Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned at a young age, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. Putting this early education to good use, she now now writes the Sally Solari Mysteries (Dying for a Taste, A Measure of Murder), a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California.

Originally from Southern California, Leslie moved north to attend UC Santa Cruz (home of the Fighting Banana Slugs) and after graduation, parlayed her degree in English literature into employment waiting tables and singing in a new wave rock and roll band. Exciting though this life was, she eventually decided she was ready for a “real” job, and ended up at Stanford Law School.

For the next twenty years Leslie worked as the research and appellate attorney for Santa Cruz’s largest civil law firm. During this time, she rediscovered a passion for food and cooking, and so once more returned to school to earn a degree in culinary arts.

Now retired from the law, she spends her time cooking, gardening, cycling, singing alto in her local community chorus, reading, and of course writing. Leslie and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawai‘i.


Links to your website and social media:

Interview:
Tell us about your book! What is it about and what inspired you to write it?
Sally Solari is a fourth-generation Italian American, part of the community of fishermen who first emigrated to Santa Cruz, California back in the 1890s. Her dad runs an Italian seafood restaurant called Solari’s, but Sally has recently found herself caught between two different cultures: that of the traditional, old-school restaurants like her father’s out on the Santa Cruz wharf, and that of the recently-arrived hipsters, whose trendy food movement has now descended full-force upon the surprised old-timers.

In this most recent book in the series, A Measure of Murder, Sally is juggling work at Solari’s along with managing Gauguin, the upscale restaurant she’s just inherited from her aunt. Complicating this already hectic schedule, she joins her ex-boyfriend Eric’s chorus, which is performing a newly discovered version of her favorite composition: the Mozart Requiem. But then, at the first rehearsal, a tenor falls to his death on the church courtyard—and his soprano girlfriend is sure it wasn’t an accident. Sucked into investigating, Sally’s already crazy-busy life heats up like a cast iron skillet set over an open flame.

Although the primary focus of the the Sally Solari mysteries is on food and cooking, there’s a secondary theme to each of the books in the series, as well: one of the five senses. The first, Dying for a Taste, concerned the sense of taste, and A Measure of Murder involves the sense of hearing—more specifically, music.

Music has long been one of my passions. I studied clarinet as a youngster, later fronted and wrote the songs for two different bands, and for the past seventeen years have sung alto in my local community chorus. So when it came time to plot the story about the sense of hearing, there was no question but that it should focus on music.

As with Sally, one of my favorite compositions is the sublime Mozart Requiem. But in addition, the piece is perfect for a mystery novel, as the Requiem itself is surrounded by secrets and mystery: who commissioned it, who completed it after Mozart died, which parts were composed by whom. So, truly, how could I resist?

Tell us about your publishing process. What was it like? Did you go indie or the traditional way?
A Measure of Murder—as with the first Sally Solari mystery, Dying for a Taste—is traditionally published by Crooked Lane Books, a crime imprint out of New York City. From the start, I knew I wanted to find a traditional or small press publisher for the series, so that I could focus on writing and promotion, and not also have to deal with the nuts and bolts of the production and distributing the books themselves.
After two years of querying, I was lucky enough to find a literary agent for the first book in the series, who was eventually able to land me a multi-book deal with Crooked Lane. After signing the contract, it took about a year for the book to be released, during which time I worked on edits, and then the book went into production—i.e., the cover design, copy edits, design, and printing.

How did you choose the title for your book? Did it come to you right away, before you started writing the story, or did it come later?
My working title for the manuscript as I was writing it was Listen to the Murder, but I knew this would have to change, as both my publisher and I wanted something that conveyed not only a murder mystery, but also both the cooking and musical aspects of the story. After much brain-storming on my part, as well as consulting culinary and music dictionaries for inspiration, I hit on the idea of using the word “measure,” since it has both a cooking and a musical connotation. Once I got to this point, the eventual title—A Measure of Murder—came to me quickly.

Tell us about the cover design process. Did you have a basic idea of what your book cover would be like?
Before starting on the cover, Crooked Lane asked if I had any conceptual ideas, and I suggested a view from a restaurant kitchen out to a grove of redwood trees (for which Santa Cruz is famed), as well as something such as a stack of sheet music on the counter to let the reader know that the story concerned music as well as cooking. But until I saw the final artwork, I had no idea what it would end up looking like.

Who is your cover designer and how did you find him/her?
Crooked Lane has a terrific cover artist whom they’ve used for both of my books so far, named Hiro Kimura. I had no part in choosing him, but am thrilled to have him as my designer.

How was your experience working with the designer?
I don’t work directly with Hiro Kimura, but as I noted above, Crooked Lane has been great about letting me provide input about my covers (something traditional publishers are not obligated to do with their authors). And I have to say that what Hiro came up with was far more beautiful and exciting than anything I had imagined. (This is why he’s the artist and I stick with the writing.) I was ecstatic when I first saw the artwork. The combination of the flames jumping from the skillet and the super-saturated colors truly bring the cover to life.

What has been the readers’ response to your cover?
Very positive. I’ve had many readers tell me they first homed in on the book because of its exciting cover.

What tips would you give to authors who are looking for a cover designer?
Since my cover designer was assigned to me by Crooked Lane Books, I can’t provide any advice based on how I found mine. But I will say that if I were looking to hire my own designer, I’d examine lots of other book covers, looking for ones that spoke to me and felt stylistically like what would work for my genre, and then I’d contact those designers to see if they did freelance work.

Anything else you’d like to say about your book?
When it came time to design the cover for my first Sally Solari mystery, Dying for a Taste, I was quite nervous about not having absolute control over the artwork, and worried that it might end up misrepresenting my book. It can be a scary thing, letting go. But now, after two books, I’ve realized that the professionals (in this case, the folks at Crooked Lane Books) know far better than I what works to sell books. And I am exceedingly happy with the covers they’ve provided for my stories. Can’t wait to see what Hiro comes up with for number three!


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

BOOK FEATURE: SAN FRANCISCO NIGHTS BY GREG MESSEL





Title: SAN FRANCISCO NIGHTS
Author: Greg Messel
Publisher: Sunbreaks Publishing
Pages: 232
Genre: Mystery / Suspense

The wife of a wealthy San Francisco shipping magnate leads a secret life but someone is threatening to expose her.  Private eye Sam Slater and his wife and partner, Amelia, meet a mysterious woman in a large red hat during a train trip. The woman approaches him pleading for help because she‘s receiving anonymous notes quoting Bible verses which are becoming more and more ominous with each passing day. Her secrets have been discovered but by whom? What really happens behind closed doors in Room 505 in a swanky downtown hotel?

Sam is willing to take the case but Amelia warns that this woman is nothing but trouble. What does the woman really want? She’s been watching Sam for months and has a scheme to pull him into her world. 

Find out in the latest Sam Slater Mystery “San Francisco Nights” set in the fall of 1959. It’s the seventh book in the series but is a heart pounding stand alone whodunit. 

Watch the book trailer at YouTube.

ORDER YOUR COPY AT AMAZON


The neon lights of the slumbering city gave the streets an eerie blue and purple glow in contrast to the dark store fronts. The three story brick office building was abandoned and the normally bustling street at the entrance to San Francisco’s Chinatown was quiet with only an occasional dark solitary figure walking by. The ancient black metal fire escapes seemed to cling to the facade of the building like an alien spider web. 

The interior of the building was dark except in the private eye’s office on the top floor where a single desk lamp provided the only circle of illumination against the thick blackness of the night. The lamp provided just enough light to brighten the frosted glass on the door with the name “Amelia Slater” on it. 

Amelia sat at her desk in the dimly lit office shuffling through some papers, but she was unnerved and having trouble concentrating.  She took a drag on her cigarette before placing it on the rim of the ash tray. The rising smoke appeared blue as it swirled lazily into the air. 

She suddenly stopped, thinking she heard a sound. After intently listening for a few moments, Amelia concluded her imagination was playing tricks on her. She turned her attention back to the items on her desk but was interrupted again by a prolonged squeak of the outer office door opening. 

Then Amelia heard the outer door softly closing, followed by the sound of quiet footsteps on the hardwood floor. The sound seemed to stop just outside the door to her office. 
Amelia could see the intruder’s silhouette through the frosted glass window. Her eyes were riveted on the door as the door knob to her office began to slowly turn.



Greg Messel has spent most of his adult life interested in writing, including a career in the newspaper business. He won a Wyoming Press Association Award as a columnist and has contributed articles to various magazines. Greg lives in Edmonds, Washington on Puget Sound with his wife Jean DeFond.

Greg has written ten novels. His latest is "San Francisco Nights" which is the seventh in a series of mysteries set in 1959 San Francisco. "Shadows In The Fog," "Fog City Strangler," "San Francisco Secrets," "Deadly Plunge" are sequels to the first book in the series "Last of the Seals." His other three novels are "Sunbreaks," "Expiation" and "The Illusion of Certainty." For a more detailed summary of Greg's novels go to www.gregmessel.com 

Greg is currently working on his eleventh novel "Dreams That Never Were" which is not part of the mystery series.

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Greg Messel is giving away three of his books!!

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  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway ends midnight September 29.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on September 30.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!





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Monday, August 14, 2017

Book Feature: My Brain is Out of Control: Memoirs of a Doctor as a Patient by Dr. Patrick Mbaya







Publication Date: September 2016
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Formats: Ebook
Pages: 76
Genre: Biography/Autobiography
Tour Dates: August 14-August 25

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Although Dr. Patrick Mbaya’s illness caused a lot distress and nearly took his life, the emotional symptoms of the depression he developed helped him understand and empathize with patients and how they feel when they become ill. In My Brain is Out of Control, Mbaya, fifty-five and at the peak of his career, shares a personal story of how he suffered from a brain infection in 2010 that caused loss of speech, right-sided weakness, and subsequent depression. He tells how he also dealt with the antibiotics complications of low white cell count and hepatitis. He narrates his experiences as a patient, the neurological and psychiatric complications he encountered, how he coped, and his journey to recovery. Presenting a personal perspective of Mbaya’s illness from the other side of the bed, My Brain is Out of Control, offers profound insight into battling a serious illness.








Dr. Patrick Mbaya is a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry. He is a consultant psychiatrist and honorary clinical lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. He has a special interest in mood and addiction disorders.

Friday, August 4, 2017

HEARTS AT SEASIDE BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY





Title: HEARTS AT SEASIDE (Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers Book 3)
Author: Addison Cole
Publisher: World Literary Press
Pages: 280
Genre: Sweet with Heat Romance



Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers features a group of fun, flirty, and emotional friends who gather each summer at their Cape Cod cottages. They're sassy, flawed, and so easy to relate to, you'll be begging to enter their circle of friends! 

Hearts at Seaside by Addison Cole is the sweet edition of New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster's steamy romance novel Seaside Hearts. The stories and characters remain the same and convey all of the passion you expect between two people in love, without any explicit scenes or harsh language. 

In HEARTS at
SEASIDE... 
Jenna Ward is vivacious, spontaneous, and confident--except when she's around the man who stole her heart years earlier, strikingly handsome, quiet, and reliable Pete Lacroux. After years of trying to get his attention and overwhelmed from dealing with her mother's new cougar lifestyle, Jenna's giving up on Peter--and is ready to explore other men. 

As the eldest of five siblings, with an alcoholic father to care for, boat craftsman Pete Lacroux always does the right thing and has no time for a real relationship. He's looking forward to seeing his friend Jenna, a welcome distraction who's so sexy and painfully shy that she equally entertains and confuses him. 

When Jenna picks up a hard-bodied construction worker, jealousy ignites Pete's true feelings, and he's unable to ignore the desires for Jenna he never realized he had. But Pete's not the quiet guy he appears to be, and his life is anything but conducive to a relationship. Can Jenna handle the real Pete Lacroux--the most alpha male she's ever seen--or will she crack under pressure? And can Pete reclaim the life he once had without tearing apart his family? 

SWEET WITH HEAT: SEASIDE SUMMERS SERIES 
Read, Write, Love at Seaside 
Dreaming at Seaside 
Hearts at Seaside 
Sunsets at Seaside 
Secrets at Seaside 
Nights at Seaside 
Seized by Love at Seaside 
Embraced at Seaside 
Lovers at Seaside 
Whispers at Seaside 

ORDER YOUR COPY:

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There should be an unwritten rule about drooling over construction workers, but Jenna Ward was sure glad there wasn’t. She sat on the porch of the Bookstore Restaurant, soaking up the deliciousness of the three bronzed males clad in nothing more than jeans and glistening muscles that flexed and bulged like an offering to the gods as they forced thick, sticky tar into submission. Their jeans hung low on strong hips, gripping their powerful thighs like second skins and ending in scuffed and tarred work boots. What red-blooded woman didn’t get worked up over a gorgeous shirtless man in work boots?

Heaven help her, because she needed this distraction to take away her desire for Peter Lacroux, which went hand in hand with summers on the Cape and consumed her in the nine months they were apart. She zeroed in on one particularly handsome blond construction worker. His hair was nearly white, his jaw square and manly. She wanted to march right out to the middle of the road that split the earth between the restaurant and the beach and be manhandled into submission. Right there on the tar. Wrestled and groped until all thoughts of Pete evaporated.

“Wipe the drool from your chin, chica.” Amy Maples handed Jenna a margarita and, pointedly, a fresh napkin, as she settled into the chair across from her. “Goodness, woman. What’s up with you this summer? I swear you’re in heat. I can practically smell your pheromones from over here.”
Jenna gulped her drink and righted her red bikini top, which was trying its hardest to relieve itself of her enormous breasts. Even her bikini top was ready for a man. A real man. A man who craved her as much as she craved him.

Jenna reluctantly turned away from Testosterone Road and faced her best friends. The women she had spent her summers with here in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, for as long as she could remember and the women she hoped would help her through her most important summer ever.



Addison Cole is the sweet alter ego of New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Melissa Foster. She writes humorous and emotional sweet contemporary romance. Her books do not include explicit sex scenes or harsh language. Addison spends her summers on Cape Cod, where she dreams up wonderful love stories in her house overlooking Cape Cod Bay.

Addison enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups and welcomes an invitation to your event.

Addison’s books are available in paperback, digital, and audio formats.

SIGN UP for ADDISON'S Sweet with Heat newsletter. Fun, flirty romance with a dash of heat. www.AddisonCole.com/Newsletter

DOWNLOAD the first book in Addison's Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers series free: READ, WRITE, LOVE AT SEASIDE on Amazon.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

https://addisoncole.com/newsletter/

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Addison Cole is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen to receive $10 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway ends midnight August 18.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on August 19.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!



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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Interview with John Herrick, Author of 'Beautiful Mess'

A self-described “broken Christian,” John Herrick battled depression since childhood. In that context, however, he developed intuition for themes of spiritual journey and the human heart.

Herrick graduated from the University of Missouri—Columbia. Rejected for every writing position he sought, he turned to information technology and fund development, where he cultivated analytical and project management skills that helped shape his writing process. He seized unpaid opportunities writing radio commercial copy and ghostwriting for two nationally syndicated radio preachers. The Akron Beacon Journal hailed Herrick's From the Dead as “a solid debut novel.” Published in 2010, it became an Amazon bestseller. The Landing, a semifinalist in the inaugural Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, followed. Publishers Weekly predicted “Herrick will make waves” with his next novel, Between These Walls.


Herrick's nonfiction book 8 Reasons Your Life Matters introduced him to new readers worldwide. The free e-book surpassed 150,000 downloads and hit #1 on Amazon's Motivational Self-Help and Christian Inspiration bestseller lists. Reader response prompted a trade paperback.

His latest novel, Beautiful Mess, folds the legend of Marilyn Monroe into an ensemble romantic-comedy. Herrick admits his journey felt disconnected. “It was a challenge but also a growth process,” he acknowledges. “But in retrospect, I can see God's fingerprints all over it.”

Connect with John Herrick on the web:
facebook.com/johnherrickbooks
@JohnHerrick 
Interview:
Tell us about your book! What is it about and what inspired you to write it?
Del Corwyn hasn’t had a hit film since his Academy Award nomination 40 years ago. He’s desperate to return to the spotlight but teeters on bankruptcy. Del is a forgotten legend—until, while combing through personal memorabilia, he discovers an original screenplay written by his once-close friend, Marilyn Monroe, who named Del as its legal guardian. The news goes viral. Suddenly, Del skyrockets to the A-list and has a chance to revive his career—if he’s willing to sacrifice his friend’s memory and reputation along the way.

Years ago, I read a biography on Marilyn Monroe and learned the actress was forced into a mental institution against her will. That ordeal frightened her because she was trapped, all alone, and couldn’t do anything to stop it.
I thought to myself, “Even though they released her, the experience must have left scars. Nobody could escape that predicament unchanged.” I sensed a story and couldn’t shake the idea. I sought a way to delve into that experience while respecting her memory and presenting her as a human being who had vulnerabilities like you and I.

Tell us about your publishing process. What was it like? Did you go indie or the traditional way?
I worked with a small indie press. It allows me more freedom to experiment while bearing in mind the commercial aspect of the book. 
How did you choose the title for your book? Did it come to you right away, before you started writing the story, or did it come later?
Titles seem to come to me early. The title Beautiful Mess seemed to incorporate Marilyn Monroe’s personal dilemma. It also provided an apt description of my novel’s four main characters—and human beings in general. Each of us is a beautiful work of art, but we’re all a mess!
Here’s a fun little fact regarding the subtitles of Parts One, Two and Three: Each subtitle is the name of one of Marilyn Monroe’s films, and they appear in chronological order. The subtitles foreshadow what’s ahead in the book, but they also parallel Marilyn’s career. Each of the four main characters symbolizes a facet of the legendary actress. In fact, Nora Jumelle is a blatant modern parallel. And for those familiar with Marilyn’s backstory, the tone of each storyline section mimics Marilyn’s life story. 
Tell us about the cover design process. Did you have a basic idea of what your book cover would be like?
I love collaboration and have the opportunity to be involved in every aspect of the book, not just as a writer, but in the book design, its market positioning, strategy. In most cases, I end up finding the cover image because, as the author who knows the book’s content best, I want an image that tugs at my gut and draws my subconscious. In my “desk job” career, I manage projects that are a blend of creative, analytics, marketing and technology. So I’m used to maintaining a degree of control and operating as a pseudo-creative director. However, people I work with will tell you I’m a big believer in giving people the freedom to operate in their fortes—when they know you trust them and they have the independence to excel, their best ideas will arise. I want to acknowledge where my strengths end, where others’ strengths begin, and where we work well together. Sometimes I’ll trust someone with complete control.
Beautiful Mess is the first book where the designer took total control. The branding would stay the same, but I hadn’t found the right image. The designer did such a terrific job, my input was minimal! I selected my preferred comp (after getting opinions), and I asked him to change the title from white to a different color to warm it up a bit. Frankly, I was stumped with how the cover should feel. The novel features an ensemble cast and a legendary actress as part of the backstory. I knew how to treat it as a movie poster or video cover,  but not as a book cover. (I hate to say this, but a perfect idea finally arrived as I wrote this. Better late than never, huh?!)
Who is your cover designer and how did you find him?
For Beautiful Mess, the designer’s name was Dane Low, who operates a small business with a couple of others. I found his work online. Along with searching for the right cover image, I comb through portfolios and keep an eye out for designers who have done something similar or whose work suggests they could meet the need. I also make sure their work matches the standards of the New York houses or, if they’re not quite there, if I’d be able to coach them across that line. With the emergence of ebooks, tons of freelancers claim to be book designers but don’t seem to know the industry standards. You need to understand the market. Customers subconsciously recognize when something isn’t right. When that happens, it creates doubt—and it’s never good when people doubt your product.
How was your experience working with the designer?
Dane was terrific. I’ve been blessed with good designer experiences. Mutual respect and trust go a long way.
What has been the readers’ response to your cover?
The book just arrived in readers’ hands, so we’ll see! But those who have seen the cover seem to like it.
What tips would you give to authors who are looking for a cover designer?
Even though you’re not the designer, being informed will help you contribute to the process and enable you to offer educated opinions. Study book covers by the hundreds. Study the physical books, including the spine and back cover. Concentrate on the New York houses. They’re the trendsetters. And those trends change, so never stop studying them. Look for patterns in terms of images, fonts, color, balance, element sizes. Pay special attention to books that are comparable to the ones you write, because they are your competitors and there’s a reason they look the way they do. Remember, it’s not about what you like, but about what readers like. Once you have a feel for what the standards are, check out designers’ portfolios to see who meets those standards. That seems to eliminate about 90% of the designers immediately.
Anything else you’d like to say about your book?
Beautiful Mess was such a fun story to write! If I did my job well, it will give readers a few chuckles but also cause them to pause and consider life from a different angle. I encourage you to consider giving it a read. Then feel free to contact me at www.johnherrick.net to let me know what you think!