Author Spotlight & Interview: S. A. Molteni

I am pleased to host S.A. Molteni on my blog today. She is here today to tell us a bit about her writing and her recently released cozy mystery,  Double Hearts.

Interview

I  love mysteries. What made you decide to write a cozy mystery after writing in other genres?

I have always been a fan of mysteries and have read quite a lot of them in my lifetime. After writing non-fiction for the last two years, I wanted to write something fictional and fun. So, I decided to try my hand at the mystery genre.

Tell me a little bit about your cozy mystery,  Double Hearts.

AMZDHDouble Hearts – A Shelly Martin Cozy Mystery (included in the Sleuthing Women – Mystery Collection) is my first foray into writing cozy mysteries and is one I wanted to have a strong female detective as the protagonist. In Double Hearts, the first book in the series, Shelly Martin has just opened her detective agency and her newest case is one she will not soon forget. As she delves deeper into it, she discovers that it just might shatter her dreams of a happily-ever-after life and a second chance with her high-school sweetheart, Jake McCord.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?

Absolutely nothing in the book is from a my own personal life experience. The book is entirely a work of fiction, but centers around my interest in detective work as well as my love of solving mysteries.

I know this isn’t your first book, only your first cozy. What else have you written?

I have written mostly non-fiction up until this point. My non-fiction series is entitled, I.T. Geek to Farm Girl Freak and includes two books at the moment. The third book and final in the series will be out at the end of 2016.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on the second book in the Shelly Martin Cozy Mystery series as well as the third book in the I.T. Geek to Farm Girl Freak series.

How do you conquer writer’s block? (Please let me know your secret.)

The best way I have found to overcome writer’s block is to perform some type of manual labor, like cleaning out the barn or gardening and mowing the lawn. Once I step away from my writing cave for a few hours and get all gross and sweaty from farm chores, I am eager to start writing again. There is no shortage of story material here on my hobby farm and I get many ideas when shoveling manure. 🙂

I am guessing you read a lot of mysteries. Do you enjoy reading other genres as well? What are you currently reading?

I love to read mysteries as well as a few other genres – paranormal fantasy, non-fiction essays, science fiction and clean romance – to name a few. I am currently reading A Chance to Get it Right (Copperhead Creek – Australian Romance Book 2) by SM Spencer.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I have always wanted to go to Australia to see the unique sights and sounds of the Land Down Under. I adore koala bears and kangaroos, so that would be a thrill for me to see them in the wild. I would also love to go to Lake Como, Italy and meet some of the members of my distant family tree.

Double Hearts – A Shelly Martin Cozy Mystery

Shelly Martin recently opened her detective agency after working in the Austin Police Department as a criminologist. In her newest case, she is determined to solve the mystery of who hit Vernon Sykes and left him for dead on a desolate road in the middle of the night.

Jake McCord was Shelly’s high school sweetheart until he left town without a word to her about his whereabouts. When he returns to Austin after fifteen years away, he hopes for a second chance with Shelly. Little does he know that he will be involved in a criminal investigation led by her.

Will their reunion be tarnished by his supposed negligence or will the facts present him as the victim of a cunning crime?

About S.A. Molteni

samolteniS.A. Molteni is a retired systems engineer. She is also currently a hobby farmer, avid traveler and an author of several award-winning short stories. She lives on a small homestead with her husband and a menagerie of very spoiled farm animals.

Guest Post: RRBC “Spotlight Author” SARA HATHAWAY on Day After Disaster

Today I am honored to have Sara Hathaway, author of The Day After Disaster and fellow RRBC member, as a guest on my blog. Sara is here to tell us a bit about the philosophy behind her book.

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Day After Disaster Philosophy
One day, as a teenager, I was hanging out at the Middle Fork of the American River. I asked my girlfriends that I was with, what would happen if we lost all power tomorrow? I was absolutely horrified when they replied, “we wouldn’t have our curling irons or blow dryers.”

I have never been your typical “girl”. I just wasn’t raised that way. My mother was the middle child in a group of five girls and quickly became my grandfather’s masculine counterpart. She helped him with all the chores a boy would have and eventually became a very skilled upholsterer, working with her hands. She was as big a “tom boy” as her daughter turned out to be.

Book CoverI grew up in Michigan. My family would go out fishing on the Great Lakes with my grandparents in huge fishing boats with all the latest depth finders, downriggers and planer boards (that’s fishing jargon). We had picnics at the gun club where we had .22 rifle competitions for back to school supplies. Eventually, I was only allowed to use the oldest guns without sites because I was winning too much gear. I learned how to fillet fish and gut animals. Not exactly doing my nails and following the latest fashion (camouflage wasn’t really a fashion back then).

Guess I should have known how differently my future girlfriends would have thought about a power outage. My first thoughts had been on computer networks, food refrigeration, and public safety. I pondered the question I had asked and their response for many years and honestly I have never stopped.

I still live in the country, side by side with nature, but I have watched the world closely. I have watched our society become more and more dependent upon electricity. Our global communications are made possible by satellites orbiting the world, dependent upon solar power. Computers weave into every facet of life. They control our vehicles. They control our homes. Our social life is conducted via Facebook and Twitter. Everyday life is made easy with the assistance of a machine. TVs flip on and technology allows us to fast forward through commercials (just like we always dreamed of). Food is ready in seconds with the handy, dandy microwave and what about coffee? Have you ever had to use a percolator? Would you know how to make a cup without power or a single serving bag?

Life hasn’t been this way for long but unfortunately we are forgetting many life-preserving skills rapidly. Just a couple of generations ago they knew not only how to grow a garden but what to do with the food to make it last all year. They knew how to flush a carburetor to get your engine running. They knew exactly where the meat they were eating came from because chances are it wasn’t living too far away, even if you lived in the city. They understood death in a world without modern medicine and grew to accept it. They were survivors.

Have we, as an American Society, learned enough to survive in their world, one void of computers and modern technology? I don’t think so. Most of the parents I know in recent generations have always wanted their children to have an “easier” life. One better and less laborious than the one they lived. People have grown up sheltered from a natural reality and instead had it substituted with technology. This is crippling the American Society and the problem is just getting worse.

It’s time to wake up and remember. It’s time to ease the pain of the grocery bill by growing your own food and preserving the food you grow or buy from other neighborhood farmers. It’s time to learn how to survive without the precious electric meter running. It’s time to learn how to walk through a forest and know what is available for you to eat there. There may never come a day when these skills are necessary for everyday life but what if they were? Wouldn’t it be a better idea to learn sooner rather than later and by all means pass these essential skills down to your children?

About the Author:

Author PhotoSara F. Hathaway is an individual with an insatiable urge for learning. She grew up in the woods of Michigan, fishing, hunting, gardening, canning, and horseback riding with her family. She loved to learn about the stories of times past from her great grandparents and grandparents. She learned about a time much different from our own when a trip to the grocery store was not all it took to make sure your family was fed. She delighted in the outdoors and learning how to survive there without the trappings of modern life.  She has extensively researched and practiced survival techniques and utilized forgotten life-sustaining methods of the generations past.

After moving to the rural mountain landscape of California, she attended The California State University of Sacramento and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in General Business Management. She managed many businesses, all while working on the manuscript for her novel, Day After Disaster. Eventually she realized that her passion for the outdoors and learning about survival techniques outweighed her passion for the business world. She took her marketing skills and applied them to launching a successful platform for her first novel.

Sara still lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons where she is at work on the sequel to her first novel. She delights in helping other authors find the same marketing success and enjoys her time that she gets to spend honing her survival skills while teaching these skills to her sons.

She is currently  at work on the sequel to her first novel and helping other authors skyrocket their careers to the next level. For more information and a free copy of “The Go-Bag Essentials” featuring everything you need to have to leave your home in a disaster visit: www.authorsarafhathaway.com

Book Description:

Day After Disaster is an apocalyptic, adventure novel, featuring a dynamic young woman, mother and wife, Erika, who is thrust into a world turned upside down by a series of natural disasters. Finding herself alone in a city mutilated by this disastrous situation, she must save herself. Once free of the city confines, she desperately tries to navigate through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to get back home to her family. Not knowing if they are alive or dead she must call on all of her survival instincts to plot a course through this broken environment.

Book Links:
http://www.authorsarafhathaway.com/#!saras-survival-stuff/c1mzf
http://www.amazon.com/Day-After-Disaster-Changing-Earth/dp/1631221345
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/day-after-disaster-sara-f-hathaway/1119581911?ean=9781631221347

Follow Sara online!
Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/sarahathaway19
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author.S.Hathaway
Website: http://www.authorsarafhathaway.com/

Guest Post: RRBC “Spotlight Author” ELIZABETH N. LOVE talks about Book Reviews

Today I am honored to have Elizabeth N. Love, author of Call of the Goddess and fellow RRBC member, as a guest on my blog. An avid reader and frequent reviewer of other authors’ books, Elizabeth shares her thoughts about writing book reviews.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAReviews are an important part of being a writer. We want to hear feedback a) so we can feel good about our accomplishments, b) so we can share the good news with others, and c) we want to know how to be better at what we do.

I started a review blog last year in order to help Indie Authors get more feedback on their work. It’s an important service that so many are looking for in the writing world. Of course, now I have enough books to last me a year.

After I post my own review, I take a quick look at other reviews for the same title, looking for any interesting insights I might have missed. There has been more than one occasion where I seemed to have an anomalous opinion, but it is my absolute honest opinion. Integrity is very important to me when I formulate my reviews.

Writing a Book Review

  1. Read the book: It seems like this should go without saying, but you’d be surprised how many reviews are written from the blurb. Before I write any kind of review, I use the product first. The same goes with a book. Read it. Use it. Then decide what to say about it.
  2. Be complimentary: Most writers do at least one thing well. Point out a character that you found appealing or a particular part of the story line you thought held the book together. “I found the main character to be very realistic, and I could clearly picture her in my mind.” “[The author] does a superb job of creating easy going dialogue.”
  3. Be constructive: This sounds like any English class where peers are asked to read and review the writing of their classmates, but it is very important. If there is something you didn’t like that you think could be improved, say so in as positive a way as possible. Instead of writing “the plot was terrible,” be specific. “The plot veered in too many directions and became confusing when…” or “The scene about [fill in the blank] seemed out of place with the rest of the story.”
  4. Be honest: Simple. You aren’t doing the author nor yourself any favor by creating a false review.
  5. If you received the book as part of a promotion or for review purposes, make sure to state so somewhere in the review. “*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.”

~Elizabeth N. Love

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Read and Review Call of the Goddess by Elizabeth N. Love by downloading from Amazon.com: http://goo.gl/8pPUmR

About the Book:

Call of the GoddessOn the faraway planet of Bona Dea, in a society forged by ancient settlers, trouble is brewing. Young psychic Axandra, never comfortable with her gift, is being forced to use it for the benefit of her people as ruling matriarch of the entire world and host to a powerful entity known only as the Goddess. Struggling with her fate, used as a pawn between warring factions, life for Axandra is almost too much to bear. Even the ministrations of her beloved companion, Quinn, may not prove powerful enough to overcome the stress threatening to destroy Axandra’s fragile soul.

About the Author:

Elizabeth N. Love currently lives near Kansas City with her family. When not writing, she is usually chauffeuring two children to various activities, gardening, or walking through nature. She is currently working on two more books to publish within the next year.

Connect with Elizabeth!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elizabeth-N-Love-Author/586497788065264
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bee_writerbee
Amazon Author: www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-N.-Love/e/B00JRM567O
Blog: http://writerbeeblog.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/beelove

Author Spotlight and Interview: TERESA HIRST

TeresaHirstHeadShot2014-250x300I am pleased to spotlight Teresa Hirst on my blog today. Teresa’s latest novel, Flowers of Grace, will be released on February 20th.  Set in an upscale St. Louis boutique amid a fragile economic climate when retail customers are trading brick and mortar stores for online shopping, Flowers of Grace is a story of love and loss, friendship and forgiveness.

Interview

Teresa, I understand that you are about to release your second book, Flowers of Grace.  What inspired this moving story?

I inherited a beautiful hibiscus plant from a woman just before she died from cancer. Despite all of my best efforts to water, feed and care for her plant, it died. The idea for Flowers of Grace developed and her plant gained a new life in this novel.  Grace, the manager of an upscale boutique, also receives a hibiscus from a departing friend and is sure that she will kill it if she is left to care for it on her own. She rallies the women on her staff to help it bloom, and their dynamic personalities fill the clothing store. Grace and the plant blossom through a wedding and a birth, but its unexpected death pushes her to face false assumptions, opening a path for new love to appear.

What challenges did you face in the writing process? 

Because I also write nonfiction and use source material topically, I struggled to write scenes for a novel chronologically. When I discovered that I could write scenes as they came to me and then insert them together, the story unfolded at a good pace.

Do you have any advice to offer other writers?

Pursue a genre that speaks to you. Be cognizant of your audience as you write, because you will need to sell it to someone, but don’t write according to the trends just to ride on those. Also, write in a variety of formats—long and short, fiction and nonfiction, creative and informative. Writing in this way generates good skills but it also helps you practice one of the most challenge tasks —really communicating with a reader.

What genre do you most enjoy reading? What are you currently reading?

I enjoy women’s fiction—both contemporary and historical. I also love biography. Although I don’t generally read young adult fiction, I just finished the first book in the new series, Citizen of Logan Pond: Life by Rebecca Belliston and enjoyed the characters and imagining what survival skills I might use in the event that the Great Recession had become an impetus for unchecked government control.

What writers or books have most inspired you?

My husband introduced me to the short story or novella Babette’s Feast many years ago by author Isak Dinesen. In this quirky remote Scandinavian setting a congregation of devout followers have a famous chef living among them and do not even know what they have. Clever stories like that inspire me to find similar connections and twists that characters work to uncover.

As a contrast, in my young mom days I read a lot of Maeve Binchy novels because I liked getting involved in the family settings she develops. In my own writing I like the themes of family life and working through relationship issues. I read widely from old classics to new indie published authors.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the sequel to Flowers of Grace, which is Open to Joy. I shared a chapter with my writing group last month, which wasn’t a resource I had when I wrote Flowers of Grace. It was fun to workshop with other writers, and I would encourage writers to gather with other writers to do this. It doesn’t need to be a list of best selling authors who meet in a premiere location. Some of the best writing groups simply look like six to eight writers (published and unpublished) who share their work face-to-face and receive feedback from each other.

What role does social media play in your life?

Social media plays a huge role in my life. I studied journalism, worked for a newspaper and worked in public affairs. Social media allows me to stay informed and develop my own channels to communicate with people in a professional but social way as I build relationships and share content.

I’m pretty authentic in what I share about my personal life online. I received a rare cancer diagnosis last year, just after I released Twelve Stones to Remember Him, an inspirational nonfiction book about how individuals and families managed through the financial crisis. That was sort of ironic to receive my own new crisis as I was marketing that book. Cancer brought an unexpected twist to my life and added a new dimension to how I use social media.

What do you do when you’re not busy reading and writing?

I have great conversations, of course! I love to connect with women to talk, talk, talk. I still call old friends on the phone at least once a week. I gain so much from my female friends, my sisters, and my daughters. The women I’ve come to trust have a way of talking through things with me that helps me make decisions and feel connected.

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Books by Teresa Hirst

  • Flowers of Grace – available for preorder (special price) at Amazon and other online retailers.  (Enter the Goodreads giveway to win a free copy of Flowers of Grace and add it to your shelf on Goodreads.)

Twelve Stones to Remember Him (available on Amazon)

About Teresa Hirst

Teresa lives in Minnesota with her husband and teenage children. She is a Mormon choosing faith and gratitude to cope with neuroendocrine cancer. She enjoys cooking, sentimental movies, Sunday afternoon walks and great conversations.

To learn more about Teresa and her books, please visit http://www.teresahirst.com or follow her on social media.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TeresaHirstAuthor
Twitter https://twitter.com/TeresaHirst
Instagram http://instagram.com/teresa_hirst/
Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/teresahirst/
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