Monday, April 28, 2014

Why Alaska?


Today I'm enjoying the joy of mysteries again with a guest post from another mystery writer,Stephanie Joyce Cole, whose novel of unexpected romance, personal reinvention, and mysterious suspense is set in Alaska. We visited Alaska a few years ago and loved it, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to ask the author:



Why Alaska?

So, over to you Stephanie, and thank you for visiting my blog:
(Readers, don't miss the great bonus excerpt from Stephanie's novel, Compass North, below, plus a rafflecopter giveaway!):

            There are many amazing places in this wonderful world, and Alaska is certainly one of them.  Alaska is enormous, as you know if you’ve ever seen the map of Alaska superimposed on a map of the United States.  Because it is so huge, there is no one typical place in Alaska.  Alaska can be found in the scenic fishing communities in the fjords along the Alaska Panhandle, in the company of throngs of grizzly bears in Katmai, and among the Native Alaskans who have lived for many generations in the tiny subsistence villages that dot Alaska’s far western and northern coasts.  So when I tell you that COMPASS NORTH takes place in Alaska, we have to zoom in a little closer, to Homer, Alaska.

            Homer is a small quirky city located in Kachemak Bay, not too far from Anchorage.  You can see some lovely pictures of Homer on my website, and I’ve included links there too, for more information.

            COMPASS NORTH is a romantic suspense novel about personal reinvention.  Meredith narrowly escapes a catastrophic accident and is presumed dead.  She slips into a new identity and a new life in Homer, leaving behind her deceitful husband and  her disastrous marriage back in Florida.  She finds that it’s not that easy to leave the baggage of the past behind, but she discovers that she can to peel back the layers of unhappiness that have weighed her down, to find her strength and joy again.  But not everyone back in Florida is convinced that she’s dead, and someone is looking for her, someone who could destroy her dream of becoming a new person.

            Homer, Alaska is the perfect location for this story.  First of all, it’s just drop-dead gorgeous.  Gleaming glaciers pour down the flanks of the high mountains that circle Kachemak Bay.  The bay abounds with sea and bird life.  According to Wikipedia, the Homer Spit, an isthmus of land that spins out into the bay for over four miles, is the longest road into ocean waters in the entire world.  And Homer is one of those communities that exudes character.  You’ll find fishermen, ex-hippies, tourists, artists...the list goes on.

            Meredith had to be in a place where she could disappear.  Homer was a very long way from her home in Florida, but more than that, Alaskans all over the state pride themselves on their rugged and individualistic spirits.  The land and weather can be harsh, but there are those who manage to live a subsistence lifestyle and barter for their needs, disconnected from the kind of life most of us lead.

            And the struggles Meredith experiences in Alaska mirror her internal journey. Just as she has to learn to deal with icy weather, bears, lack of money and the suspicions of the people she meets, she has to come to terms with her questions about who she has become and who she wants to be.  In Homer, Meredith is adrift in a new place, finding her way and finding herself.





Excerpt from Compass North by Stephanie Joyce Cole:

Meredith sat squeezed against the wall behind the wobbly table with the plastic checkerboard cover. She pushed the last bits of her hamburger bun around her plate. With the long drive finally over, they had stopped to eat at a trailer-turned-diner on the fringe of town.

“So, can we drop you someplace before we take off?” Evan waved to the waitress, motioning for the check.

She took a deep breath and ran her fingers along the pattern in the tablecloth. “Well, I’m not sure...um, I haven’t really decided where...” She looked up and saw Evan frowning at her.

“You don’t have a plan? No place at all to stay tonight?”

Meredith shook her head.

Jan bit at her lower lip and stared at her. “Gee, Meredith, we just assumed you had it all worked out. I wish we could offer you a place, but we’re couch surfing right now until we can get back into our old apartment.”

She saw Jan and Evan exchange anxious glances, and she felt a pang of shame. This wasn’t what they bargained for when they offered a stranger a ride. They didn’t expect to be responsible for me.

Meredith looked down at her hands. She took a deep breath. “I...guess I thought there might be a cheap hostel. I guess I just didn’t think...”

She didn’t have any plan. None at all. She’d hardly focused her thoughts except when the memory of the accident raged back into her head, and when that happened, the terror and pain were almost too much to bear. So she’d tried to smooth out her mind, just letting the hours pass, letting the fatigue and the strangeness of all this wash over her.

No plan. But something had changed now. This was all crazy, but she felt she was watching someone else, someone brand new sitting here in this rundown but cozy restaurant, and that new person was the one with no place to go. It was like play-acting, like being inside of someone else’s skin. Here was a new someone, who didn’t know where she was going to sleep tonight, but this new person wasn’t stumbling around, lost, dragging a huge, black bag of mistakes and bad decisions. She lifted her chin and stared out the window.

“Wait a minute.” Jan looked at Evan. “What about Auntie Rita? I saw her outside just a few minutes ago.” She turned back to Meredith. “She’s not really anyone’s aunt—at least as far as we know—but my mom always made me call her that. I know she’s got a bit of room. She was trying to rent out a spare room a while back, but she didn’t get any takers, I guess.” Jan shrugged.

Evan smirked. “Big surprise. No one wanted to live with Rita. How can that be?”

She glared and him and breathed an exasperated sigh. “Her place is out of town, but you should be able to get back tomorrow without too much of a problem. Rita drives in all the time.”

“Rita, really?” Evan gave a low whistle. “You’re really ready to go there, Jan? You know how she can be.”

Jan pointed her finger at Meredith. “Look, it’s past noon already, and she doesn’t have a clue about where she’s going to sleep tonight. Rita likes me. Well, at least I think she does. I’m going to find her.”

Evan rolled his eyes up at the ceiling. “Rita...jeez...”

Meredith sipped her coffee and stared out the window. She tried to keep her thoughts steady. Now what? She did need a place to stay. She needed to be in a place where her new self might exist, just for a little while. She didn’t want this new Meredith to disappear, not yet.

Puffs of dust bloomed as a brisk, stinging wind whipped at the loose dirt in the parking lot. It was only late September, but the few people outside wore gloves and hats pulled down snug over their ears. Just beyond the rough lot, a greenish-black wall of spruce trees huddled close, their thick boughs knocking and bouncing in the wind. And behind them the tops of jagged and fierce peaks seemingly leaned forward, looming over the spruce. The wild world pushed back here, refusing to let the manmade world have the upper hand.

I am in a new place where I don’t exist. The old Meredith doesn’t exist here.


About Compass North:

 Meredith slips into a new identity and a new life in a small town in Alaska, she discovers it’s not that easy to leave behind the baggage from her past.
Set in the spectacular natural landscape of Southcentral Alaska,
COMPASS NORTH tracks an unexpected journey of personal reinvention.
Reeling from the sudden breakup of her disastrous marriage, Meredith barely escapes a freak accident in Alaska and is presumed dead. She stumbles into a new identity and a new life in a quirky small town. As new friendships grow, Meredith has to learn to trust in herself again.
When a romance with a local fisherman unexpectedly blossoms, Meredith’s secret jeopardizes her hopes for future happiness. And someone is searching for her, someone who will threaten Meredith’s dream of a reinvented life.



About the Author:
Stephanie Joyce Cole lived for many decades in Alaska before she recently relocated to Seattle, WA, where she lives with her husband and a predatory but lovable Manx cat. She has an MFA in Creative Writing, Fiction from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Her goal is to write books that are both thought-provoking and entertaining, and that will carry readers into an adventure in small-town Alaska.


Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • Five mystery eBooks from Champagne Book Group. Books will be selected at random from publisher.
  • $20 gift card to either Amazon or B&N, courtesy of Joyce Proell
Giveaway is International.

Rafflecopter giveaway

Find out more about all 4 of these great mystery novels and authors! Follow the other tour posts at...

Link to the event page:  http://junipergrovebooksolutions.com/multiple-author-mystery-tour/

Friday, April 25, 2014

Do computers scream when they die?

I'm screaming... crying... flinging my hands in the air in abject despair, and I'm wondering if the computer would do the same if it could.

But it's been a good week, seriously. Look at all those book reviews I posted, and note my frequent absence from Facebook and Twitter. I've been writing and editing and even beta-reading for a couple of friends. And today... Today was the day I was going to finally finish that last read-through of Infinite Sum, ready to send it back to the publisher. Today was going to be great! Except...

My computer took 15 minutes to get from gray screen to blue, brought up an error message, took 15 more minutes from okay to black-screened unresponsiveness, produced a start button which I pressed in hopes of stopping, took 15 minutes to the next error message and even more to shut down... And then I began to wonder if my seriously good and wonderfully productive week was suddenly at risk.

When I tried to switch the computer back on, it screamed.

And so did I.

Friendly Computers, our local, very friendly, incredibly helpful and super efficient computer repair people (they once recovered all our son's data from a hard drive that he'd plugged in with the wrong power adaptor, after the more familiar Geeks told him it would cost thousands just to look at), have just phoned me with the news that my hard drive is irrecoverably friend. They're going to put a new one in, and I did do an image backup "recently"---last Sunday, I hope---so they'll get me back to wherever I was then.

Meanwhile, those unposted reviews, the beta-read file that I nearly finished yesterday, the wonderful edits to Infinite Sum... well, they all happened during this gloriously productive and exciting week, and they're all gone. So...

If I recently agreed to do a book review for you, or to post a guest blog, or to... etc... please would you remind me and resend the appropriate files, because this week's data is as fried as burned toast in the sky.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Printed books are cool!

Printed books are cool! My husband can leave one by the bed and read it every night. When he finishes he can place it subtly on my night-stand, a reminder that he thinks I'll enjoy it too. How would he do that with an ebook?

Printed books are easy to carry around, without being afraid I'll drop them or spill coffee on them. Of course, spilling coffee before my husband reads the book would not be recommended.

Printed books feel comfortably un-technological in the hands. Oh dear. Am I showing my age?

Anyway, I read four printed books last week, while answering phones (landlines and cell), looking up apartments on the internet, researching locations, following links, answering emails, and generally being excessively technological. So here are a few more reviews and coffee recommendations. Enjoy!

 



but first.... Rumor has it Nazareth Neighbors might be a printed book now too! Find it on Amazon, coming soon to Barnes and Noble, etc.





My husband really enjoyed The Innocent, by David Baldacci, so I read it straight after him. It's a fast-flowing, exciting lend of spy story, action adventure, suspense, a touch of romance, plenty of mystery, and... well, you get the picture. It's intense, and everything matters, and everything makes sense in the end. Enjoy with an elegant, complex four-star cup of coffee.

Lost Legacy, by Dana Mentink, offers a different kind of mystery, much less global but still violent, with touches of faith and romance. A young woman wants help finding the lost painting which might revive her father's reputation. But the man she hires to help has his own mixed motives, and seeks revenge just as ardently as art. Then romance intervenes, and maybe even heals. Enjoy with a lively easy-drinking two-star cup of coffee.

A Stillness of Chimes, by Meg Moseley, offers small-town mystery set in Georgia as a young woman returns home after her mother's death, to find rumors that her dead father is still alive. Childhood friends have moved on, but the sort of commitments that held them together as children just might be what's needed to hold their relationships together now as Sean deals with his violent father, Cassie wonders about her failing marriage, Laura feels threatened, church women are curious, and even surviving parents are falling apart. Enjoy this complex tale with a four-star complex cup of coffee.

The Possibilities, by Kaui Hart Hemmings, takes readers to the ski slopes of Colorado and looks at lives touched by the death of a young man in an avalanche. The seasons of grief are evocatively portrayed, and the novel's surprisingly uplifting, like the sun, warm on snow. Enjoy with a well-balanced smooth full-flavored three star coffee.

And finally, moving to the Iowa writers' workshop and other literary venues, A Moveable Famine, by John Skoyles invites reader into a poet's life, and that search for identity in a place defined by intangibles and words. Hard-drinking, hard-living, and striving hard for that iconic recognition bestowed by publication, the poets drift and drive, then prove to have known purpose after all. It's an intriguingly literary novel that turns the reader around, changing famine into a feast of images and words. Enjoy this complex fiction based in fact with a rich complex cup of four star coffee.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What's that reflection in the coffee machine?

Our Texas son might be moving to Colorado soon, and our Utah son might move to Portland. In between, we'll offer help choosing apartments, assessing the beauty of views, and searching for furniture. We may even travel to see them too, put bookshelves together and books onto shelves, or offer food and drink. But for now most of our help is offered by internet and telephone, our conversations sprinkled with such strange questions as "Do you think that's a bathroom cabinet behind the next-picture arrow?" and "Is that a reflection of the living room in the side of the washing machine?" Would I even believe this dialog if I read it in a book?

Anyway, long dialogs are my reason for being so late with these book reviews, and much coffee has been consumed. So choose your novel, and choose your brew!

The End of the Line, By Jim Power, looks at society moving rather than people, in a sweet interracial romance that perhaps offers a chance at ending that line between separate and equal. A son's loyalty to his mother and a daughter's to her father are challenged as love grows between them, for all that Latesha tries to pretend Peter's just a very helpful friend. With a great sense for people and place, nicely humorous dialogue, and a touch of Shakespeare (the play must go on), this is a fun, fast and maybe even thought-provoking romance, best enjoyed with a balanced full-flavored three-star coffee.

Dream Student, and Dream Doctor, by J. J. DiBenedetto, are books one and two of an intriguing mystery series. The novels follow the life of an 80s pre-med student who suddenly finds herself hearing her neighbors' dreams, which is fine if the neighbor happens to be falling in love with her, but less so if they're dreaming of walking naked across the stage at graduation. Still worse are the dreams of a predator, but how can you tell ask the police for help catching him with only dreams to guide you? In Dream Doctor, the protagonist marries and enters medical school. with co-ed dorms and too much alcohol flowing, these stories are set against a very real 80s and 90s backdrop, but the characters are warm-hearted, honest, and kind. They suffer the consequences of their mistakes with grace. And I'm eager to read more. Enjoy this series with some bright-lively, easy-drinking two star coffee.

A fun magical book for small children is Magical Toys, by Uncle Amos, a nicely told tale of a boy who would rather play than put his toys away. Bright simple illustrations attract the eye, and there's even a narrated video bonus for kids to enjoy on their computer. A couple of the pictures don't match the text too well, but they're all bright and interesting, and the lesson's well taught. Enjoy with a mild crisp one-star coffee, then tell your kids to tidy up.

And finally, here's something completely different. How Did We Become Angry, by Paula Rose Michelson offers intelligent spiritual Biblically-based help to women whose low self-esteem leaves them forever angry and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Read it slowly, do the exercises, look up the references, and drink some mild crisp coffee to refresh you.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Reservation Mystery, with Respect


Today I'm delighted to welcome author Gary Eddings to my blog. He's the authorof Hollow Point, a  mystery suspense for age 13 and up, where everyone on and off the Reservation might be suspect, and a dangerous drug is could claim more innocent victims while a killer goes free. Gary Eddings is one of four mystery authors touring the net with Juniper Grove this week, so don't forget to read the rest of this post and learn about more books, as well as entering a wonderful giveaway!

Having long been hooked on Tony Hillerman's mysteries, and more recently on Montana and Dakota by Gwen Florio, I knew exactly what I wanted to ask Mr. Eddings:



How do tribal issues influence the way you write?

And here's his answer. Thank you so much Gary!

Having had some Native American friends during my life, it occurred to  me that the whole issue of Native American culture in our country was lacking. The indigenous folks of course already knew this for years.  I want to write about contemporary Native cultural action with others. There are plenty of historical works out there, so this seemed to be a natural fit. 

Being the astute high school know-it-all who had a Nez Perce friend whose Great Grandfather just happened to be Chief Lawyer of Chief Joseph’s band, I began to ask some questions that were not well thought out. As a matter of fact, this guy’s friendship with me began as a fist fight at a home football game and it grew from there. Visions of this circulated in my head when I saw him become miffed at the interrogation. I received some answers, although some where a little hard to hear through his gritted teeth.

That is when I started to learn a bit about cultural sensitivity. Over the years I have acquired several Native friends and acquaintances from all walks of life and have since figured out through a great deal of trial and error that there is no one thing that can define an individual Native’s traits any more than a Non-Native’s. Respect seems to be a common thread for most people I have met, though.

I think that part of my challenge as a fiction writer is to maintain as much of that respect as possible in the stories, yet not avoid some of the attributions that cause problems sometimes greater than the world around them.  For instance, in Hollow Point I highlight the problem of drug usage by the teens without disparaging the work the Tribe does in caring for the addicted. Sometimes it is a fine line, even though it is fiction.

Thank you for allowing me to be your guest!


Thank you Gary. And your post certainly makes me want to read your book.


Title:  Hollow Point
Author:  Gary R. Eddings
Published:  January 2014
Publisher:  Champagne Book Group
Word Count:  60,000
Genre:  Suspense, Thriller
Recommended Age:  13+

About Hollow Point

There is no such thing as an ordinary traffic stop, something Tribal Officer Pat Colson is reminded of when pulling over a dusty old Buick. Before he knows it, shots are flying and he is huddled behind his police cruiser for cover.
In the ensuring investigation, a sizable amount of methamphetamine is discovered in the suspects’ vehicle. Uncut and very potent, the question is where does it come from— the Reservation or elsewhere?
With everyone on the Reservation becoming a suspect, and little information to go on, Colson must act fast to stop the dangerous drug from killing more innocent victims and stop a murderer in his tracks.


About the Author:
I retired as a fire department EMS Division Chief for Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue in 2005. I have been writing seriously since mid-2009, and this is my second novel with Champagne Book Group. I am also a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. I am the father of four and the grandfather of three; a two year old grandson and newly-minted twin girls.


And now for some information about the other three books...


Title:   Compass North
Author:  Stephanie Joyce Cole
Published:  December 2013
Publisher:  Champagne Book Group
Word Count:  81,000
Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Romance, Mystery/Thriller
Content Warning:  Minor Violence
Recommended Age:  16+

About Compass North:

 Meredith slips into a new identity and a new life in a small town in Alaska, she discovers it’s not that easy to leave behind the baggage from her past.
Set in the spectacular natural landscape of Southcentral Alaska,
COMPASS NORTH tracks an unexpected journey of personal reinvention.
Reeling from the sudden breakup of her disastrous marriage, Meredith barely escapes a freak accident in Alaska and is presumed dead. She stumbles into a new identity and a new life in a quirky small town. As new friendships grow, Meredith has to learn to trust in herself again.
When a romance with a local fisherman unexpectedly blossoms, Meredith’s secret jeopardizes her hopes for future happiness. And someone is searching for her, someone who will threaten Meredith’s dream of a reinvented life.



About the Author:
Stephanie Joyce Cole lived for many decades in Alaska before she recently relocated to Seattle, WA, where she lives with her husband and a predatory but lovable Manx cat. She has an MFA in Creative Writing, Fiction from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Her goal is to write books that are both thought-provoking and entertaining, and that will carry readers into an adventure in small-town Alaska.


Title:  Mortal Coil
Author:  Julie Eberhart Painter
Published:  May 2009
Publisher:  Champagne Book Group
Word Count:  79,000
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Recommended Age:  14+
 
About Moral Coil
When two residents in Ellen Lange’s nursing home die, Special Investigator Bill Watts is called to the scene. With the murders linked to others, known as the Ponytail Crimes, it’s only a matter of time before the killer strikes again.
Bill is a Southerner; Ellen was raised in the Midwest. Despite her efforts to remain aloof, Ellen finds herself falling in love with more than the South…


About the Author:
Julie Eberhart Painter raised in Bucks Count, Pennsylvania, boyhood home of James A Michener, is the author of Mortal Coil, Tangled Web, and the 2011 Book of the Year, Kill Fee, and sequel, Medium Rare from www.champagnebooks.com. Daughters of the Sea, e-book and print. Julie’s first paranormal romance, and Morning After Midnight are available from MuseItUp Publishing.




Title: A Burning Truth
Series:  A Cady Delafield Mystery # 2
Author:  Joyce Proell
Published:  February 2014
Publisher:  Champagne Book Group
Word Count:  85,000
Genre:  Historical Romantic Suspense
Content Warning:  Sexual tension, light violence
Recommended Age:  17+

About a Burning Truth

In 1881, the air in Chicago is rife with worker discontent, yet business titan Doyle Flanagan is hopeful for the future. He looks forward to a lifetime of peaceful bliss with Cady Delafield and leaving the wretched past behind. But his life is once again thrown into disarray when his office is vandalized and the night watchman viciously murdered. Clues lead to a powerful organized labor movement. Targeted in the press as anti-labor and with a big rally staged next door to his offices, Doyle must uncover the culprits before his wedding plans and his livelihood go up in smoke.
Plagued by memories of four brutal deaths, school director Cady Delafield is determined to drive the recent tragedies from her mind and enjoy being courted. Although his commanding personality threatens to overshadow her, Doyle Flanagan is the most dynamic man she’s ever met. When another tragedy unfolds placing him at the center, she takes action—action that could shatter her future dreams.

About the Author:
Joyce grew up in Minnesota and attended college and grad school in Chicago. After working in mental health as a clinical social worker, she retired to write full-time. Her first book, Eliza, was published in 2012. A Burning Truth is the second in the Cady Delafield series. When she isn’t writing historical suspense or romance, she loves to travel, winter in Florida, swim, read and walks almost every day. She loves chocolate almost as much as crossword puzzles. She and her husband make their home in rural Minnesota in her very own little house on the prairie.


Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • Five mystery eBooks from Champagne Book Group. Books will be selected at random from publisher.
  • $20 gift card to either Amazon or B&N, courtesy of Joyce Proell
Giveaway is International.

Rafflecopter giveaway

Find out more. Follow the other tour posts at...

Link to the event page:  http://junipergrovebooksolutions.com/multiple-author-mystery-tour/