Friday, June 29, 2012

The Havenshire Resistance- Dragons, Wolves & Samurai- Oh My!

This is the second book in the ‘Heirs to the Throne’ series and I cannot wait for the third! I am hooked. I would like to mention an excellent feature that was included in the beginning of the book. It was the back-story. Brilliant! If you have not read the first book, you will get the brief summary and avoid any confusion when reading the second book. If you have read the first book, it is a nice synopsis, as you continue your journey.

Diane Rapp has a style of writing that I like to call ‘musical’. When I read her books, she takes me on an intense voyage where I can smell the fragrance of the night blooming flowers and stroke the soft fur of the sentient wolves, under the red moon. This adventure takes place on the planet Drako and it is action packed!

 As we join our friends, trouble is brewing. King Donovan works hard to create a Kingdom where all the citizens have equal opportunities. He promotes fair trade and makes enemies along the way. He has to fight with the lords within his Kingdom, who do not want change. Then there is the ever-present threat of the ominous evil that is Jarrack. He is a power hungry tyrant with the gift of mind control. He wants everything that King Donovan has- including his Queen Krystal and their daughters. 
When anarchy explodes, Jarrack traps Donovan in a type of ‘time warp’ and takes control of Havenshire.

Krystal is obligated to make some painful decisions. It is essential to separate her daughters, to keep them safe. In addition, she must find a way to rescue her beloved King. 

She summons all of her strength, to create a strategy whereby she can covertly rule the Kingdom and gain the support of her people. She soon creates the Havenshire Resistance.  

It is the start of a secretive black market,   born to finance the motley crew that will become her army. This unique army will consist of samurai, peasants, renegades, & the abused women, rescued from Jarrack’s harem. Moreover, she will have the support of the sentient wolves.

Years go by; the three daughters grow up in different environments, giving them each unique skills that will serve them well. Krystal stays safe by becoming the leader of The Fire Temple. As the girls approach their seventeenth birthday, the plan goes into effect. They must find each other and band together as a family.

Danger lurks around every corner and under every rock. Jarrack sends Desert riders to find and capture the girls. Even with their guardians, the journey is one of danger. They must rely upon the wolves but they need the approval of the wolves’ Council of Elders, who is skeptical, doubting the intelligence of the humans. There are challenges at every step of the way. 
With the help of the wolves, a dragon, panther, and a hawk, the daughters brace for the fight to save their father.

Krystal leads the Havenshire Resistance and defeats the enemy. They succeed in killing Jarrack... but is he really “gone”?   King Donovan is freed. The family is reunited. All is well in the kingdom. Or… is it? 

Diane's Website
Facebook author’s page

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The death of a parent- a mother and son's deep love and friendship

Astro Mom has passed away - 19th June 2012...
By Joe Guzman on Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at 1:08am ·
Dear Friends....

I have been receiving many nice notes and wishes regarding me and my Mom, but very sad news - and I feel it’s important to notify my friends.

A week ago (Tuesday the 19th of June), Mom made her transition away from me and passed away at a solid 96 years of age. She suffered from liver disease, most likely brought on by pesticides when she worked on a farm as a young woman.  We fought this illness together for many years, extending our time together after the medical community wrote her off.  She trusted in me and did everything I told her what to do, altered our diet and incorporated alternative treatments in pushing back the inevitable for as long as we could. She was mobile and acutely cognitive till just about the very end, joking with me hours before she passed.

Two weeks ago, a blood vessel burst in her colon and I rushed her to the E.R. Blood transfusions later we only spent four days in the hospital.  Being prodded, poked, jabbed and tubed, she was happy to get out of there and cease the "tortures" as she put it and come home.  For the next two weeks, she spent the entire time in bed and in great discomfort, but alert.  I spent the next 14 days changing, feeding and sleeping in a chair by her - taking her vitals hourly.  She knew the routine - extending her arm for the Bp cuff, her finger for the Blood Ox meter and held the thermometer under her tongue till ready.  For the majority of the two weeks, the vitals were improving and gave me hope.  She would wrap her arms around my neck, so as to lift her up and place a pillow under her head for drinking/eating. She continually complained about the discomfort in her belly, which was now distended with fluid, pressing up against her ribcage and preferred to lie flat.  I would try to massage the water away, bringing slight relief, but with every meal and drink, it would rise up again - and it would hurt me to see her like this. But Mom was a strong woman and we always bounced back from set-backs before, resuming her regular household regiments as usual...but not this time. Growing weaker, walking was not possible and she was tired of laying in bed, bones and muscles aching.  I would to continue to massage her and turn her often, but she was so tired and slept most of the time. Her dentures no longer fit and pained I pureed her foods and pushed nutrient/juiced drinks.  I changed her several times a day with a smile and we shared jokes.  When I had to go to work, my girl Maria made time to come and stay with her and chat.  Mom told her things about me and said, "He's yours now.....good luck...!"

I incorporated the services of Hospice care, who were great in bathing, medicating and provided use of oxygen and other items of need. On the 19th of June, I told Mom I would be going to bed and that I would get up in a couple of hours to check up on her.  She was good with that, told me I must be tired and asked if I ate well.  At 2:00 am, I woke up in a start and went to Mom, who was awake but sluggish. I was having a difficult time taking her vitals, but after some time, succeeded in registering a low blood pressure and Blood Oxygen reading.  Alarmed, I called the hospice nurse at 2:00 am and she arrived quickly within the hour. Mom was entering the last stages of life and the nurse asked if I would want to call 911.   No.  The attempts to administer trauma care, (Intubation, chest compressions etc...),  would be more detrimental to her frail body - and to put her thorough all that now in a cold careless hospital was not going to happen.  We would see this out at home.

I spent the next hours scared, hopeless and in a daze, but did not show it, talking with Mom - who could only now mumble or grunt, but still aware and tried to respond.  I thanked her for everything she did for me and that we would love each other forever.  She acknowledged as best she could. Breathing became labored and was now an effort. As her protector and caretaker since forever, I could not fix this and knew the day I dreaded for decades was at hand. I was angry at my helplessness and feared my resignation of the crisis.   Maria took time off of work to be with me as I was scared to be alone....arriving just in time. 

Mom's breathing was now more shallow and father apart.  I tried again to take her vitals, but they were not registering...and with both of us at her side, holding her hand and stoking her head...Mom, the woman who was always there for me and my best friend, took a last breath...and was gone forever. I cried and wailed -  (listening to myself react and feeling fright), as Maria held me and I held Mom.  This was and is so unreal, Mom was no longer here, but her shell remained - just like that.  I remained with her for a few hours, trying to understand this transition, before calling the hospice nurse, who arrived and made the arrangements to have her picked up. And with that, Mom's physical body was gone from my life forever.  Inconceivable nightmare.

I seem to handling this horrible situation better than I thought I would, always imagining myself in a fetal position in the corner without Mom. I go through wide mood swings from utter despair to feeling ok...which brings on guilt. I am happy that Mom no longer is suffering with that goddamned liver disease and can rest her soul from this condition. My schedule revolved around Mom and I lived my life for her and now my job was at an end.  What do I do now.....?  I try to fill my time, but it all seems meaningless.  I find myself talking to her and hoping she can hear me from wherever she may be now.  

She said I was the best thing in her life and hoped when her time came, that I would not be alone.  Seeing how well Maria & I are together, she called us magnets - strongly attracted to each other.  I would often tell Mom that I would be back "in a couple of hours” going to see Maria... and she would respond “I know how long your couple of hours are”.  She genuinely liked and approved my girl and seeing that I was not alone now... made her feel better she told me. 

Mom and I decided long ago that we would prefer cremation, like my Dad...we even came across an urn-like vessel that will hold her ashes that we liked and got that will rest on the piano.  There will be no wake or services - but perhaps a memorial remembrance sometime - perhaps on her birthday. We often discussed the mystery of Life after Death and this temporary dimension of existence.  I hope she is well and will keep tabs on me like she said she would.  My Dad visited me in a most vivid dream and hung around for awhile...I hope Mom stays with me and guides me as I try to continue on.  We always talked about astronomy and often said that she would like to skate on the rings of Saturn when the time comes....I hope she is having a great time. And, she was proud of me - always telling me she loved me as I would head out the door - always worrying over me till I was back home.  

There is now a home full of memories and a lifetime of collected stuff to go through...a painful task to attend to. Favorite articles of clothing, foods in the fridge, knick-knacks she liked that reflected colored sunshine in the windows. Notifying agencies that she has passed, removing her name from papers, and no longer bringing home her favorite coffee/’s all hard. I lost weight and trying to regain footing.  So many things we shared together, inside jokes, stories told & retold and pushing back the disease as far as we could.

This is an impossible state of being now, but damn...we had a great time together, my best friend... and she would have made 100 easy...if it were not for that stupid retarded cancer....that not only killed it's host..but itself as well. She never harmed anybody, sacrificed much for me and I am blessed to be her son.  But, I am now faced for the first time, a world without Mom & Dad...and it's scary. There is an uncomfortable relief that our struggle is over and new opportunities to conquer...but I would do it all over again just to have her with me for another hour.

Thank you to all my friends to kept the positive thoughts and prayers for us...recommending various assistance, offering help and searching for alternative herbs for her when I was having difficulties.  She always smiled when I told her that my friends said hello and enjoyed being referred to as “Astro Mom”.   I was blessed with a wonderful gift - having so many quality years together, practically mobile and of sharp mind to the very end - we connected till the very end. She passed like she wanted - with me at her side, at home quietly and with a slight smile on her face...but I miss her so much and with a home full of her memories and bills piling up.  I am a changed person now, different - but I can't explain it yet.  

(I share this account for my friends who may be going through, have already or soon might be facing this situation.  You all have been very generous and I hope that this will prepare you in the loss that we all must experience at some time.)

I miss you Ma. 


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Interview with the incredibly talented author, Christine Cunningham ~Eternal Beginning

K-We are so happy to have you join us here. I read your book, ‘Eternal Beginning’, and I could not put it down. I read it in one sitting. It was like ‘The law of attraction’ and ‘Conversations with God’ – combined, condensed and very concise.

 It was very inspirational. I almost felt as though you were writing about your own experience. How did this book come about?

C—Hi, Kathleen! Thank you for having me. You are an astute reader because Eternal Beginning is based on my life experience. I was working at a job that paid bills and passed the time of the day, but I heard the call to live an inspired life rather than an expected life. I ignored the call until my health forced me to take time off of work and evaluate what I truly wanted from life. I had always wished to write a book and here was the opportunity. I read and listened to many inspired speakers at the time (and still continue to) and decided to write about my own journey to a brilliant life.

K- Please, describe your typical day, starting with waking up, food, drinks, everything in between, to bedtime.

C-I wake up sometimes with an alarm or often without. It mostly depends on how late I was up the night before writing or creating or simply enjoying life’s moments. I have a bowl of cereal, brew a pot of tea and turn on my computer to connect with fellow authors and readers. I’m a dedicated member of World Literary Cafe and have an active role building that author/reader community there. After clearing the boards I turn on the music station Pandora, choose a genre and dive into writing. Sometimes the story isn’t flowing, and I go play the piano or sew a new piece of clothing. It’s about doing what you want and doing it well. I usually scarf an Odwalla bar for lunch and more tea. I often think I could be so much more productive if I didn’t have to concern myself with food, but I’m grateful I have such easy means to satisfy myself. I take an afternoon walk with a friend or solo to readjust myself to the natural rhythms of the Earth and then have dinner. I love to laugh and I often indulge in watching a comedy during dinner. Then depending on what activity I’m currently enjoying, I usually close the day with reading a portion of a book and slip into dreamland.

K- How do you balance writing, promotional work & personal?

C-I set goals and have a flexible schedule for each day. I set the goal to release a set of five short stories once a month for a year and to release a novella every three to four months. Since I’m home, I’m easily accessible to family and friends and have an active social life. I leave myself open for life to dazzle me with surprises, and I enjoy life so much more. I do what I want when I want and life gives to me, and I joyfully give to others. It’s not always easy to stay in balance. I know when I fail to feel loving, or if I become afraid, it’s time to restore my inner balance and then all other aspects of life will fall into place.

K- Do you do your own editing and do you like it?

C-I have a love/hate relationship with editing. I generally do my own editing for my short stories and use a professional for my longer novellas. I love being able to experience my stories more than once, but it can be frustrating when I see mistakes. I’m a closet perfectionist, but I’m trying to get over it because mistakes can take a story in a new direction that I hadn’t considered before, much like life.

K-If you could name one thing that has driven your success, what would that be?

C-Love. Love of the craft. Love of sharing a story. Love of expressing my true self.

K- Now, let’s have some fun. If your book is made into a movie, who would you want to cast in the roles?

C-The actress I have in mind for the guide in Eternal Beginning would have to be Della Reese. She has the credentials and the presence to carry such an intense role. The person guided, now that’s a little more difficult. I intentionally left sex of the character unknown so all who read it could apply the lessons to themselves. Since it is from my perspective I think I would choose a woman for the role. I would love Audrey Hepburn to play that part, but since she’s unavailable at the moment I guess I would choose Kate Winslet.
K- Another fun ritual I enjoy with my guests is the writing exercise. I give you a scene and you re-write it in your own special style. Are you up for it?


K- Okay- here you go:

Kamlesh was Pratibha’s husband and Dimpy's father. He was a magic man of sorts. He was a guru with powers that many could not understand. Years before, Kamlesh and Pratibha had a happy life in the jungle. That was before that fateful day when the evil man threatened the lives of Kamlesh and his family. He was told he would have to leave forever or he and his family would be killed. He left that day and never returned. He had spent the rest of his days in solitude living in a cave, somewhere in a remote area of the mountainside.

Pratibha’s father, Dadoo, looked at his daughter sadly, regretting the past. He knew he must do the right thing.

"Tomorrow we will bring a search party of five men and we will begin the search for Kamlesh. I promise you my daughter I will bring your husband home. I will make this family whole again."
Dadoo looks like he had aged quite a bit in the past month. He was a small man with short silver hair and glasses. He had a wide jaw that now seemed to soften. A tiny bead of sweat rolled down his four head and into his eye. He wiped his eye with his jewelry-laden fingers. He had come to the realization that he had made a horrendous mistake, years back. He knew he was partially responsible and he fully intended to right this wrong.

C-Magic. That’s what separated me from my family. I use a piece of burnt wood to mark the passing of another day on the wall of my cave. Lightning flashes across the sky illuminating the tangle of trees and hidden horrors of my jungle home. My son Dimpy would have forgotten my face by now. He would hide behind the skirts of his mother and my wife Pratibha. My heart spasms painfully in my chest and I cover my face. She begged me to stay despite the warning. With a flick of my fingers, the nearest tree in front of my cave burst apart. It is this power, I hold that terrifies everyone except Pratibha. I stroke the wall of the cave wishing it was the face of my beloved. I left her before she could be taken from me. My hand binds into a fist and hits the wall with all my feelings of loss. The defect of my abilities, I can’t work magic when I’m afraid. And the man who threatened to take the life of my family if I stayed in my village terrifies me.
“Pratibha come here.”
“Yes, father.”
I wipe the face of my son and send him out to play with the other children. A woven blanket divides the living space in the hut. I grasp the edge of the blanket and pause before entering my father’s side.
“Yes, father, what do you wish?”
Firelight makes my father’s short gray hair glow like a halo around his head. Trickles of sweat make tiny rivers down his face and chest. He wipes his forehead with the palm of his hand. The rings on his fingers sparkle with jewels. I’m forcefully reminded that my life and the life of my son are tied to the whim of this tiny old man.
“Are you too hot father?”
I move to douse the flames, but my father waves for me to be still. I kneel at his feet and wait.
“I have decided it’s time for your husband to return.”
My breath catches in my throat, and tears spill down my cheeks. I grasp the hand of my father and lay my head in his lap. He rests his other hand on my head as he used to do when I was small.
“How will you find him?”
My father lifts my head smiles at me with something like regret in the back of his eyes.
“I have organized a troupe of men to find him. We will leave at dawn tomorrow.”

K-Wow!  That was a beautiful spin.  You have a lovely writing style.

What projects are you currently working on right now? Would you mind sharing them with us? 

C-I am currently working on the third book in my Willow Reed series Cinnamon Summer. If you want to get caught up in the series the begin with First Snow and second Spring Argyle. I’m also working on Volume four of my Five Fables series.
K-Christine, thank you so much for joining us.  It was a pleasure having you.  I hope you’ll return for a chat. In the meantime, where can we find you on the web?

C-It was utterly my pleasure to join you today. You can find me on Twitter , Facebook, my blog and my list of books on Amazon.  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Marni Mann- Don't let the pretty face fool you- Interview & shocking writing exercise!

K-We are so happy to have you join us here.  I read your book, ‘Memoirs aren’t Fairytales’, and I couldn’t put it down.  It’s dark with some fairly gruesome scenes.  How did this book come about?  I’ve read that this is not your personal experience, but it reads quite realistic. Where was the inspiration and how did you research for this book.

M- I’m so happy to be here. Thank you so much for the opportunity, Kathleen. This book wasn’t based on personal experience, but the inspiration was. I have several addicts in my life and one of them overdosed. My pain turned into a novel. The research was, at times, as gruesome as those scenes you mentioned. I spoke directly to the voices of addiction; I interviewed addicts while they were sober, preparing their shots, injecting, and detoxing. It was a dark experience and at times I felt extremely powerless.

K- That was incredible research.  It comes through in the authenticity of the story.

So what is day in the life of Marni?  Please describe your typical day, starting with waking up, food, drinks, everything in between, to bedtime.

M- I wake up around 5:30am and head straight to the Keurig. With my twelve ounces of coffee, I check my email, reply to everything that requires an answer or comment, then I write or edit. Music always plays in the background. TweetDeck and Facebook are minimized, but I check them often. My iPhone is used for work--I work as a property manager, but I work from home--so I reply to work emails and answer calls using my phone. Lunch is eaten around 12:00pm or 1:00pm; some type of rolled up deli meat with a squirt of mustard, sliced fruit, and a granola bar. More emails. More writing, editing, blogging, guest posting, but it’s writing related and that lasts until late afternoon. I throw in a load of laundry, give my dogs some attention, and run a work errand or two around 3:00pm. From 4:00pm to 7:00pm I hang out on social media, answer more emails, put out work fires. I eat dinner around 8:00pm and walk the dogs at 8:30pm. Some nights I go straight back to work. Other nights I relax on the couch with a glass of wine and bad reality TV. I usually go to bed around midnight.

K- How do you balance writing, promotional work & personal?

M- I don’t sleep more than five hours a night. As for food, I rely heavily on things that can be eaten raw or cooked in the microwave. In other words, I don’t balance it well. If you’re reading this and you have the secret formula, please feel free to share the love.

K- I wish I had the secret- that's why I keep asking (laughing)

So you do your own editing?

M- HA! No! Before I queried Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales, I hired an editor. Once I signed with Booktrope, my publisher, I started working with their editors. An editor and proofreader review each of my novels prior to release.

K-Oh, that's great.  Booktrope sounds interesting.  

Do you use Twitter & Facebook to promote your book?  Anything else?

M- I do, but I don’t take the throw-my-books-in-your-face-and-talk-about-them-non-stop approach. I talk to tweeps and peeps and I discuss the things we have in common. I’ve met some incredible friends on Twitter and Facebook and some I’ve even met in person. My manager and I focus on all marketing mediums, not just social media.

K-If you could name one thing that has driven your success, what would that be?

M- Anyone who has told me no, I want to prove you wrong. Anyone who has a dream, I want to show you it's possible. Anyone who has faith in me, I don't want to let you down. So that was three things, but they all have equal weight.

K- Well, they are three powerful thoughts. Good inspiration.

 And now for some fun.  If your book were made into a movie, who would you want to cast in the roles?

M- Mila Kunis would be perfect for Nicole. Nicole’s boyfriend, Dustin, should be played by Mark Wahlberg. Ian Somerhalder would be great for Michael, Nicole’s brother.

K-  I can't believe you said Mark Wahlberg should play Dustin.  That is what I thought from the start.  I really like Mila Kunis as Nicole.

Another fun ritual I enjoy with my guests, is the writing exercise.  I give you a scene and you re-write it in your own special style.  Are you up for it?

M- Heck yeah! I’m up for anything.

K- Okay- here you go:

Anil sat quietly in the dark room, staring down into the amber liquid in the glass he held in his hand. He quickly swallowed the whiskey, in one gulp. Then he screamed out filthy obscenities, while he hurled the glass to the floor. He grimaced as a large glass shard bounced up and lodged in his bare ankle. He reached down and grabbed the glass shard, and pushed it deeply in to his skin, and then pulled the shard through his leg, all the way up to his knee. 


He screamed out in pain and then grabbed the glass shard and threw it back on the floor. He did not notice the blood gushing down his leg and pooling on the floor. He felt a little better now. He had discovered that cutting himself seemed to calm him down. Sometimes he became so irate and agitated it took more than just a few cuts. It was starting to escalate. Like a drug, he needed more and more. The month before he was not able to soothe himself until he had sliced off his pinky finger

M- The darkness began to swallow Anil. Not just from the lack of light in the room, but also because of his mood. With a glass of amber liquid clutched to his chest, his mouth watered for its flavor. His hunger became uncontrollable and he swallowed the whiskey in one gulp. As the burning in his throat subsided, the realization hit. He was out of liquor. Filthy obscenities poured from his mouth as he hurled the glass to the floor. Just as he was about to lick the tiny droplets off the ground, he felt the pain. A shard had bounced and lodged into his bare ankle.

He thought about screaming while he pushed the glass deeper into his skin, dragging it through his leg and up to his knee. “Arrr,” was on the verge, teetering between his tongue and lips. He released a sigh instead, but it wasn’t because he had removed the shard and dropped it in the pool of blood.

His emotions seeped as quickly as his wound. Sometimes it took more than one cut; today’s was deeper than usual. He glanced down at his four remaining fingers and a smile spread over his thin lips. His pinky had been gone for a month, but he didn’t miss it. Like the whiskey, he couldn’t get enough. He reached for the piece of glass, the rush and high within grasp, and a second smile peeked through his lips.

K-Wow!  Okay, that is the most twisted one yet- I applaud you Ms Mann : ))

What projects are you currently working on right now? Would you mind sharing them with us? 
M- I have two novels coming out late summer/early fall: A young adult (YA) version of Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales and its sequel, Scars From A Memoir. I recently started writing my fourth novel. It’s a dark literary piece that follows the lives of two young women. That’s all I can about that one for now.

K-Marni, thank you so much for joining us.  It was a pleasure having you.  I hope you’ll return for a chat, when you release your new books.  In the meantime, where can we find you on the web?

M- Thank you so much for having me, Kathleen. You’ve been an amazing host. I would love to return for a chat once the sequel is out. I can be found on my blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. My links are below.

Twitter: @MarniMann

Monday, June 4, 2012

Diane Rapp can juggle murder & mayhem while cruising the Caribbean!

I was enchanted by this story from the first page.   It brought back memories of my favorite mystery books, like the Trixie Belden or Nancy Drew Series.  But this is much more refined and sophisticated.

 The Heroine, Kayla is a lovely, young travel guide writer who returns to her former place of employment- as a celebrity.  Who has not dreamed of doing that? 
 Her former place of employment just happens to be a cruise ship in the Caribbean.  It would be fabulous- but Kayla is mending a broken heart.   You feel her pain and you hate the scoundrel who caused it.  You form strong opinions about the characters and when there is a murder- well – he had it coming!

Kayla travels through the Caribbean doing research for her book and some detective work.   The author brings you to the scenes with such detail; you are enveloped in the exotic locale.  As you explore the islands, inhaling the perfume of the tropical flowers, you learn of Caribbean history and geography.  You vow to return one day-in person.

Is Kayla a murderer?  Will she ever find true love?  You’ll have to read the book to find out : )

Interview with Diane Rapp

K:  I was just delighted with Murder Caribbean Style.  It reminded me of a very sophisticated, grown up sort of Nancy Drew mystery.  Where did you get your inspiration?

D: My daughter, Laura and I wrote a travel guide to the Caribbean islands.  After we finished Laura planned to write a mystery using the islands as a backdrop, but she hated writing fiction.  She gave the idea to me.  With the islands fresh on my mind, I started the arduous task of planning a mystery.  Since I incorporated various cruise ships into the plot, I drew up a schedule for the imaginary ships to land on each island.  What a headache.    

K: The amazing detail of all of the islands and your vivid descriptions made me want to visit those islands!  Seriously- I am now planning our vacation to one of the destinations in the book.  How did you become so knowledgeable about the Caribbean?

Laura and I spent three months visiting eleven Caribbean islands to research our travel guide.  A factual guidebook can’t use space to capture the beauty and atmosphere of the islands, so I used the mystery format to illustrate the ambience of real tropical locations.  

K:  As a writer, I really admire when an author is able to show, rather than tell.  Have you worked on your writing technique or does it come naturally to you?

Thanks for the compliment.   The technique is not a natural skill.  I visualize scenes as though I was watching a movie, and then I write and rewrite until my fingers ache.   When I get stuck, I reread a book by one of my favorite authors and analyze how the author created flowing prose.  Have you ever read West With the Night by Beryl Markum?  Her descriptions of Africa make me envious!

K:  No I haven’t – but I will!
I only do reviews for books that I really enjoyed.  This is a book that would make a great movie.  I could see Drew Barrymore playing Kayla.  Have you thought about that?

My heart flutters to imagine Murder Caribbean-Style on the silver screen.  I’m part of the first generation that grew up watching television and movies.   My heroine “casts” people in her own private movie, and I hoped this mechanism might help readers visualize the characters.   

K: This is becoming a signature move for me: I’d like to do a fun exercise with you.  I will give you a scene and I would love for you to write it in your alluring style : )

Our hostess, Jill, opened the door.

I felt like someone punched me in the stomach.  It was a tiny, dingy little apartment.  Our bedroom, with two tiny cot-like beds was so small that we could not lay our luggage on the floor- it had to stay upright.   The bed linens were threadbare.  There was no air conditioning.   Jill warned us that there were no screens on the windows so if we opened them for air at night, we would be eaten alive by mosquitoes.  This was especially disgusting for Tara, because there are no mosquitoes in Ireland and she liked it that way.

This was not the luxurious villa that we had looked forward to.   Without speaking Tara and I looked at each other and new we had to find a way out.


The hinge squeaked as the hotel clerk, Jill jerked on the rusty door handle.

We shoved our luggage against the wall and squeezed into the closet masquerading as a bedroom.  Tara frowned at the threadbare sheets and stained pillowcases on the twin beds, while I jiggled the thermostat, praying for a refreshing blast of cool air.  A pitiful trickle of stale air coughed into my face and the musty smell turned my stomach.   

I glanced hopefully at the dirty windows. Jill said, “Better not open the windows, since we don’t have screens.  The mosquitoes will feast on your pale Irish skin all night and cats might come inside.  Here’s your key.”  What happened to the tropical vacation villa pictured on the Internet?   

Tara turned to me with panic in her eyes, and I knew we couldn’t spend one night in this dump. Would my credit limit accept another charge?  How could we find a decent room during peak tourist season?

K: That is incredible- magical!  The scene was based on a real life experience I had with my cousin.  You really nailed it- I felt like I was back in that hellish room : )

I look forward to reading your other books. Thank you so much.

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