Tag Archives: blogger

Interview with Author Abby Ross

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I have always loved writing. When I was a child, I wrote poems, short stories, songs – pretty much anything. I never thought, however, I would write a book. After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in broadcast journalism, I moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas to work as a bilingual television news reporter for the CBS affiliate. That job began a six-year-long news reporting career. I lived in Davenport, Iowa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City, working for local news affiliates. To be honest, when I began that career, I was most excited about being on television. I quickly learned, however, that writing my story every day was my favorite part of the job. I also enjoyed getting out into the communities and interviewing people who had lives and stories that were so different from my own. 

After a while, I wanted a change. So, I moved to New York City and transitioned into public relations. I started working as the Communications Director for a New York State Senator. I then moved to a public relations firm. Once again, my favorite part about the job was writing blog posts, press releases, bylines and pitches. I also enjoyed digging for story ideas – interviewing my clients to uncover interesting stories that deserved to be shared with the world. In 2013, my husband and I were expecting our first son, so we moved to Chicago to be closer to my family. I also landed a job as the Media Relations Manager for a cyber security company. Ever since, I have not looked back. Cyber security is now my specialty, although I have transitioned into a marketing leadership role. My favorite part about marketing is writing. I write bylines, blog posts, client-decks, value propositions, website content, sales enablement materials, mission statements, client emails – pretty much anything that is public or internal-facing. 

“The Poop Diaries” started as a side project. I had a couple hours to myself every Sunday, and wanted to make the most of them. I always believed in the concept of the book, however I never expected to be where I am today! I am so grateful the ten plumbers in the book, and my publisher – Black Rose Writing – took a chance on a first-time author. I hope they are as proud of the book as I am. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

A clogged toilet. I realize it sounds strange, but it is true. My toilet clogged on a Wednesday evening. I could not sleep knowing my toilet wasn’t working so I called a plumber, Jon. He fixed the toilet within an hour, however he did not seem in a hurry to leave. He also had an energetic, tell-it-like-it-is personality, which I always appreciate. I asked Jon to share his “greatest hits” stories. I could not believe what came out of his mouth! The stories were so hilarious and surprising, I knew I had to share them with the world. After interviewing Jon and writing his diaries, I sought out to find more plumbers. Considering I was not a published, known author, it was tough getting people to talk to me. Most of the plumbers I found through word of mouth (you’d be surprised how many people know a plumber. And I do not mean someone who works for them. I mean someone’s uncle is a plumber; a friend is a plumber; a friend’s friend is a plumber). My husband found the two female plumbers, Carissa and Jac, by doing an online search. I was ecstatic that they both agreed to participate! The female perspective adds a lot of flavor to the book.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope people will realize that being a plumber involves so much more than unclogging toilets. Plumbers are engineers, artists, therapists and friends. As the book describes, they shoo birds out of houses, build beautiful copper puzzles, listen to insecurities and interact with people who spend every day alone. Plumbers encounter all kinds of people, and find some really personal items. They need to be patient, open-minded, and non-judgmental. The trade is also a lucrative, steady career, one that more people should get involved in. Many of the plumbers in the book have second homes and boats. Whether they went to college or not, they have built comfortable lives for themselves and their families. 

I also hope people will think twice about what’s inside their cabinets before a plumber comes over 🙂 I know I do (that is, after writing this book).

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

The genre found me. After listening to Jon’s stories, I knew I had to write this book. At first I was expecting the book to be pure humor. I just wanted to make people laugh. I realized while interviewing the plumbers, however, that their experiences are so much deeper than poop. Humor is woven in throughout the book, but it also dives into more serious aspects of the trade and the plumbers themselves. I open each diary with an introduction about the plumber, and end the chapter with a “Moment of Reflection.” I wanted the plumbers to have the final word. I wanted them to have the opportunity to share whatever thoughts about themselves and their work they thought were important.

5) Out of all the stories told to you, was there one in particular that stood out to you or possibly represents the book as a whole more so than the others?

No. Every plumber’s stories are so different  (with the exception of a couple dildo stories). That’s what I think makes the book so interesting. And I only interviewed ten plumbers. I cannot imagine the other untold stories out there. I also made sure to include a variety of plumbers – different genders, backgrounds and cultures. Diversity is really important when trying to capture the truth. 

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I am very active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. My largest audience is on LinkedIn (due to my professional career). I have been posting about the book so much, people may be getting sick of me. Although I hope not!

Here are my handles:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crazyplumberstories/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Twitter: @honestab2

Instagram @honestab2

Linked In:https://www.linkedin.com/in/abby-ross/

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Persistence is everything. I always believed in my concept. I knew other people would enjoy this book. I just had to (and still have to) find influential individuals who agreed with me. I pitched more than 100 agents and publishers, hoping to land a contract. Finally, one publisher (Black Rose Writing) said “yes.” To write the book, I worked every evening and Sunday. And I am still working. The persistence does not stop. I am now working every night, pitching reviewers, celebrities, agents, influencers – doing whatever I can to get the word out. Believe in your idea, and keep swinging for the fences. 

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I am still very focused on marketing this book. I think the book would make a fantastic scripted television series. I am working with a screenwriter in Los Angeles to pitch the concept to producers and agents. We want to build the series off of one of the female plumbers, and weave in everyone else’s stories into her plumbing life. I am also reaching out to influencers and journalists to see if they are interested in reading and writing about the book. Anything I can do to get the word out I am doing. It is much harder as a first-time author to get the word out. Persistence is everything! As far as another book, I have some ideas. If plumbers start reaching out to me with more stories to share I may write a second book. Otherwise, I have ideas cooking. Just need the time to write about them!

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About the Author

Abby Ross has nearly two decades of experience working in journalism, public relations, and marketing. She has written countless news stories, bylines, and blog posts. Abby began her career as a television news reporter, which fostered her passion for interviewing and writing about interesting people from all walks of life. After six years of reporting, Abby pivoted her career into public relations and marketing, which has been her focus for the past decade. This is her first book.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-poop-diaries-abby-ross/1135167569?ean=9781684334261

Guest Blog Post: Self-Care By Sarah Dickinson

 As we tread through the New Year, we find some, if not all, of our resolutions falling by the wayside. However, one doesn’t have to wait till December 31st and the rush of holiday feels and stress to decide to make changes. Any day is a good day to take care of yourself, and one of the best things you can do is introduce some self-care into your life.

  With self-care becoming a growing topic I want to be clear about what it’s not. It isn’t a license to make unhealthy choices or shirk responsibility. It’s not about spending sprees or throwing around money you don’t have. In a world full of consequences, the last thing it should encourage is a bucket full of regrets when you must face the music from your choices.

  Our world is ever -spinning and growing, and ever rushing us from one moment to the next. Self-care is about the pause where you allow yourself to smell the roses, as it were. Where the must crucial aspect is an honest internal dialogue. Taking a few moments to quietly address and asses your needs whether they are emotional, physical or mental. Once you figure out what you are in need of to achieve balance you then select an activity to improve that.

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 So here are some simple things you can do every day to both provide yourself with care as well as opening up dialogue within yourself, so it becomes second nature.

  1. GET MORE SLEEP. Countless studies show that the majority of us are not getting enough sleep. We probably all know better sleep equals better mood, but did you know it also helps prevent weight gain, improves memory, hand eye coordination as well as strengthen your heart? It truly is one of the best things you can give yourself and will help you in making the most of your day. It will make the good days sweeter and provide the strength to get through the bad ones. Yes, despite what many other articles will tell you bad days are sure to be par for the course. There’s no amount of self-help, positive perspective or vitamins that can guarantee a great day every day.
  2. LEAVE YOUR PHONE OFF FOR 1 HOUR. You may wonder how this even applies to self-care. Well, it does, on two levels. Studies show us time and time again that all this technology, social media, and unbound access to more information than any human could every use has a definite downside. It impacts our self-esteem, self-worth, stress levels, concentration, as well as wear down our ability to read most nonverbal cues. Another benefit is this routine time disconnected allows you to reconnect to yourself. You will hear and grow that inner voice that is telling you what it needs. You can spend an hour when you wake up without your phone, or at least an hour before bed. Use this time to read, journal, or even day dream.
  3. TAKE 10-15 MINUTES OUTSIDE. Remember when you were younger and your best days were spent outside, with friends having adventures? Maybe you were on your bikes till the sun went down, or ended the day sitting on a porch with a cold drink or frozen treat. Whatever the case may be, and probably without you realizing it, your mind and body reaped the rewards of the fresh air and the sun shinning on your face. However, the world of adulting leaves us very little time to kick off our shoes and walk through the grass. Endless errands, appointments and responsibilities keep us in our cars, offices, or other building. before we get up to do it all again tomorrow. So, carve out just 10 minutes each day to find your way outside. To feel the sun on your face, the breeze on your skin and the smells that surround you as you take a deep breath.
  4.  SAY NO. I can’t say this enough, we spread ourselves too thin. We may have the best of intentions, but we do. Women more so then men feel the inner conflict of guilt that leads them to agree to things they don’t have the time, funds, or plain interest in doing. We mostly do this to prevent hurt feelings or guilt. There’s only one way I can say this, and that’s bluntly. No matter who they are, no matter what you may have to offer…. they can make it without you. Your involvement alone is not enough to make or break any person’s event or favor. They will get by without you, you need you for every moment of your life. Say yes when you can, or when you want to, but say no when you can’t. Every single time, no matter the reason. 
  5. DO YOU. This is the part that’s different for everyone, but every single day you need to do one thing solely for your own personal joy. It doesn’t matter how many people depend on you, whether it’s at work or home. From children to coworkers there will always be someone you have to make time for. If you are willing to give it to them then there’s no reason to keep it from yourself. It may be getting yourself your favorite treat on your way to work, taking control of the playlist for your commute and singing out loud, or giving yourself a small upgrade when you’re at the store. It can also be the big things once in a while. Like making up a bucket list, spending a day off going on an adventure, buying that outfit you’ve been eyeing, or having a date night once a week at a new restaurant

  I like to tell people that the end of my 30’s marked major changes for me. I became a mother young, and wife even younger. I lived my life for everyone else. My children, husband, parents, friends and any person in between. Then I got in over my head with a person who meant the world to me. Unfortunately, they also suffered from addiction and I found myself being called upon for favor after. The experience of those years led to two major moments. The moment I changed my perspective about almost everything in my life, and the moment I decided to share my story. I learned how to listen to myself. To figure out who I am, what I want and what I need. I also learned how to take all that love, focus, and support I gave to almost everyone and to finally start giving it to myself as well. When I decided to share my story, I spent almost two years writing my novel. Silver Spoons: One’s Journey through Addiction. Despite how many or few copies I may sell I’ve already reaped the benefits of writing it. I saw a dream come to life in finishing a novel, pride at accomplishing something not everyone can do, and peace. I found peace with hearing people tell me their stories. We sadly live in a world where everyone knows an addict or someone who loves an addict.

   With all of these experiences and while I have your attention. I would love nothing more than everyone reading this to take care of themselves. Love yourself, nurture yourself, and craft your own stories. I promise you, you’ll never regret that choice 

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Book Summary

Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction takes an intimate and raw look at the current face of addiction and recovery. Talking about the current opioid epidemic, we follow a young couple while one of them goes through the recovery process. Told through letters, we get an understanding of their relationship as it struggles through his addiction and resulting recovery. From detox, rehab, sober living and the 12 steps of A.A, you get a raw and honest look at the effects of addiction and how they affect relationships.

AUTHOR NOTE: There is explicit and graphic content.

Print Length: 380 Pages

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Publisher: Independently Published

ISBN-13: 978-1717868947

ISBN-10: 1717868940

Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction is now available to purchase at Amazon.com.

About the Author, Sarah Dickinson

Sarah Dickinson is a lifelong resident in beautiful upstate New York. Mother of two amazing daughters and three equally awesome rescue dogs, she is the author of Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction. She currently attends college and is in the midst of switching careers. When she isn’t doing it all, she reads comic books, blogs, and takes weekend getaways.

You can find the author online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Silver-Spoons-Ones-Journey-Through-Addiction-916257075228829/

Blog: https://wordpress.com/stats/day/sarahvdickinson.art.blog 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sarahdauthor/

Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19325669.Sarah_Dickinson

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— Blog Tour Dates

January 27th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Visit our blog today and you can read an interview with the author of Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction and also enter to win a copy of the book!

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

January 28th @ 12 Books

Stop by Louise’s blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

www.12books.co.uk

January 29th @ Joyful Antidotes

Make sure you visit Joy’s blog today and read her review of the book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

https://www.joyfulantidotes.com

January 30th @ 12 Books

Visit Louise’s blog again where you can review Sarah Dickinson’s guest post about 5 reasons why you should consider a change in lifestyle.

www.12books.co.uk

February 1st @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Make sure you visit Anthony’s blog today where he shares a spotlight of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

February 2nd @ A Storybook World

Deirdra will be highlighting Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction with a spotlight post.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

February 3rd @ Jill Sheets’ Blog

Visit Jill’s blog today and read Sarah Dickinson’s guest post about 5 reasons to consider a change in your relationships.

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

February 4th @ Coffee with Lacey

Join Lacey over at her blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

https://coffeewithlacey.com/

February 10th @ To Write or Not to Write

Visit Varsha’s blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

https://sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.com/

February 10th @ StoreyBook Reviews

Make sure to visit Leslie’s blog today and check out an excerpt of the book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

https://storeybookreviews.com/

February 12th @ The Faerie Review

Visit Lily’s blog today and read her review of the powerful book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

http://www.thefaeriereview.com/

February 13th @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog again where you can read a guest post by author Sarah Dickinson. Make sure you check out her easy self-care tips to add to your daily routine.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

February 14th @ Jessica Belmont’s Blog

Visit Jessica’s blog today and you can read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

February 16th @ And So She Thinks

Make sure you visit Francesca’s blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction. You can also read an interview with the author!

https://andsoshethinks.wordpress.com/

February 18th @ Choices

Visit Madeline’s blog and you can read Sarah Dickinson’s guest post about how to be self-aware in your writing.

http://madelinesharples.com/

February 19th @ It’s Alanna Jean

Make sure you visit Alanna’s blog and read a guest post by Sarah Dickinson called, “5 Reasons to Consider a Change in Career.”

http://ItsAlannaJean.wordpress.com

February 20th @ The Frugalista Mom

Visit Rozelyn’s blog today and you can read her review of the book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction by Sarah Dickinson. Also, win a copy for yourself too!

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

February 21st @ The  Frugalista Mom

Stop by Rozelyn’s blog today and you can read Sarah Dickinson’s guest post about how to raise a confident (but not arrogant) child.

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

February 23rd @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Stop by Anthony’s blog and you can read his review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction. 

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

February 24th @ Armed with a Book

Visit Kriti’s blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

February 25th @ Armed with a Book

Make sure you visit Kriti’s blog again when she interviews the author Sarah Dickinson.

First Cut by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A medical examiner new to the San Francisco area finds herself embroiled in a harrowing case involving a murder to cover up the actions of a ruthless drug lord in authors Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell’s “First Cut”. 

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The Synopsis

Wife and husband duo Dr. Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell first enthralled the book world with their runaway bestselling memoir Working Stiff—a fearless account of a young forensic pathologist’s “rookie season” as a NYC medical examiner. This winter, Dr. Melinek, now a prominent forensic pathologist in the Bay Area, once again joins forces with writer T.J. Mitchell to take their first stab at fiction. 

The result: FIRST CUT (Hanover Square Press; Hardcover; January 7, 2020; $26.99)—a gritty and compelling crime debut about a hard-nosed San Francisco medical examiner who uncovers a dangerous conspiracy connecting the seedy underbelly of the city’s nefarious opioid traffickers and its ever-shifting terrain of tech startups.

Dr. Jessie Teska has made a chilling discovery. A suspected overdose case contains hints of something more sinister: a drug lord’s attempt at a murderous cover up. As more bodies land on her autopsy table, Jessie uncovers a constellation of deaths that point to an elaborate network of powerful criminals—on both sides of the law—that will do anything to keep things buried. But autopsy means “see for yourself,” and Jessie Teska won’t stop until she’s seen it all—even if it means the next corpse on the slab could be her own.

The Review

A brilliant read, this novel perfectly blends the expertise and gritty reality of forensic work and the work of the medical examiners office with the harrowing and heart-pounding action that comes with a good thriller. 

The story cuts into the complex web of lies uncovered by Jessie Teska, from drug kingpins and dirty lawyers to collegues she thought she could trust and beyond. Haunted by a painful past, Jessie finds herself fighting to uncover the truth behind a horrific crime, with only her brilliant mind and determination to aid her in her fight against politics, criminal empires and more. 

The Verdict

A fantastic thriller for anyone who enjoys a heavy mix of medical forensics and suspense, authors Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell have created a masterful story that will give readers a protagonist to root for, a story to engage with and a brilliant race to the finish that will keep readers on the edge of their seat. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy of Final Cut today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

Judy Melinek was an assistant medical examiner in San Francisco for nine years, and today works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland and as CEO of PathologyExpert Inc. She and T.J. Mitchell met as undergraduates at Harvard, after which she studied medicine and practiced pathology at UCLA. Her training in forensics at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner is the subject of their first book, the memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner.
T.J. Mitchell is a writer with an English degree from Harvard, and worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad. He is the New York Times bestselling co-author of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner with his wife, Judy Melinek.

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EXCERPT

PROLOGUE

Los Angeles
May

The dead woman on my table had pale blue eyes, long lashes, no mascara. She wore a thin rim of black liner on her lower lids but none on the upper. I inserted the twelve gauge needle just far enough that I could see its beveled tip through the pupil, then pulled the syringe plunger to aspirate a sample of vitreous fluid. That was the first intrusion I made on her corpse during Mary Catherine Walsh’s perfectly ordinary autopsy.

The external examination had been unremarkable. The decedent appeared to be in her midthirties, blond hair with dun roots, five foot four, 144 pounds. After checking her over and noting identifying marks (monochromatic professional tattoo of a Celtic knot on lower left flank, appendectomy scar on abdomen, well-healed stellate scar on right knee), I picked up a scalpel and sliced from each shoulder to the breastbone, and then all the way down her belly. I peeled back the layers of skin and fat on her torso—an ordinary amount, maybe a little on the chubby side—and opened the woman’s chest like a book.

I had made similar Y-incisions on 256 other bodies during my ten months as a forensic pathologist at the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office, and this one was easy. No sign of trauma. Normal liver. Healthy lungs. There was nothing wrong with her heart. The only significant finding was the white, granular material of the gastric contents. In her stomach was a mass of semidigested pills.

When I opened her uterus, I found she’d been pregnant. I measured the fetus’s foot length and estimated its age at twelve weeks. The fetus appeared to have been viable. It was too young to determine sex.

I deposited the organs one by one at the end of the stainless-steel table. I had just cut into her scalp to start on the skull when Matt, the forensic investigator who had collected the body the day before, came in.

“Clean scene,” he reported, depositing the paperwork on my station. “Suicide.”

I asked him where he was going for lunch. Yogurt and a damn salad at his desk, he told me: bad cholesterol and a worried wife. I extended my condolences as he headed back out of the autopsy suite.

I scanned through Matt’s handwriting on the intake sheet and learned that the body had been found, stiff and cold, in a locked and secure room at the Los Angeles Omni hotel. The cleaning staff called the police. The ID came from the name on the credit card used to pay for the room, and was confirmed by fingerprint comparison with her driver’s license thumbprint. A handwritten note lay on the bed stand, a pill bottle in the trash. Nothing else. Matt was right: There was no mystery to the way Mary Walsh had died.

I hit the dictaphone’s toe trigger and pointed my mouth toward the microphone dangling over the table. “The body is identified by a Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s tag attached to the right great toe, inscribed LACD-03226, Walsh, Mary Catherine…”

I broke the seal on the plastic evidence bag and pulled out the pill bottle. It was labeled OxyContin, a powerful painkiller, and it was empty.

“Accompanying the body is a sealed plastic bag with an empty prescription medication bottle. The name on the prescription label…”

I read the name but didn’t speak it. The hair started standing up on my neck. I looked down at my morning’s work—the splayed body, flecked with gore, the dissected womb tossed on a heap of other organs.

That can’t be, I told myself. It can’t.

On the clipboard underneath the case intake sheet I found a piece of hotel stationery sealed in another evidence bag. It was the suicide note, written in blue ink with a steady feminine hand. I skimmed it—then stopped, and went back.

I read it again.

I heard the clipboard land at my feet. I gripped the raised lip of my autopsy table. I held tight while the floor fell away.


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Q&A with Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

Q: Do you plan your books in advance or let them develop as you write?

A:The idea for First Cut was prompted by some of Judy’s actual cases when she worked as a San Francisco medical examiner. She has real experience performing autopsy death investigation, and she also has the imagination to apply that experience to a fictional framework for our forensic detective, Dr. Jessie Teska. Judy invented the story, and together we worked it up as an outline. Then T.J. sat in a room wrestling with words all day—which he loves to do—to produce the first complete manuscript. That’s our inspiration plus perspiration dynamic as co-authors.

Q: What does the act of writing mean to you?

A: It is, and has always been, something we can do together, an important part of our marriage. We’ve collaborated as a creative team since we were in college together many years ago, producing and directing student theater. We’ve also spent twenty years raising our four children, and have always approached parenting as a partnership. We find it easy to work together because we write like we parent: relying on one another, each of us playing to our strengths. It helps that, in our writing process, we have no overlapping skill set!

 Q: Have you ever had a character take over a story, and if so, who was it and why?

A: Oh, yes! That’s our heroine, Dr. Jessie Teska. She has elements of Judy in her, and elements of T.J., but Jessie is a distinct individual and a strong-willed one. We’re often surprised and even shocked by the ways she reacts to the situations we put her in. There are times we’ll be writing what we thought was a carefully laid-out scene, and Jessie will take us sideways. She’s coming off T.J.’s fingertips on the the keyboard, both of us watching with mouths agape, saying, “What the hell is she up to?”

Q: Which one of First Cut’s characters was the hardest to write and why?

A: Tommy Teska, Jessie’s brother. He’s a minor character to the book’s plot, but the most important person in Jessie’s life, and he’s a reticent man, downright miserly with his dialogue. Tommy carries such great emotional weight, but it was hard to draw it out of him, especially because so much of his bond to our heroine is in the backstory of First Cut, not in the immediate narrative that lands on the page. We’re now working on the sequel, Cross Cut, and finding that Tommy has more occasion to open up in that story.

Q: Which character in any of your books (First Cut or otherwise) is dearest to you and why?

A: The late Dr. Charles Sidney Hirsch, from our first book, the memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner. Dr. Hirsch is not just a character: He was a real person, Judy’s mentor and a towering figure in the world of forensic pathology. Dr. Hirsch trained Dr. Melinek in her specific field of medicine and imbued in her his passion for it. He was a remarkable man, a great teacher and physician and public servant—a person of uncompromising integrity coupled with great emotional intelligence.

Q: What did you want to be as a child? Was it an author?

A: Judy’s father was a physician, and though she never wanted to follow in his immediate footsteps—he was a psychiatrist—she has always wanted to be another Dr. Melinek. T.J. has always been a writer, but also has theater training and worked in the film industry. As much as we enjoyed authoring the memoir Working Stiff, and as happy as we have been with its success, we are even more thrilled to be detective novelists.

Q: What does a day in the life of Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell look like?

A: Judy is a morning person and T.J.’s a night owl, so we split parenting responsibilities. Judy gets the kids off to school and then heads to the morgue, where she performs autopsies in the morning and works with police, district attorneys, and defense lawyers in the afternoon. T.J. takes care of the household and after-school duties. If we work together during the day, it’s usually by email in the late afternoon. T.J. cooks dinner, Judy goes to bed early, and he’s up late—at his most productive writing from nine to midnight or later.

Q: What do you use to inspire you when you get Writer’s Block?

A: We go for a long walk together. Our far corner of San Francisco overlooks the Pacific Ocean, bracketed by cypress trees and blown over with fog, and serves as an inspiring landscape. We explore the edge of the continent and talk out where our characters have been and where they need to get, tossing ideas back and forth until a solution, what to do next on the page, emerges. Getting away for a stroll with our imaginary friends is always a fruitful exercise!

Q: What book would you take with you to a desert island?

A: T.J. would take the Riverside Shakespeare, and Judy would take Poisonous Plants: A Handbook for Doctors, Pharmacists, Toxicologists, Biologists and Veterinarians, Illustrated.

Q: Do you have stories on the back burner that are just waiting to be written?

A: Always! We are inspired by Dr. Melinek’s real-life work, both in the morgue and at crime scenes, in police interrogation rooms, and in courtrooms. Our stories are fiction—genre fiction structured in the noir-detective tradition—but the forensic methods our detective employs and the scientific findings she comes to are drawn from real death investigations.

Q: What has been the hardest thing about publishing? What has been the most fun?

A: The hardest thing is juggling our work schedules to find uninterrupted time together to write. The most fun is meeting and talking to our readers at book events, especially those who have been inspired to go into the field of forensic pathology after reading our work.

Q: What advice would you give budding authors about publishing?

A: It’s all about connectivity. Linking up with other writers, readers, editors, and research experts is a crucial way to get your work accomplished, and to get it out to your audience. Yes, ultimately it’s just you and the keyboard, but in the course of writing your story, you can and should tap into the hive mind, online and in person, for inspiration and help.

Q: What was the last thing you read?

A: Judy last read The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington, and T.J. last read The Witch Elm by Tana French.

Q: Your top five authors?

A: Judy’s are Atul Gawande, Henry James, Kathy Reichs, Mary Roach, and Oliver Sacks. T.J.’s are Margaret Atwood, Joseph Heller, Ed McBain, Ross Macdonald, and Kurt Vonnegut.

Q: Book you’ve bought just for the cover?

A: T.J.: Canary by Duane Swierczynski. Judy: Mütter Museum Historical Medical Photographs.

Q: Tell us about what you’re working on now.

A: First Cut is the debut novel in a detective series, and we’ve recently finished the rough draft of Cross Cut, its sequel. We are in the revision phase now, killing our darlings and tightening our tale, working to get the further adventures of Dr. Jessie Teska onto bookshelves next year!

Husband Material by Emily Belden Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman must face her heartbreaking past and discovers a shocking secret in author Emily Belden’s novel “Husband Material”. 

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The Synopsis 

Told in Emily Belden’s signature edgy voice, a novel about a young widow’s discovery of her late husband’s secret and her journey toward hope and second-chance love.

Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she’s faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.

Yet Charlotte’s algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband’s ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband’s best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.

But soon a shocking secret surfaces, forcing Charlotte to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at new love arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.

The Review

This book has the perfect balance of rom/com style dialogue with heartfelt, emotional themes that deal with the reality of loss, in particular losing a spouse at an early age. The novel answers the question of how we find the motivation and will to move on and if finding love again is possible, while also delving into the complex feelings that come with respecting the past and meeting the future head-on. 

The protagonist perfectly showcases a strong lead that directs the story forward in a natural progression while also showing off how the protagonist’s pain and way of dealing with grief have closed themselves off from the rest of the world, including the people closest to her. The author does a great job of not following the formula exactly for a rom/com stylebook, instead of writing real characters with complex emotions that leaves the future for the characters open to interpretation, just as life truly is. 

The Verdict

A masterful romance, comedy yet dramatic story with rich characters and an evenly paced tone, the novel Husband Material by Emily Belden is a must-read for any fans of the romance genre. A great hit with lots of hearts, fans will not be able to put down their copies anytime soon. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Author Bio:

EMILY BELDEN is a journalist, social media marketer, and storyteller. She is the author of the novel Hot Mess and Eightysixed: A Memoir about Unforgettable Men, Mistakes, and Meals. She lives in Chicago. Visit her website at http://www.emilybelden.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @emilybelden.

Advance Praise for Husband Material

“Tackling thorny questions of widowhood and dating after trauma, Belden’s second novel is witty, full of heart, and blindingly au courant. Packed with pop-culture references, it will appeal to fans of Sophie Kinsella, Rosie Walsh, and Plum Sykes. Belden writes twists and turns to keep readers hooked.” Booklist

“Charming.” Publishers Weekly

“Sensitive, thoughtful, and touching.” —Library Journal

“In this touching, witty, and timely book, Emily Belden deftly explores the complexities of human relationships in our increasingly tech-obsessed world. By turns heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny, Husband Material beautifully demonstrates that you can’t reduce love to a bunch of 1s and 0s.”

—Kristin Rockaway, author of How To Hack a Heartbreak

Buy Links:

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781525805981_husband-material.html

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Husband-Material-Emily-Belden/dp/1525805983

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/husband-material-emily-belden/1129908343?ean=9781525805981#/

Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781525805981

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/husband-material-12

Google Books: https://books.google.com/books/about/Husband_Material.html?id=0sR6DwAAQBAJ

Social Links:

Author website: http://www.emilybelden.com/

Twitter: @emilybelden

Instagram: @emilybelden

Facebook: @emilybeldenauthor

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Q&A with Emily Belden

Q: When you begin writing a love story, do you know how you want it to end? Or do you decide as you develop the plot?

A: I generally have an idea of how I want things to wrap up, but what I always struggle with is that final sentence. How do you know you’re REALLY there? I often ready my theoretical last sentence out loud, followed by saying “The End”, and if it feels like it has a certain “ring” to it, then I can shut the laptop. If not, then I know it’s not my stopping point. Wrapping up that final thought with a bow on it is super important. It’s what I want when I read a book, at least.

Q: How was it to write about grief, pain and love for the same character?

A: It was new. That’s really the best word to explain it. HOT MESS has so many autobiographical elements to it (i.e., restaurant industry know-how, dating an addict, etc.) but HUSBAND MATERIAL was all unchartered territory for me. I realized right away that in order to write about the grief of losing a spouse/partner, I had to curate a focus group of real-life women like Charlotte and really learn from them to bring the level of authenticity and nuance needed to successfully write the book.

Q: What type of love stories do you like? Or were there ones you looked to as you began writing Husband Material?

A: I like really unexpected love stories. In today’s literary landscape, there’s certainly a formula that is pretty common. So it’s the books that break or stray from that formula that really do it for me. I like stories where it’s not innately clear who the protagonist is going to end up with. Even with HOT MESS there’s a moment where (I hope) the reader is like “OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING” insofar as Allie’s love story goes. Same with Charlotte in HUSBAND MATERIAL.

Q: Do you prefer to write by planning ahead (ie outlining, etc) or just go with the flow as inspiration hits?

A: I prefer to go with the flow. My general writing pattern is banging out 1-2 chapters at a time and then ending my work with a bulleted list of what I think needs to happen next. That way, when I open up my laptop and start to write the next 1-2 chapters, I’m not totally lost or forgetful of where I left off. It helps me figure out what would make sense in the flow of the pages.

Q: When did you know you wanted to become an author? What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR list?

A: It’s been my only god-given talent since I was a little kid. It started with really creative letters to Santa or the Tooth Fairy. I won a contest to be a kid reporter for the Chicago Tribune when I was 12 years old and after that, my fate was sealed. I knew I wanted to write at the highest level I could! I am currently reading a book called Lulu’s Cafe by an author who is also repped by my agents, Browne & Miller. I really love it and can picture it as an adorable Hallmark Movie. 

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

A: I heard a news story on the TV when I was doing dishes at my (former) home in San Diego. It was about a developer who wanted to buy the land a mausoleum was on so they could tear it down and build luxury condos overlooking the ocean. I thought, how crazy if your loved one’s ashes just got mailed back to you one day and the resting place you thought was final, wasn’t. It wasn’t easy, but turned that general premise into a light-side-of-heavy rom-com.

Q: What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

A: Over all, that second chances at love take all different forms. You never know the circumstances someone has found themselves in, so be kind. For Charlotte, I intentionally wrote the first few chapters as if she was divorced–talking about her “first marriage”. Then you find out “Oh, sh*t, she’s a widow,” and all the sudden your emotional connection with her changes. I also find it interesting writing about death. We don’t talk about it in society, especially not in contemporary women’s fiction. A tragic, unexpected death is the crux of this book. Let’s dig in!

Q: What drew you into this particular genre?

A: I saw there was room to carve out a spot for someone like me who writes unexpected, voicey, edgy, authentic women’s fiction and so I went full steam ahead with the help of a great agent to make it happen.

Q: If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

A: I would sit down with Charlotte. I’ve met the “real life” versions of her when doing my focus groups for research, it would be my honor to meet her. I’d ask her if she wanted to team up and develop a dating app framed around people’s dogs. 

Q: What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

A: Instagram. I feel like I’ve become friends with people I’ve never met in real life. They cheer me on and I’m humbled by it. I also find other authors on Facebook in certain literary groups. This has been fun and has helped me grow my TBR list with books I otherwise wouldn’t have heard of.

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Q: What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

A: Be patient. Be patient with the process – success as an author is fluid and can mean many different things. Nothing happens overnight. It’s a process. And be patient with yourself. If you aren’t vibing your writing, don’t put pressure on yourself to tap keys just because you said you were going to do 1,000 words tonight. There are times two weeks go by and I haven’t opened my Word doc once. But then when I am vibing it, I can cruise for 10K words and absolutely rock it. There’s an ebb and flow, for sure.

Q: What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

A: I am working on a third novel at my own pace right now. I’m very excited about it and just exploring where the plot takes me. I would love to work on a film/TV/podcast adaption of any of my existing works as a next step, too. I also got married nine months ago and am enjoying life with my soulmate, Matt.

The Hidden Worlds by Sandra Ingerman and Katherine Wood Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Four children find themselves lost in the same dream as a local environmental issue brings them together in authors Sandra Ingerman and Katherine Wood’s novel “The Hidden Worlds”. 

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The Synopsis

Were those people in Isaiah’s dream the same people from school? Popular soccer star Magda? George, who he’d never heard speak because he always left classes for special services help? Angry Rose, the Chinese girl who was always in trouble for fighting? And why were there dead birds and fish everywhere? When the four encounter one another the next day by the same pond from the dream, they realize they’ve shared a dream and there really are dead birds and fish covering the ground! This leads to real-life adventures and more dreams as they discover a toxic waste plant disposing of poisons illegally. Not friends in the beginning, romance blossoms as they work together with their Power Animals to close down the plant.

The Review

A short yet powerful read, the authors do a marvelous job of creating relatable and powerful characters together to fight an all too common threat to the environment and the planet altogether: major corporations. 

The story does a great job of exploring the physical realities of corporate greed leading to shortcuts and environmental contaminates that affect local wildlife and the spiritual/metaphysical realm that connects us with one another and the planet altogether, and how it all ties together. Sometimes it takes seeing the world through a child’s innocence to understand how important some things are, including how we treat the planet we call home. 

The Verdict

A must read book for anyone who enjoys spiritual storylines with an environmental friendly theme and YA/Middle-School genre reads, this novel is fairly short and easy to get lost in, making this a perfect book for young readers. The authors do a great job of brining the characters together and showcasing how bonds can form over a common goal, leading to some amazing changes when we stick together. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy of “The Hidden Worlds” by Sandra Ingerman and Katherine Wood today.

Rating: 8/10

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About the Authors

Sandra Ingerman

Sandra Ingerman, MA, is the author of 8 books, 7 CD programs and the creator of Transmutation App. She is a world renowned teacher of shamanism and has been teaching for over 30 years.

She teaches workshops internationally on shamanic journeying, healing, and reversing environmental pollution using spiritual methods. She has trained and founded an international alliance of Medicine for the Earth Teachers and shamanic teachers. Sandra is recognized for bridging ancient cross-cultural healing methods into our modern culture addressing the needs of our times.

Sandra is devoted to teaching people how we can work together as a global community to bring about positive change for the planet.

Sandra is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist and Professional Mental Health Counselor. She is also a board certified expert on traumatic stress as well as certified in acute traumatic stress management. She was awarded the 2007 Peace Award from the Global Foundation for Integrative Medicine. Sandra was chosen as one of the Top Ten Spiritual Leaders of 2013 in the November/December Issue of Spirituality and Health.

https://sandraingermanbooks.com/

Katherine Wood

Katherine Wood taught reading and writing to middle and high school students for 31 years. She is a shamanic practitioner and teacher as well as an avid reader, writer and journeyer who loves to travel in both ordinary reality and in the hidden worlds.

https://katherinewoodauthor.org/

Requiem, Changing Times by R.J. Parker Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young middle school aged boy finds himself thrust into a harrowing adventure when fantasy and horror creatures once thought fictional bring danger to his family in author R.J. Parker’s novel “Requiem, Changing Times. 

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The Synopsis

Clint and Corbin are having a weird day. Best friends for life, things are getting a little strange around their town, and at school. When they’re followed by a strange man looking for Clint and later attacked by an imp, it makes sense to retreat to the safety of home. But when strangers from another world, Banks and O’Neil, arrive with their medley of allies, things get even weirder. Why are they here? What do they want? And what is The Requiem that everyone keeps talking about? As Clint and his friends and family are drawn deeper into a thrilling adventure, only one thing is for sure. They may not be getting out alive. And class with Mrs Christenson will seem like a walk in the park after this.

The Review

The author does a brilliant job of blending several genres together in a cohesive way. A fusion of fantasy and horror with some elements of sci-fi, mystery and suspense in the YA genre umbrella so to speak make this novel really shine brightly.

Fans will get a fantastic cast of characters to root for and stand behind, not least of all protagonist Clint, a young boy suffering from a profound loss and getting into trouble at school and with his new family unit when he is suddenly thrust into life or death stakes and adventures, forcing him to reevaluate his priorities and the choices he had been making. 

What really stuck out though was the author’s flipping of the script in the YA fantasy/horror genre. Most often young protagonists must venture directly into another realm in a fantasy setting, but here we see the fantasy realm coming to Clint first, showing what would happen if these fantastic creatures and horrifying threats entered the real world in the midst of global upheaval. 

The Verdict

This lengthy read is the perfect new fantasy/sci-fi drama for anyone who loves the YA genre. A great pairing of mystery and suspense and larger than life characters all culminate in a shocking finale that will have readers on the edge of their seats and leaves the door open for future installments in this exciting new series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of “Requiem, Changing Times” by R.J. Parker today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Russell Parker was born in Bountiful, Utah. As his father was safety manager he had to move around until his senior year of high school, when he came to Cache Valley, Utah to stay. He married the most wonderful woman in the world and they are the parents of four fantastic kids, with one crazy dog.

Russell played all kinds of sports and was an outdoorsman until an accident brought him to writing. A writer since high school, encouragement brought his stories to life.

https://rjparkerwrights.wixsite.com/mysite

https://amzn.to/2UkaGNB

Spotlight: Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction by Sarah Dickinson

Hello everyone. Today I am happy to be working with Women on Writing Blog Tours to present a special spotlight for author Sarah Dickinson’s book, Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction. Let’s take a look at the book, what it’s about, and what you can expect on this book tour.

Book Summary

Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction takes an intimate and raw look at the current face of addiction and recovery. Talking about the current opioid epidemic, we follow a young couple while one of them goes through the recovery process. Told through letters, we get an understanding of their relationship as it struggles through his addiction and resulting recovery. From detox, rehab, sober living and the 12 steps of A.A, you get a raw and honest look at the effects of addiction and how they affect relationships.

AUTHOR NOTE: There is explicit and graphic content.

Print Length: 380 Pages

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Publisher: Independently Published

ISBN-13: 978-1717868947

ISBN-10: 1717868940

Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction is now available to purchase at Amazon.com.

About the Author, Sarah Dickinson

Sarah Dickinson is a lifelong resident in beautiful upstate New York. Mother of two amazing daughters and three equally awesome rescue dogs, she is the author of Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction. She currently attends college and is in the midst of switching careers. When she isn’t doing it all, she reads comic books, blogs, and takes weekend getaways.

You can find the author online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Silver-Spoons-Ones-Journey-Through-Addiction-916257075228829/

Blog: https://wordpress.com/stats/day/sarahvdickinson.art.blog 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sarahdauthor/

Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19325669.Sarah_Dickinson

— Blog Tour Dates

January 27th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Visit our blog today and you can read an interview with the author of Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction and also enter to win a copy of the book!

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

January 28th @ 12 Books

Stop by Louise’s blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

www.12books.co.uk

January 29th @ Joyful Antidotes

Make sure you visit Joy’s blog today and read her review of the book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

https://www.joyfulantidotes.com

January 30th @ 12 Books

Visit Louise’s blog again where you can review Sarah Dickinson’s guest post about 5 reasons why you should consider a change in lifestyle.

www.12books.co.uk

February 1st @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Make sure you visit Anthony’s blog today where he shares a spotlight of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

February 2nd @ A Storybook World

Deirdra will be highlighting Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction with a spotlight post.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

February 3rd @ Jill Sheets’ Blog

Visit Jill’s blog today and read Sarah Dickinson’s guest post about 5 reasons to consider a change in your relationships.

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

February 4th @ Coffee with Lacey

Join Lacey over at her blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

https://coffeewithlacey.com/

February 10th @ To Write or Not to Write

Visit Varsha’s blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

https://sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.com/

February 10th @ StoreyBook Reviews

Make sure to visit Leslie’s blog today and check out an excerpt of the book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

https://storeybookreviews.com/

February 12th @ The Faerie Review

Visit Lily’s blog today and read her review of the powerful book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

http://www.thefaeriereview.com/

February 13th @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog again where you can read a guest post by author Sarah Dickinson. Make sure you check out her easy self-care tips to add to your daily routine.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

February 14th @ Jessica Belmont’s Blog

Visit Jessica’s blog today and you can read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

February 16th @ And So She Thinks

Make sure you visit Francesca’s blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction. You can also read an interview with the author!

https://andsoshethinks.wordpress.com/

February 18th @ Choices

Visit Madeline’s blog and you can read Sarah Dickinson’s guest post about how to be self-aware in your writing.

http://madelinesharples.com/

February 19th @ It’s Alanna Jean

Make sure you visit Alanna’s blog and read a guest post by Sarah Dickinson called, “5 Reasons to Consider a Change in Career.”

http://ItsAlannaJean.wordpress.com

February 20th @ The Frugalista Mom

Visit Rozelyn’s blog today and you can read her review of the book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction by Sarah Dickinson. Also, win a copy for yourself too!

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

February 21st @ The  Frugalista Mom

Stop by Rozelyn’s blog today and you can read Sarah Dickinson’s guest post about how to raise a confident (but not arrogant) child.

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

February 23rd @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Stop by Anthony’s blog and you can read his review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction. 

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

February 24th @ Armed with a Book

Visit Kriti’s blog today and read her review of Sarah Dickinson’s book Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction.

February 25th @ Armed with a Book

Make sure you visit Kriti’s blog again when she interviews the author Sarah Dickinson.

Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A chilling death takes readers into the mysterious and secretive world of a prestigious prep school in author J.T. Ellison’s novel “Good Girls Lie”. 

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The Synopsis

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new novel examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to to protect their secrets.

The Review

A fantastic thriller that does an excellent job of taking readers through an underutilized setting and explores the lies, deceit and horrors that come often to those enrolled in the life of the wealthy and elite. A shocking death takes readers through a harrowing story of a young woman escaping her past, only for it to come back and haunt her in unexpected ways. 

As her past catches up to her, the secrets she has been hiding begin to unravel the other secrets the school has to offer, and those who reside in it. A story of family, lies and love turns into a chilling mystery that will leave the students and faculty alike of this prestigious school shaken forever. The novel’s plot is what takes center stage in this carefully crafted novel, bringing the tale of this inexplicable death to life as the truth becomes stranger than the fiction the characters were telling themselves. 

The Verdict

A must read thriller of 2020! A brilliant, evenly paced read that thoroughly explores the background of the school and the lives of the cast of characters, this novel will keep readers on the edge of their seat and will shock everyone as the final pages play out the story of the novel’s protagonist in an unexpected way. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of J.T. Ellison’s “Good Girls Lie” today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 20 novels, and the EMMY-award winning co-host of A WORD ON WORDS, Nashville’s premier literary show. With millions of books in print, her work has won critical acclaim, prestigious awards, and has been published in 26 countries. Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Target

Google

iBooks

Kobo

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @thrillerchick

Facebook: @JTEllison14

Instagram: @thrillerchick

Goodreads

BookBub

Q&A with J.T. Ellison

• Do you plan your books in advance or let them develop as you write?

Both. Sometimes the story just unfolds, and sometimes I have to relentlessly work on themes and turning points and characters’ points of view. Every book is different, every book has its own unique challenges. I’m always thinking about what’s next, and sometimes even what’s after that. But when it comes to actually sitting down to write, I like to let the story unfold a bit, let it stretch its wings, before I try to lash it to the mast and conform it to my vision.

• What does the act of writing mean to you?

It’s a sacred contract with me and a mythical “someone” who might read the words at some point in the future and find them entertaining or moving. It’s sheer magic on my end, creating, and sheer magic on the readers’ end, when they get to experience what was in my head as I was writing. It’s the most incredible mystical experience out there.

• Have you ever had a character take over a story, and if so, who was it and why?

All the time. Oh my gosh, all the time. Honestly, if the character doesn’t run away with things, I know there’s a problem. Ivy, n LIE TO ME, is a particular favorite. She’s just so nasty…

• Which one of Good Girls Lie’s characters was the hardest to write and why?

Ash, for sure. She was so elusive and aloof with me. The Britishisms, the secrets, the lies, she was always just out of reach. Of course, that was because I’d written her in third person. When I switched her to first, she wouldn’t shut up. 

• Which character in any of your books (Good Girls Lie or otherwise) is dearest to you and why?

Oh that’s an impossible question. Taylor. Sam. Sutton. Vivian. Ash. Aubrey. Ivy. Juliet. Lauren. Becca. Gavin. Baldwin. Xander. They are all me, on some level, whether it’s a fear or a triumph, a flaw or a heroic action. A moment of love or a moment of animosity. It’s like asking me to choose among my children, which one is my favorite. (I don’t have kids, by the way, but I couldn’t pick my favorite of my kittens, either.)

• What did you want to be as a child? Was it an author?

I desperately wanted to be Colorado’s first female firefighter. When that job was taken, I cast about. Doctor. Lawyer. Fighter Pilot. Spy. International business maven. Olympic swimmer. Poet. In the end, being a writer was my only choice. That way, I get to experience all the lives I could have led.

• What does a day in the life of J.T. Ellison look like?

It’s rather blissful. It starts rather lazily, with the cats cuddled into my arms and the newspaper on my iPad, then progresses to kicking the lazy beasts out, pouring a cup of tea and handling email. I am not a morning person, so I tend to do business in the morning and writing in the afternoon, when I’m sharper. I’ve always wanted to be the writer who gets up at 5 am to write whilst the birds chirp and the house sleeps, watching the sun rise and running five miles before the rest of the world is awake, but alas, it was not meant to be. You need to go to a concert that starts at ten p.m., I’m your girl. 

• What do you use to inspire you when you get Writer’s Block?

It depends. If it’s a genuine block, a I’ve lost faith in myself and my work block, I will step away from the manuscript entirely, read, walk, golf, yoga, go out for margaritas with my husband, anything to remove me from the situation. But 90 percent of the time, it’s just a story issue, so I work it out with some of my creative partners. Lots of texting and phone calls and what ifs, until it shakes itself free. 

• What book would you take with you to a desert island?

Hmmm… my knee jerk is the Harry Potter series – I know, I know, that’s seven books, but I’m sure there’s an omnibus edition somewhere. The fight for good and evil never ceases to amaze and comfort me. Knowing love conquers evil is a big deal in this world. And Hermione kicks ass. If I’m forced into a single title, Plato’s Republic. I’ve been obsessed with the allegory of the cave my entire adult life. 

• Favorite quote?

“Do. Or Do not. There is no try.” – Master Yoda

• Coffee or tea?

Loose leaf earl grey. Making tea is a meditative experience for me.

• Best TV or Movie adaptation of a book?

Clueless, hands-down the best adaptation of Austen’s Emma ever, and I’ve been enjoying A Discovery of Witches, based on the fabulous books by Deborah Harkness. Outlander isn’t bad, either. And Game of Thrones… obviously, I don’t include anything past the second episode of the final season of that, though I did enjoy the whole Deanarys-Drogon airborne apocalypse. I mean, talk about a girl who had reason to be aggravated with society.

• Do you have stories on the back burner that are just waiting to be written?

So. Many. Stories. I will never get to them all. At last count, there are 49 in my “Story Idea” folder, with several more floating around in my head. 

• What has been the hardest thing about publishing? What has been the most fun?

The hardest is staying in the game, juggling the necessary mix of creativity and business, finding new paths to reach readers and leveling up the writing so it’s possible to grow my career. It was much easier to write, to focus, before our constant connections to the internet consumed us. The most fun is that email from a reader, when something I’ve written strikes a chord with them and they write to tell me they love a story, or a character, or an ending. It doesn’t get better than that. 

• What advice would you give budding authors about publishing?

Stay as much in a vacuum as you can while writing. You don’t need a platform, you need an excellent, groundbreaking book. And read everything. Everything you can get your hands on. You learn writing through osmosis as much as writing the books themselves. Find your writing habit and hold it sacred. If you respect your work, your people will, too.

• What was the last thing you read?

I just finished Holly Black’s THE QUEEN OF NOTHING, the finale of her Folk of the Air trilogy, and just finished listening to BAG OF BONES by Stephen King. Both were exceptional.

• Your top five authors?

Diana Gabaldon

JK Rowling

Deborah Harkness

Leigh Bardugo

Sarah J. Maas

• Book you’ve bought just for the cover?

That’s how I found the Holly Black trilogy – I adored the cover of THE CRUELEST PRINCE.

• Tell us about what you’re working on now.

 I’m writing a novel about a destination wedding that goes very, very wrong. It has loose ties to Rebecca, and it titled HER DARK LIES. 

A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Tragedy and heartbreak bring two teens from very different worlds together in unexpected ways in author Whitney D. Grandison’s novel “A Love Hate Thing”. 

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The Synopsis

When they’re stuck under one roof, the house may not be big enough for their hate…or their love.

When Tyson Trice finds himself tossed into the wealthy coastal community of Pacific Hills, he’s ready for the questions, the stares and the feeling of not belonging. Not that he cares. After recovering from being shot and surviving the rough streets of Lindenwood, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything, much less how the rest of his life will play out.

Golden girl Nandy Smith has spent most of her life building the pristine image that it takes to fit in when it comes to her hometown Pacific Hills where image is everything. After learning that her parents are taking in a troubled teen boy, Nandy fears her summer plans, as well as her reputation, will go up in flames.

Now with Trice living under the same roof, the wall between their bedrooms feels as thin as the line between love and hate. Beneath the angst, their growing attraction won’t be denied. Through time, Trice brings Nandy out of her shell, and Nandy attempts to melt the ice that’s taken Trice’s heart and being. Only, with the ever-present pull back to the Lindenwood streets, it’ll be a wonder if Trice makes it through this summer at all.

The Review

An emotional and very real roller coaster of emotions take center stage in this gripping YA romantic drama. The characters become the central focus of this story as Trice and Nandy both are forced to step out of their comfort zones and find meaning in places neither of them ever thought they could. 

The alternating chapters between both protagonist’s point of view gives readers an in-depth look into the overall theme of star-crossed lovers, a breakdown of privellige versus middle class living and of breaking down the barriers created by stereotypes and judgment to discover who people are on the inside. The heartbreak of Trice and his past collide with the upscale lifestyle Nandy has grown up with, and each of them learns things are not quite as they seem from the other side of their respective fences. 

Yet it is the story of real love that takes hold in the reader’s minds and hearts here. Not a fairytale style love that people always dream of, but of true love that comes with pain, heartbreak, and solid connections that speak true to readers everywhere, making this an excellent read. 

The Verdict

This is the perfect YA drama to start off 2020. A great mix of drama, romance and teen angst makes this the perfect read that is relatable to teen readers and memorable to many others. With a dramatic conclusion, this evenly paced read is not to be missed, so be sure to grab your copy of Whitney D. Grandison’s novel “A Love Hate Thing” today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Whitney D. Grandison was born and raised in Akron, Ohio, where she currently resides. A lover of stories since she first picked up a book, it’s no surprise she’s taken to writing her own. Some of her works can be found on Wattpad, one of the largest online story sharing platforms, where she has acquired over 30,000 followers and an audience of over fifteen million dedicated readers.

Buy Links: 

Harlequin

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Indie Bound

Kobo

Books-a-Million

Google Play

Social Links: 

Instagram: @wheadee

Twitter: @whitney_DG