“Rotham Race”: A Story of Orphan Love

Cosplay Steampunk Woman Next to Her Motorcycle

Rotham Race, by Jordan Elizabeth, is a post-apocalyptic, dystopian YA romance; a crossing of genres that works well for the most part. The story has a good plot with a smooth flow, although the pacing felt rushed at times. The world which Jordan Elizabeth has created, where a nuclear blast annihilated half of country, and the government can’t be trusted, is both believable and thought provoking, and her characters are both relatable and likeable.

The Rotham Race is a tradition where young men and women go out into the wastelands left by a nuclear blast to find a microchip which can return things to the way they were, or so they are told.  Each year dozens of racers set off into the wastelands never to be seen again. Troy Vonpackal is an idealistic orphan, determined to find the chip and save the world, and Barbie Chambers is the orphan who can help him achieve his goal. When fate throws them together, they find themselves falling in love, but there are many obstacles which stand in their way. When Troy returns with the chip, they both learn that the government may not have been entirely truthful about the race or the chip, and the truth may change their lives forever.

My only criticism is that there wasn’t enough foreshadowing to suspend my disbelief in certain places. Many of the conflicts are resolved with little difficulty, or in some cases, the solution is just handed to them, making some events seem too convenient for me to buy in. Yet, I can’t say this detracted from my enjoyment of the story, which was quite entertaining overall.

A quick and easy read, with an ending that comes too sudden. I felt like the characters had more to give, so maybe there will be a sequel. I give Rotham Race four quills.

four-quills3

 

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


“Behind Frenemy Lines”: Sometimes the lines between friends and enemies get crossed

Behind Frenemy Lines

Behind Frenemy Lines, by Chele Pederson Smith is a cute spy romance about two spies who end up partners, in ways that go far beyond the case they’re on. This story reads like it was begun as a playful tease for the author’s husband, which is exactly how it was, as revealed in my interview with the author. Like the author, who was upbeat and fun when interviewed, you can’t help but smile as you read this story.

The dominant romance element and snappy banter between the protagonists sets a rom-com tone that carries throughout the novel. I had trouble buying in to the whole, ‘we’re spies who don’t trust each other, but we can’t keep our hands off one another’ concept because I was trying to take this story too seriously. It was written as a sort of fun game and is meant to be read that way, as well. The sex scenes are tasteful and ‘R’ rated. Although there is frequent headhopping and perhaps a little too much exposition and a couple of logic flaws, it is a fun read.

This story is like fine chocolate – to be endulged when you just want to feel good. Like the catchy title, Behind Frenemy Lines will tickle your funny bone in unexpected ways. I give it four quills.

four-quills3

 

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.

 

 


“Everything Undone”:

Everything Undone

Everything Undone, by Wysteria Wilde is an erotic romance with just the right amount of each. So many times the erotica is overbearing, often to the point you can’t seem to find the underlying story line, but Wilde does a wonderful job of sprinkling the erotic scenes tastefully throughout a well-structured romance plot that keeps the tension ratcheted on high.

 

When Annabelle LaFrance met Nick Bignanni there was every reason in the world why the two of them should never become a couple. But, their feelings told them both different, driving them toward one another. By the time they realize their feelings are mutual, it’s too late to stop the romance already set in motion, but there is more at stake than their love, and Nick must figure out how to transform from the person he was to the person he now wants to be without causing collateral damage. Annabelle is in danger, and the only way to save her is to betray her. And when Annabelle learns the truth, will she still want him?

The one problem I had is that I couldn’t buy in to Annabelle not knowing the true orientation of her bff, Brooks. I loved Brooks as a character. He talks and acts so stereotypically gay that it’s almost cliché, and I loved that Wilde threw in a relationship for him as a subplot. However, as close as they are, I couldn’t believe Brooks would keep his secret from Annabelle, even if he chose not to tell anyone else, and her reaction to the revelation wasn’t enough to convince me. Her acceptance of him for who he is unquestionable and I think he’d know that, given the nature of their relationship. It was a minor detail, hardly enough to stop me from enjoying the rest of this well-crafted romance.

The characters are well developed and likeable, the story filled with conflict, and the erotica tastefully done. I give Everything Undone four quills.

four-quills3

 

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Interview with Paranormal Romance Novelist Lilly Rayman

L Rayman

I’m pleased to welcome romance author Lilly Rayman as my guest here on Writing to be Read. Lilly is an Australian author who writes both paranormal romance and historic romance, and has short stories featured in several anthologies. I recently met Lilly during a Facebook book event and I’m looking forward to reading her work. (Watch for my review of An Unexpected Mating in future reviews.) Today she’s here to share the details of her writing and give us a glimpse into her upcoming release, An Unexpected Revelation, the second book in her Unexpected Trilogy, which is scheduled for release the end of this month.

Kaye: Hi Lilly. Would you share the story of your author’s journey?

Lilly: I would write when I was a teenager, stories that were a collage of my favourite books that I had read at the time. But then after I left school, I stopped writing, although I did keep reading. After my first daughter was born, I was reading a lot, and I found Wattpad, allowing me to read freely. But after reading a lot of amateur stories that all had the same cliché storylines, I found myself with a whole new story in my mind that avoided those cliché’s. I used Wattpad to write it, and it got great feedback. I was encouraged to add my story to an online writing competition, and it won best work and most popular work. The prize money allowed me to get it edited, and then I published An Unexpected Bonding, book one of the Unexpected Trilogy. I was hooked, and storylines came flowing out of me. I’ve since published a pair of short stories that challenge the concept of HEA, called Mated Hearts, and my first Historical Romance, Red Wolf, which is a story that has been with me for 13 years or so, and I was so pleased to finally be able to write it. I also have an anthology story connected to my trilogy published, and a permafree short story companion novel to the trilogy.

Kaye: When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Lilly: I think I’ve always wanted to be an author, it just took me a while to actually get to this point in my life. I used to write a lot as a child, and then as a teenager I wrote to escape from bullies that tormented my school life. Then life after school got in the way, although I would still read. When I had my first daughter, I found myself once more wanting to sit down and write again.

Red Wolf - Mine

Kaye: Is Red Wolf the only historical romance you’ve written?

Lilly: Red Wolf is currently the only historical fiction at present that is published, but I have another historical in progress at the moment.

Kaye: What is it that appeals to you about historic fiction?

Lilly: Red Wolf, the prologue was a scene that has been in my mind since I was 19, and beside the strengthening of my use of words, tense ect, it hasn’t changed. The following story that centres around that scene has, and honestly it is a far better story than it ever would have been had I followed the original immature story idea I originally had.

As for why it appeals? I’m not that sure. It was simpler time, if not sometimes more violent or harder. But men were men, chivalry wasn’t dead and there is a romance to historical eras that has always appealed to me as reader from a young age alongside all my fantasy books.

Tas TLC Mated Hearts

Kaye: You describe your two story combo, Mated Hearts, as a paranormal romance with a western flair. How did you end up with such an unusual genre combo?

Lilly: Paranormal with western flair, means my shifters are cowboys or country folk. My Unexpected Series is set in Texas, and The Last Centaur is set in Montana. As for how I ended up with the unusual genre combo? I guess because I’m married to an Aussie stockman, which is basically a cowboy, and the life we’ve lived, in the stock camps, mustering cattle, catching bulls, attending rodeos, it gave me some experience to draw on. I just couldn’t rationalise a wolf pack running around Australia, so settled for Texas as my setting instead.
Kaye: Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?
Lilly: Reading, spending time with my family, and working on the farm, which includes feeding cattle and horses, as well as branding time.
Kaye: If you have a blog, how did that start and what is it about?
Lilly: I only have a basic blog on my website, which is to try and keep an online presence when I decided to publish as an independent author.
Kaye: Tell us about your Facebook readers group, Lilly’s Lycans.
Lilly: Lilly’s Lycans is a reader group with style. I’ve been working at building up my group since March, and slowly its building in numbers. I try to have an active schedule of fun posts and encourage other authors to participate twice a week to introduce my Lycan’s to a variety of authors. I also run a reader rewards program, which is a special surprise treat, something different, at the end of every month for the most active member of the group.
Kaye: Which author, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?
Lilly: Anne Maccaffery. She was the most talented wordsmith who created the world of Pern, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with every one of her Dragon’s their riders, and all the holders or journeymen.
Kaye: What’s the most fun part of writing a novel or short story? What’s the least fun part?
Lilly: The most fun is creating a story that people can fall into and float through it rather than simply read it. The least fun is when you’ve got two books scheduled to come out in the near future.

Kaye: How do you decide the titles for your books? Where does the title come in the process for you?
Lilly: Some titles come to me with the initial concept of the story. Other titles come to me as I work through the story.

Kaye: What is the working title of your next book?
Lilly: Which one? Lol. I have two dragon stories in progress, Dragon Scorned and Heartstone of Dragons. I also have an historical romance called Roping Her Duke on the Go. I’m also working on An Unexpected Hellhound, which is the final book in my trilogy, and I will be a part of a collaboration and a couple of anthologies in 2019.

AUR Death of Me

Kaye: Can you tell us a little about An Unexpected Revelation and An Unexpected Hellhound? When are they scheduled for release?
Lilly: An Unexpected Revelation is the second book of my Unexpected Trilogy and is due for release on the 30th June. An Unexpected Hellhound is the last book of the trilogy, and I am hoping to have it ready for a 2019 release.
Kaye: What is the one thing in your writing career that is the most unusual or unique thing you’ve done so far?
Lilly: Probably “Love Hurts”. It was a very short story that was published in the Love Sucks: An Anti-Valentines Day Anthology that was released in February 2018. It was a challenge to me as a romance author to actually write something so anti-romance. I am rather pleased with how well it turned out.
Kaye: What do you think is the single most important element in a story?
Lilly: Avoiding the cliché of other books in the genre.

Kaye: With that in mind, can you tell me what makes your books different?

Lilly: The main complaint I had with werewolf stories was the weak knee heroines needing to be rescued by an aggressive alpha who was fated to the complete opposite (who in reality would never work with that sort of personality, they would be beaten and downtrodden). Or the whole element of mate rejection, and the mess that ensues that is the whole basis of the story that just has a reader growling.

The alternative to the weak knee heroine is a finger raised, crass mouthed, kill them all bad ass. Or at least these were what I was reading a lot of when An Unexpected Bonding was first conceived.
An Unexpected Bonding has a pair of leading characters who are both heart broken from losing the loves of their lives. They are attracted to each other when they meet, but have to work past their own heart ache of grief to see what is in front of them. Mate bonds aren’t necessarily instantly recognised, unless the wolf is open to finding their mate, and when they are, the bond is seen and the mate wanted.
My story might be paranormal, but it is still filled with the normal issues of every day life, and dealt with in the same way. Liv is a strong character, yet she is not a bad ass, crass mouth. She also has her weaknesses and her flaws.
The history of my vampires and wolf nation is steeped into mythology in such a way that readers comment on how believable it makes it feel, that they can read (as a normal contemporary reader) and accept without question the magic and power of the supernatural and their characters.

Kaye: What do you do for cover art? DIY, or hired out, or cookie cutter prefab?
Lilly: I have the most amazing cover artist who does the most awesome cover art for me.

Livvie - Lupa2

Kaye: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?
Lilly: It wasn’t advice per say that was given personally to me, but rather a book I downloaded by Rayne Hall, The Word Loss Diet. The contents of that book have held with me from the moment I read it and applied it to my first book, An Unexpected Bonding. I try and keep those rules and the advice in the book, at the forefront of my mind whilst I write, and again while I edit. It allows me to present, what I believe is a more professional polished book, since the advice gives authors the chance to lift their work up from the amateur level of writing to a more professional feel.

Kaye: Would you like to share links to your books and website, etc… so that readers who are interested will know where to find you?

Lilly:

Website: http://lillyrayman0007.wixsite.com/lillyrayman

Goodreads Author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9866872.Lilly_Rayman

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Lilly-Rayman/e/B00X5CR5QC

Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/LillyRayman0007/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lillyrayman0007

Books – Buy links and blurbs:

Red Wolf (FREE in KU / $2.99)
BUY LINK: Books2read.com/RedWolf
By royal dictate, Lady Jacqueline, tempestuous Duchess of Wolvarden and tall, dark and dashingly handsome Prince Leopold of Mercia, are to be married, whether they want to or not.
Although their first meeting is less than promising, they eventually reach an understanding, but what began as a discharge of duty for Leopold, quickly becomes his most fervent wish.
The only obstacle to Leopold’s desire seems to be Red Wolf, resident champion knight of Wolvarden. Will the only knight able to defeat Prince Leopold stand in the way of his quest to win his duchesses heart?
Meanwhile, danger stalks Wolvarden, and Leopold may find Red Wolf is not the enemy after all.

An Unexpected Bonding: Book 1 in The Unexpected Trilogy (FREE in KU / $2.99)
BUY LINK: Books2read.com/AnUnexpectedBonding
For centuries there has been hatred, bloodshed and killing between the vampire and wolf nations.
Livvie
After the death of her mother, she was now the only wolf-less member of the Romulus pack, and found it almost impossible to live with them. With the Alpha’s permission she left to travel the country. When she fell in love, she found her place in the world and settled with the man of her dreams on his cattle ranch in Texas. But after nearly a decade away from the pack, Livvie’s life is about to change. Will she embrace this change or fight it?
Darius
The vampire, son of the Egyptian Sun God Ra, is wandering. His heart is aching, and his soul is restless. Eventually he finds himself in Texas, working for a beautiful woman with a magnetic pull he does not understand. It’s only when she is taken from him, that he recognises a bond that is stronger than all others. The truth of that bond will shake him to his core.
Will the unexpected bonding between wolf and vampire be enough to overcome the centuries of hatred and bring peace and unity to all?
Will the wolf and the vampire overcome their own heartaches to accept their bonding and let romance evolve?
Best Work and Most Popular Work in the iParchment writing rally 2014.

Mated Hearts (FREE in KU / 99c)
BUY LINK: Books2read.com/MatedHearts
Mated Hearts brings together two short stories from Paranormal Romance author Lilly Rayman. The Last Centaur has Lilly’s “Western Flair”, and StarCrossed is set in Lilly’s home country of Australia and brings a paranormal twist to everyone’s favourite Shakespearian tragedy.
The Last Centaur
Tasunke likes to keep to himself on his modest property on Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Breeding horses are his life and livelihood, after all, he understands horses better than people. One day, Tas finds his quiet existence on the remote plains at the foot of the Rocky Mountains being disturbed when he stumbles across a beautiful young woman in need of help.
Paisley is on the run. An abusive boyfriend threatened to kill her. When she overhears him planning to kill someone, she knows he will make good on his threat. In an attempt to make it back to Canada before he can kill her, she finds her car tumbling off the roadside.
Just when she thinks she is about to die, she is rescued by a rugged cowboy. Can Tas keep them both safe from a murderous boyfriend?
StarCrossed
Julie Capaldi; senator’s daughter and Roman Montana; bikie bad-boy find their eyes meeting across the crowded dance floor of the Verona bar. Their love is instant, their mating forbidden.
StarCrossed is the tragic story of two young wolves destined for each other, yet having to fight their warring families for the chance to be together forever. Both stories contain mature content, which includes but is not limited to sexual scenes, swearing and violence.

An Unexpected Mating: Companion Novel to The Unexpected Trilogy (FREE EVERYWHERE)
BUY LINK: books2read.com/AnUnexpectedMating

AUM Blurb

Will the love of his children be enough to give meaning to his life?

I want to thank Lilly for joining us today and sharing her writings and her thoughts with us.

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Interview with Independent Author Chele Pedersen Smith

Chele

Our guest today on Writing to be Read is a newly blossoming independent author of two very different books; the first a spy romance and the second a collection of inspirational stories, Chele Pedersen Smith. I recently met Chele through a Facebook book event in which I was lucky enough to win a free copy of her spy romance, Behind Frenemy Lines. After chatting with her, I see many ways in which she and I are kindred spirits, including that she also put off pursuing her passion until our later years, and also in her enthusiasm for the craft and the many creative ideas she has for getting her works into readers’ hands. I’ve enjoyed interviewing her and I hope my readers will enjoy it to as I share it with you.

Kaye: In On Writing, Stephen King talks about how he started his writing career with his brother, printing news on an old printing press, using grape jelly for ink. You have a similar start. Would you share the story of your author’s journey?

Chele: Sure! I’ve been writing since the bicentennial, which sounds really ancient and colonial. Ha-ha. In sixth grade when my best friend Debby and I won the school’s first annual hobby contest with our collaborated mystery booklets. We were totally shocked because a classmate entered her motorcycle and we thought for sure Annette would win. It just goes to show that sometimes the best things are simple and come in small packages!

In junior high, I wrote a teen mystery series my friends loved to read, sometimes before the ink dried on a chapter. I’d fold bunch of unlined white paper and staple it. The plots revolved around protagonist Sherri Whitman and her friend Anna Daine. Anna was more like me, the ordinary girl with ironic luck and Sherri was my alter ego— pretty, more daring and often accomplished what she set out to do. There are 17 books in this series, mostly short booklets until high school when I switched to writing on notebook paper fastened in folders. A bridging symbol between the booklets and the note books is book nine written in a blank journal. Now, that felt like a real book and I think it was the beginning of a serious dream.

With more room to write in the folders and a little maturity, the stories morphed into multiple, more complicated plots. In high school, I took all the writing electives and was on the school paper senior year as well as my first semester of college where I started to major in communications.

One day watching Romancing the Stone, Kathleen Turner’s character was a writer and I noticed she typed her books on a typewriter off the top of her head. I thought, “That is what real writers do!” so I started writing that way too. It was hard to think that way at first, and typewriters did not have the ease computers have today when it came to errors. Now it is second nature to write this way. I still use journals to jot down ideas and I have a separate document on each book called, “Notes for Behind Frenemy Lines,” etc. That way I can cut and paste dialogue if I want to save it for another place, or remind myself what I want to include in the story.

At 21, I tried my first stab at getting published. It was a Sherri manuscript about an amazing mystery that happened to me during my first semester of college. I sent it to a publishing house for young adults and got my first rejection! I was bummed but proceeded to send it to several young adult publishers who said it was too short. So I added other mysteries and back stories from previous Sherri books, but it still got rejected. Only Scholastic gave me detailed criticism and sent me two paperbacks to use as examples. By then I was a newlywed and put it aside to figure out later. I was focused on writing short stories and sending them to Redbook because they use to have contests. I never won but I still have those and other short stories from the 80s, as well as most of the Sherri series.

SherriBooks.jpg

After years of hiatus, I got back into fiction writing the summer of 2013. An idea for a story kept circling my head like a vulture. It would not go away. Characters formed, names were tried on for size. The perfect first hook crafted itself. Finally one morning, I made coffee, opened a Word doc and then typed out that sentence. And just like that I was writing again! The story is called Confessions of a Goody-Goody and is a bit of a struggle at times because it is based on real life juicy events. I thought Goody-Goody would be my first book, but I got stuck halfway through. It got too personal and I didn’t know how to proceed.

In the meantime, I enrolled in college so I set aside. I took creative writing courses and the writing prompts helped me take Goody-Goody to a higher level. Plus I am adding in a lot of fiction, so I do plan to finish it! In fact, a chapter excerpt appears in our latest literary magazine to set my goal in ink!

Kaye: You gave up a promising career in the health care field to become an author. How do you justify that? Any regrets?

Chele: I had quitter’s remorse at first. I rarely give up on something, but after bailing after just one week in the dental hygiene program, I cried hysterically. What had I done? I felt lost. Did I just make the biggest mistake of my life wasting all that hard work, all those sciences, maintaining A’s to get in?( It wasn’t really a waste because exercised brain power and I made a great group of friends my age and we rocked!)

After waffling on other majors, I ended up in communication because it was the closest thing to a writing degree available. (It’s funny, coming full circle from my youth.) The electives included two creative writing classes, which I loved, and two journalism levels.  I lucked out because the spring J2 involved a trip to NYC media writing conference and that was a blast. The good news is, just this the fall, the school branched communications into concentrations and voila–professional writing materialized! It was like the movie Field of Dreams: take writing classes and the degree will come!  So now, I’m there with just four classes left.

At this point, I’m mainly getting the degree to complement my novel writing. I’ve recently received fantastic validation through the English department via several professors and have just won two awards for my writing! So I definitely feel I made the right choice. But as for making moolah, if a job in the field isn’t feasible, I will probably fall back on my pharmacy technician training and write novels in my free time.  I’ve kept up with my pharmacy certification just in case.

Kaye: What is the biggest challenge of being a writer for you?

Chele: The writing is the fun part, compared to formatting paperbacks and self-promoting. But I’d have to say it is a toss-up between finding time to write and my husband giving me a hard time about it. Since he went to the awards night with me, he seems more impressed and realizes it is more than just a hobby.

I mostly write during semester breaks which isn’t very long, unless it is summer. (Although most summers I’ve taken classes, too.) I have all these book ideas and half-finished projects. I’m afraid I’ll lose steam or the muse will leave me before I get them done. And I’m a revision queen so even after I do finish a book, it takes time to patch plot holes, paint in more details, and weed out never-ending typos.

Kaye: What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

Chele: I’m corny and get excited over little things. I never lost my childhood wonder. I love word play so much, maybe I should’ve gone into advertising. The corniness may not come as a surprise to anyonewho reads Behind Frenemy Lines. Lee has some punny lines.

Maybe a more of a shock is that in the 80s, I wanted to be a radio DJ. 1984 was so “outrageous” as Lionel Richie exclaimed at the music awards that year and I remember thinking music would never be as good it was then!  We had Michael Jackson at his peak, Kool and the Gang and Madonna, and the British bands! (Little did I know a guy named Adam Levine would arrive on the scene and swoon me in the 21st century.)

In my late teens, I’d play DJ in my room with my little brother, practice queuing up and spinning records and timing announcements with my stereo. Well, it paid off, because the first year at the college, they had an opening for DJ at the school radio station and I had a stint for about a month. It was fun to live out a brief dream, even though I’m not sure anyone actually listened.

Kaye: You have plans for a sequel to Behind Frenemy Lines, and several other writing projects for 2018. Would you like to tell us a little about what’s in store?

 Chele: I’m working on a romantic comedy novella. I don’t want to give the premise away or the title just yet because it is a unique way to meet a date. When I needed character names, I turned to classic Hollywood starlets so that was fun. I hope to finish it this summer. I already have the cover made to inspire me! By the way, my covers are made by graphic designer Steven Novak. He has the knack of turning my visions into fabulous covers! I also have two other romance novellas started. Maybe I’ll offer them as a tri-pack.

As for the BFL sequel, Galaxy’s heritage has Russian connections and it falls nicely into current events. But I have some comedic moments and surprises up my sleeve too. And of course it will follow the trysts and trusts issue like the first book.

I write off the cuff, so I don’t know what will happen exactly in each work. In that novella, will Viv’s stalking of her crush win him over? Or will it make him mad? I have no idea yet. Maybe the characters will take over and surprise me.  I also plan to revamp and publish the Sherri Whitman series, maybe as a whole unless I lengthen each mystery, and the one that got rejections—Will the Real Green Phantom Please Stand Up— is on my list too! Currently I am compiling the 80s short-stories into a speculative fiction book. So the muse needs to stick around.

Kaye: How did your blog start and what’s it about?

Chele: I have a blog on Goodreads.  I’m still experimenting with to get it just right. I try to keep it about topics related to my books and writing, mainly romance, but have also ventured off into pop culture ponderings. It may just become the life of a writer.

Kaye: What time of day do you prefer to do your writing? Why?  

Chele: I like the solitude of morning home alone with a cup of coffee and my favorite songs blasting. No one interrupting me except Penny, the golden. I love the night too; it is mysterious and brings out the muse, but it is not usually practical to write then. Except for an odd summer night last year I was not sleepy at all, so I got up to write in the living room. I sat in the dark by the glow of the laptop with a happy golden retriever curled by my side until 4 am! That was when I wrote the last scene of Behind Frenemy Lines—the prologue!

Kaye: If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

Chele: I’d jump for joy and thank God. He gave me this talent and being able to make a living on it would be a pinch- me moment! Then I’d hire a housekeeper because I hate cleaning and clutter. It would be amazing to go a book tour and be a guest on Ellen. Being in the spotlight would feel awkward though. Being a writer, it would be nice to have my name known. But I don’t want to be famous exactly; I’d love for my characters to be. When I got my first review from a Goodreads giveaway and the reader fell in love with Lee, I was ecstatic! It was what I hoped would happen. When reviewers mention Galaxy, I’m thrilled. I made these guys up and now people are getting to know them.

Kaye: In a story we are often asked to create images for the reader that we may not have experienced ourselves. When have you had to do that?

Chele: I write what I know, but I also Google a lot! There is a scene in Behind Frenemy Lines where Lee and Galaxy go to the White House to interview Anita, the communications director, about the threats made. I’ve seen the outside of the White House from a park gate, but have never been inside. So, I scoured virtual tours online and described it from there. After the meeting, the spies go rogue exploring the place, so I had to look up different rooms and recreate the experience the best I could.

I’ve also researched Russian Heirloom furniture, so I could describe some antique pieces in Galaxy’s apartment. Soon after, I received a brochure in the mail about Russian art and heirlooms.  I couldn’t believe it!

Kaye: You’re a mom as well as being an author. What are your secrets for juggling writing with family?

Chele: My kids are grown now—my son is 27 and daughter is 19 — but they were still young when I was writing the spiritual stories. I only wrote sporadically then, mostly holiday newsletters, and I would craft those when they were in bed. When I got back into writing four years ago, my daughter was about to graduate from 8th grade. So it was easier then. I write while she sleeps in. As for writing around a husband, I like my free time during the week when he’s at work.

Kaye: What is the one thing you hope to have taught your children?

Chele: I hope they see I’m accomplishing my life’s dream, and dreams don’t happen by themselves. You have to put the effort in and seek out the opportunities and avenues to get you there. My daughter is an amazing artist and she is going to school for an art degree. I don’t tell her she has to be a doctor or lawyer. Art is good therapy for her. My son is great at math and has a business degree with a math minor. He’s still trying to find his degree job, but in the meantime is advancing in a job he’s had for 10 years. He likes to do creative writing as a tension reliever after work and my daughter just got public praise from her English professor for a creative angle in her final essay. As a writer and mother, that makes me both proud and relieved. I love that they have writing skills but mostly they are doing what they love.

Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Chele: At a Disney resort three years ago, the maintenance crew knocked on the door and were swapping out tree plants. I hadn’t noticed ours and it looked fine when they carted it away, leaving a fresher one in its place. I thought, “how strange.” It seemed suspicious to me, but we were busy and I didn’t think much more about it until we got home. I knew I wanted to work it into a story someday. It happened to fit a scene in BFL, so in it went. What happens in the book  is much more exciting than in real life. Also that summer, we received an automated call from our electric company about a 3 am power outage planned to replace transformers. I thought, wouldn’t that be a perfect cover-up to commit a crime? So it found its way there, too.

Every day events make me suspicious now.

Kaye: Your two published works are very different genres. How do you get from inspirational nonfiction to a romantic thriller? What other genres might be in store for your readers?

Chele: Behind Frenemy Lines, is a tasteful spy romance, and was my first published book in January 2017. Almost a year after I started writing fiction again, my husband was going to Germany for business and I thought it would be fun to test my writing out on him I decided to write a spy scene, since that was what he liked to read— Jack Reacher, Jack Ryan, and all that. I hid it in his suitcase, so well in fact, after two days I had to inquire about it and give hints. He really liked it. I added back stories and a serious case to solve. The challenge was adding politics. I joke that I have political amnesia because I don’t understand it very well and I find it boring. I also wanted something unique since that is the genre he reads, he probably has heard every plot out there. So I came up with a unique premise, but it does veer off in other directions too.

Since he traveled often that year in 2014, I kept writing other suitcase chapters, just for kicks with no intention of publishing. About two-thirds done I knew I wanted it to be my first book. And the more I developed secret agent Lee Clancy, the more I fell in love with him. He’s a gallant gentleman, has confidence but is not arrogant, knows how to romance, but he isn’t perfect. He’s a real guy, flaws and all. He woos his spy partner, Galaxy O’Jordan, but isn’t sure if he wants to kiss her or wring her neck. The feeling is mutual.

Gal is complicated, beautiful, has body image issues and is klutzy like me, which adds light comedy. She is ruthless but vulnerable and has questionable connections with a shady past. I originally made her up in 11th grade journalism class in 1981 for the conclusion to a T.V script, but I added her multi-faceted personality in 2014. I’m not sure where her name came from. I wanted something exotic for her honey-trapping role, but maybe I was influenced by Star Wars or the space shuttle hoopla back then. I still love her name today!

When White House threats dredge up an old presidential cover up, the case careens a crazy corner into la-la land and it’s up to NSA’s Link agency to figure it out.  Enter Galaxy O’Jordan, feminist crusader with a shady past. An agent harboring secrets, she’s sworn off love while mending a broken heart. It’s just her luck when she’s paired with chivalrous hunk Lee Clancy, surveillance specialist!  It’s not long before they’re smitten, despite their best efforts to play it cool.

BFLPGBookpile

The Pearly Gates Phone Company was published in October 2017 and is an uplifting collection of mini-miracles that happened in my life as well as my family and friends. Remember those spiritual shorts I kept submitting to a Christian magazine? I realized I had quite a few stacking up. From there I wrote a bunch more. There are 33 anecdotal snippets to inspire hope, comfort and give a few chuckles. The title is from the main story in the book, about my dad calling a month after he died. This was 2002 but if it happened today, I think we would have a better explanation about technology. Still, it was a goosebumps moment that was so remarkable, I had to write about it soon after it happened. The original was too long and complicated, but it’s had a few revisions since then, 2014 being the most recent. That is when just the right title popped into my head. I knew it would make the perfect title for the book too.

Have you ever been wowed by the wonders of God? Or enchanted by an extraordinary event? This is a book of coincidental moments, those instances that stop you in your tracks, and you know deep inside it could only be explained by heavenly evidence.

Kaye: You have two very unique titles for your books. How do you decide the titles for your books? Where does the title come in the writing process for you?

Chele: Thank you! I love whimsy titles. Sometimes the perfect one just comes to me, even before I start the story, like the novella and Confessions of a Goody-Goody. But for the two books out now, the names did not immediately click until halfway through. Behind Frenemy Lines had the working title Spy Story as I chiseled away on each traveling chapter. Especially since I threw it together a day or two before my husband’s trip. It was just a place holder, really. Then my daughter was having trouble with a friend and we were not sure if this girl was a friend or enemy so I referred to her as a frenemy. With that word in my head, I suddenly had a title—a play on the movie, “Behind Enemy Lines.” And it was perfect since we don’t know which side Galaxy is on.

As for The Pearly Gates Phone Company, during the original writing, I had the title, “A Call from Heaven” and then with a rewrite, other titles like, “Hello from Hippie Heaven” or “A Heavenly Hello” materialized, but did not feel right. I knew I wanted something more fun. Finally, during the last revision, it popped in!

Kaye: What’s your favorite social media site for promotion? Why?

Chele: Facebook seems to be the easiest and I like Instagram. Twitter seems mysterious to me. I’ve tweeted and try to use hashtags, but not sure how effective it is. The self-promoting concept is one of the most challenging parts of being an author.

Kaye: How would you describe yourself in three words?

Chele: Goofy, Creative, Lifetime learner

Kaye: What makes you laugh or cry?

Chele: I’d rather laugh than cry, so I enjoy comedies. There is no shame in crying, but for me personally, it is easier to laugh. Maybe because I “ugly-cry.” There isn’t anything lady-like about it. Everyday moments crack me up. I always say, “Life’s a sitcom.”  And that usually refers to mishaps happening to me.

At orientation a few years ago, they played a little cartoon emphasizing students asking for help to do all they can to pass, rather than use excuses and blame the professor. The cartoon was drawn simply and used computerized, monotone voices, which sounded so funny. I was trying so hard not to burst into a fit and almost left the auditorium, but luckily I was able to keep it under wraps. Good thing, because no one else was laughing. I am easily amused and find if we don’t take life too seriously, we can have a good time.

Sometimes my laughter rolls into crying, especially if I am tired or needed a good cry and brushed it off. An episode of The Goldbergs had me laughing so hard, I was in tears. My daughter came home and I couldn’t even talk to explain what was going on. I could only point to the TV. In the ep, Barry was trying to make sculptures of his girlfriend, copying a cue from Lionel Richie in his video “Hello.”  His attempts were hideous, and each one was funnier than the last. I just lost it.

As for crying, I am soft-hearted when it comes to children and animals, so I avoid movies with disturbing themes, but sometimes they sneak in a “feel good movie of the year.” I hate that!

I had big crying jags moving here and experiencing my first partially empty nest when my son stayed behind to move in with his dad to finish college. It felt so unnatural.  Another big tears moment was a month later. Losing our old golden retriever, Buster was one of the saddest days I can remember, aside from losing my parents.

I’ve also cried out of sheer happiness, like when my daughter said she wrote about my mom as her favorite relative. I knew she would love to know that!  Or when I was trying to track down a friend and finally got a letter from his mother. That was in the 80s, before internet and Facebook, so it felt like a true miracle.

Thank you for asking me all these wonderful questions.

Thank you Chele, for joining us and sharing today on Writing to be Read. It obvious that you really opened yourself up and spoke from the heart. It has been great to interview you. I hope all my readers will thank you as well, and remember to watch for my review in the near future of Behind Frenemy Lines.  You can find ouot more about Chele and her books here:

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/chele.pedersensmith.5?lst=1570686027%3A100021726966363%3A1528131001

Facebook group: Chele’s Galaxy

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cpsmithbooks

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/chelepedersensmith

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16337551.Chele_Pedersen_Smith

 

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Interview with multi-genre author Ashley Fontainne

Ashley Fontainne

I recently had the pleasure of virtually meeting this charming author when I did a review of her thriller, Zero Balance, earlier this month. This woman is an award winning, muti-genre, best selling author with over twenty books on the bestseller lists. Her genres include: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Coming of Age, Addiction, Romantic Suspense, and Short Stories. She’s an independent author, who founded her own independent press, BSMW, and one of her books has been turned into an independent film. Please help me welcome Ashley Fontainne to Writing to be Read.

Kaye: You brand yourself “The Dark Southern Belle” on your website. Where does this title come from?

Ashley: A fan coined the phrase in a review of one of my books. It made me smile. I  knew as soon as I read it that it was the perfect catch phrase.

Kaye: Would you share a little about your own author’s journey with us?

Ashley: It has been a crazy ride! Seven years ago, I had no clue how my life would change when I hit “publish” on Amazon Kindle with my first title. I had no idea what I was doing or getting myself in to, and though the road has been rough at times, wouldn’t change a thing!

Kaye: What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

Ashley: I am a huge crybaby. In fact, I refuse to watch certain movies or read particular genres of books because, despite the subject matter of most of my books, I have a very sensitive side. I still tear up at the end scene of Homeward Bound when Shadow appears on the hill.

Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Ashley: There have been a lot, but the one that stands out the most is for my zombie series. I am a huge fan of the genre and of course, The Walking Dead. I wanted to add a different take on how the zombie apocalypse starts. The rampant abuse of drugs in our society was the perfect fit and the second the two ideas connected, I started writing.

Kaye: You have some really interesting titles. One of my favorites is Fine as Frog Hair. The title makes me want to read it and I haven’t even read the description for the book. How do you decide the titles for your books? Where does the title come in the process for you?

Ashley: Fine as Frog Hair is a saying my grandfather was fond of using when asked, “How are you?” He liked to say, “Why honey, I’m fine as frog hair.” It’s a cute southern expression and since the short story is loosely based off his life, I thought the title fit perfectly. Like the stories, the titles appear out of thin air.

Kaye: You write in multiple genres. What are the differences for you as you write each one?

Ashley: Nothing really. I refuse to pigeonhole my creativity into just one genre. A story is a story no matter the backdrop. A character and/or idea pops into my head and I just let the words flow.

Kaye: You’re an award winning author. Which awards have you been the recipient of?

Ashley: Number Seventy-Five won the Bronze in Fiction/Suspense from Readers’ Favorite. The Lie won Gold from the Illumination Book Awards.

Kaye: Would you tell us about One of a Kind Covers?

Ashley: As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t know a thing about epub, mobi, formatting or cover design when I first jumped into this crazy world. Over the years, I taught myself how to do all of those things out of financial necessity, and in the course of doing so, other authors came to me, asking if I would design a cover for them, which is how One of a Kind Covers came about.

Kaye: You’re the founder of your own independent press, RSMW. Tell us about RSMW.  ; What does RSMW stand for? What’s the story behind it?

Ashley: RMSW Press stands for Rambling Mad Southern Woman, which is also the name of my blog. While learning how to design a website and blog, I was so frustrated I almost gave up. I was complaining about it to my husband and said, “I feel like a rambling mad southern woman,” and poof! There was the title.

Fatal AgreementsKaye: Your latest release is Fatal Agreements, which came out April 23rd. Would you tell us a little about that book?

Ashley: Whispered rumors tickled the ears of the residents of an entire town for decades about the disturbing secrets of the old Halstead House, dating all the way back to the early 1920s. Most people didn’t believe them. Several people will soon discover they should have listened.

Three years after struggling to cope with the death of her beloved father and escaping an abusive relationship, Samantha Chapman decides it’s time to return to her hometown of Hot Springs. She buys the ramshackle Halstead House, eager to transform the dilapidated, abandoned piece of history into her new law office and residence, hoping it will be the start of a brighter chapter and a safe haven to escape her personal demons.

Instead of newfound freedom, things take a dark turn when the resurrection of the old home reveals the disturbing secrets hidden within its walls. When youthful transgressions of numerous people come to light, including ones some members of the Chapman family are desperate to contain, it reveals the sins of the past. They collide with the grave mistakes of the present, creating a perfect storm of chaos and death for not only the Chapman family but others as well.

Some will survive.

Others will get burned.

Sam and her loved ones realize some family secrets should have remained buried.

Kaye: Your book Ruined Wings was turned into an independent film. Can you tell us how that came about? Who wrote the screenplay?

Ashley: I wrote the screenplay along with the Executive Producer, Sabrina Stewart. We have been a tight duo since the first day we connected years ago when she auditioned to narrate Number Seventy-Five. I sent her the book and she loved it. Opioid addiction is a major crisis in our world and we hope through this movie to help stop the plague.

Kaye: What was it like to see your characters come alive on the screen?

Ashley: Life-changing. Humbling. Terrifying!

Kaye: You also have a GoFundMe campaign going to fund the film. Would you like to tell us about it and how readers can contribute?

Ashley: The film will be shared at no cost to educators and organizations to be played at schools, churches, civic meetings and youth organizations where it can target those most vulnerable to fall into the pit of abuse and addiction. Donate  here:  https://www.gofundme.com/independent-film-ruined-wings

Kaye: What is the working title of your next book?

Ashley: Blood Stain

Kaye: Which author, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

Ashley: Edgar Allan Poe.

Kaye: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Ashley: Grow a thick skin. Never give up. Hone your craft. Write from the heart.

I want to thank Ashley Fontainne for joining us here on Writing to be Read. You can learn more about Ashley at the following places:

Website: http://www.ashleyfontainne.com/

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/ashley.fontainne/

Blog: http://ramblingsofamadsouthernwoman.blogspot.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AshleyFontainne
Movie site of Ruined Wingshttps://ruinedwings.com/

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“Freedom’s Song”: A Well-Crafted Romantic Thriller

Freedom's Song

Freedom’s Song, by A.K. Lawrence has all the elements of a good romance wrapped up in the plot of a top notch thriller. It is obvious that this is book 2 of the continuing saga of Baldwin series, (novels set in the small town setting of Baldwin, Michigan), but Lawrence offers just enough background to keep me from being in the dark on the first one, without actually reading it, yet doesn’t bog you down with backstory. The characters feel realistic enough to make me care about what happens next, and that’s a good thing.

Hunter and Anna found each other last summer, during the life or death events in the first book, when he became the knight in shining armor for both Anna, who was kidnapped and Nancy, who was married to Anna’s kidnapper, an all-around louse of a guy, named Dock. Now Nancy’s divorce is almost final, and Colby has plans to make his move for Nancy once she is a free agent once more. But, all is not as it seems and a blast from his puts the brakes on his anticipated romance, when his college stalker girlfriend reappears on the scene to claim her man.

The only complaint I had with this story was I felt the dwarf subplot and the proposal pool were left unresolved, and we really didn’t get to see them through to the end. If you read the book, you’ll see what I mean. The romantic elements carry the story as we get to know the characters and sets things up, but when the thriller elements join the party things start hopping with good tension and suspense. I give Freedom’s Song five quills.

five-quills3

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs at no charge. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.