Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mystery in the Missing Year

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Today I'm delighted to welcome Belinda Frisch, author of a new contemporary romantic mystery, The Missing Year, to my blog, and she's staying for coffee, so grab a cup and join us as we chat on the sofa. (Don't forget, there's a great giveaway included with this post, so be sure to read on and find out how to enter too.)

Hi Belinda, and welcome to my blog. I don't know if you drink coffee or not, but there's tea, juice, water. Please help yourself.

Having seen your bio, I have to ask what branch of healthcare did you work in, and how does it influence your fiction?

My background is in medical coding and billing. In 2005, I authored a textbook, Correct Coding for Medicare, Compliance, and Reimbursement, and moved into a teaching role at a regional hospital, training physicians on the importance of documentation. I love all things medical (forensic files, CSI, Bones, TLC) and took it upon myself to know exactly what happened in each of the hospital departments I worked for. I needed the doctors to have faith that I understood their job on a level that made them comfortable taking advice from me. I shadowed MDs and PAs, witnessing everything from brain cutting at a neuropathology conference, to weekly medical grand rounds, to medical treatments, psychiatric intakes, and autopsies. I am not squeamish. I’m also known as the household medic. One of my doctor friends loves to tease me about the extent of things I treat myself. I am also constantly thinking. Every time I learned something new, the writer side of me (which has been present since my youth) was like, “Hmm … What if?” From that curiosity (and my dislike of the creepy hospital basement) came Cure, the first in my Strandville series. There’s a bit of something medical in almost all of my books. It’s become part of my signature, I guess.

Sounds fun... though I might like to avoid that basement. I've heard it said fact is stranger than fiction. What do you think?

Oh, it’s true! Something people might not know about me is that I love all things odd ala Ripley’s Believe it or Not. I dig macabre news. My late Shetland Sheepdog was named Ripley, though I think out of Freudian coincidence.

Ah, I love dogs, though mine have tended to have rather more mundane names. What's your favorite of all the short stories you've written, and why?

One of my earliest published short stories, The Fence was picked up by Shroud Publishing several years ago. The story came from my husband and I actually erecting one of those mammoth white PVC privacy fences. We had recently purchased a home and wanted a place for our dogs to safely run. What we didn’t know at the time is that we must live at the site of a glacier melt. There was nothing but rocks. We couldn’t use heavy equipment because it wouldn’t work and was dangerous. We ended up hand-digging every post hole. BRUTAL. It took an entire summer to finish, but we did it. Putting the pieces together, we thought, you could put anything down these hollow fence posts. Who would know? So I wrote a story … and disposed of a body in the fence.

Ummm. That will put me off digging too deeply under fences! What's your favorite of all the books you've written, and why?

My hands-down favorite is Better Left Buried, a reimagining of my debut novella Dead Spell. While Dead Spell was decent, for years the characters had been asking me to give them a longer life. Better Left Buried was born to get them to be quiet. It was great going back and revisiting Harmony Wolcott, the most damaged, original, and haunting character I have ever written.  She was the reason I loved the book so much.

What inspired you to write the Missing Year?

I’m a conspiracy theorist when it comes to the question, “What are you afraid of.” The trope has been used often enough for me to limit what I say on the subject (which comes up often in horror interviews). I have it in my head that someone out there is looking to use my fears against me. The ones I can’t hide are the fears of terminal illness and of ever losing my husband. Combine the two and you have The Missing Year. While normally I write darker stories, fast-paced thrillers, and occasionally unapologetic gore, The Missing Year is a true thinking piece that explores terminal illness from both the patient and loved ones perspectives, focusing on end-of-life options, the burden of grief, and ultimately learning to live and love again after all is said and done. Exploring my fears through writing has proven to be a great outlet.

It sounds a really intriguing novel, and I hope I might get to read it sometime. Thank you for spending time on my blog, Belinda, and now I'll tell everyone some more about you, your book, your tour, and your giveaway.

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Title: The Missing Year
Author:  Belinda Frisch
Published:  November 17th, 2014
Word Count:   72,000
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
About the Novel:
Thirty-four-year-old Blake Wheeler was everything Lila had ever wanted. A rising-star surgeon with his whole life ahead of him, Blake gave Lila ten perfect years of marriage before plunging her into the hardest year of their lives.
When a late night shooting leaves Blake in a coma, Lila is faced with a difficult decision: continue life support or let him go.
One year later, Lila remains unwilling to speak, in a private mental health facility where she refuses to move on.
Dr. Ross Reeves knows firsthand about loss, having spent the better part of five years burying himself in his work. Tasked with the challenge of breaking Lila’s silence, Ross investigates Lila’s past and her husband’s death, finding more to Blake’s murder than meets the eye. A series of mysterious coincidences has Ross wondering if Lila is acting out of grief … or guilt.
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About the Author:
*Runner-up Halloween Book Festival 2012 and optioned for film, Cure *Honorable Mention New York Book Festival 2014, Better Left Buried *Amazon Top 100 Medical Thriller, Fatal Reaction
After fifteen years of working in healthcare, Belinda Frisch’s stories can’t help being medicine influenced. A writer of dark tales in the horror, mystery, and thriller genres, Belinda tells the stories she’d like to read. Her fiction has appeared in Shroud Magazine, Dabblestone Horror, and Tales of the Zombie War. She is the author of Cure, Afterbirth, Fatal Reaction, Better Left Buried, and The Missing Year. She resides in upstate New York with her husband and a small menagerie of beloved animals.
Tour Details:
Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • 10 Kindle copies of Fatal Reaction or The Missing Year (winner's choice)
  • 10 ACX audiobook codes for Fatal Reaction or Cure (winner's choice)
  • A $25.00 Amazon gift card
Giveaway is International.
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Carlos Claimed for a sister

Today I'm delighted to welcome author Rachelle Ayala back to my blog as she tours the internet with her latest Sanchez Sisters novel, Claiming Carlos.  This time Rachelle's staying here long enough for a cup of coffee, so find a mug, add cream and sugar to taste, and join us as we sit on the sofa and chat. (Don't forget to rinse your cup before you leave, and don't miss the giveaway at the end of this post.)

When did you first start writing fiction, Rachelle?

I’ve written short stories for myself since I was little, but didn’t start a novel until 2010 when I decided to write a story about a Bible heroine, Michal. The words flowed and before I knew it, I had a first draft. Obviously it needed a lot of revision and help, so I went to Critique Circle and spent almost two years learning the craft, taking classes at Savvy Authors, and revising my novel. After that, I was hooked and here I am, ten books later.

Ten books! That's pretty impressive. So what genres have you tried your hand at?

I’ve stuck mostly in the Romance genre, from historical romance to romantic suspense to light-hearted and humorous romances. Whenever I watch a movie or read a book, I’m always looking for the love story angle.

What made you choose to write romantic fiction?

As I mentioned, I’m always looking for the love story in any piece of fiction or real life. I’m a romantic. I believe in the power of love to overcome obstacles and feel that everyone should find love at least once in their lives.

Sounds good to me! How long does it take you to write a book?

I can write a first draft in about a month, sometimes less. However, depending on the book, the story, the research required, or whether I went down some unbelievable tangent, revision and editing can take much longer. It’s hard to put a timeline because I won’t publish a story until I believe it is perfect.

As I reader, I certainly appreciate books that are polished that way, so thank you, Rachelle. Where do you get your ideas from?

They fly through the air and stick to me. It’s usually a character who gets the ball rolling. I start thinking about the character and some situations they got themselves into. Or I think of something funny that I want to include in a story and build the story and character from there.

Where do you see your writing going next?

I don’t plan my writing, so it goes wherever whim and creativity takes me. I always surprise myself in retrospect and wonder how I ended up writing the story or characters I happen to write.

That sounds like half the fun of writing. But is there a message you'd like to convey to your readers, besides entertaining them?

Mostly that love is universal and that everyone deserves to be loved and appreciated. I like taking characters who are down on their luck, or have some other flaw holding them back, and through falling in love, they discover something noble about themselves while breaking free of whatever obstacle that was holding them back.

And finally, how long is your to-read list, and do you mind that it might take me a while to get around to reading and reviewing Claiming Carlos?"
I have over 3600 items in my Kindle library, in addition to KindleUnlimited and Scribd accounts, so it’s safe to say I have probably 100 lifetimes worth of reading. I book-surf, much like guys channel-surf, reading a few paragraphs of a book in my library before jumping to another. If a book grabs me, then I’m in. I understand you also have a big pile of books to read, and I only hope my first chapter will jump out and grab you by the knees and not let go. Thanks so much for interviewing me and putting me on your blog. I really do appreciate all of your support and friendliness.

I'm trying to be disciplined and wait, but those first paragraphs are calling me. Thank you for visiting my blog, Rachelle, and I hope the release is going well.

About the book:

Choco Sanchez is stuck in a rut. She's never hit a softball and has been friends forever with Carlos Lopez, the head cook at her family's Filipino restaurant. When flashy restaurant consultant Johnny Dee hits her with a pitch, she falls head over heels and gets a makeover

Carlos Lopez is not about to lose one for the home team. Johnny launches a full scale change on the menu, and Carlos sends him straight into the dumpster. Claiming Choco's heart proves more difficult. But never underestimate a man who can cook hot, spicy, and steamy, and we ain't talking just food.

About the author:

Rachelle Ayala is a bestselling Asian American author of dramatic romantic suspense and humorous, sexy contemporary romances. Her heroines are feisty and her heroes hot. She writes emotionally challenging stories but believes in the power of love and hope.

Rachelle is the founder of an online writing group, Romance in a Month, an active member of the California Writer's Club, Fremont Chapter, and a volunteer for the World Literary Cafe. She is a very happy woman and lives in California with her husband. She has won awards in multicultural and historical romance.

Find her at:


About the tour:

17th November
Cindy - Spotlight
Deea - Spotlight
KyAnn Waters - Spotlight
Lori - Review
Sheila Deeth - Interview

18th November
Marilou George - Spotlight

19th November
A.G.Moye - Spotlight
Barbie Herrera - Spotlight
Catalina Egan - Spotlight
DJ Sakata - Spotlight

20th November
Falguni Kothari - Character Interview
M.J. Austin - Spotlight
Teresa Bowen - Review

21st November
Claudia Burgoa - Guest Post
Joyce Strand - Interview

22nd November
Dawn Heslin - Spotlight
R.C. Bean - Guest Post

24th November

25th November
Guinevere Thomas - Spotlight

26th November
Elizabeth McKenna - Spotlight
Kisha - Spotlight

27th November
Cinta - Spotlight
Jacquel Chrissy May - Spotlight
Kumiko Lei - Review
Kim - Review

28th November
Mohur - Spotlight
Laura Greenwood - Review

29th November
Annamaria Bazzi - Review
Books are Love - Review
Jessica Webb - Review
Kay LaLone - Review
Paula - Review
R.C. Bean - Review
Victoria Brinius - Review

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Must-reads and me

Some books just demand to be read. Their characters are so real perhaps, or their concepts so deeply intriguing. They may be non-fiction or fiction, but they draw you in with their questions or situations and invite you to think. They engage the head and heart, maybe even the soul, making you hear your own voice echo in characters or arguments. And you know they'll end with something deep that leaves you deeply fed.

I wish Divide by Zero could be one of those novels. It felt that way as I wrote it. I knew the characters so well I'd walk around the neighborhood talking to them, arguing why and how, and asking them sometimes to change their mind. There's a dark secret in the novel which I didn't even know until I learned it halfway through. Then I had to go back and ask the perpetrator where he was coming from. I had to know more; after which I went forward again, mourning with the community, wondering how it would survive until a small boy, an imaginary boy, looked at a picture in the (imaginary) paper and gave me the answer. Divide by Zero grabbed me so much I had to spend more time after writing it with Sylvia, now the star of Infinite Sum. And I'm learning more about Evie from someone who hardly even appeared in the original novel. But I saw his face. I had to ask.

I hope Divide by Zero might become one of those must-read novels. Meanwhile here are some books that stood out for me recently and demanded to be read:

Fields of Blood, by Karen Armstrong, leads readers through the history of nations, tribes and peoples, tracing the growth and meaning of religion, in answer to that oft-heard complaint that religion causes most of the world's wars. The answer's not a gut-response yes or no, but a nicely nuanced and beautifully researched investigation of what religion means, where faith comes into it, and how easily we choose to destroy life if there's nothing to tell us our neighbor's life has meaning. It's a long read, but it's very well worth the read and I really enjoyed it. Lots of cups of well-balanced, smooth, full-flavored 3-star coffee recommended.

A children's book dealing sweetly and generously with the aftermath of war seems a suitable one for my next review. The Olive Tree, by Elsa Marston, illustrated by Claire Ewart, is a simple picture book, set in Lebanon, telling the tale of a boy whose family stayed, and a girl whose family have just returned after war. Can the two be friends? Can they share the fruit of the olive tree growing between them? Or has too much been lost? It's a beautiful tale, simply told, with a beautiful child's eye view, and it's highly recommended. Enjoy with a well-balanced smooth 3-star coffee.

Next is a book I'd been looking forward to for quite some while, a tale of small-town battles rather than war, set in a small English town where a member of the local council has just died. The Casual Vacancy, by J. K. Rowling, introduces a wealth of convincing characters, all of them hurting and flawed. Much like the TV show Broadchurch (or Gracepoint in the US), these very believable people all hide their different secrets, and no one is wholly good. There's an odd sense of redemption as each flaw shows its past, and a deep sorrow in the aftermath, grown wide, of small events. Enjoy this one with a rich, elegant and complex 4-star coffee.

And finally, another book I'd been looking forward to is Aaron Paul Lazar's Devil's Lake. It turned out not to be my favorite of his novels, but it's a powerful story of a woman, kidnapped and abused, and how she might pick up her life when she returns home. For me, the American politics loomed a little large, but there's a valuable lesson in the difference between controlling and protecting; and redemption proves more important than revenge after all. Enjoy this dark tale with a bold dark 5-star coffee.