The Day the Angels Fell: Character Interview

THE DAY THE ANGELS FELL

By SHAWN SMUCKER

Genre: Psychological Fiction / Christian

Publisher: Revell

Date of Publication: September 5, 2017

Number of Pages: 320

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Shawn Smucker will capture readers’ imaginations with this masterfully written debut novel that combines elements of mystery and magical realism.

It was the summer of storms, strays, and strangers. The summer that lightning struck the big oak tree in the front yard. The summer his mother died in a tragic accident.

Twelve-year-old Samuel Chambers would do anything to turn back time. Prompted by three strange carnival fortune-tellers and the surfacing of his mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Samuel begins his search for the Tree of Life—the only thing that could possibly bring his mother back. His quest to defeat death entangles him and his best friend, Abra, in an ancient conflict and forces Samuel to grapple with an unwelcome question: could it be possible that death is a gift?

Haunting and hypnotic, The Day the Angels Fell is a story that explores the difficult questions of life in a voice that is fresh, friendly, and unafraid. With this powerful novel, Shawn Smucker has carved out a spot for himself in the tradition of authors Madeleine L’Engle and Lois Lowry.

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Praise for The Day the Angels Fell:

“Neil Gaiman meets Madeleine L’Engle. I read it in two days!”

—Anne Bogel, Modern Mrs. Darcy

“Shawn Smucker enchants with a deftly woven tale of mystery and magic that will leave you not only spellbound but wanting more.”

—Billy Coffey, author of There Will Be Stars

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Samuel is the main character in The Day the Angels Fell. Here, I ask him a few questions that unearth some information you don’t get in the book:

Samuel, what did you like about growing up on a farm?

You know, I was a quiet kid. And we lived outside of town so I didn’t have any friends besides Abra who I saw on a regular basis apart from school. But I liked that. I liked being close to the river and the church and having all of those barns to run around and play in. I wasn’t crazy about the chores, but Dad would usually throw baseball with me afterwards. Those were good days. It’s a good place to live as a family, on a farm.

How about your grandparents?

Not that much, actually. I know my father’s parents were both gone by the time I was born. And I heard rumors about my mother, how she grew up in that old lady’s house on the edge of town, the old lady who took in kids who didn’t have parents. But she never told us about her parents, or where she came from. That whole side of my family was a blank space.

Do you know anything about your parents’ childhoods?

My dad seemed to have a happy childhood. He often spoke about playing baseball, and the stories he told me usually revolved around this farm where he grew up, or the surrounding area. But my mom didn’t say much at all. If I asked her anything about her growing-up years, she’d just shake her head with a sad smile and say something like, “Oh, Sam, that’s so long ago. I can’t even remember.”

What have you done for all these years?

All these years? You mean since the angels fell? I guess I’ve just lived a quiet life. I farmed the farm on my own for many years, and I couldn’t do much, but I was by myself so I didn’t need much. I rented out the fields I couldn’t tend myself. I hired a boy for a while to take care of the garden, but he could never do it quite to my standard, so that only lasted a few years. I grew older. I guess that’s what I’ve done. I’ve grown older.

Is it possible you might be exaggerating or mis-remembering everything that happened that summer?

(Pause)

I suppose. Though there are these tangible things that remain – the atlas. The notes. The dagger. These things are real as real, right here in front of me.

Are you scared of dying?

(Chuckles) Am I scared of dying? Heh. Scared of dying. No. Well, I am not scared of death, that much I can tell you. Dying? I guess it depends how it happens. I’m not good with pain, a very low tolerance. I’m even worse with suffering. I will be honest and say I’m scared of suffering. But of death? No. I am not afraid of death.

I’d even go so far as to say this – I’m very intrigued about what comes next. That’s the part, the after-death, that I look forward to. I have no fears whatsoever about that.

Shawn Smucker lives with his wife and six children in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Day the Angels Fell is his first novel. 

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Dori Ann Dupré: Interview and Excerpt for Scout’s Honor


Dori Ann Dupré

I am so excited to have Dori Ann Dupré on the blog with us today. Dori is the author of newly released Scout’s Honor! Dori shares with us about her writing experience and tips for other aspiring writers. Be sure to check out a great excerpt from Scout’s Honor in the interview too! Can’t wait to read this one!

Interview with Dori Ann Dupré

Tell us a little about yourself:

I am a first time published novelist. My book, Scout’s Honor, was published on April 14th, 2016. I’m originally from New Jersey, hold a BS in History and a Post Bac Paralegal Certification, and I’m a veteran of the US Army. I’ve lived in North Carolina for over 17 years now, where my husband and I raised our two daughters. He passed away last Fall at the age of 47 from Colon Cancer. Scout’s Honor and my second book, Good Buddy, which was inspired by my husband before he became ill, have saved me throughout this very difficult period in my life and in the lives of our daughters.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I think most indie authors have under-appreicated novels. It is hard to get it out there in order for it to be appreciated by the masses. In that light, I am choosing an indie author’s novel for purely personal reasons. Eight Days by Scott Thompson came out in March 2016. Scott Thompson is an author who is also signed with my publisher, Pen Name Publishing. I received an ARC copy just a couple of days after my husband’s terminal diagnosis. His novel is about a man who dies and is caught between life and death. He has to reckon several events from his lifetime in order to move on to Heaven. There are 8 events, which is why the book is entitled Eight Days. He is guided through this process by his long passed grandfather. The story is one of hope, love and family and a creative peek into the hearts of men who must examine their lives. My husband found himself in a similar situation because he was dying, and dying young. It helped me to understand the context of some of his struggles, even if I could not put myself in his shoes. I highly recommend the book for anyone, but also for people who are grieving the loss of loved ones.

Who were your favorite authors growing up?

Growing up, I liked S. E. Hinton, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Judy Blume. I was a normal girl in that regard.

If you could join any literary world, what would it be and why?

I would want to be in Hogwarts. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s classic good versus evil while in school. The closest thing we get to Hogwarts is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and that’s just not good enough.

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve never been inspired to write specifically. I’ve always just been a writer. My first book, Scout’s Honor, was inspired over 20 years ago from an anonymous call for help to an advice columnist. It was written by a young teenaged girl who had been taken advantage of by a much older man, who was a Deacon in her church. I always wondered what happened to her and how that man’s selfishness and cruelty affected her life long term. This kind of thing happens all the time and girls usually keep silent about it for all kinds of reasons. I had the idea for years, and it wasn’t until my youngest daughter went off to college that I had the time and determination to start writing it. Once I started, it only took me 5 months to complete the first draft.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Going through my manuscript with an actual editor during the publishing process helped me think of my writing differently. I think bigger now and try to get out of my characters’ heads more. I also try to write in smaller chunks. My second novel, Good Buddy, which will hopefully come out in 2018, was written in 3rd person vignettes within chapters. The chapters include flashbacks and current day. I found this to be a rewarding experiment in storytelling and I can’t wait to see what readers think! It’s written quite differently than Scout’s Honor. Scout’s Honor was written in 1st person, multiple narrators.

How do you write? Do you plot? Or do you just go for it?

I have a basic idea in my head but honestly, I just go for it. I am a classic Type A personality. If I start out with an exhaustive outline and To Do List, which is how I run the rest of my life, I would never do the actual writing. I’d be too busy trying to check things off. Creatively, for me, I have learned that I just need to DO. It comes out naturally.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

My first book took 5 months to write. (20 years and 5 months if you count from the idea!) My second book, Good Buddy, took longer. Because I was dealing with the Scout’s Honor launch and promotion, it was on the back burner for awhile. It started out with one idea, inspired by my husband’s selfless act of becoming a stepfather as a young man. Then because of what happened to him and our family, Good Buddy became so much more than that. I had to finish it so he could read it before he passed away. Good Buddy took just over a year from original concept to complete manuscript. It was the last book my husband ever read.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Scout’s Honor had family member names strewn throughout it. Because her identity was wrapped around Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, there are also names in there related to that book. For example, Scout’s daughter is named Jemma (and called Jem for short sometimes). Scout meets a man named Thom Robinson later in the book. Also, because my books take place in North Carolina, I try to make names fit the region and times.

How many hours a day do you write?

If I’m writing a book, I will be in a zone until it’s done. Because I work a “real job” in the “real world,” I don’t have all the time in the world to dedicate to my writing. This is hard to classify, but if I’m writing a novel, it could be 2 hours a day during the work week. I will use lunch breaks too. If I’m just in between books, like now, I write every day, just a bit at least, to keep me sane.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

My publisher, Pen Name Publishing, has been instrumental in helping me forge writerly relationships. The house uses an app where we can all communicate with one another about our writing, resources, share about events and press. It is a wonderful tool and whenever you need feedback, there’s always a slew of other authors offering their support. We have also had some YouTube based author forums to discuss author topics, and interacting in this manner has been great. My most interactive writer friends include: Scott Thompson, Mike Hansen, Ralph Pullins, Amanda Hanson, JM Sullivan, Leslie Hauser, Dionne Aboulelela (who is also the House’s CEO), Jenny Milchman, and Seamus Gallacher. I am grateful to them all for all they’ve helped me with as a fellow author and writer.

What are the first 5 things you do to prepare yourself for a day of writing?

I really do not have any kind of prep for this. I know that’s a horrible answer, but I really do not prepare to write.

Tell us a little about Scout’s Honor, can you share an excerpt with us?

Scout’s Honor is a story of a self, lost…a self, loathed…and a self, rediscovered. The protagonist is named Scout Webb, and she comes of age in 1980s rural North Carolina. She heads off to Camp Judah, a Christian camp on the Catawba River, and while at camp, she suffers a profound emotional trauma that will affect her well into adulthood and middle age. Scout’s Honor starts off in the Summer of 1983, when Scout is 14 years old, and ends in the modern day. It addresses issues such as faith, morality, identity, marriage, parenting, love, family, forgiveness, friendship and emotional trauma.

 

Here is an excerpt from the book:

 

SCOUT WEBB, AGE 14

The ball flew toward me in a mad spiral as I stood, stomach churning, wrapped up in anticipation. It was coming to my left so I turned my legs back and ran to position myself to catch it. I don’t know exactly how my body knows what to do and when to do it at the right time, but even “for a girl” my body knew just the same. My gloved left hand reached just high enough to snatch the speeding baseball out of flight and I stopped myself from stride so I could get the throw into the cutoff man at shortstop. Also known as Charlie. My best friend.

“Good catch, Scout!” I heard someone yell. I felt a sense of relief come over my whole body. I did my job. I caught the well-hit fly ball that should have been a single. The boy who hit it was pissed off, no doubt, because some stupid wiry girl in the outfield caught it and how embarrassing is that and I hope she falls and breaks her arm. Heard it all before.

I love summer. Summertime is baseball season. People like to complain about the heat and humidity here in Haddleboro, North Carolina, but it doesn’t bother me all that much. It doesn’t keep me inside playing Space Invaders or Pong on Atari or watching reruns on TV like my brother Jonny and his friends. It doesn’t keep me from sleeping, even if I’m dripping in sweat on my bed all night and have to wrap a cool wet towel over my head. No homework, no worries but for my paper route — and the promise of Camp Judah ahead.

On Sunday, I get to go to camp for three weeks. I’ve gone every year since I was seven. It will be my last summer there because I’m aging out. The next time I can go back is as a counselor after I’m eighteen. I’m turning fifteen in a couple of months, so that is a long time. Three whole years. Actually more like four because I won’t turn eighteen until October when camp is over for the summer. What am I supposed to do for the next four years? Get a job or something? No one will hire me next summer because I’m too young. I’ve only ever had camp to look forward to.

Charlie turned around and hollered to me, pulling me from my Camp Judah daydreams. He shouted that I needed to be ready because the last time this kid hit, it went in between us for a single.

“Move in! He can’t hit it over your head!” I moved in closer to Charlie, who held his spot at short.

Bobby was pitching. He’s too slow at everything. He moves slow, preps the ball slow, kicks around dirt on the mound slow. Even chomps on his Big League Chew slow. I’m getting anxious again, on high alert, scared to let my team down by screwing up. My stomach’s in knots, but it’s not clear if it’s because of how close we are to winning this game or how close I am to going away to camp.

I stand ready, waiting for Bobby to pitch the ball, then watch the batter swing and miss. And again. Foul ball. Then my mind goes back to Camp Judah and to Brother Doug with the ice blue eyes, the gorgeous lifeguard who I’ve been practically in love with since I was seven years old.

At Camp Judah, we always address the counselors and other people who work there as “Brother” and “Sister.”

“Why do we call all the counselors Brother and Sister?” I asked Brother Doug a few years ago, as I helped him carry some life jackets back to his storage shed.

“Because here at Camp Judah, we are all family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ and all of us are God’s children,” he answered with a wink.

When I saw Brother Doug for the first time, my camp group (the Lions for Jesus!) was coming out of the lake because our allotted time for swimming was up for the afternoon. A tall, fit, tan man stood at the foot of the water wearing swim trunks that matched the color of his eyes. He counted us as we came out and directed us where to stand to meet our counselor.

I was the last one out of the water, of course. I was always the last one out. I never wanted to leave the cool lake water because the sand was always hot on my bare feet. Some of the kids had flip-flops to put on, but I didn’t.

As I walked up the wet sand from the water, Brother Doug said to me, “Hey Shorty, I like your chubby cheeks.” I looked up at him, the sun blaring down on his almost-white, blond hair. He looked back down at me with squinted eyes, expanded his cheeks with air, and put his fingers on both sides to pop them. Then he smiled. “Those things are so big you should be able to pop them like that.”

He became my favorite person right away.

“I’m Brother Doug. What’s your name?”

“Scout,” I said.

He laughed. “Really? That was my dog’s name when I was boy!”

Heard it before. Someone always had or knew a dog named Scout. Never a cat, though, I noticed.

I’ve learned to become proud of my name over time. I’m named after the main character in one of the most beloved books in American fiction — from my mom’s favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird. And since my mom was a reading teacher at Haddleboro Elementary School, she knew something about books.

So Scout, the little girl in the famous novel, is my namesake. Really, her name was Jean Louise and Scout was just her nickname. But my name-name is Scout. Scout Elizabeth. Elizabeth for my grandmother.

After reading the book when I was eleven years old, I was at ease with my unconventional name. I liked the name Scout and, the truth is, there were too many Jennifers and Lisas and Michelles anyway. Scout was a different kind of name and I was a different kind of girl. My friend Jenny (see?), who is a year older, told me that in ninth grade English, her class read To Kill a Mockingbird and everyone was talking about me and my name.

But since I was only seven when I met Brother Doug, and I didn’t fully understand the significance of my name, I felt a little uncomfortable about it being so unique. Because I didn’t want to make this Brother Doug person laugh at me, I just asked him if he missed his dog, Scout.

He grinned and said, “Sure I miss him. He was a great dog. The best one I ever had.”

I think Brother Doug noticed my uneasiness, so he got down to my level. He peered into my eyes, still grinning, and put his hand on my shoulder. He continued to squint from the bright sunny afternoon. His unusually light blue eyes were no doubt affected by the sunlight more than other peoples’ eyes. “Hey, I will give you a special name, just between me and you, okay?”

I nodded, wondering what in the world he was going to call me.

“I will call you Squirrel-Girl because you got the fattest, cutest cheeks I’ve seen at camp this whole summer — just like a squirrel hiding acorns in them.”

He waited for my reaction and I could tell that he was trying to make me feel comfortable with him. It worked. He had my complete trust at that moment and for the next seven summers.

Smiling back at him, I said, “Okay, Brother Doug.”

As I started to walk away toward the other campers, I stopped and turned to him, inflated my cheeks, and popped them like he did earlier. That one gesture became our special greeting every summer.

Now, I couldn’t wait to pop my cheeks at him on Sunday. No matter how much time had passed since I met him as a little girl, I was still his Squirrel-Girl and we always popped our cheeks at each other. I hoped he would be back again this summer because I hadn’t heard from him in a long time.

While waiting for Bobby to move along with his pitches, I started thinking of how scared I am that Jesus and the Rapture might come tonight as I lay sweating in my bed. I pictured myself hearing those “Trumpets of the Lord” and then getting raptured up with all the other Christians. Then I’d have to miss out on going to camp. I think I would demand that Jesus let me go back so I could go to Camp Judah — but then I realized that all the people at camp would be raptured, too, so it would be a waste of an argument with the Son of God.

I said a quick prayer as we all watched Bobby taking his sweet time on the mound, “Jesus, please please please don’t come again until after camp is over.” I often said this kind of prayer on Christmas Eve, on the eve of the first day of school, and on the eve of Halloween.

The boy up at bat strikes out and the game is finally over. I’m relieved. My mind is too cluttered today for this game. I’m too excited, too jumpy, and too anxious for everything. Especially Camp Judah and Brother Doug.

Really, for Brother Doug.

I jog in from the outfield and my team’s coach, Mr. Faulkner, who’s also Bobby’s dad, congratulates us on doing a great job.

“We have four more games this summer,” he said. “We are undefeated, boys,” he stopped and looked at me, “and Scout,” he added with a wink. “Not bad for a team full of scrappy kids just out of junior high.” He looked around and continued, “We need to practice on Sunday and Monday, so don’t miss. We can go far with this group. I just know it!”

Mr. Faulkner sounded pretty excited and he never sounds excited.

When everyone dispersed, he came over to me and said, “I’m sorry you’re going away to camp, Scout. We need you.”

I was glad he said that, but humbly replied, “There are lots of boys on the bench who can play just as good as me. I hate to miss so much, but if we win the rest of the games, I’ll be back in time for regionals.”

To be honest though, if Brother Doug wasn’t at camp anymore, I would have considered missing my final summer at Camp Judah to play baseball instead. I’m kind of over all the Bible verse competitions, the devotionals every morning, and the constant segregation of boys and girls in the teenager groups.

Last summer, this boy named Carlo from Philadelphia liked me and tried to kiss me. He was a nice boy, but I didn’t want him to kiss me because I’d never want Brother Doug to hear about it. It really wasn’t a big deal, though.

“Scout, I think you’re pretty,” Carlo said to me. “Can I kiss you? Just one time so I can remember you?”

I was flattered because Kelly was the prettiest girl at Camp Judah that summer — and probably every summer. All the boys wanted to kiss her. But Carlo liked me instead.

“I don’t think so, Carlo. I don’t want to get in trouble,” I told him.

Well, some girl named Pepper, who nobody liked, went and told a counselor about what Carlo said to me. Poor Carlo got in all kinds of trouble. His parents were called and he missed a whole day of activities. They probably would’ve sent him home if it wasn’t so far away. So some of the camp rules are starting to annoy me.

But Brother Doug is there. At least, I hope he is. I think he is. He has to be! And I know he misses me. He has told me so in his letters.

Mr. Faulkner told me before the season started that I’m lucky I can play baseball at all. He had to do some convincing with the people in charge of the county because there were no other girls playing this level of baseball anywhere in the state. Since there wasn’t a summer softball league for girls, and I was just as good as the boys, they decided to let me play.

Usually by this age, girls and boys go their separate ways in sports. Girls chase softballs or chase dreams of being on some stage or just chase boys. Once I overhead someone’s dad say, “Teenaged girls are chasin’ either one set of balls or another.” I didn’t think it was funny, but the other dads sure did.

I played softball in the spring with the county league last year, but it was boring and everyone stunk except for some girls from another town called Black Hill. I couldn’t stand the fact that most of them actually did throw like girls and I hated the bigger-sized ball. So instead of doing that again, I got permission from the principal to play boys’ baseball for the school team. Since they didn’t have a softball team for the girls, he told me that the baseball coach agreed to let me try out. Well, I made the team and had so much fun playing with the boys and Charlie all the time.

Next year, I could only try out for the girls’ high school softball team and not the boys’ baseball team. I was warned about that. “The girls in high school will be much better players. Some of those girls from Black Hill go to Haddleboro High,” Charlie had promised me.

“I hope you’re right,” I said, unconvinced. But really, I was sad that I would not be playing with Charlie.

The thought of going into high school both excited and terrified me. I was excited to be able to experience new things and meet new people. But the thought of not being with Charlie all the time was scary. We were a pair. I didn’t want things between us to change too much.

“Listen, you can’t worry about stuff like that,” Charlie told me last week, while we were walking into town for an ice cream. “Nothin’s gonna change. I promise.”

“I don’t know Charlie. It’s so much bigger there and maybe you’ll meet people you like better than me,” I said, feeling really stupid and insecure, especially because of how much attention he had been paying lately to a girl named Katie Smith.

He stopped me on the side of the road and made me face him. “Scout. Stop it. You’re my best friend. It will all be just fine.” Then he put his hand on my head like I was a puppy. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

I felt a little better about it all after he said that.

After Mr. Faulkner let us go, Charlie and I hopped on our Schwinn banana-seat bikes and pedaled off to his house, which was just three blocks away from the town baseball field. His uniform was covered in dirt from one messy slide into third base. I only managed a grass stain on my knee this game. I hoped I could get it out in the laundry. I hated a dirty uniform for the start of a game.

********

Dear SG,                                                                                                          September 12, 1982

I was so happy to get your letter. It made my day. I was having a tough day at school because one of the younger kids got hurt in a game we were playing and he may have broken his foot. I felt really bad about it, so your letter cheered me up a lot. It sounds like you are doing good. I know it was hard for summer to end, but you should enjoy your last year in junior high because it will go fast. Before you know it, we will be racing down the water slides again.

You asked me if it was OK if you wrote to me. Of course it is! I love getting letters from my campers.

Well, I am going to close for now. I hope you have a great school year. Keep in touch!

Your friend,

Brother Doug

********

 

What inspired you to write your Scout’s Honor?

Like I said above, I was inspired to write Scout’s Honor when I read an anonymous letter to an advice columnist from a young teenaged girl who had been taken advantage of by a much older married man in a position of trust. I often wondered what happened to that girl and how that entire situation affected the rest of her life.

What’s your favorite thing about Scout’s Honor?

My favorite thing about Scout’s Honor is that I tried to be fair to men. In fact, it was my goal. It’s easy to cast people as villains and heroes, when really, villains are usually just people who are hurting and not dealing with it like a mature adult. It is difficult to write from a man’s perspective when you are not a man, so I made it my mission to be fair in how Rob’s, specifically, internal struggles and failures were portrayed. I wanted to be fair to the character because he was worth a second chance and he was worth redeeming. He was a good person who lost his way for a while. Personal failures happen to almost everyone at some point, men and women alike. The difference between Rob and other men and women in these situations is that he owned up to it and did everything he could to make it right. But what he didn’t realize in the moment, was that while he was repairing his own life and relationship with his wife, he seriously altered the course of a very young woman’s life. These are the unintended consequences of redemption.

Before you go, is there anything else you would like to share with us? 

Yes! The proceeds from the sales of my book, Scout’s Honor, go toward a fund I established in my husband’s memory. The Eric DeJong Memorial Fund at the Gary Sinise Foundation supports the RISE Program. This money goes toward building smart homes for severely disabled veterans. My husband was a United States Military Academy graduate and he served his country honorably in the US Army. I am proud to associate his good name and memory with this worthwhile grassroots charity. I am more than half way to my fundraising goal for 2017.

About Dori Ann Dupré: 

Dori was born and raised in New Jersey. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in History and is a veteran of the United States Army. She is the author of the two-time international award winning debut southern novel, Scout’s Honor, and several published short stories and poetry. Her second novel, Good Buddy, is expected to be released in 2018. Proceeds from her writing go toward charitable efforts in memory of her husband. Dori works in the legal field and resides with her two daughters and dachshunds in North Carolina.

Author Links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Google+
YouTube | Pinterest | Instagram | | Goodreads  

About Scout’s Honor:

2016 Bronze Medalist – Southern Fiction, Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards
2017 Finalist – Eric Hoffer Book Awards


Book Summary:

In Haddleboro, North Carolina, Scout Webb is a 14 year old kind and spirited small town southern girl and a tomboy much like her namesake, the young narrator from her mother’s favorite book. With both her name and her Christian faith deeply woven into the fabric of her identity, Scout always felt like she had a lot to live up to and was the kind of girl who made her parents proud.

It’s August 1983, and Scout is playing on a summer baseball team with Charlie Porter, her best friend since Kindergarten. More than anything,  she is looking forward to her last few weeks at Camp Judah, a Christian camp near the Catawba River. She can’t wait to see her big crush “Brother Doug,” the thirty-two year old camp lifeguard who has watched her grow up each summer since she was seven years old. But after a fateful few days and one catastrophic event during her last day at the camp, Scout was changed forever.

Written through multiple narrators over the course of twenty years, this story follows Scout’s personal struggles as a freshman away at college in Raleigh and later as an overworked single mother approaching middle age, where she is forced to confront the causes of her own quiet suffering, the consequences of her actions and why even the eternal love and devotion of just one true friend can’t save her.

A story of a self, lost…a self, loathed…and a self, rediscovered…it examines the harsh and cruel ways in which otherwise well-intentioned and decent people treat each other…even those they claim to love, but even more so…ultimately, how we treat our own selves.

Scout’s Honor is for sale at all major online book retailers:

Pen Name Publishing | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Books-a-Million | Kobo Books | Indiebound | Smashwords

The Heart of a Texas Cowboy: Author Interview

THE HEART OF A

TEXAS COWBOY

Men of Legend, Book 2

By LINDA BRODAY

  Genre: Western / Historical / Romance

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Date of Publication: May 2, 2017

Number of Pages: 384

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Three Brothers. One Oath.

No Compromises.

The MEN of LEGEND

One bullet is all it takes to shatter Houston Legend’s world. He swore he’d never love again, but with the future of the Lone Star Ranch on the line, he finds himself at the altar promising to love and cherish a woman he’s never met—a woman whose vulnerable beauty touches his heart.

All Lara Boone wants is a name for her baby. The best she can hope for is kindness and acceptance. She never expected to fall in love with her own husband—or any man—after the heartache she’s endured.

In an effort to save the Lone Star Ranch, Houston decides to drive two thousand longhorns up the Great Western Trail to Dodge City. The day before he leaves, the cook quits. When he can’t find another on such short notice, Lara offers to go along and fill in. Over his best judgement, he lets her. Three days out, he notices riders trailing them. Things go from bad to worse and it’s an all-out fight to try to save themselves and the herd.

And when Lara’s troubled past catches up with them, Houston will move heaven and earth to protect his bride…and discover depths to a marriage of convenience neither realized could be theirs to claim.

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Praise for The Heart of a Texas Cowboy:

“Broday brilliantly captures Lara and Houston’s hesitations and growing love. The exciting plot, rich setting, and superb writing will delight fans of historical romances.” ~~Publisher’s Weekly *Starred Review

“This compassionate, poignant marriage-of-convenience love story demonstrates Broday’s ability to bring a wide range of emotions to her characters in a fast-paced plotline without losing a bit of the powerful love story. Add this to your Western romance collection!” ~~Romantic Times

“Ms. Broday’s conclusion of this phenomenal book is heart gripping, blood pounding drama at its finest. This one will keep readers revisiting again and again in years to come.” ~~ Tonya Lucas- Goodreads Review

“One of the best historical Western authors.” ~~ Fresh Fiction

“Broday will appeal to fans of such authors as Georgina Gentry, Leigh Greenwood, and Jodi Thomas.” ~~Booklist

Author Interview : Linda Broday

How has being a Texan influenced your writing?
Someone told me early on to write what I know. I know Texas. I know the plants, trees, landscape and more importantly—how we think. Texans are unique. Most scoff and say we’re nothing but braggers who talk big and carry a pistol on our hip. I beg to differ. We’re proud of our history. We know where we came from and we don’t mind sharing it. We’re all descendants of Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, William Travis, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett—all those early men who fought for the right to live free and independent. Texans carry the torch for the rest of the world in a lot of ways which isn’t a bad thing. I love our people’s determination to survive and make things better for everyone. Those are the characters in my books. They have this pride and determination embedded deep in their souls. My characters are these early settlers who paved the way for us. They don’t give up. They work until they achieve their goals.

I love Texas and I’m so proud to live here. In what other state do people proudly display their state flag and hang symbols of it on their walls? I have reminders of Texas all over my house. I want my stories to have people with the same type of pride, to know who they are, where they belong, and what matters most.

What kind of writing do you do?
I write historical western romance. When I first started writing, I didn’t know where I fit. I tried various genres but they just didn’t feel right. Then I read several western romances and suddenly everything clicked. I immediately felt at home. And I’ve lived around cowboys most of my life, so it simply made sense to write about them.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I’m a full-time writer, and I approach it as a job. Most mornings, you’ll find me at my desk by 9:00 am. I stop for lunch, then write until around 6:00 pm. And that’s six days a week. I find that keeping that constant connection with my characters and story makes for a top-quality book, and that’s what I always strive for. Also, staying at it allows me to publish two 100k novels a year. I couldn’t do that if I was a part-time writer.

What is your favorite quote?
“Never compare yourself to other writers. Someone will always be better than you, and you’ll always be better than someone else.” Jodi Thomas

I’ve found this to always be true. It’s a waste of time and energy comparing yourself to others. Just be you and worry about how to make your books better. Saves a lot of angst.

How important are names to you in your books? How do you choose names?
Names are so important to me, and I can never begin a story until I have the main character’s name right. In this second book of my Men of Legend series – The Heart of a Texas Cowboy – the protagonist is Houston Legend. I named him and his brother Sam after Sam Houston. And I named the brother who died Travis. Their father fought in the Texas War for Independence, and he idolized those larger-than-life leaders, so it simply made sense.

I always give my characters names that were used during the time period I’m writing in, but I also keep in mind their ancestry as well as nationality. My #1 book to go to when I can’t think of a good one is The Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilynn Kenyon. It’s an excellent Writer’s Digest publication.

A name has to fit the character’s personality in addition to everything else. Often it pops into my head with no thought, and other times I may go through a dozen or more before I decide.

If you could time travel, what time period would you first visit?
I think that would have to be Texas in the 1830s. That was such an interesting time. The fight for independence was going on and the country was changing. I’d love to have met Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, William Travis and other notable figures. And it was when the Texas Rangers was beginning to get organized. I’d like to have seen that.

After I visited there, I would go to 1700s Ireland, which is where my ancestors lived.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Cloning myself, most definitely. In this business, writers have to wear such an assortment of hats and are often stretched beyond what is humanly possible. If I could clone myself, I’d put one of me to work doing nothing but social media. Another would answer these darn emails that I never seem to have time for. And another would run errands—grocery shop, go to the post office, etc. Then I’d do nothing but write, which is the part I love. That would be pure heaven.

What’s something interesting, fun, or funny that most people don’t know about you?
I believe in ghosts. Maybe that’s because I’ve seen quite a few. I don’t necessarily seek them out but neither do I shy away from where a ghostly presence is suspected to be. None have frightened me—so far. In fact, I got the feeling they were as curious about me as I was about them. Some ghosts have actually comforted me, and that was pretty darn cool.

Also, I know this sounds silly but…I can’t stand for a plastic shower curtain to touch my bare legs. I simply hate it. I tell myself that’s illogical but I just can’t stand the feeling. For one thing, it’s usually ice cold (and feels like bony fingers) and it just gives me the heebie-jeebies. So when I travel and stay in hotels, I often put the curtain on the outside of the tub then mop up the water once I’m done. What can I say? I’m weird.

What would you want your tombstone to say?
She wrote stories that speak to the soul and made the world a better place.

Linda Broday, Historical Western Romance Author

I’m a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 8 full length historical western romance novels, with another set to release 2017, and 10 short stories. Watching TV westerns during my youth fed my love of cowboys and the old West and they still do. I reside in the Texas Panhandle on land the American Indian and Comancheros once roamed.

At times, I can feel their ghosts lurking around every corner. Texas’ rich history is one reason I set all my stories here. I love research and looking for little known tidbits to add realism to my stories. When I’m not writing, I collect old coins and I confess to being a rock hound. I’ve been accused (and quite unfairly I might add) of making a nuisance of myself at museums, libraries, and historical places.

I’m also a movie buff and love sitting in a dark theater, watching the magic on the screen. As long as I’m confessing…chocolate is my best friend. It just soothes my soul.

 

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Bending Angels: Character Interview

BENDING ANGELS

Living Messengers of God’s Love

By Jack H. Emmott

Genre: Memoir / Inspirational / Faith

Publisher: Carpenter's Son Publishing

Date of Publication: January 1, 2017

Number of Pages: 176

Struck by polio at age six, Jack H. Emmott began learning the difficult spiritual lessons embodied in paralysis, shivering loneliness, and dark despair.

Fortunately, Jack had help― people of all ages he calls his “Bending Angels,” those who have spread their wings of love and inspiration to walk the journey of faith as the devastated little boy became one of Houston’s celebrated attorneys, a loyal husband, and a devoted dad. Each chapter of this book will relate the story of a Bending Angel―from Brownie, the pup, to Mr. Ochoa, the baseball coach who understood how much of a heart it takes to win and how much of a soul it takes to lose your most precious dream. This book will inspire and uplift you as Jack H. Emmott, a life-long Christian, shares his spiritual wisdom and lessons learned.

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PRAISE FOR BENDING ANGELS:

“The power of ‘Let go and let God’ is personified in this inspiring story. Also, that we are given guidance in the most unsuspected forms when we but look, and that a flood of grace is behind every surrender. What a joy.”

— Lindsay Wagneractress, author

“With gentle humor and no small amount of faith, Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love tells the story of Jack Emmott’s life and of the angels who have appeared in his life, just when he needed them the most. 

Do I believe in angels? Absolutely.

Was Jack himself an angel to me during the darkest period of my life?  Absolutely.”

— Debbie AdamsPast President, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Houston/Galveston;

Chair, Advisory Council UTHealth School

of NursingTrustee, St. Edward’s University

“Bending Angel is a beautiful inspiring book about faith and prayer and the angels that surround us. Jack shared his life journey of trusting in God and drawing strength that was needed to help him. I learned a great deal from this book and have thought about it over and over again since I read it.” 

— Amazon reviewer

“If only I could get through a chapter without crying…very moving and touching stories.”

— Amazon reviewer

PURCHASE LINKS

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* * *

Author Jack Emmott Interviews Donk, His Four-Hoofed Angel

One afternoon as I rolled my wheelchair on the shell road under the canopy of the live oak trees my grandfather, PawPaw, planted in 1930, I ended up sitting in my wheelchair next to an old cottonwood tree. This was the same tree where Old Donk was buried years ago. Old Donk’s cross was the tree trunk pointing to the sky. Its horizontal branches extended out on all sides just as wide as the mark her life left in my childhood.

I thought that was a good time to say a prayer to thank God for Old Donk. “Dear God, thank You for my four-hoofed Bending Angel. Through her, You taught me so many lessons about human nature, the importance of nurture and Your love. Amen.”

As I ended the prayer, I opened my eyes.  In disbelief, I saw and heard an angelic spirit. “Hello, Bubba. How’ve you been?”

In reply, I said, “Old Donk, is that really you?”

“Yes,” Old Donk replied.

Astonished, I said, “Old Donk, seeing you is unbelievable.”

Old Donk said, “Well, Bubba, God does a lot of unbelievable things.”

“You called me Bubba.  I’ve not heard that in years.”

Old Donk said, “I know you go by Jack now. But, Bubba’s how I think of you as my little cowboy.”

I asked, “Where’ve you been?”

Old Donk answered with certainty, “I’ve been at the Lord’s Table.”

With relief, I said, “I always wondered whether God gave heavenly wings to all His creatures great and small.”

Old Donk stated with confidence, “Bubba, now you know that God loves all His creatures. Each and every kind of creature on His Earth has a special place in His Kingdom. That’s one of the messages God wants me to give you today.”

I asked, “Is that why God sent you to me in prayer today?   To give me messages?   I’ve always believed that’s one of the main purposes God has for angels.”

Old Donk said, “You’re absolutely right.”

‘What other messages do you have for me?” I asked.

“God wants everyone to ask for forgiveness of wrongs.  I need to apologize to you for dumping you off my saddle when you were four years old. That wasn’t very nice of me. You could’ve really gotten hurt badly. When I got to Heaven, I had some serious explaining to do to God. I told God that it was just my nature not to be ridden: that I didn’t like anyone riding my back. God said that sometimes creatures have to overcome their natures to do what they want and think about other people. When we do that, we please God.”

“Did God forgive you?” I asked.

“Yes. I asked for God’s forgiveness and I was forgiven. Forgiveness is something God does very well. Forgiveness helps. But, when you got polio and couldn’t ride me anymore, that made me feel even worse. God helped me deal with that too.”

“Old Donk, can I ask you a personal question?  When you threw me off the saddle you ran to the barn. Why did you always race back to the barn after you received your daily bread from the kitchens of my aunts in the neighborhood or when you threw someone off the saddle?”

“Well, Bubba you’re the first person to ask that question of me. I thought no one cared.  When my prior owner gave up on me being useful to him on his farm, PawPaw, took me in.  Soon after I came to Emmottville, I unexpectedly gave birth to two little donkeys.   I named them Softy and Sweetie after the bread I ate in the neighborhood.  Like your mom loved you, I loved my babies. One day I left them alone in the barn to go beg for bread. When I returned, my babies were gone.   I was devastated.”

“What did you do?” I asked.

Old Donk said, “Just as you prayed to God to be cured from polio, I prayed to God to bring back to me my babies, Softy and Sweetie.  Right after they disappeared, I repeatedly raced back to the barn as fast as I could to see if my babies were there.  I guess doing that became kind of a habit.”

I said, “But you never get them back.”

With tears in her eyes, Old Donk said, “Sadly, never in Emmottville.   But guess what.  My prayers really were answered in God’s time, not mine.  My babies were there to greet me at the Gates of Heaven. Now we eat at the same Table with God.  Another of God’s messages for you today is that in His time, all your prayers will be answered too. Your prayers for a cure will be answered. In Heaven, you will be as perfect, healthy and whole as the day you were born and held in your mother’s arms.”

“What a blessing!” I said in reply.

Old Donk proclaimed, “What you lost with polio is like what I lost with my two babies. In God’s time, all wrongs are righted. All losses are restored.”

As Old Donk realized the end of her time with me was near, she said, “Before I go, I want to tell you that I see your mom in Heaven. She had two messages for me to give to you.”

“First, she knows of your regret that when she was ill you could not bathe, clean, feed or clothe her like she did for you for after polio. She said for you not to worry about that. You did all you could. That is all that God expects from His children. Sitting next to her, being with her, and praying with her was pleasing to her and to God. As there was less and less of her due to repeated strokes, there was more and more of you. In your presence, there was more and more of God’s light and love in her ever-increasing darkness and despair.”

“The second message is that she loves you and wants you to keep writing about angels. People need to know that angels really exist.”

“Well, Bubba, I must go now. I hear my Father calling me back to His Table. Before I go, I want you to know that although I thought the bread I ate at your mother’s kitchen door was tasty, the bread at the Lord’s Table is truly Divine and Heavenly.”

“Goodbye, my little cowboy. See you one day at our Father’s Table.”

Author Jack H. Emmott contracted polio at the age of six.  Before polio, he knelt at his bedside with his mother Lucile and said evening prayers.  With paralysis, Jack could no longer kneel.  But he could still pray to God for guidance, comfort and healing.  The grace and love of God transformed all the bad from polio and paralysis into good.  Jack is a life-long Christian and successful family lawyer in Houston, Texas.  He is married to his wife of over forty years, Dorothy, who works alongside him in his calling.  Jack is father to two children and grandfather to three grandchildren.

Jack is the author of Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love by (Carpenter’s Son Publishing, 2016) a memoir of the living angels that touched his life.  He wrote Prayerful Passages:  Asking God’s Help in Reconciliation, Separation and Divorce (Outskirts Press, 2016) to help couples in struggling marriages ask God’s help through prayer for the same guidance, comfort and healing he has received from our Almighty Father for over sixty years following polio.

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5-May  Radio Interview Missus Gonzo

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9-May  Author Interview My Book Fix Blog

11-May Review Reading By Moonlight

12-May Guest Post Books and Broomsticks

13-May Sneak Peek Syd Savvy

14-May Review Forgotten Winds

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The Big Inch Author Interview

THE BIG INCH

By KIMBERLY FISH

  Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII

Date of Publication: January 19, 2017

Number of Pages: 344

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Kimberly Fish’s debut novel, The Big Inch, was released in February, 2017 and it reveals the lengths to which Texas oilmen, state, and federal governments would go to get Texas crude oil to the troops fighting their first mechanized war. With Nazi threats (and a steady stream of oil tankers sunk by German submarines) speed was necessary, as was OSS intelligence. The Office of Strategic Services was often staffed with female spies and Longview’s World War II efforts were critical for success. 

Lane Mercer, sent to Longview, Texas in July 1942, is part of a select group of women working undercover for the fledgling federal agency, the Office of Strategic Services. Assigned to protect the man carrying out President Roosevelt’s initiative to build the nation’s first overland pipeline to hurry East Texas crude to the troops, she discovers there’s more to Longview than the dossiers implied. There’s intrigue, mayhem, and danger. Shamed from a botched OSS mission in France, Lane struggles to fulfill her mission and keep from drowning in guilt. Getting involved in local life is out of the question. Between family, do-gooders, and Nazi threats, she’s knitted into a series of events that unravel all of her carefully constructed, plans, realizing that sometimes the life one has to save, is one’s own.

 ***

PRAISE FOR THE BIG INCH:

“With an eye for detail, Kimberly Fish weaves a compelling story of a war widow who finds herself in Longview, Texas in 1942. Reading Kimberly’s novel was a bit like going back to a cloak and dagger time, and I enjoyed the local references. Longview was an amazing place to be during WWII.”   — Van Craddock, Longview News Journal, Columnist

“Kimberly Fish’s unique writing style snatched me out of my easy chair and plunked me down into the middle of her character’s life where I was loathe to leave when my real life called me back. Her descriptive visual writing drew me in on the first page. Can’t wait to read more stories by Mrs. Fish.” — Vickie Phelps  Author of Moved, Left No Address

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Author Interview with Kimberly Fish

What does your perfect writing spot look like? Is that what your ACTUAL writing spot looks like? I have an imperfect writing spot in an upstairs office in our home that I share with my husband (that’s not why it’s imperfect, really,) but its best qualities are proximity to the Internet router and my pantry—which I can raid without judgement. I also like to pack up my computer and drive to our cottage at Lake Cherokee and write there because it has no Internet router and an empty pantry—really better in the long run.

Do you have any strange writing habits or writing rituals you’d like to share with your readers? The process of writing is strange to anyone who doesn’t like to do it, because it involves a lot of staring into space. I have no special traditions beyond the usual obstacles to making myself sit down in a chair, put my fingers on a keyboard, ignore social media, the phone, laundry, possibly dinner, and write.

What book do you wish you could have written? Oh, without a doubt, the Mitford series, by Jan Karon. Or anything by Lauren Willig. Or Pam Jenoff. Or Mary Kay Andrews. Or . . ..

Is there any person you credit for being your inspiration for reading and/or writing? Jan Karon, she showed me that a writer could weave in a whole mixed bag of quirky people, tears, laughter, hope, faith, redemption, animals, art, and betrayal and still have an entertaining series that made sense and that readers would buy.

Who would you cast to play your characters in a movie version of your book? I do tape photographs of celebrities on my inspiration board to help me hear their voice and remember the character’s physical traits, but whether or not Matthew McConaughey or George Clooney would appear in my movie is up to their agents. Unless I stalked them, which, let’s be honest, wouldn’t really help my cause.

How important are names to you in your books? How do you choose names? I spent some time playing with names that I felt suited the people who’d be walking the path I set out for them. I enjoyed going back several generations to dust off names that are no longer in vogue.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it? I don’t read a lot of science fiction or things related to the occult, so I’d probably not write about that. Or vampires.

What do you like to read in your free time? I read books my friends have written, biographies, historical fiction, romance novels, cozy mysteries, travel blogs, newspapers of all persuasions, philosophy, magazines, and cookbooks.

If you were a superhero, what would your name be? What costume would you wear? I’d probably be the one to go obscure but with wings that I had to keep hidden under a coat. I like doing a good deed and then getting out of the way before it’s noticed.

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before? Australia

If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be? Tell us why. Panda Bear, because seriously, who doesn’t think they’re adorable?

Do you have a mantra for writing and/or for life?  Be kind.

What do you want your tombstone to say? She loved her life.

 

Kimberly Fish started writing professionally with the birth of her second child and the purchase of a home computer. Having found this dubious outlet, she then entered and won a Texas manuscript contest which fed her on-going fascination with story crafting. She has since published in magazines, newspapers, and online formats, She lives with her family in East Texas.

Author Links

Pinterest | Twitter | Website | Instagram | Amazon Author Page

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3/8 Review Hall Ways Blog
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3/13 Character Interview CGB Blog Tours
3/14 Review Syd Savvy
3/15 Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog
3/16 Author Interview Forgotten Winds
3/17 Review Books in the Garden
3/18 Playlist My Book Fix Blog
3/19 Promo Margie’s Must Reads
3/20 Review StoreyBook Reviews
3/21 Author Interview The Page Unbound
3/22 Review Missus Gonzo

 


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Bulletins From Dallas

BULLETINS FROM DALLAS

Reporting the JFK Assassination

By BILL SANDERSON

 Genre: Biography / Journalism

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Date of Publication: November 1, 2016

Number of Pages: 280

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Thanks to one reporter’s skill, we can fix the exact moment on November 22, 1963 when the world stopped and held its breath: At 12:34 p.m. Central Time, UPI White House reporter Merriman Smith broke the news that shots had been fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade. Most people think Walter Cronkite was the first to tell America about the assassination. But when Cronkite broke the news on TV, he read from one of Smith’s dispatches. At Parkland Hospital, Smith saw President Kennedy’s blood-soaked body in the back of his limousine before the emergency room attendants arrived. Two hours later, he was one of three journalists to witness President Johnson’s swearing-in aboard Air Force One. Smith rightly won a Pulitzer Prize for the vivid story he wrote for the next day’s morning newspapers.

Smith’s scoop is journalism legend. But the full story of how he pulled off the most amazing reportorial coup has never been told. As the top White House reporter of his time, Smith was a bona fide celebrity and even a regular on late-night TV. But he has never been the subject of a biography.

With access to a trove of Smith’s personal letters and papers and through interviews with Smith’s family and colleagues, veteran news reporter Bill Sanderson will crack open the legend. Bulletins from Dallas tells for the first time how Smith beat his competition on the story, and shows how the biggest scoop of his career foreshadowed his personal downfall.

***

PRAISE FOR BULLETINS FROM DALLAS:

“So much of what we know about any story depends on how reporters do their work. Bill Sanderson takes us through every heartbreaking minute of one of the biggest stories of our lifetime, with sharp detail and powerful observations. As you read the book, you’ll feel all the pressure and adrenaline rush of a reporter on deadline.” —Neal Shapiro, former president of NBC News, current president of WNET

“The life and work of a noted White House reporter…. Focusing on [Merriman] Smith’s reporting of the Kennedy assassination, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize, Sanderson conveys the tension and confusion after the event, as Smith and other newsmen scrambled to ascertain facts.” —Kirkus Reviews

“To read Bulletins from Dallas is to touch the fabric of history, through Sanderson’s artful weave of many voices, from presidents across the decades to the last words uttered by J.F.K. Swept back through the corridors of time, we hear the urgent bells and clatter of the teletype machine: Merriman Smith’s first report to the world, ‘Three shots fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade today in Downtown Dallas.’ This compelling narrative takes us to that moment when our whole nation cried, and, even now, to tears of primal sympathy that never seem to end.” —Allen Childs, author of We Were There: Revelations from the Dallas Doctors Who Attended to JFK on November 22, 1963

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NY1 “Inside City Hall”Interview:

Errol Louis interviews Bulletins from Dallas author Bill Sanderson on NY1, New York City’s premier cable news channel.

“58 Washington reporters on the trip – one mobile telephone” fist fight.

Bill Sanderson spent almost two decades as a reporter and editor at the New York Post. His work has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Observer, and the Washington Post. Sanderson lives in New York City.

Connect with Bill:

Facebook

Twitter

Website

  

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2/21 Scrapbook Page StoreyBook Reviews
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2/23 Author Interview Texas Book Lover
2/24 Book Trailer Forgotten Winds
2/25 Review Kara The Redhead
2/26 Video Interview The Page Unbound
2/27 Review Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books
2/28 Guest Post Byers Editing Reviews & Blog
3/1 Excerpt Books and Broomsticks
3/2 Review Reading By Moonlight


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Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book Party

Welcome to the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book Party!

Welcome to the genreCRAVE Science Fiction and Fantasy $1200 Giveaway! We have something really exciting set up for you. First, some KILLER Science Fiction and Fantasy books at a steal, and after that, a chance to enter our $1200 Gift Card Giveaway! Read on for more information, but first, check out the books from our sponsors at the link below!

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Here are a couple of sneak peeks!

Ambassador 1: Seeing Red
I had never been on first-name terms with the president, but while I sat there trying hard not to succumb to jet-lag, he chatted about my father, whom I had just visited, and who had finally retired from Lunar Base to his native New Zealand. Sirkonen opened the drawer of his desk and took something out, which he flipped across the gleaming wooden surface. I could do nothing but catch it. A datastick. I turned it over. The black plastic cover reflected the sunlight.

“What’s on it?”

“You might find it useful. Think of it as some . . . personal advice, from me to you. We’ll talk about it later, when you return for your first briefing.” He shut the drawer with a thud as if closing the subject.

This was highly irregular. “Mr President, can I ask—”

He shook his head, and offered me a drink—Finnish vodka, best in the world, he said. While he poured, his hands trembled.

I should have insisted that he tell me what was wrong, but who was I? An unimportant, sending-out-our-feelers type of diplomat, expendable and twenty years his junior. Not the type of person to draw attention to his problems—with alcohol or otherwise.

We made a toast. The heavy scent of the vodka did nothing to improve my alertness.

“Mr Wilson, when you come back in six month’s time, you must present your report to the general assembly. We need to know in detail what sort of regimes we’re dealing with.”

I didn’t understand why he spoke in such empty generalities; I wondered when he was going to open that folder on his desk and sign the contract. Nicha, my Coldi assistant, was waiting in the foyer. We had a whole heap of work to catch up on. I was annoyed that Sirkonen had changed our meeting time at the last minute—the original meeting had been scheduled for tomorrow morning.

Sirkonen stopped speaking.

I stared at him, realising with embarrassment that I’d been off with the fairies. Was I meant to have said something? Was I breaking rule number one of the diplomatic circle: never show any sign of sleep deprivation?

An attack of dizziness overtook me. My vision wavered, as if the world were painted on a silk flag that flapped in the wind, and all the furniture was rimmed in a red aura. “Mr President, I’m—”

I just managed to put my vodka down. The glass hit the wood with a soft clunk, the only sound in the frozen silence.

There was a small sound from outside, a click.

As if stung, Sirkonen turned to the window; his eyes widened.

“Sir?”

The president opened his mouth, but a sharp crack interrupted his words.

Releasing Rage
She stepped into the firewall square. The door behind her closed and she authorized the interior door to open.

A buzz swept over her. No, not simply over her. Into her. She gasped, her inhalation of air drawing more of this unknown presence inside her.

It was too much, almost suffocating. Joan swayed, lightheaded. “Do not faint. Do not faint,” she repeated to herself, closing her eyes.

The rolling under her feet gradually stopped. She opened her eyes and wished she hadn’t. Crimson spray covered everywhere she looked. Gore was splattered into the farthest corners, hanging from the ceiling. Cleaner bots scrubbed the walls and floor.

This was why she felt dizzy, she reasoned. She smelled and sensed this butchery.

C899321, the being she had been told was responsible, stood in his uploading dock, a cable inserted into his nape, his towering form naked, covered with blood, his long black hair dripping with it.

He turned his head, locked his gaze with hers and she sucked in her breath. There were worlds of agony, of rage, in those bright blue eyes. This was no rational, logic-driven cyborg. This was a man, an animal, crazed by bloodlust and pain.

“They thought to pacify me with the use of a human female?” he thundered, his deep gravelly voice clawing across her skin, awakening parts in her she didn’t realize slept. “I’d kill you before I allowed you to touch me.”

This insult didn’t hurt her the way he’d intended. Joan knew she wasn’t the slim tiny female males desired. She was solidly built, good breeding stock, as her mother had once said.

She discarded his words and focused on the torment in his tones. He hurt. Horrifically. Her fingers twitched, the urge to reach out to him, to comfort him, tremendous. Judging by the flex of his powerful biceps and thigh muscles, by the anger radiating from him, he wouldn’t appreciate that response.

He also wouldn’t listen to any command she issued. A reprimand, verbal or physical, would add to his hostility. Some being had already tried to restrain him and failed. The reportedly unbreakable wrist and ankle cuffs attached to the frame of the uploading dock had been shattered, rendered useless.

Joan discarded four solar cycles’ worth of theory on how to handle malfunctioning cyborgs, realizing now that the academy experts knew nothing.
Her late father, however, had taught her how to deal with wild beasts.

“I would never touch you without your permission.” She lowered her gaze, showing submission, recognizing C899321 as the dominant male he was. He’d seek to harm any aggressor, to protect himself and his territory. If she wasn’t female, she suspected she’d already be dead.

“I also would never hurt you.” Joan stuffed a couple of cleaning cloths into her pockets and dropped to her knees, into a puddle of red. The moisture soaked through her flight suit. “I’m here to serve you, to clean you.”

 

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Tour Host Sign Up Sheet!

Hi Everyone!

Haley and I are so excited to announce that we are a few months away from launching our new website for blog tour services! Right now we are wanting to compile a list of people interested in hosting. The services will typically be for YA and NA genres. If you would like to become a tour host with us please fill out the form below! If you have any questions please feel free to contact us.

Thank you all so much!

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Set Me Free: Author Interview and Giveaway

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Book & Author Details:
Set Me Free by London Setterby 
Publication date: July 8th 2016
Genres: Gothic, New Adult, Romance
Synopsis:

Miranda Lewis is desperate to get away from her controlling ex–so desperate she leaves him in the middle of the night. She ends up on a remote island off the Maine coast, where she befriends a bubbly shopkeeper, Claire, and becomes fascinated with Claire’s son, big, brooding Owen Larsen, a woodworker who keeps to himself. Even the friendliest locals here are secretive–and Owen is at the center of their secrets.

Still, Miranda loves the salt air, the craggy coastline, and, most of all, the work of the island’s beloved local painter, Suzanna White. Miranda wants to stay–to claim a life of her own, to paint again. But the longer she stays, the more her fascination with Owen increases. Why is there a painting of his stern, handsome face in the art gallery by the beach? And why is everyone so afraid of him?

SetMeFree

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Purchase Links:

Amazon / iBooks

Author Interview:

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you begin writing? What inspires you to write?

I started writing and illustrating “books” in first grade or so, usually about girls who were given magical ponies for their birthdays. So, as you can see, I write in part as wish fulfillment (sadly I never did get that magical pony). But mostly, writing is just how I process. Sometimes it seems like I can’t write fast enough to keep up with all of the processing I need to do.

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Well, of course, I’m hopeful that lots of people can enjoy Set Me Free. If you like either romance or mystery, you will probably find something to like here. But Set Me Free is also a story for abuse survivors written by an abuse survivor. I wanted to write a engaging, hopeful, and fun story for us, about how strong we are, and about how we, too, can find our happily-ever-afters.  <3

How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

I’m actually super thrilled you asked me this, because the title of Set Me Free is a majorly nerdy Shakespeare reference and I’ve been dying to spill the beans about it for ages. So: this book is loosely inspired by The Tempest. And, at the very end of that play, the sorcerer Prospero breaks the third wall, turns to the audience, and asks that they set him free from the island he was stranded on through applause. (“But release me from my bands With the help of your good hands . . .  As you from crimes would pardoned be, Let your indulgence set me free.”)

Which is not to say I’m begging for your approval. 😉 The concept behind Set Me Free is that we can free each other from our burdens through trust and openness; writing the book was freeing for me, and I hope it can be freeing for some of my readers, too.

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

 The very sweet and wonderful Ida at Amygdala Designs created my cover. Since I first came up with the idea for Set Me Free, I wanted a cover with my heroine wearing a white dress and standing by the sea, as a callback to classic Gothics. I was really happy with Ida’s design, which kept that Gothic flavor but with a contemporary spin.

 Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Gosh, you know, it feels a bit gauche to admit this, but I actually really like my heroine, Miranda. I think she’s brave as hell. If it helps, I’m not much like her. 😉

How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

I’m not sure I have one. I tend to empathize to some degree with even my most evil and horrible characters. Which can be a little worrying.

If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?

I always try to remind myself of that quote (alternately attributed to Da Vinci or Picasso) that art is never finished, only abandoned.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

Set Me Free is a standalone, but I have some tie-in short stories on my Wattpad profile (@elsetterby), which might eventually be made available elsewhere, too. There are scenes from Owen’s point of view, and I’m currently writing a short story/novellette about two side characters, Andy and Kaye. I’ve also been toying with the idea of writing a wedding scene, a bit like an epilogue. So readers, if that’s something you guys would like, let me know!

What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?

It’s pretty hard to find contemporary Gothics, which makes me sad. Certainly the book draws on the classics quite a lot, like Rebecca and Jane Eyre. A few people have told me that Set Me Free reminds them of Nicholas Sparks’ Safe Haven, but I’ve never read it, so I don’t know.

How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

You can reach me at my website anytime! londonsetterby.com You can sign up for my newsletter there. I’m also on tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, and Wattpad, and would love to chat with you.

What can we expect from you in the future?

This fall, I’m hoping to release the first book in my gritty erotic romance series (writing as L. Setterby). It’s called Breathe and is currently available on the brand-new Radish app (radishfiction.com), where it’s a trending story and one of the top Radish reads.

Meanwhile, I’m writing a new romance called Heart of Stone, which I hope to start putting on Wattpad soon. It’s a romcom about a statue that comes to life and becomes his sculptor’s couch guy.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Leaving a review would be a huge help, on whichever site you like! Telling a friend is always good, too. Word of mouth is the best advertising there is!

Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Well, I’m an indie author, and it’s a bit different for us. I would just say: writer, know thyself. I spent a long time agonizing over pursuing traditional publishing, but it’s just not for me. I just don’t enjoy playing someone else’s game. I want to play my own. 🙂

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Thanks so much for hosting!

And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

 It wasn’t like we’d discussed it. Maybe he’d expected a chaste kiss and goodbye promptly after dinner. Instead, I’d unzipped my dress on his kitchen counter. We’d only just met; we’d only gone on a few dates, if you could call them dates. And yet it had all felt so right. What he’d said to me afterwards had been so sweet… I’d thought he might be falling for me. Even though I knew better.

I slid out of bed and almost stepped on my dress, which was folded neatly on the floor, on top of my shoes. My handbag sat beside the little bundle. He must have gotten my things together before he left for work, so I wouldn’t have to go hunting around his house. He was being nice. He was definitely not trying to get rid of me.

Really.

I pulled on my clothes and tiptoed across his plushy beige carpet. On the landing, I hesitated, staring at the door to the opposite room. The brass doorknob gleamed against the dark wood. Before I realized what I was doing, I’d turned the doorknob as hard as I could.

The door popped open, and I stumbled inside with a gasp. There was no way I could’ve broken it, and he was too careful to ever leave this room unlocked. I jiggled the knob, but it wouldn’t turn. It was locked…still? Again?

I shouldn’t go in. Even though he’d shown me what he kept in here, going into this room without him violated his trust. It was wrong. Beneath me.

Still, I stared into the empty room, biting my lip. The heavy curtain hid all signs of morning light. It was so cold in here I half-expected to see my breath, as if I’d opened a door to the night sky.

 

London

Author Bio:

Hello! I’m London, a writer, lawyer, and life-long New Englander. I write all flavors of romance, from surreal fantasy romances to raw gritty contemporaries. I also write across the gender and sexuality spectrums. Everything I write is a little bit funny, a little bit sad, and probably kind of strange.

You might know me from Wattpad–my Wattpad Featured Read, Set Me Free, a Gothic romance, will be released as an ebook and in print in summer 2016.

My gritty erotic romance, Breathe, is currently being serialized on Radish, a free app. It will be released in ebook/print as well sometime after Set Me Free.

Author Links:

Website / Goodreads / Twitter

Blog Tour Organized by:

Xpresso Book Tours

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Giveaway:
Tour-wide giveaway (US/CAN)
2x signed copies of Set Me Free

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Black Water Tales: Author Interview and Excerpt

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Purchase Link:
Amazon

Book Summary:

In the remote, eastern European town of Borslav there is St. Sebastian orphanage, a place where people discard their unwanted children. For the American, Blaire Baker, it’s the perfect place to volunteer her services. Paired with a cheerful volunteer nurse, Blaire is enthusiastic about the possibilities, but is quickly discouraged when she encounters the nefarious nature of the staff and the deplorable conditions of the facility and the children. Upon arrival, one of the children informs Blaire, “There’s something in the basement.” It isn’t long before strange things begin happening, including Blaire’s flashbacks of the accident that killed her parents. The children soon suffer injuries that Blaire, first, fears may be the deeds of the callous workers but she soon thinks the abuse may originate from a source that is less than human, something unwanted. The unwanted is coming but in order for Blaire to fight it, she must dig into St. Sebastian and herself in search of truth. Blaire wants nothing more than to help the children, but when she discovers the tragedy that happened in the basement and learns that the same evil forces are still at work, it will be Blaire who needs help…There’s something in the basement.

Interview

 

  1. Tell us a little about yourself. How did you begin writing? What inspires you to write?

I have always loved to write, even as a child and I always aspired to become a writer, but the fact is, that like many of us, in my younger years, I lacked the true passion and discipline that was necessary to make that dream a reality.

I find inspiration in the curious and ever changing life that is unfolding around me constantly. I watch and I listen to people, their body language, and their tone of voice. Sometimes the most subtle actions are motivated by the deepest emotions and I never allow those small things to go unnoticed.

 

  1. Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Though I welcome all to read my books, my intended audience is female horror/thriller/paranormal lovers from ages 16-30. These readers should get my books because they aren’t going to find many like them. I wrote the kind of books that I loved and that I wanted to read, but often had trouble finding.

 

  1. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

Trial and error. I knew that I wanted the series to be named after the fictional town that connects all of the stories, but it took me months of mulling over different names and running them by friends and family members who often responded with sour faces. Finally, I came up with the name, Black Water.

 

  1. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

I was just discussing cover art with someone the other day and its undeniable importance. For Black Water Tales: The Unwanted, my second novel, I chose a single image of a headless baby doll, Dolly, who belongs to one of the characters. Not only does the doll appear in the book several times, but her image makes the reader curious about the obscure world of the unwanted children of St. Sebastian orphanage.

 

  1. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

The main character, Blaire. I love her because her heart is pure despite the fact that it has been marred by darkness in the past. She wants nothing more than to help the children of St. Sebastian orphanage, but soon realizes that her good heart may get her killed.

 

  1. How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

Tough question. Despite the fact that some of my characters are cold, uncaring and even murderous, there aren’t any that dislike. It’s hard to dislike a character that you created. It is also difficult to dislike them because I know that despite some of their less than savory characteristics, they are human and their unique personalities evolve from some struggle in their history. If I must choose, I will say, Marko, the Director of St. Sebastian orphanage. In Marko’s business, he has developed quite a thick skin and has become slightly insensitive to the needs of the children in his ward and must be viscerally brought back into the fold in order to understand the depth of what is taking place inside of his facility.

 

  1. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?

I can’t think of one thing that I would change about my novel. It isn’t perfect, but nothing is.

 

  1. Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

The town of Black Water is based on my very real, tiny hometown of Centralia, IL, where every holiday from Christmas to May Fete is celebrated grandly, but you must always keep a watchful eye on your neighbor.

 

  1. What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?

The type of writing that I do is very similar to Dean Koontz and Stephen King. They are alike in the type of horror that they offer. I am not a big fan of jump scares and in my stories, I prefer to give to give the kind of scares that chill one to the core and makes you question, not what’s in the closet but what’s in the mirror.

 

  1. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Connect with me in any of the following ways.

Jeannicolerivers.com

https://www.facebook.com/JNicoleRivers/

@jeannicole19 (Instagram and Twitter)

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832487.Jean_Nicole_Rivers

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOU4nXpJy5vMTkWOhjuS5yQ

 

  1. What can we expect from you in the future?

You can expect many more short and flash fiction stories that can be found on my website and I am currently editing my third novel, The Sandman (working title).

 

  1. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Reviews! Authors love reviews because it gives other readers the confidence to make the purchase. Also, just sharing your enjoyment of the book with friends and family through word of mouth and social media is an excellent way to join the movement.

 

  1. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

My only advice is to keep writing, everything else will come with time.

 

  1. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Read, learn, love!

 

And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

The last student filtered out of the classroom as Blaire sat to make notes. A spirited game of Ring Around the Rosie began outside, not too far from Blaire’s open window, the euphoric play filled her with a joy reminiscent to that of being a young child again. She scribbled a few more lines on her notepad before she got up and crossed to the back window where the children were outside frolicking in merriment. Up and down each side of the building she searched for children that were not there.

Blaire listened closely, and she could still hear the game, but it was not outside as she originally thought, it was inside, right here inside of her classroom. Blaire swung her pencil between her fingers nervously as she scanned the room allowing her ears to lead the way. They homed in on the vent in the floor along the wall. The soft singing of the children grew faint, but it was coming from inside of the vent, as she was sure of that. Blaire got down on her knees and peered into the blackness.

“Hello,” Blaire called into the vent. She jumped at the giddy laughter that responded, and suddenly there was a scattering sound, as if a group of people were discovered in a secret hiding place, who then ran for cover. A sound rose up through the opening and into her ears. It was the desperate, undecipherable whispers of hundreds of little voices all moving about, intertwining in and out of one another like snakes in mating. She put her ear closer, trying to make out the words.

There’s suffering in the pavement?

What were they saying? Blaire thought to herself.

Growing louder in each new moment, they all but peaked into a schizophrenic static that felt like it was inside of Blaire, choking up her ability to reason. She felt something moving closer to her and heard whispers that were not just senseless jabbering, but were providing, something tangible, a ladder for something terrible that was crawling toward her, up from the bowels of the building, through the dark vent on the backs of the wicked whispers. The evil was moving quickly up out of the darkness like electricity through a wire, and Blaire couldn’t tear herself away.

There’s suffering in the pavement. The jumbled whispers were closer now. There’s suffering in the pavement. Closer. There’s suffering in the pavement. Here it comes. THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE BASEMENT! It screamed and the words were clear now. JUMP! It belched.

Book Trailer:

About the Author:

Jeannicolerivers

Jean Nicole Rivers is a great lover of reading and writing. Though she loves varied genres, horror/thriller is her favorite. Jean Nicole has been writing poetry and short stories since she was a child, but has always aspired to master the art of storytelling through novels. The Unwanted is the second story in her series of Black Water Tales, following The Secret Keepers.

Jean Nicole was awarded 3rd place in the National Black Book Festival’s 2013 Best New Author competition and she enjoys the honor of having written featured articles for popular reader websites and blogs, such as Digital Book Today and The Masquerade Crew.

Jean Nicole Rivers graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and lives in Houston, Texas.

Become friends with her at www.facebook.com/jnicolerivers. Follow her on Twitter @Jeannicole19. Check out her Instagram @Jeannicole19 or visit her at www.jeannicolrivers.com.