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Author | Blogger | Workshop Facilitator Visit my website at www.authordeelawrence.com to learn more about my romantic suspense novels, Gotta Let It Go and Gotta Get It Back, the sequel. Connect with me online @authordeelawrence (Facebook). Thanks for visiting with me today!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Review of No Trust by Leslie Esdaile Banks

This novel (book #4) is yet another hit in the “Trust” series. Leslie Banks holds no punches as financial genius Laura Caldwell and her team (sexy hubby James Carter, womanizer cousin Jamal, his pregnant sister Najira and her fiancé, Steve) must rush against all odds to save a family member whose life is in danger.

Relaxing in Maui was idyllic but only for a moment until Laura gets a call to head to Philadelphia to see about her Uncle Akhan. Akhan is dying and his family (one set in Jamaica and the other in the US) are fighting over land in middle of a mob war.

When Akhan goes back to Jamaica after thirty years with Laura and his family, his children whom he left in Jamaica are not too happy having to meet his other set of children. Needless to say, the sibling tried to keep their jealously in check as they are embroiled in a deadly game of control. In the midst of it, Laura must use her connections and smarts to outwit the competition and save the ones she loves.

I really enjoyed this roller coaster of a ride. Leslie’s description of the drama and lushness of Jamaica placed me right in the middle of the action. Great dialogue. Great characters. Great plot twist. Great resolution to the series.
A must read. Two thumbs up.

Some of my favorite lines:
He smiled widely and sent her a quick text: No fair.
She mouthed the words, “Hurry up, then.” He mouthed back, “Okay, I’m trying.”
“I love making you feed good,” he said, now searching harder for the device as sure had to be in their room.
“Well, let me get my dress off, first. You ruined the last one.”
He made a face at her and she quietly laughed and stuck out her tongue at him.
“Then take it off for me, baby,” he said, but stopped for a moment to look at her.
She winked at him; he mouthed back, “For real.”
“All right,” she murmured sexily, and complied.
He turned over the lamp carefully and noticed that the base was a little loose. “Damn…” he said in a low, sensual tone. “With that get-up, you’re gonna have to ride.” He smirked and showed her the device.
            She got it. To keep their cover it would have to seem that the lamp fell during wild sex.
            “Take off your pants,” she demanded, but then sent him a text: “Both brothers are at odds. More than one could have planted a device. Keep looking.”

            James closed his eyes and silently cursed. 

Rating: 4 Stars

Monday, February 27, 2017

Interview with Melissa Phillips Jordan, Author of Children’s picture book titled What Do I Sound Like?

Author’s Bio: Melissa Phillips Jordan, Ph.D. is a psychologist and author with many years of experience working with children. She was inspired to write about the experiences of children, and to add to the diversity of children’s book literature. Her children’s book captures the immigrant experience of a child in a relatable manner. She has had her own immigration experience of being U.S. born, subsequently living abroad in her parents' home country of Trinidad and Tobago, and then adjusting to returning to the U.S. as an adolescent. Currently, she lives with her family in Maryland where she enjoys new adventures, being creative, and giving a voice to children and their stories.

What inspired you to write your book?
MPJ: I wanted my first book to be about what I know. I know the experience of being a second generation immigrant, about being different and learning to be okay with that. That’s what this book is about. I wanted to tell the story through the eyes and ears of a young girl to whom anyone reading the story could relate.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
MPJ: I find many authors fabulously inspiring! From childhood, I remember reading Enid Blyton books. The Wishing Chair was my favorite. I would float away each time I read it. While living in the Caribbean as a child, I read many Anansi stories, which are Ghanian folklore tales about a wise and mischievous spider, written by many authors. As a young adult, Sister Souljah’s Coldest Winter Ever left a strong impression. Richard Wright’s Native Son was one of the first books that made me shift from hating to wholeheartedly rooting for the main character by the end. Amazing writer! I’m also a fan of Terry McMillan, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Nicholas Sparks. I’ve recently discovered Ta-Nehishi Coates and Chimamanda Adichie and have been enjoying their books!

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
MPJ: Yes, this is my first published book. I first wrote the manuscript back in the mid-2000’s as a part of a 4-book series. But, it was shelved for many years, and I would periodically pick it up and put it back down. That was until last year when I figured out how to make publishing a reality and discovered a financially feasible way to get the illustrations done. Once the illustrations were complete, I was able to publish within a few months. 

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
MPJ: While I have an outline and a story arc in mind, I prefer an organic flow when actually writing. I sit down to write when ideas come to me. There are times when I will hit a stride and be writing for hours for many days. Then some time might pass before I write again.

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
MPJ: I don’t listen to music while I write. Actually, the t.v. is usually the white noise in the background when I’m writing. But, if I had to pick a theme song for this book, it would be “Don’t Worry About A Thing” by Bob Marley!

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
MPJ: I think the key to success is to be visible through many medias, keeping in mind that you are your brand and you need to represent your brand well. Attending book festivals and fairs, writer conferences, contacting schools, and using social media are powerful tools for marketing and sales. Be a consistent, visible presence.

What advice would you give to new authors?
MPJ: What I would share with a new author is there is no need to reinvent the wheel, though you can put your own stamp on it. The resources are out there; it’s a matter of researching and networking. Keep seeking information, asking questions, and networking with others who write and inspire you. You will find out so much along the way.

How about sharing an excerpt from What Do I Sound Like?
As Kai gets off the school bus, her mother and her dog Cuddles are waiting for her.
Kai says, “Hi, Mommy.”
Her mother smiles and says, “Hi Kai! How was school today?” 
Kai looks at the ground and says, “It was okay.” They begin to walk home.
Her mother asks, “It was just okay? What happened today?”
Kai asks, “Mommy, do you think I talk funny?”
Her mother answers, “No. Do you think you talk funny?”
No, but some of my friends at school say I talk funny.”
“They do?” asks her mother.
Kai looks confused and says, “Yeah, but I don't know what's funny about how I talk.”
Well,” her mother says, “They are probably talking about what you sound like when you talk.”
Kai wonders, “What do I sound like?”
Well, you have an accent.”
Kai looks even more confused as she walks along and says, “I have a what?”
Her mother replies, “An accent. It's the way our words sound when we say them.”
“Oh.” Kai wonders, “Well, do I sound that way right now?”
You do!”

What’s next for you?
MPJ: Well, What Do I Sound Like is the first book of the Kai and Cuddles Adventure Series. I will soon be working with my illustrator for the second book in the series. I hope to have it published by this fall.

 Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
·         Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01KRA4QXE
·         Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Learntocurve/
·         Twitter: https://twitter.com/LearnToCurve

It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Interview with James Slater, Author of Claustrom

Author's Bio: James Slater is a communications manager who works at the Washington Navy Yard. He does most of his writing while riding the bus on his way to work. He's addicted to writing, coffee, and his family. His younger brother, Rob is the author of the Deserted Lands sci-fi series. Friends stay in touch with him at www.jamesslaterbooks.com.

What inspired you to write your book?
JS: I think it was a number of things.  I've always been an avid reader, and I grew up reading mystery and science fiction stories. Anything I could find at our local library. I think I always wanted to write a book, but I spent so much time at work, that when I get home, I'd have neither the energy or inspiration to write. In 2013, I was in the building during the Navy Yard shooting. I wasn't hurt, but I realized I wasn't getting any younger, and that if I wanted to write a book, then I should get busy. My brother had already published his first book, so I had a great sounding board for my ideas, and with today’s self-publishing opportunities, I thought the time was right.

To get myself motivated, I attended the Creatures, Crimes and Creativity (C3) writer's conference in 2014 to get some kind of inspiration, and one of the seminars was titled Extreme Writing. I heard examples of folks like me who were working full time and who still found time to write novels.  One of them, Puja Guha, was a student who was supposed to be paying attention to her university studies. Another panelist related the story of a man who would ride the subway and write his manuscript on his phone while riding to and from work. While that was a bit extreme for me, I do ride a commuter bus into the city and decided that rather than reading books, I should start writing one.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
JS: I think there were a number of them.  I was captivated by Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Hardy Boys mysteries.  Probably my biggest influence was Isaac Asimov's Foundation series.  This was the type of sci-fi I enjoyed.  It wasn't about aliens or invasions. It was the story of man vs. man in a distant future.  It was a story about people, their struggles and their interactions with one another as humans. I didn't think it necessary to invent new alien monsters.  Humans served as those characters perfectly.

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
JS: This is my first book.  I wrote for an hour in the morning on the way to work and, if I had the energy or the plot had become so engaging that it wouldn't leave me alone, an hour in the evening on the way home.  I started in November and finished up in July.  I didn't do too many revisions but realized that since I'd opted to self-publish that I needed to have something more than just a book to populate a website, and I spent the next year developing companion material, blogs and short stories.

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
JS: Both, actually.  The way it worked for me after I had the larger, overall concept in mind was to outline a number of scenes, then as I got into the scenes, I would let them flow.  Some of my best work and ideas actually came during that flow. Unplanned actually. As the scenes unfolded, new ideas presented themselves and became a part of the story. As I work on subsequent books, I'm trying to be more deliberate about outlining the scenes. I find that I write faster when I have a good handle on what is supposed to happen next.  If I get stuck, it usually means it's time to get back to outlining more scenes.

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
JS: No.  No theme songs. I might listen to some music to get my energy level up, but when I write, I leave the headphones on and turn the music off.  I'm still listening, but I'm listening to the characters. I'm hearing the dialogue as it might be spoken. I'm seeing the scenes unfold in my mind. That's where the magic happens.  Music has a way of blurring these thoughts and images for me.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
JS: I'm actually still working on that one.  Right now I'm focusing on continuing to write my trilogy.  My intent is not to write a single book and spend the rest of my life marketing. Rather, to develop a body of writing that will encourage like-minded readers to continue to follow and read future works.  At this point in my life, I have little “spare” time. So the time I do have, I’m investing in writing the stories I have to tell.  I’m sure when the time is right, I’ll put a larger focus on the marketing aspect.

What advice would you give to new authors?
JS: I have friends who have been working on books. Some of them for years.  And that's great. But I think if you want to be an author, you need to write and finish and write again.  If you keep second-guessing yourself, perfecting and re-perfecting, you'll never finish. Finish the book and publish it. Don’t like it? Publish a better one. On top of that, it's really impossible to describe the feeling of accomplishment you get from publishing your own book. It's amazing.

How about sharing an excerpt from Claustrom.
JS: Absolutely.  Let me set it up for you first. It’s set in the year 3,000 and centers on the crew and passengers of an executive transport ship, Raven.  They’re on their return trip to Earth, but unforeseen trouble forces them to crash land on the prison planet, Claustrom.  First, they have to face the hostile alien conditions, but they also have a traitor in their midst, so they’ve got to pool their collective talents if they hope to make it home again. In this scene, they’ve just crashed.

            Guyal stepped back and watched as a green glow appeared around the cylinders, slowly at first, and then forming a bright green line that crept quickly around the hull of the ship. As the green line expanded its reach, the hull and ship’s interior dissolved to dust and then disappeared entirely. Within a minute the Raven was no more. Its structure reduced first to a green dust and then into nothing. All that remained was the displaced sand carved by their impromptu landing. Silence followed as the gravity of their situation sank in. No one spoke.

             Finally, Truman broke the spell.

             “Amazing. That’s a sight I’ve never seen before. I hope I never see it again. You’ll forgive me if I’m not my usual personable self, but I’ve just lost my two best friends.”

“Where are we?” asked Nik. “And why did we just disintegrate our only way out of here?”
            All eyes turned to Truman, all ready for his answer.

            “We’re on Claustrom, our famous prison planet,” he said. “And we’re in trouble.”

What’s next for you?
JS: Aside from finishing the Claustrom Trilogy, I’m writing a Psychological Thriller series based a character named Ray Bishop. It sounds like a man's name, but she's never mistaken for one once you meet her face-to-face.  Corporate spreadsheet analyst. Game of Thrones nerd. Schizophrenic. To her dismay, she discovers that she takes on another personality at night and masquerades as a private investigator called "Bishop" who has a fondness for bourbon. Unlike the shy, well-mannered Ray, the Bishop half of her can't help but stick her nose where it doesn't belong. Can Ray, with the help of her friend Gabe and a pet rabbit named Paco, make sense of her dysfunctional world and put it--and herself--back together again?  That’s the foundation. I plan seven separate installments, each one centered around one of the seven deadly sins. This one is called Bishop Takes Night, and it’s currently a free download at www.jamesslaterbooks.com.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
• Amazon Author Page:amazon.com/author/jamesslater
• Twitter: @jgsl8r
• Book Buy Links: www.jamesslaterbooks.com

It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.