Sunday, January 17, 2016

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Michelle Dim-St. Pierre, Author

Michelle Dim-St. Pierre, Author
Michelle Dim-St. Pierre brings us PINNACLE LUST, a story described by reviewers as “a gritty, sensual, and honest journey of lust and love.” The story is set in Tel Aviv during Operation Desert Storm—a setting the author says drives the romance and the plot. 

Michelle was born in Tel Aviv and worked as a nurse for 32 years; lived through four wars; and served in the Israel Defense Forces for two years. She moved to the United States where she has lived for the second half of her life. She is currently a full-time writer and is working on a sequel to PINNACLE LUST.

Q: Would you characterize PINNACLE LUST as a modern romance? Reviewers point out that it is “gritty” and “realistic” and not a “happy-ever-after” story and a “soap opera with sizzle.” Does that push its genre into a unique category?     

 Michelle Dim-St. Pierre: Yes, PINNACLE LUST is a modern romance. The reviews of a “gritty” and “realistic” story without a “happily-ever-after” are true. In real life, romance is not structured into a neat format and not all romances have happy endings. Some romances are raw and beautiful and heart wrenching all at once. This is what I tried to get across in my story. Its out of the box format does indeed push its genre into a unique category.  

Q: You’ve set PINNACLE LUST in a Tel-Aviv hospital during Operation Desert Storm. Would the story have been different if it had occurred in a peace-time hospital in New York or a small town in Europe, for example. Did the setting support and help tell your story?

Michelle Dim-St. Pierre: Absolutey. The story’s setting is intrinsic to the way the romance unfolds. Differences in culture certainly impact my story as well as the war time setting. Circumstances affect our actions and decision making process.  My characters experience a lot of chaos and uncertainty around them as the bombs start to fall. It is only natural to seek comfort and companionship. When living in fear it is more likely that people will seize what makes them feel secure.

Q: What character traits did you give your protagonist to engage readers to want to follow her? Why do readers care what happens to her?

Michelle Dim-St. Pierre: Sharon Lapidot is a strong, independent woman who is very successful in her career—readers like to engage with characters who are very good at what they do. Though Sharon has an affair with a married doctor, like many other young people in today’s world would. She also struggles with the moral dilemma that goes with it. This very real struggle of right and wrong is compounded by her professional struggles while working in the religious environment of the setting. Her day to day battle to balance work, friendship, and love in a hectic environment are realistic and easy to relate to.

Q: Does the approach of villain vs hero apply to PINNACLE LUST? If so, what do you believe makes an effective villain? Does a “villain” need to be a person? Or could “war” be a villain?  

Michelle Dim-St. Pierre: I don’t believe the villain has to be a person. War can definitely be the villain. The antagonist in my story is the doctor’s wife and is the result of the moral choices made by the character. But the war plays a part as well, to drive those choices. The protagonist/antagonist relationship isn’t as clearly defined as it is in some stories. It blurs the lines a bit.

Q: Reviewers praise PINNACLE LUST for its suspense as well as its romance. How do you manage to create suspenseful tension while telling a love story?

 Michelle Dim-St. Pierre: I don’t believe in fairy tales. There are no princes on white horses waiting to rescue my protagonist. I believe in strong female characters who take matters into their own hands and become their own heroes.  I think a strong female character invites adventure into a story and encourages young people to be proactive in their lives, rather than waiting for something to happen to them. Every love story comes with obstacles and suspense—life is a journey of its own. That was the first thought that drove me to write the book.

Q: You were born in Israel and have a nursing degree and experience. How much did your actual life influence your writing?

Michelle Dim-St. Pierre: All writers’ lives influence their writing. That’s where the adage comes from, write what you know. Of course I’ve had my own experiences with romance and I understand the feelings behind it. I also draw from the experiences of people around me. The hospital setting seems real because I’ve worked in that environment for so long. All works of fiction have elements of truth in them. All works of fiction have parts of the writer in them.

Q: Did you write PINNACLE LUST purely to entertain or did you also want to embed some education or messages about war and/or Israel in your story?

Michelle Dim-St. Pierre: Of course I wrote PINNACLE LUST to entertain but I also sought to convey a few messages to the readers. First and foremost, it is important for me to see young people being proactive in their lives, rather than waiting for something to happen to them, just like the protagonist in the book. On the educational side, I strived to illustrate the links—and gaps—between religious and secular Jews and of course the powerful firsthand look at what everyday life was like in Israel when most Americans were watching Shock and Awe on the 24-hour news channels during Operation Desert Storm. I wanted to show the reality of life in such a climate.

Q: What made you decide to abandon your nursing career for that of an author?

Michelle Dim-St. Pierre: Not sure abandon is the right word. Over time, nursing became second-nature. A profession that I loved, and that fundamentally shaped my personality, intellect and emotional development, had finally reached its peak. I knew it was time for a new challenge.

I began to give in to my desire to write.

What started as a hobby—a deviation from my daily work schedule, an imaginative escape into a fantasy world that I could shape and produce as I saw fit—has turned into so much more. A few pages grew into a few chapters, a few chapters into more chapters and before I knew it, I had an intricate story and an admirable heroine. I felt like I’d found my second calling.  

Q: What’s next? Will there be a sequel to PINNACLE LUST?

Michelle Dim-St. Pierre: I am currently hard at work on the sequel to PINNACLE LUST and I intend to release it in the fall of next year. I am also working on a unique recipe book.  

Q: Tell us about Michelle Dim-St. Pierre. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Michelle Dim-St. Pierre: I’m not sure there is much time when I’m not writing, but I enjoy engaging with my readers, traveling and cooking gourmet meals.

About Michelle Dim-St. Pierre
Michelle Dim-St. Pierre was born in Tel-Aviv, Israel, where she spent more than half of her life before relocating to the United States.

She lived through four wars and served in the Israel Defense Forces for two years. Unlike her first year of service in an armored division in the Golan Heights, she spent her second year serving in the medical corps where she interacted directly with the injured soldiers of the Peace of Galilee war and their families. This interaction, along with the exposure to the hospital atmosphere, fascinated Michelle and further touched her heart.

After graduating from nursing school with a BS in Nursing in Tel-Aviv, she practiced internationally for 32 years in various positions in the surgical field and quickly advanced into health care administration. During her career she worked in the Operating Room, Recovery Room, and CCU – along with many other duties.

Writing was Michelle’s outlet at first, but it soon became her passion. Recently she left nursing and became a full-time writer. Her international background, along with her military and nursing experience is always at the tip of her pen. Her first novel, PINNACLE LUST, starts the Pinnacle trilogy.

Michelle is a world traveler who enjoys cooking epicurean food and creating original recipes.

In a Tel-Aviv hospital during Operation Desert Storm, Sharon Lapidot, a beautiful young nurse, is having an affair with a married doctor.
Sharon’s colorful and exciting life is ultimately destroyed by powerful and eroding mistakes. But her courage and wisdom lead her to an unregretful commitment.
Vividly told, this compelling journey of love and lust, honor and betrayal, loss and redemption, will move you — and perhaps even change you.

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Twitter: @pinnaclelust

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Cate Beauman, Romance-Suspense Author

Cate Beauman, Author
10th Bodyguards of LA County Series
Romance-suspense author Cate Beauman has just released FINDING LYLA, the tenth book in her best-selling Bodyguards of LA County series. As to the suspense part of her newest mystery, reviewers say "Talk about nail biting!" Beauman creates her stories from crime documentaries or articles. For FINDING LYLA she chose the career of her heroine as a Russian ballerina to fit into her interest in the Russian/US conflict.  

When she’s not writing, Beauman spends time with her family and two St. Bernards at their home in North Carolina. She is currently busy working on the eleventh Bodyguard novel, Deceiving Bella.

Q: A key contributor to your romantic suspense Bodyguards of LA County is the profession of your heroine. How and why did you choose dancing for your heroine in FINDING LYLA?

Cate Beauman: Almost all of my ideas for a story come from crime documentaries or interesting articles I find in newspapers and magazines. Usually a topic catches my interest and something just sort of clicks. While I was searching for a new plot idea, I found myself interested in the ongoing Russia/US conflict. I thought the best way to tie the story together would be to make Lyla a ballerina since ballet is such a huge piece of Russia’s culture and an art treasured by so many countries around the world.

As I started building on my initial plot and got to know who I wanted Lyla to be, I knew making her a ballerina was a must. She’s all things that I believe a ballerina to be: strong, dedicated, determined, yet she’s kind and gentle. Collin is funny and easy-going, making this couple a perfect match.

Q: Do you start to write your story with a mystery/plot and then create your hero and heroine to fit the plot? Or do you begin with a heroine and build the mystery around her?

Cate Beauman: It really depends. Each story is different. Because I write a series, it’s a given that some characters are already destined to have a story told about them and I must make the plot work around them, but when I’m starting fresh with a new hero/heroine, the plot typically evolves first and I make the characters fit the situations they will face in their journey among the pages.

Q: How do you select the settings for your story? For FINDING LYLA, did you choose locations where a dancer would perform? Did that influence the direction of the story?

Cate Beauman: For FINDING LYLA, the plot evolved before Lyla’s profession came about. Creating Lyla as a dancer certainly made sense. I had to do a lot of research to make this story come together—far more than typical. Learning about a new culture is always daunting, but I found myself fascinated.

Q: Each of your Bodyguard novels includes the first name of your heroine. How do you select the “verb” that accompanies the name? Is it a difficult process, or is it obvious, given the plot? 

Cate Beauman: Creating the titles for the Bodyguards series keeps the novels cohesive. The verb must have something to do with the plot. Now that I’ve completed ten books and have moved on to tell the eleventh story in the series, it’s becoming a bit trickier to find the right word, but I’m determined to keep finding the perfect verb until the last bodyguard of Ethan Cooke Security has had their story told.

Q: What attracted you to write in the suspense/romance genre? Why do you choose to write in this genre?

Cate Beauman: I truly can’t imagine writing anything other than romantic suspense. Love and danger are such an adventurous mix, heightening both elements in each story. Love is more powerful when there’s something to lose. Danger is more potent when the hero/heroine’s wellbeing is at stake. Writing can be a tedious process. It’s much easier to sit down with my laptop everyday when I get to create action and sexual tension among the pages of my books.

About Cate Beauman

International bestselling author Cate Beauman is known for her full-length, action-packed romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Her novels have been nominated for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, National Indie Excellence Award, Golden Quill Award, Writers Touch Award, and have been named Readers Favorite Five Star books. In 2015, JUSTICE FOR ABBY was selected as the Readers' Favorite International Book Award Gold Medalist, while SAVING SOPHIE took the Silver Medal. SAVING SOPHIE was also selected as the 2015 Readers Crown Award winner for Romantic Suspense and FALLING FOR SARAH received the silver medal for the 2014 Readers' Favorite Awards.

Cate makes her home in North Carolina with her husband, two boys, and their St. Bernards, Bear and Jack. Currently Cate is working on Deceiving Bella, the eleventh novel in her popular Bodyguards series.

For information on Cate's new releases, monthly giveaways, and upcoming events, sign up for her newsletter at:!newsletter-sign-up/c9td

Principal Dancer Lyla Markovik-Avery is always on the go. Grueling practices and endless performances rule her busy days—and things are about to get more hectic. Russia is rolling out the red carpet for their beloved star, despite the string of violent terrorist attacks that have rocked the nation.

Bodyguard Collin Michaels’ life is falling apart. His long-time relationship recently ended. He’s trying to start over, but that’s easier said than done. Luckily, Collin has a new assignment on the horizon: keeping a beautiful ballerina safe for the next three weeks.

Collin finds comfort in Lyla’s easy friendship, but that all changes after a night out on the town. Simple feelings become complicated—something Collin can’t afford, especially when tragedy strikes and Collin realizes Lyla’s caught in the middle of a dangerous plot for revenge.

Collin and Lyla are forced to flee. They need to reach the border before it’s too late, but the odds are stacked against them in a country that wants them dead. With time running out, Collin formulates a risky plan that might be their only chance of making it out alive.


Collin settled beneath the covers on his temporary bed as the dim glow of city lights radiated through the windows. He reached out, grabbing the remote off the coffee table he’d pushed off to the side, and flipped through several channels, stopping on SportsCenter. Scores and updates ticked by on the bottom of the screen, and he moved on, not all that interested in hockey stats.

He stopped again when the live footage from Saint Petersburg, Russia caught his attention. With the volume on mute, he searched for the closed caption button and sat up, reading the news report while the station switched back and forth between the newscaster and images of the police surrounding a trolleybus in the middle of a downtown street. The reporter spoke of a bomb discovered during the busy morning rush hour, mere miles from the plaza where dozens had been killed on New Year’s Eve. Luckily a citizen had been paying attention, and the explosive device had been deactivated, stopping another disaster.

Early reports were suggesting that the same rebel group responsible for the December thirty-first bombing, Chechen Freedom, had attempted to strike again. The news segment switched to snippets of the video released weeks ago, shortly after the slaughter of innocent civilians, where the masked men promised more violence in retaliation for The Federation killing one of their leaders. The man pointed at the camera, vowing to continue with his plans to destroy Russia until the regime relented and gave the Chechens back their country.

Sighing, Collin rubbed at his jaw. Why did he feel like he was walking into a losing situation? Everyday there was something new going on over there. If it wasn’t bomb threats and anti-American rallies, it was anti-Putin demonstrations outside the Kremlin walls, which often ended with tear gas and riot gear. And he and Lyla were only hours away from their late-afternoon flight.

The issues in Saint Petersburg weren’t necessarily one of his concerns. The city was a good nine hours away from their destination. It was the possibility of terrorist attacks in Moscow and Russia’s discord with the United States in general that had him on edge. The fact that Lyla was a dual citizen of two countries at odds had the potential to work for her…or very much against her. Only time would tell which way things were going to go, and they would be along for the ride while they waited to figure it out.

The Unofficial FINDING LYLA Soundtrack

“Music plays a HUGE part in my writing process. I typically listen to Pandora or YouTube while I create my stories and compile a collection of songs that I feel represent my characters or the situations they face as each novel unfolds. It’s a rare occasion that my creativity demands silence (And that’s a good thing. I’m a mother of two boys. Quiet doesn’t exist in my house.). I thought it would be fun to create a list of songs that ‘spoke’ to me while I wrote the Bodyguards of L.A. County series. You can listen to the “soundtrack” for each book on my website

The soundtrack, of sorts, for FINDING LYLA:
·      Today by Steve Moakler
·      Beautiful Things by Gungor
·      Teneferie Sea by Ed Sheeran
·      Shut Up and Dance by Walk The Moon
·      Anywhere but Here by Safety Suit
·      Never Gonna Be Alone by Nickelback
·      Nirvana by Sam Smith
·      Don’t Deserve You by Plumb 
·      Unconditionally by Katy Perry
·      You’re in Love by Taylor Swift
·      Fight Song by Rachel Platton


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Monday, January 11, 2016

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: T.T. Michael, Author

T.T. Michaels, Author
T.T. Michael wrote FIRE WAR, a political thriller he’s been mulling over for a long time, because of what’s been happening in the world today. He and his reviewers believe it’s a credible futuristic story because it could happen, given today’s terrorist attacks such as what occurred in Paris. He creates suspense by actually choosing real world situations.

In the following interview, Mr. Michael (wink, wink) shares a secret with us about his real identity. What’s most relevant is that he has written and published four detective mysteries under a different name. He is currently working on FIRE WAR II: Treason. When he’s not writing or working as a financial manager, he enjoys spending time with his wife and four children going to movies and sporting events—in particular, Chicago Whitesox and Dallas Cowboys games.

Q: When I read your biography, I was interested to find that you have been a financial manager at a car dealership for ten years. How or why did you come to write a futuristic dystopian thriller, FIRE WAR?

T.T. Michael: I have actually been a finance manager for 23 years but at my current place of employment for the last 12.

This is a story that I've had in my head for a very long time and with what's happening in the world today I just felt it was time to put it on paper. The book was published October 3rd and one of the stories had a terrorist attack in Paris. One month before the actual attack happened. It's kind of an eerie coincidence and when it happened I got a shiver up my spine.

Q: Reviewers praise FIRE WAR as a “Powerful and thought provoking futuristic thriller!” What makes it thought provoking? Did you intend to deliver a message or did you write it strictly as a thriller?

T.T. Michael: What makes FIRE WAR thought provoking is that this story could actually happen. A lot of the story is based off what could happen if the world keeps going on the path that it's currently on. In the news today you see Donald Trump talking about shutting down the borders. Building a fence. One of my plot points is that we do shut down the borders but to a bigger extreme. We actually join forces with Canada and Mexico to make one Super Country. The U.C.S.A. or United Continental States of America. We then shut down the border to that very large country. 

I can't honestly say I intended on delivering a message per say but I can see the message that I put out there. When I started this story I had a completely different plot in mind but it was like the story took on a mind of its own. It grew into something bigger than I could've imagined.

Q: What do you believe are the key attributes of a thriller? How do you develop suspense?

T.T. Michael: The key attributes of a thriller are actually narrowed down to one thing in my eyes. That one thing is…Plausibility. If a reader can actually see what they're reading as something that could happen to them they get intrigued and want to see how the story comes out. I had one reader actually email me (I put my web page at the end of the book) and tell me that he put himself into every situation that my main character, Anthony Jackson, was put in. He told me how he would've reacted in each of those situations.

I develop suspense by using real world situations. Real world decisions would have to be made and sometimes readers will agree with Jackson's decisions and sometimes they'll scream "You idiot" to him. That's the real world because Jackson is very real in my mind and he's going to make mistakes along the way and there will be consequences. Those consequences can be right away or later down the road. Just like in real life.

Q: Reviewers discuss the plot and thriller part of FIRE WAR over and over. Would you say it is more plot-driven than character-driven? Did you conceive of the plot first and create your protagonist to fit into it?

T.T. Michael:  I think FIRE WAR is both plot and character-driven. You can see the world around Sgt. Jackson and you can feel what he feels, see what he sees, and experience every part of his life as it happens. But, at the same time you can experience what's happening outside of his little world too. It's a very realistic book in that way. I conceived the plot many years ago but didn't know how I wanted to play it out. As I said earlier, the story you read today isn't the story I had in mind at all. It really took on a life of its own after the very first few pages were written. Originally I had more action/violence in mind but that story fizzled fast because it just stopped feeling "real" to me and I wanted a "real" story.

Q: How important is the concept of villain versus hero to tell your story? Do you need a villain to create a hero?

T.T. Michael:  I don't want to give away too much of the story here but I can say that there's more than one "Villain" in FIRE WAR. You might even say there's more than one hero as well. Jackson is my main character but many people in the story can be labeled as "Hero" because of what they do.

Do you need villains to have heroes? Yes I think you do; otherwise you wouldn't need that hero.

Q: How do you create credibility in your futuristic world? Do you believe credibility is important to readers to enjoy FIRE WAR?

T.T. Michael:  I created credibility in this story because it could truly happen. Terrorists could attack the U.S. again and cause all these dominoes to fall into place. This story was all too real to me in some senses because I actually pictured these things happening and how the people of the world would respond.

I truly believe credibility is very important to readers of this genre, especially.

Q: Did you base your protagonist on a real person or is he entirely fictional?

T.T. Michael:  Gunnery Sergeant Anthony Jackson is all fiction but his thoughts and actions are based on how I would think and react to the situations I put him in.

Q:  How helpful is humor to develop your characters or tell your story?

T.T. Michael: There are some humorous situations for Jackson and they are very important to who he is. He's human after all and even some bad situations that we are in can be humorous in real life. Every part of our lives is important to our story. Sad times, happy times, and even humorous times are a part of who we are as people and they are an important part of our entire lives so they are important in my story as well.

Q: What’s next? Will you write a sequel? What else have you written? Did you always want to become an author?

T.T. Michael:  I am currently writing FIRE WAR II: Treason. It continues the story from the first FIRE WAR and this is where you will see Sgt. Jackson at his finest. Not that you didn't in the first one but you'll see a whole different side that you may or may not have figured out in FIRE WAR.

I've written 4 other books. They're all murder mysteries.

I can't say that I always wanted to be an author but I've always liked writing fiction. I remember when I was in the eighth grade and my teacher gave me an assignment to write a fictional story and it had to be 3 pages long minimum. While kids in my class turned in 3 page projects mine was over 30 pages long and I felt like I still wasn't done with it but it was due so I put an ending on it and turned it in. Of course I got an A.

Q: Tell us about T.T. Michael. What do you like to do when you’re not writing or working? 

T.T. Michael:  When I'm not writing or working there's very little time in my life but I truly just enjoy my wife and 4 kids. We love to go to movies and sporting events, i.e., Chicago Whitesox games and Dallas Cowboys games.

There is one thing about T.T. Michael that a lot people don't know and I am going to share it with you right now. This is the first time outside friends and family that this is told but here goes…T.T. Michael isn't my real name. It is in one sense. Michael is my middle name. My real name is Todd M. Thiede. After careful consideration I used a pseudonym for writing FIRE WAR because I polled some readers of my murder mysteries and they said that it would confuse some people that like my murder mysteries to pick up a book by me and not have it follow that genre. Some even said they would be mad and give a bad review because it wasn't what they would expect.
One other thing I've done for the last few years that I've truly enjoyed is this…I give a scholarship at my high school to one deserving kid. It's the Todd M. Thiede creative writing scholarship and all the kid has to is write a story. Any story whether it be a true one or fiction. I just want to hear the student’s voice. In the last few years I've read some great stories and I even still mentor one of the recipients while they continue writing in college and maybe even beyond. I hope way beyond.

About T.T. Michael

Perhaps you wouldn't characterize the Finance Manager of your local automobile dealership as an Amazon best-selling author--until you get to know T.T. Michael. He has worked for the past decade at a Toyota Dealership in Illinois, but he is in the driver's seat as the writer of, Fire War, a political thriller set in the year 2076. See what happens when the United States, Canada, and Mexico all join forces to make one super country. See more about him and his book Fire War at


Late in the 21st century, the United Continental States of America (or UCSA), comprising the former USA, Canada and Mexico, is running smoothly: unemployment has been all but eradicated, terrorism is quashed in the country, and internal dissent diminishes by the day. Most people thank President Meyers for this. Many can no longer remember when there was last an election, but as long as he keeps the country safe from the terrorist group Hariq Jihad (‘Fire War’), this seems a small price to pay.

Gunnery Sergeant Anthony Jackson is the model Marine: highly trained, absolutely efficient, and unquestioningly dedicated to his country. The only thing he can conceive of putting before his nation is his family, his wife Courtney and two daughters Maya and MacKenzie. Conscripted into the personal security detail of President Meyers, he begins to get glimpses that not everyone is as content with the current situation as he is, but attributes this to terrorist agitation and fringe lunacy. When his older daughter Maya begins to question the creeping erosion of personal liberties and the revoking of democratic rights, however, he begins to fear for her safety, as well as his own and that of his family. In a climate in which entire families disappear due to minor offenses, one can’t be too careful.

The tensions between liberty and safety, between family and country, will force Jackson to rethink all his beliefs, and lead to a collision with the system he has dedicated his life to serving.

FIRE WAR is a suspenseful, gripping and unnerving examination of the paradoxes of power, the price of liberty, and the dictates of conscience. The world you live in will never look the same again.


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Twitter:  @ttmichael9