woman go their separate ways. He even thinks to himself ‘Samantha hasn’t changed a bit’ referring to her kind-hearted ways. Yet, he still feels the need to ask her if she knew the elderly woman outside of the flight? Why? Again, I felt it was one of those areas where the author felt the need to reiterate a point (Sam’s kindness) as if the reader wouldn’t ‘get it’ without her doing so.

For much of the story, the book seemed to follow one character’s thoughts at a time. But there were scenes here and there where the author fell into the omniscient POV and it felt like head hopping. Example: pages 72. We are in Sam’s head as she approaches the horse. She sees Kieran take a step toward her and then stop when Niall places a hand on his arm. Suddenly we’re in Kieran’s head as he thinks he will lunge forward to save her if need be, just as he would have done when she was buying the pencils from Benedict. Now we are in his head as he remembers that night.

Again, it is a pleasant read, especially if you are a fan of the standard romance novel. It contained all of the basic elements: Young, innocent woman… handsome man, emotionally damaged, but not without integrity… the damsel in distress, saved-by-the-hero moment (pages 112-113)… hardened heart melted by her warm touch…. And of course, the happily-ever-after.

It had a steady flow – no lags and coming in at a 233 pages it’s a book that can be read in a few hours.

Kathy Reinhart is an editor and the award-winning author of Missouri in a SuitcaseThe Red Strokes, and Lily White Lies.

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Kathy Reinhart


Here I Stand… by Jillian Bullock

A few days ago I had the pleasure of talking with Jillian Bullock, author of the captivating, Here I Stand. I’ve had the pleasure of reading her memoir and would like to share my thoughts…

REVIEW:

Jillian Bullock never had a conventional home or family. Her mother was black and the only father she ever knew was white, and a member of the mob. Or was he? Jillian saw things no little girl should ever have to see. Things that gave her nightmares. Things that gave her an ulcer. Things that made her question every detail of her life and what she believed to be true.

She lost people she loved, people she loved changed without warning or reason she understood, and she was hurt and traumatized by others she loved and thought loved her back. She went from not knowing whom to trust, to not trusting anyone. At fifteen, through no fault of her own, she was forced to live on the street where she ate out of dumpsters and stood in line for one of only twenty beds each night, sleeping on a park bench when she didn’t get a bed. She fought off the cold, hunger, sexual advances, and her own depression.

When it became impossible to survive on the street, she did what so many young runaways do – she turned to prostitution. She learned how to turn off her emotions, detach her mind from her body. She swayed between determination for a better life and giving up. She had mastered Tae Kwon Do and if not for that ability, may very well have ended up dead on several occasions.

Jillian Bullock was damaged. Emotionally and physically damaged. But, from somewhere deep inside of her, a place her stepfather saw, she pulled out the drive, determination, resiliency, and grit needed to break free from a life forced upon her and become the person she was meant to be. The obstacles in her young life might have been insurmountable to many. Truth be told, I doubt I could have survived as she did.

Even when she believes she has lost hope in her dreams, from a spark within, she rebuilds a life that seemed all but lost. Jillian writes with candor, raw emotion, hope, despair, and a confidence that even she loses sight of a time or two. Jillian shares her accomplishments, her losses, her pain, her feelings toward those close to her, and her own transgressions in a strong, unshakable voice able to pull emotion from the most detached reader.

From within the embrace of a loving family, to a world feared by many, through her own strength and diligence, Jillian Bullock rises above.

The writing was wonderful. I could not put it down. I applaud Jillian first, for turning struggle into success and second, for having the gumption and courage to share her story in a clear and objective voice. I believe that anyone who might be feeling helpless or hopeless or at their end would benefit greatly from reading this story.

Here I Stand is a lesson in perseverance, hope, and redemption.

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Here I Stand – 5 stars


Jillian Bullock

I was recently approached by Jillian Bullock regarding her memoir, Here I Stand. She asked me if I’d be willing to read and review it for her. With my recent increase in editing jobs, I almost declined. But, I checked it out on Amazon (it looked interesting) and I agreed. I almost missed out on one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read and I wouldn’t have learned just how multi-talented Jillian is.

I am going to post my review of Here I Stand on Thursday of this week (don’t miss it), but for today, I was able to chat with Jillian.

IDI – Jillian, wow! If I had to use only one word to describe Here I Stand, I don’t know what it would be. Raw comes to mind. I’ve read so many memoirs that embellish, sensationalize, but even more, are selective in which stories to tell. What I liked most about your book is your absolute candor, even when the incident or story being told didn’t reflect favorably on you. I don’t want to give anything away for those who many not have read it, but will say, it was worth every minute spent reading.

A little about you. When did you know you were born to be a writer?

Jillian Bullock

Jillian Bullock

JB – Thank you very much. As for when I knew, I was in grade school and I won a short story contest. It validated my writing at such a young age.  I won $25. I was a paid writer. Yeah!

IDI – How has your writing evolved from when you began as a writer to now?

JB – Much growth. For some years, I had stopped reading novels because I was so focused on my writing as a screenwriter. But within the past two years, I have buckled down and started reading tons of books on everything, mainly novels. I’ve also started back to college recently to obtain a master’s degree in English.  This year I completed my first novel through discipline of writing six to eight hours a day. A few years ago, I never would have been able to do that. I didn’t have the focus or discipline, and I had a lot of stress in my life that hindered my writing.

IDI – I can relate to the lack of focus and discipline. Stress is my nemesis, also.

How long does it generally take you to write a book, from the spark of an idea to the finished product?

JB – To write my memoir, Here I Stand, that was published in 2012, it took me six years from start to publishing. For my novel, Sunny Days, Bloody Nights, that I completed in 2015, it took me two months. I participated in the National Novel Writing Month Contest. For November 1-30, 2015 writers are challenged to write at least 50,000 words of their novel. In 30 days, I wrote 52,3000 words. By the end of December 2015, I had written 70,000 words.

IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt maybe to tickle our taste buds?

JB – My first novel, Sunny Days, Bloody Nights, is a crime thriller. I will start the editing and revision phase in a month.

An excerpt from the book –

With the intense sun beating down and the sound of church bells ringing, Jennifer Tigger immediately grabbed her head with her left hand and squinted her eyes trying her best to focus. When she pulled her hand away, she noticed dry blood. Jennifer looked down at her right hand and saw a bloody butcher knife. Disoriented, Jennifer squinted her eyes tighter as the church bells grew louder and the hammering inside her head made her feel like plunging that knife in her head to relieve so such pain. Migraines plagued Jennifer since she was in college. When she got them, she couldn’t function well at all; completely debilitating.
             As Jennifer groaned in agony trying to make sense of where she was and why she had a bloody knife in her hand, she stumbled forward and tripped over a man’s dead body that had blood on his shirt and a gaping knife wound in his chest.  What the hell? Jennifer thought.

IDI – Aside from the book you’re working on, what other projects do you have in the works?

JB – I am in pre-production on a movie titled A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives, which deals with the military and post-traumatic stress disorder. I wrote the screenplay and will direct in the fall of 2016.

A sense of purpose movie poster

A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives

IDI – That’s quite a schedule and work load.

What is the kindest comment/compliment you have ever received from a fan regarding your work?

JB – One fan told me she had been going through a difficult time and was depressed. She said after reading my memoir, Here I Stand, it saved her life. To know my words and my life story touched someone so profoundly was amazing.

IDI – What works for you? Give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product.

JB – For my novel, I had to do tons of research first since the main character, Jennifer Tigger, is a forensic and criminal psychologist, who is also a recovering drug and sex addict. Then I did the outline of the book and detailed descriptions of the main characters. I had a few different endings in mind, so I wrote those down. Then I started writing. I tried not to edit while I wrote, but sometimes that was difficult when the paragraph didn’t make much sense.  Once I hit 70,000 words and had a book I was happy with, I handed the book off to my best friend, Delayne Powe, who has read hundreds of novels, especially crime novels. She knows what sounds right and what rings false. Once she gave me the okay to keep going, I finished the novel at 85,000 words. In January 2016, I will start the editing and revision process. Once I finish this step, it will be time to hand the book off to a professional editor. Revisions, revisions and more revisions.  With Here I Stand, I self-published. With Sunny Days, Bloody Nights, I plan to go with traditional publishing.

IDI – Favorite author, and why?

JB – I love many different authors, but Dennis Lehane is my favorite. The way he writes each book I am consumed by the characters. His writing pulls me in and I don’t want to stop reading. His writing is fresh, crisp, exciting, colorful, and vivid. Being a screenwriter and filmmaker, I can visualize his books as movies.

IDI – Can you tell us three interesting things about you that you’re sure we don’t already know?

JB – Yes.

  • I am a former competitive martial artist and boxer, who holds two black belts – one in Wing Chun and the other in Tae Kwon Do. I currently train in mixed martial arts, so usually my protagonist in my writings do train in MMA.
  • When I was in college, I was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal newspaper.
  • Since 2006, I have been a screenwriting judge for the Set in Philadelphia Screenwriting Contest, which is sponsored annually by the Greater Philadelphia Film Office.

IDI – Jillian, why do you write?

HERE I STAND COVER

Here I Stand

JB – It helps to clear my head of everything. I get lost in another world and it’s an amazing feeling knowing I’m creating something that hopefully will bring great joy to others.

IDI – Last question. What are you plans for the next two years?

JB – Well,

  • To complete my novel Sunny Days, Bloody Nights and to get an agent and a publishing deal.

  • To complete filming of my independent movie, A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives, hit the film festivals, and get a distribution deal. Then go into production on my next project – Listen To What The Dead Are Saying.

  • To self-publish my first fitness book titled – Fitness Between The Sheets.

  • To get a major studio to greenlight my memoir Here I Stand and to attach the “right” producer or director to come on board with me as the screenwriter and a co-producer. I have had offers from a few producers who wanted to option or buy the rights to my life story, but I want to be involved in the process and not just hand over my story. So, I have to be patient and find the right fit.

IDI – You are one busy woman! Jillian, thank you for talking with me and sharing your story. It’s one book that has left an indelible mark on me. I wish you all of the luck and success in the world. Somehow, I believe you will leave your mark on many people. Please keep me updated as to the completion of your new projects.

JB – Thank you for having me and I certainly will.

You can learn more about Jillian and her work at the links below and don’t forget, this Thursday you can read my review of Here I Stand, the mesmerizing memoir by Jillian.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jillian.bullock.5
Twitter –  https://twitter.com/JillianBullock
Website – www.jillianbullockwriter.com
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Here-I-Stand-Jillian-Bullock/dp/0741470497

 

k.e.garvey (formerly known as Kathy Reinhart) is the award-winning author of Lily White LiesThe Red Strokes, and Missouri in a Suitcase, (the latter written under the pen name Nova Scott)

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Rogue Lawyer… by John Grisham

Grisham’s latest novel is set up a bit differently from his conventional style. In the beginning, I thought it was going to be told in vignettes, each story largely unrelated to the next. And although the ‘cases’ had little to do with each other, there was a theme that connected them nicely. I actually enjoyed seeing him do something a little different.

Rogue LawyerThere isn’t much I can say about the writing, style, voice, characters, or plot. When I pick up a Grisham book, I expect him to deliver. And in Rogue Lawyer he delivers on cue.

The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was the ending. It wasn’t bad, as some books are, but it wasn’t as neat as I would have liked. There were a few loose threads that weren’t essential to the read, but important enough for me to realize immediately that they were left hanging. Sebastian and Naomi, Sebasian and Starcher (hated that name, btw). Again, not a dealbreaker, but I would have liked even a paragraph on each.

One thing I couldn’t get out of my head for the entire read (not necessarily a bad thing)… Anyone who has ever watched A Time To Kill or The Lincoln Lawyer might agree… Throughout the entire novel, I heard each passage narrated by the protagonist, Sebastian, in the voice of Matthew McConaughey. Crazy as it sounds, Jake Briggance has left an indelible impression on me! I think it’s because Sebastian Rudd has the same basic personality and attitude. (Who doesn’t like Matthew McConaughey… and aside from Dallas Buyer’s Club, his lawyer roles are my favorite.)

Definitely a book worth reading and I think most Grisham fans will enjoy his new approach.

k.e. garvey (formerly known as Kathy Reinhart) is the award-winning author of Lily White Lies and The Red Strokes among others under the name Nova Scott.


The Munich Girl… by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

The Munich Girl

the munich girl

The Munich Girl

Synopsis:

Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun. Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends. The secret surfaces with a mysterious monogrammed handkerchief, and a man, Hannes Ritter, whose Third Reich family history is entwined with Anna’s. Plunged into the world of the “ordinary” Munich girl who was her mother’s confidante—and a tyrant’s lover—Anna finds her every belief about right and wrong challenged. With Hannes’s help, she retraces the path of two women who met as teenagers, shared a friendship that spanned the years that Eva Braun was Hitler’s mistress, yet never knew that the men they loved had opposing ambitions. Eva’s story reveals that she never joined the Nazi party, had Jewish friends, and was credited at the Nuremberg Trials with saving 35,000 Allied lives. As Anna’s journey leads back through the treacherous years in wartime Germany, it uncovers long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her heart to reveal the enduring power of love in the legacies that always outlast war.

Review:

The Munich Girl is a work of historical fiction that reads and feels like a memoir. So many of the story’s details are historically accurate that it is hard to determine where the facts leave off and the fiction begins.

Beautifully told, and exquisitely written, each page unfolds like the wrapping over a gem. The settings are vivid, the characters come to life. It is a rather involved story between Anna’s existence with a narcissistic husband, the budding relationship between her and Hannes, her mother’s story that neatly intertwines with Eva’s. There are also the premonition-like dreams and the chapters written in her mother’s hand to keep you turning pages.

Told in a focused and experienced style, every page draws you further into the story. Hard to put down, even harder to forget.

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Lily White Lies

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Linda Westphal

After a brief hiatus, I’m back and today I welcome best-selling author, Linda Westphal.

IDI – Good morning, Linda. I’ve had a few unexpected issues lately, which put me behind with interviews, but I’m glad to finally be able to talk with you. Let’s start with something a little broad. Define a great book.

Linda Westphal

Linda Westphal

LW – When I must have the paper version of a book in my personal library, I know it’s a great book. In some way the book has touched or inspired me deeply, or I feel connected to the story or a character. It’s in my library because I want easy access to the book.

A great book may also be a book that you did not like when you were, say, 22 years old, but at age 32 or 42, you pick it up again and not only are you able to read it straight through, you love it. I think of this when I start reading a book that’s not resonating with me at the moment I’m reading it (every page feels like work). Reading is a very personal experience. Who you are — your interests, what’s going on in your life at the moment you pick up a book — all play a part in how you feel about a book when you are reading it. If this happens to you, put down the book and pick it up again in a few years; you may have a different reaction to the story.

IDI – They say know the rules and then you may break them. Which rules do you find yourself breaking and how does it work in your writing?

LW – When I made a decision to write fiction, I read everything I could get my hands on about the art of writing a story. How to develop characters. How to write dialogue. How to develop a plot. What makes a good writer great. None of these how-to guides helped me, because all I could think about during the writing process was Am I following the rules? To write a great story, you have to forget all the rules and just write. Write every day. Visit the story every day, even if it’s only to write one sentence. Keep at it until you reach the end. Then edit like crazy.

IDI – Great answer! When was your Eureka moment? When did you know you were born to be a writer?

LW – While I have been writing on and off most of my life, my Eureka moment happened just a few years ago. It came to me while I was reading. I never planned to be a writer, but here I am. Now I can’t imagine being anything but a writer. Funny how it all works out, and how we are naturally pushed into what we are meant to be doing.

IDI – Tell us about the picture on the cover of your book The Medium. Was it taken in Savannah, Georgia?

LW – Indeed! It’s a photo I took in 2003 when I spent about three weeks in Savannah’s Historic District. It was my first visit to Savannah and I was mesmerized by the city. During my stay I purposely did not rent a car, because I wanted to get to know the Historic District. I’ve traveled a lot so I know it’s nearly impossible to get to know a place while you are in a car. You have to walk, at a slow pace, to really see a city. I wanted to get to know Savannah’s history, the charm of its 22 squares, the architecture and iron works, the hidden gardens, and walk the cobblestone streets. I can tell you without a bit of hesitation that Savannah vibrates with energy (both past and present) and is a joy to visit.

Surprisingly, no one has asked me about the white orb in the middle of the photograph. There’s an interesting story about it. I

The Medium

The Medium

was out for a walk with my Olympus digital camera with ultra zoom (the fabulous iPhone camera had not yet been invented), when I saw the building you see on the book’s cover. I had to photograph it. I took a few shots, then started to walk away when I had an urge to turn around and look at the building one last time. I took two more photos, then felt satisfied I had what I needed. Later, when I was reviewing the day’s photos, I noticed the orb. It was the first of the two photos I had taken after I turned to take another look at the building. The two shots were of the same angle and taken a second or two apart; the first photo had the orb, the second one did not. If you have never researched orbs in photos, I highly recommend it. The information is fascinating. I know the orb in my photo is the energy of someone who once lived in Savannah. Whoever it is, he or she wanted to be in the photo. I wonder if this person knew that the photo would some day be on the cover of a popular book.

IDI – Wow. That is interesting. Savannah is my top three favorite cities in the country. There’s so much history there. Linda, every author has his/her own style, but what writer would you say your style most resembles?

LW – I hope my writing style resembles writers whose writing voice I admire, such as Michael Crichton, John Caples, Elizabeth Strout, Fannie Flagg, John Grisham, E. B. White, and many other writers. I strive to write in a simple, clear manner, which is what I hope I have in common with these writers.

IDI – You just mentioned some of my favorite writers! How much time/effort do you put into social media as a means of self-promotion?

LW – It’s important for authors to be near their readers. If readers spend time on a website, blog, or social media channel, that’s where the author should go. I think every author should be on at least one social media channel. I’m on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, and I have an active website and Amazon Author Page. I try to visit these channels at least five days a week and spend a minimum of 15 minutes a day on them (combined, not each channel).

IDI – I need to take a page out of your book. I wish I could limit it to 15 minutes a day, but with that little time, I never seem to be able to reach the end of the email, replies, RTs, comments, et cetera. Is there a particular area of your writing (getting ideas, revision, editing…) where you seem to struggle the most and how do you overcome it?

LW – Developing ideas is easy for me, editing is too. The challenge (I think this is a challenge for most people) is taking an idea or theme and shaping it into an interesting story. Another challenge for me is the overall size of the task of writing a novel (I’m used to writing 1,000-5,000 word pieces). If I think about all the things that go into a novel — characters, themes, place, plot(s), ending — I get overwhelmed. To overcome this, I break it down into smaller tasks. First I develop the story’s theme. Then I develop the characters and where the story will take place. The rest comes during the writing and editing process.

IDI – The book, The Hermit Bookstore, has a theme running through it. What does the theme mean to you and why did you choose to write about it?

The Hermit Bookstore

The Hermit Bookstore

LW – One of the themes in The Hermit Bookstore is, even if you are not aware of it, there are moments when you are receiving hints, a nudge, or support from the other side. This help is coming from people you love who have passed on to the other side, or your spirit guide, or an angel.

I decided to include this theme in the story because of the tiny moments of help I’ve noticed in my own life over the years. At first, it’s easy to dismiss these moments. But when you pay attention, you begin to see bits of “magic” that happens precisely when you need it to happen. It could be a person you meet when you need to meet them; a comment that’s said when you need to hear it; a nudge to look up at the car in front of you at the right moment; a feeling to take a different route home from work; the alarm clock that fails, causing you to miss the bus that’s involved in an accident. There are endless possibilities. You just have to pay attention. And see that they are too important to be mere coincidences. Try it yourself for a few months; I think you’ll be surprised what you see.

IDI – We all draw from within and I believe there is an element of ‘us’ in everything we write. How much of you will a reader find in any given book?

LW – I agree. There’s a piece of the writer in everything he or she writes. It can’t be helped. Sometimes I don’t see myself in my stories, but people who are close to me tell me they recognize a part of me in them.

IDI – One last question. When you find yourself in a rut, where do you turn for inspiration?

LW – I look for story and character ideas in everything I do — books I read, movies and TV programs I watch, people I talk to, eavesdropping in public. Being observant is a very important characteristic of a writer. You can do this by being present in the moment as much as possible during the day. Many of the experiences you observe will become part of your story during the writing process.

IDI – Linda, this was wonderful. Thank you so much for joining me today. Best wishes and continued success to you!

Linda Westphal writes feel-good stories, like The Hermit Bookstore and The Medium.
Her stories include characters who explore life events that cannot be explained but are true based on firsthand experience, such as coincidence, help from people who have passed on, interactions with angels, intuition, and mind-body-spirit topics.
Linda lives in northern California with her family and enjoys travel, tea, food, sunny days, friendly people, and reading a good story.
The Hermit Bookstore is a 2015 TISBA Finalist in the Fiction Category.
Visit http://www.LindaWestphal.com to sign up to receive Linda’s blog posts, news, giveaways and updates.

 Books!

Lily White LiesThe Red StrokesMissouri in a Suitcase

Support An Author

Support An Author


John Rataczak

Today I take a step away from the fiction authors I usually interview to speak with a Christian writer with many titles under his belt. Help me to welcome John Rataczak.

IDI – Good morning, John. Thank you for joining me today.

Bible Translations: A Closer Look

JR – Thank you for having me.

IDI – John, what works for you? Can you give us a rundown of your writing process?

JR – Before writing a book, I come up with an outline. For instance, The Ramifications of Our Salvation is in four sections and thirty-five chapters. The outline kept me on track throughout the process. Each chapter required considerable research. After gaining a good idea of what to write, I began to type. Considerable thought was given into word choice (diction) and how to develop an idea. Once a chapter was completed, I checked carefully for grammar, spelling. readability, and relevance. When the book was nearly ready for print, I checked carefully for accuracy in indentations, pagination, and consistency in listing Biblical references. In other words, I do my own editing.

IDI – What is the most important thing you have learned about writing? How has this helped you as a writer?

JR – Anyone who has written a dissertation knows that it is the most challenging project one undertakes in his/her education. Anyone who writes non-fiction books also learns that they can be just as challenging to complete.

IDI – Is there a particular area of your writing (ideas, revisions, editing, et cetera) where you seem to struggle the most and what do you do to overcome it?

Spiritual Gifts Verse by Verse

JR – When I began writing, I knew very little about word processing and editing. In addition, I had no idea about where to go for book covers, websites, a publisher, so many things! I found that the answers came through considerable prayer and just as considerable hard work.

IDI – Tell us, what does an ordinary day in the life of John Rataczak entail?

JR – I don’t know if I have many “ordinary” days. An ordinary week involves ministry at a Gospel mission, Bible studies at nursing homes and a public library, visits with people in hospitals, counseling, and considerable work on Eleutheros Books.

IDI – What do you think of Amazon and the reviewing process they use? How much trust do you put into a review for any given book?

JR – Every author I have come into contact with has an unfavorable view of Amazon. To put it simply, it is good to the customer but unfair to the author.  I do not shop on there; so I cannot give an honest opinion of how valuable anyone’s review of a book might be.

IDI – I agree with your assessment of it being good to the reader and unfair to the author. I recently worked with an author who told me she had several reviews removed due to her personal connection with the reviewers. She said the six reviews they removed were from people she had never spoken with, but Amazon left the reviews from acquaintances intact. Go figure.

We all like to read positive reviews. What is your reaction to a negative review? Be honest.

JR – I have received a number of positive reviews concerning my books and appreciate the kind words.  Negative reviews? Actually, I haven’t received any that were actually written. On occasion a reader disagrees with my theological perspectives and says so, but I allow them to say what they have to say and move ahead with what I am convinced is the truth.

IDI – One last question, John. Do you have a blog and what type of questions would a reader find on it?

JR – I do have a blog. John’s Blog

IDI – Thank you so much for appearing with me and I wish you continued success in your writing endeavors.

John Rataczak was born in Columbia, Missouri, and raised in the St. Louis area. He was saved at an early age through the ministry of the Chatham Bible Church. His father was a chemical engineer and his mother was a housewife. Both were saved during John’s early childhood years. God led John to become involved in full-time Christian work during his freshman year at Bob Jones University. Since that calling, he has earned a B.A. in the Bible, an M.A. in Pastoral Studies, and  Ph.D. in New Testament Text (Greek). He has taught in three Christian colleges and two graduate schools, and his pastoral experience includes ministries in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Presently, he is the founder and sole proprietor of Eleutheros Books.

 Books!

Lily White LiesThe Red StrokesMissouri in a Suitcase


Siafa B. Neal

Today’s guest takes ‘chess club’ to a whole new level. He not only plays competitive chess, but creates new chess games/boards and writes about them. Help me to welcome Siafa B. Neal.

IDI – I haven’t played chess since I was a teenager (My mother forced me to since she loved it and couldn’t get anyone else to play. Once I began beating her, she stopped forcing me!) I remember the rules, but you take standard chess to a whole new level. I have to admit, I’m a bit impressed.

Why don’t we begin with you. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Renaissance_To_The_Dawn_Of_A_New_AgeSN – Chess was taught to me by my Late father David Franklin Neal, Sr.  Over the years chess became boring and I was searching for new styles of chess that were more interesting and complex in nature.  As a result of my efforts, I founded and invented Advance 3-D Matrix Vector Logistics Chess which is an art form of chess played on several types of game board models.  Each distinct model has its distinct rules and regulations of play.  I am currently publishing several books on Model III, The Longitudinal Star Gate 14 Model.  This space-aged model allows for the engagements of four (4) separate distinct chess game sets all at the same instant.  In other words, the game board allows me to challenge four chess players instantaneously and spontaneously in a match; this means that I would have to CHECKMATE my opponents’ Kings at least the best of three out of four games to be declared the winner of the match.  Each chess set has distinct color bands to distinguish one from the other.   Through my books I am attempting to raise the awareness of chess to higher levels of cognitive dynamics.  My books allow chess readers who crave for hours of game entertainment to have mind-boggling and mind-baffling fun.

IDI – Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

SN – My cousin, Robert H. Brown, who is currently a British citizen residing in England and who holds a doctoral degree in English was influential in my decision to pursue a writing career besides my Engineering interests.

IDI – Tell us about your books.

SN – My Advance 3-D Matrix Chess books contain Diagrams, Illustration, Drawings and Photos about the game board and the chess movements.  Equations or Chess Statements are used to describe the movements of the chess pieces relative to one another.  My chess books add excitement and pizzazz to what may seem to be a rather boring regular conventional chess game.   My Advance 3-D Chess books presents the idea of practically playing chess from a 3-Dimensional perspective.  My unique, one-of-a-kind chess books contain Diagrams about the game board, The Longitudinal Star Gate 14 Model, Model III, which makes relearning the games fun and easy to understand.  It is imperative that readers understand the fundamental aspects of conventional chess to allow for the easy digestion of the new information which my chess books so vividly portrays.  My chess books which comes in Print and e-Formats contains Equations or Chess Statements of each movement of the chess pieces relevant to the game(s).  The equations display the symbolic mathematical Greek letters which describes the spatial relationships and relativity of the chess pieces on the game board of the Longitudinal Star Gate 14 Model, Model III.

Writing is a magnificent tool that enables me to promote ideas of Advance Chess to help enlighten others about the new styles and art forms of playing Advance 3-D Chess as opposed to the rather draconian ways of regular conventional chess and to offer some important moral compass for those readers who have an open mind to newer opportunities to explore and to exhaust the tapestry of psychological warfare under the philosophical guidance to exhaust the possibilities to newer, informative approaches to life in general.  My rather unique chess books allows readers to Live for Greatness, the Greatness which comes from their minds and their hearts.  It espouses the philosophy that, “You are what you think, you think, therefore, you are”.  My books dare readers to explore and to rediscover their innate and yet dormant passion for excellence in their quintessential cognition quest along a journey that provides fun and entertainment in the process.Advance_Chess_Inferential_Analysis_Of_Distributive_Cognitive_Logistics

IDI – Where can your books be purchased?

SN – My chess books may be purchased at my author’s webpages which are:
www.coldcoffeepress.com/siafa-b-neal
www.coldcoffeecafe.com/profile/SiafaBNeal
www.amazon.com/author/siafabneal
www.independentauthornetwork.com/siafa-b-neal

IDI – What do you hope people will gain by reading your books?

SN – Readers who benefits from my books are:
–  Those who may find that the classical game of conventional chess a bit boring.
– Those chess readers who are eager to learn the new, exciting concepts of Advance 3-D Matrix Chess.
–  Those chess readers who are chess enthusiasts and have high expectations of the game.
–  Those readers who have an open mind and are receptive to newer challenges and complexities of Advance chess games.
–  Those readers who seek finger-nail-biting, seat-gripping excitement towards the new exciting games of 3-D chess.
–  Those chess readers who crave for hours of entertainment with non-conventional, out-of-the-box strategic games that are mind-boggling, mind-baffling and mind-blowing.
– Readers who are avid Chess players who may fall in the spectral range ranks of Beginners, Intermediate, Semi-Professionals and Professionals.
–  Readers who play chess as a hobby and who take joy in experiencing for the first time the learning experience about the complexities and challenges of the intense psychological warfare of Matrix Chess.
–  Readers who crave for the ULTIMATE battle plan war games.
–  Chess readers who desperately want to divulge into the pseudo-dynamics and quasi-kinetics World of Chess in order to explore and to exhaust the opportunities to test the plasticity boundary limit ranges of their full spectrum cognitive elasticity cognition capabilities and potentialities.
–  Those chess readers who may want a different perspective to their intelligence test for Logistic and Strategic Diagnostic and Prognostic Analysis.
–  Chess readers who want to acquire the new, exciting gaming knowledge about Advance 3-D Chess and to progress ahead of the learning curve well above the Master and Grand-Masters of the classical games of conventional chess.
–  Chess readers who crave for the ULTIMATE Collector’s book items in chess gaming.

IDI – This is what some have said to be a controversial question. What are your thoughts on Amazon and the reviewing process they use? How much trust do you put into reviews on any given book?

SN – Amazon is a huge venue to advertise your book or any items for that matter.  Millions of books are being advertised on amazon.  The reviewing process that they use seems to be somewhat standard and fair.  The reviewing process gives a kaleidoscopic perspective about an author’s book with insightful information about an advertised book which provides a potential book buyer the necessary tools to make intelligent decisions about whether to make a choice of purchasing a book or the contrary.

IDI – We all like to receive positive reviews. How do you react to a negative review? Be honest.

SN – Negative reviews are the most welcomed perspectives for assessing my writing progress.  I use the constructive negative reviews to make the necessary improvements to my writing style and to assess how others view my work.  The negative reviews helps to indicate the areas in my book that need improvements so that the book may be critique and morph into a master piece that I the author could be proud to republish if necessary.

IDI – Think back to the first book you wrote. Now think back to the last book you wrote. In what ways have you grown?

SN – My writing style have shown improvement and maturity.  The photographic techniques used to take the photos of the games has also improved.  Most notably the playing levels of sophistication of my chess games have also shown tremendous improvements.  I try to make my games last longer with complicated strategic movements and provide logic explanations for the reasoning behind a significant chess movement such as the capture of a piece and the CHECKMATING of the opponents’ kings.

IDI – How long does it generally take you to write a book from the spark of an idea to the finished product?

Advance_Chess_Compilations_Pertaining_to_Random_Access_Problematic_ProbabilitiesSN – The time frame for the general completion of my book is about two months.  I first start  with the sketch of the model used for the games.  Next I purchase the materials for the model and design the model.  Thereafter, I color code the chess pieces and play the games using hybrid variations of positional configuration possibilities.  While playing the games I record the movements and take photos of the games which I use in my manuscript for my book.  I proof read the book and sent the final draft to my publisher.

IDI – Favorite author and why?

SN – My favorite author is Charles Dickens who wrote the Tale of Two Cities.  His book was used as a study sample during my high school education.  His style of writing a more traditional and has an eloquent style of communicating with words that  captivates his reader’s attention.

IDI – When you find yourself in a rut, where do you turn for inspiration?

SN – I consult my mother, Anna B. Neal for general advice and a different perspective on how to resolve the issues that confronts me.  My chess games are delicate and sophisticated that I would take months for an average reader to comprehend the meaning behind the movements of the chess pieces in the Advance 3-D Matrix Chess games.

IDI – How much time/effort do you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?

SN – About 95% of my project time is spent on the social media promoting my books.  Advertising is essential to raise the awareness of the public of the publication of my Advance Chess books.

IDI – What advice would you give to new/unpublished authors?

SN – The publishing business is a competitive market which many authors both well-known, because the readership love their style or genre of writing and unknown because the author may be new to the industry.  It is important that your work in your genre stands out and is exemplary from the crowd of published authors.  A new author may want to use the following questions when critiquing or honing their writing skills:

A.  What makes my work unique?
B.  Why would a reader want to read my novel?
C.  Am I allowing my published work to speak for itself without being so pretentious?
D.  What would compel a reader to purchase my book?
E.  Do I emulate a passion for writing my book?
F.  Am I consistent with my daily rigorous efforts to process and apply my writing skills to my unpublished work?
G.  Do I have what it takes, the love, the passion, the zeal, the time, the resources and the effort to become a successful writer with the awareness that the book publishing industry is a competitive market which implies that the financial rewards may not necessarily be immediate or forth-coming spontaneously?
H.  Am I constantly actively writing my next book despite the fact of accomplishing the current book?
I.  Do I apply the right networking skills and exposure for my books?
J.  How do I relax while writing the manuscripts for my current book or my next near future books?
K.  Do I have the right organizational skills to write my next book in an orderly sequence and format?
L.  How do I augment my Reading, Writing and Speaking skills to meet the growing demands of the book publishing market?

IDI – Siafa, in conclusion, I’d like to share one of your YouTube videos with my readers:

IDI – It truly has been a pleasure and I certainly learned things I never knew about the game. Thank you so much for appearing with me and best wishes for success.

k.e. garvey (formerly and regrettably known as Kathy Reinhart) is the author of ‘THE RED STROKES’, the award-winning ‘LILY WHITE LIES’, and her debut novel, ‘MISSOURI IN A SUITCASE’, (the latter written under the pen name, Nova Scott).
Before venturing into the world of mainstream fiction, Kathy wrote articles of interest for online enthusiast magazines, most notably on the subjects of horses and eventing.
A firm believer in paying it forward, she created and maintains the popular, INK DROP INTERVIEWS, where she features one-on-one question and answer sessions with Indie authors, spotlighting their work and thoughts on the subjects of writing and the publishing industry.
Kathy is currently working on book one in the ‘LIKE A GIRL’ series, with ‘CRY LIKE A GIRL’, due out early 2016.
Aside from the time she can spend with friends and family, a few of Kathy’s other interests include horses, cooking, traveling, antiquing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, and home decorating.


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