Speaking of NAACP

Me Red carpet smallAll this talk of the NAACP (I know…stretch, but I’m trying to lean toward the positive here), reminded me of a few years ago when the book I wrote along with Shoshana Johnson, was
nominated for an NAACP Image Award. I’m Still Standing, didn’t win, but it was so memorable to go to L.A., be on a red carpet, meet so many famous people and watch people like Prince and Halle Barry present awards. I’ll never forget it and will always appreciate being able to share it with Shoshana.

When I came back, I did this interview with Army Today. Turned out it was the first on-camera interview for the young Soldier. He did a pretty good job I think! He even remembered the most important question … is there anything else you’d like to add?!

Traveling virtually

Hammock timeIf you pay any attention to this blog, you know that I’ve JUST returned from a week on the beach. Sigh. Hammock Time :) I already miss it.

Now it’s back to business but that doesn’t mean I’m sitting still. This week, I’m taking you along with me on my week-long blog tour as part of a month-long blitz of the Lei Crime Kindle World authors. I’m sharing my week with the lovely and talented historian slash novelist, J. L. Oakley and her great Lei Crime novella, Saddle Road.

Sure, there’s no sand between the toes, but there is a chance for a $30 Amazon gift card to some lucky commenter.

So come along with me, post comments, check out the bloggers who are hosting us and share the information with your friends. And then, if you’re so inclined and you haven’t already, picked up a copy of Hidden Poppies or one of my other titles. There’s lots to choose from.

I’ll be working on another Lei Crime novella, just as soon as I finish the first draft of this new series I’m excited about. More on that to follow.

If you missed us today, be sure to stop by and visit on one of the other days.  blog tour with JL

June 8: Undercover Book Reviews

June 9: Room With Books

June 10: Independent Authors

June 11: Straight from the Library

June 11: Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

June 12: Long and Short Reviews

Books to take to the beach!

Beach kindleIt’s been a very long time since I’ve granted myself the luxury of a beach vacation. So long in fact, I need new bathing suits (not my favorite thing to shop for), new beach bags, new flip flops and sunscreen. Lots of sunscreen.

By far the most important thing I need to stock up on – even more important than the bathing suit – is beach reading material. For me, the sun, sand and surf are nice but without a good book I might as well be at work.

To ensure this precious reading time is not squandered, I reached out to friends to get recommendations. And since I have so many author friends, I included the caveat they couldn’t recommend their own books. While many suggested books I’d already read, there were a few gems in there I had to share. I know I’m not the only one looking for good summertime reading so here is a rundown of the suggestions I received.

My brother, Larry and I exchange book ideas all the time. He usually never steers me wrong. I just finished reading all six books in the Purge of Babylon series by Sam Sisavath based on Larry’s strong support. I absolutely loved them. Can’t wait for book seven. But I finished the series and need more to fill my time.

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Crow Hollow is worth every penny

crow hollowThey say good books open up new worlds, and that’s exactly what Michael Wallace does, in Crow Hollow. He takes us to the new world of the American colonies, where wilderness is the backyard, where Puritan conventions and punishments are almost as cruel as the conditions and where once friendly Native American neighbors are almost extinct after a bloody war.

Every time I read a Wallace book, it takes me a couple days to return to normal after traveling to the worlds he creates which are always transformative and tangible in their realism. This time, one hundred years before the colonies will declare their independence, we are in Boston, a small community where church attendance is mandatory, where men guard the walls around the clock and where everyone has fresh memories of war with neighboring Indians.

Prudence Cotton, now free after having been a prisoner of the Nipmuk tribe, desperately wants her daughter back, a three year-old still in the clutches of her Indian captors. James Bailey, an agent of the crown, is on a different mission, but Prudence manages to enlist his help in her quest. Together they search for her daughter while uncovering a conspiracy that leads to murder and betrayal.

Crow Hollow starts a little slow, but that’s simply due to the deliberate immersion it takes to get the reader into the realm of Puritans, new world colonies, British rule and the rough country that is the setting for this tale. Wallace continually reminds us of the wilderness surrounding these small communities and the bravery the colonists must have had to face it. At one point, John Bailey comments that it will take one thousand years to fill the vast space. We know it took far less than that, but the fortitude it must have taken to confront such a task is well demonstrated in characters like Prudence Cotton.

Crow Hollow is yet another example of why I’m a huge Wallace fan. He entertains, he educates and he humanizes historic times that otherwise would be forgotten or overlooked. I’d love to see the continuing story of Prudence Cotton and James Bailey. They’re fantastically drawn, three-dimensional, deeply intriguing characters. They’re bound to get embroiled in some other adventure and when they do, I’d like to go along for the ride.

A lasting impression

Lei Crime KW Series coversI wonder if Toby Neal knew what she was starting when she invited us to jump into her sandbox. The assignment to write a novella to help launch the Lei Crime Series Kindle World seemed straight forward. The deadline was crazy short, but I got my butt in the chair and wrote Hidden Poppies in record time and am proud of the way it turned out. I love the book, I love the cover and I love the idea of writing another novella for the Kindle World very soon.

What I didn’t expect was the remarkable collaboration and support I received from the other authors working on this project. The emails between us have been flying back and forth and our Facebook and Twitter exchanges have been lively and, for me, informative—I’ve learned so much from these authors!

The diversity of the eight stories is proof that, if you stick eight authors in a room and ask them to describe something, you’ll get eight completely different viewpoints and that’s a good thing. I thoroughly enjoyed every one of these stories. I’m sure you will too.

Here are my thoughts on the books in the series:

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Daredevil – Have you seen it?

DaredevilCall me an adolescent teen who spends most of her time in a basement (my office), but I love a good comic book, (alright! Graphic novel) when I read one. I love them even more when I can watch them on TV.

From The Walking Dead – the one I think of as the king of all graphic stories – to TV shows like Gotham, Arrow, Flash and more, the super hero theme isn’t going away anytime soon, nor would I want it to.

Even with all of these great shows, I always approach new attempts with a bit of skepticism. We’ve seen horrid failures as writers and directors take a crack at creating moving-picture-style heroes worthy of the original conception. And it was because of the first Daredevil movie that I figured the Netflix version of it wouldn’t be very interesting.

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The Ceremony

Coming April 7

Available now for less than a dollar

While the Lei Crime Kindle World novella, Hidden Poppies is doing well and getting some early praise, I don’t want you to forget about the Harper Mystery companion short, The Ceremony.

The Ceremony tells the story of what happens when Master Sergeant Lauren Harper is finally recognized for her bravery. The best part is, the story is told from Harry’s perspective. I think you’ll enjoy it!

Lei Crime Kindle World – A team effort

Hidden-Poppies2It’s hard to believe it was less than two months ago that one of my indie publishing idols, bestselling author Toby Neal, asked me to be a part of an incredible project. Amazon intended to launch a Kindle World, featuring Toby’s Lei Crime Series. Part of Toby’s Amazon launch involved convincing nine authors to write the first stories that would populate the new World. What an honor for Toby and what an exciting opportunity for me and eight other authors.

While the amount of time available to actually write the piece made my heart seize up in fear, I knew there was no way I could let the opportunity slide. Besides, there were eight other authors in the same short timeline boat and if there’s one thing I learned from my time in uniform, a challenge is best faced with a team at your back. Continue reading

Vindication

LadyboyOn those rare occasions when it happens, vindication can be truly sweet. Today I’m basking in the honeyed glow of the I-told-you-so and enjoying every second of it.

Sometime ago, a friend of mine asked me to read her book Ladyboy and the Volunteer. From the first page, I knew I was reading something special. Her unique style and playful view of intense topics surprised me at every turn. That this was her first book astonished me.

Susanne Aspley and I served in the Army Reserve together. She’d been an Army journalist then, so I knew she could write. I had no idea she could write in a way that made me throw back my head in laughter one minute, and wipe a tear from my eye the next. She writes boldly, as if completely unaware of how penetratingly personal her words are. I simply could not put the book down. I admit, I’m one of those annoying people who sometimes talk to the screen when watching a movie or TV show. Susanne’s book had me talking to the pages, encouraging her, in shocked disbelief and in plain admiration. She’d written a dazzling tale that I knew would blow readers away.   Continue reading

Kindle Worlds – Lei Crime Series

leiCrimeSeries-kindleWorldThere are days when I sit at the keyboard with so many projects and ideas rolling around in my head that
I don’t know where to begin. Should I blog? Write another chapter in the new paranormal mystery I’m working on? Finish the novella for the Harper series? Tackle some marketing and promotion work? Sometimes, it’s nearly impossible to choose.

Today, the draw to writing comes from a completely new place. When I set out on this indie-publishing journey, one of the first authors I ever approached for help and advice was Toby Neal. I’d read most of her Lei Crime series books and loved her work. Much to my surprise, she was gracious enough to read my book, write an awesome blurb for the cover and ever since, has been an online friend and an invaluable source for advice and support.  Continue reading