Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Character Interview, THE REPORTER'S STORY, by Joyce T. Strand

Joyce T. Strand, Author
I am very excited to introduce THE REPORTER’S STORY, my second mystery set in the past, which will be released June 16 with pre-ordering available now.

My protagonist, Emma Matheson, is a reporter in 1912 for the San Francisco Gazette, a fictional newspaper. I based her character on an actual reporter from this time period, Marjorie C. Driscoll, who originally worked for William Randolph Hearst and then in 1921 joined the San Francisco Chronicle, a competitive newspaper to Mr. Hearst. She eventually moved south to the Los Angeles Times where she became a respected front-page contributor.

A graduate of Stanford University in 1913, Driscoll wrote an article in The Stanford Illustrated Review in 1920, titled “In the Newspaper Field” that describes the features of a successful reporter, including the mantra “know a little of everything.” My character, Emma Matheson, follows Driscoll’s values and approach in her quest to become a world-known front-page reporter (Driscoll’s article is available on-line at: http://bit.ly/1Rw0VCv p. 194).

Following is an interview with the character reporter,  Emma Matheson.

Q:  Tell us something about yourself.

Emma Matheson: I am a reporter for the San Francisco Gazette in 1912. I was hired to cover women’s issues, but I plan to become a respected and well-known front-page reporter of hard news. My mother died when I was born, and I was reared by my father. He owns a newspaper in Sacramento and taught me all about reporting and writing the news. When I told him that I planned to make it my career, he concurred but requested that I go to college first. I enjoyed my studies at the University of California in Berkeley, but I’m excited now to be doing what I love to do: reporting the news.

Q: How do you write your stories? 

Typewriter similar to what Emma
would have used in 1912
Emma Matheson: My father gave me a typewriter when I went to Berkeley. Until then I used one at his newspaper office. I'm a very fast typist. And I'm told that I'm an excellent writer. 

Q:  You said you are covering women’s topics. What are they?

Emma Matheson:  Well, I must say that I hope to branch out from women’s topics. That’s just a starting point. I do sometimes resent covering city improvement clubs, how to get a husband, and what dress to wear to attract a man. I admit that it’s difficult to branch out to more substantive issues, which are typically reserved for men. But I'm determined.

Q:  How do you plan to branch out?

Emma Matheson: I intend to get my stories on the front page by investigating and reporting critical stories that my male counterparts have overlooked. I plan to pursue leads that they wouldn’t even think of and write the story that will make a difference.

Q: And what kind of story might that be?

Emma Matheson:  I’m intrigued about a house burglary that the victim denied even occurred. I plan to pursue it. I know there’s something there. Not even an affluent businessman can afford to write off the recovery of $8,000 worth of jewelry. Why, that’s 16 years of my salary!

Q:  How do you do your job as a reporter? Are you able to interview people?

Photo of 1915 San Francisco
cable car from 
Emma Matheson: Oh, yes. I frequently interview folks. I’m able to get around the City on the new
electric streetcars and my preferred cable cars, which they still need to get up the hills here in San Francisco. And I can cross the Bay to Oakland and Berkeley by ferry. Why I even interviewed the mayor at one of the improvement club meetings.

Also, with the growth of telephones, I can sometimes do interviews on the phone, although I prefer in person.

Q: What about your personal life? Do you have a boy friend or fiancé?

Candlestick phone
similar to what Emma
would have used
Emma Matheson: No, that’s just not possible. I can’t have a career as a reporter as well as a husband and family. That’s how many female reporters got a bad reputation. Their duties to their family interfered with their reporting duties and pulled them away. They’d miss deadlines and disappoint their editors. That’s not for me.

Q:  What do you like to do for fun, when you’re not reporting?

Emma Matheson: Oh, I enjoy the theater, particularly Gilbert and Sullivan. I also read constantly—of course, that’s somewhat career oriented as it’s important to be well-read in order to enable me to have context for my stories by understanding their significance. 

Q:  Do you have a hero?

Emma Matheson: I think that Nellie Bly must have been so brave to get herself committed to an insane asylum in order to get a story. She is responsible for helping to improve asylums.  Oh, and my father. He will always be my most favorite hero.

A house burglary in 1912 San Francisco that the victim denies happening piques Emma Matheson’s reporter instincts. Why would a businessman deny that recovered loot was his and forego collecting his $8,000 worth of stolen jewelry? Why did he fire his maid and butler who originally reported the theft? The more she pursues the burglary that wasn’t a burglary, the more she sees it as a major story, involving murder, intrigue, and smuggling. Can she solve it and write the story that could project her to become the world-famous reporter she so covets? Or will she become one of its victims?

About Joyce T. Strand

Joyce T. Strand is the author of who-done-it contemporary and historical mysteries set in California. All of her published seven novels are inspired by actual events and/or real people, although they are definitely fictionalized.

Her first three contemporary mysteries feature protagonist Jillian Hillcrest, a public relations executive who encounters murder and mayhem at her Silicon Valley company. Jillian’s boss, Brynn Bancroft, solves the next two mysteries when she leaves her position as Chief Financial Officer to run a winery in Sonoma, north of San Francisco.

In Strand’s first historical mystery, a Superior Court Judge strives to discover the truth behind the mystery of a robbery-murder in a small California town in 1939. In her newest mystery, THE REPORTER’S STORY, a house burglary in 1912 San Francisco piques a young reporter’s instincts that leads to intrigue and murder.

Strand headed corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in California's Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder in her career. Strand lives with her collection of cow statuary in Southern California, and enjoys exploring and writing about the growing wine region in the Ramona Valley near San Diego.

Purchase Links

Available for pre-order:
Amazon -- paperback and Kindle
Unicorn Books and Gifts - signed paperback 

Other books available in e-book and book format at:
Unicorn Books and Gifts - signed paperbacks

For Nook at:

Author Links

Twitter:  @joycetstrand

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Falguni Kothari, Author

Falguni Kothari, Author
Reviewers describe MY LAST LOVE STORY, Falguni Kothari’s fourth novel, as an examination of “love and loss, desire and desolation, with a deft, wry touch that kept me reading late into the night and moved me to tears.” To create a compelling story, Kothari emphasizes the need to develop relatable characters and claims, “Good chemistry between the characters is a must.” She is not attached to a specific genre, and suggests that her current novel is a cross between contemporary women's fiction and/or an epic romance.

Kothari is working on Book 2 of the Age of Kali series. When she is not writing, she enjoys dancing and has won silver medals in amateur Latin and Ballroom dancing. She also loves to watch serial episodes and has become a Netflix fan.

Do not miss the excerpt from MY LAST LOVE STORY at the end of her interview.

NOTE: Opportunity for $50 Amazon gift card available. You can enter following interview until the end of the tour.

Q: Reviewers have described your new novel MY LAST LOVE STORY as a “love triangle that defies all expectations and crosses all boundaries.” Would you categorize it as a traditional or contemporary romance? Or would you place it in a different genre?

Falguni Kothari: It’s contemporary women’s fiction and/or an epic romance. I guess it straddles genres?

Q: “To make a reader care so much about the characters in a story is a talent that few have.” How do you make your readers care about your characters? Are they people we can all relate to or are they special?

Falguni Kothari: To make readers care about fictional characters, the characters need problems that readers can identify with, certainly what they can relate to. At the very least, they have to recognize what the character is going through even if the reader hasn’t experienced the same or wouldn’t react in the same way to it. In MY LAST LOVE STORY, one of the main characters is a terminal patient, another has been victimized, there are societal pressures of acceptable behavior put on the characters, there are issues of infertility and infidelity. These are common enough problems permeating most households in the world, making the story familiar to the reader and therefore “real.”

Q: Does the concept of hero vs villain play a role in your story—either in a traditional or non-traditional way?

Falguni Kothari:  Not in the traditional way. I have a villainous mother, who plays power games because she doesn’t want to relinquish her hold on her son. But, her motives aren’t coming from an evil place. They root from fear.

Q: Reviewers have also claimed that MY LAST LOVE STORY is an “unputdownable read.” How do you drive the reader to want to turn the page?

Falguni Kothari: I think this relates to your question about “caring for your characters.” When you begin to root for your hero or heroine, you want to know what happens to them. Will they find happiness? Will they break up? How will they resolve their misunderstanding? The story should be believable and rooted in reality, yet, interesting and larger than life. The characters should become your best friends and/ or people you envy. People you want to spend your day or night with. People you want to invite home for dinner like long lost friends. But that’s all on the reader, I think. A passionate reader will find pleasure in any story.

Q: Did you write MY LAST LOVE STORY strictly to entertain your readers, or did you embed a few messages along the way?

Falguni Kothari: Oh, MY LAST LOVE STORY is full of messages. The main one is about love. What is love? Is it holding on or letting go? Is it restricted between two people or many? Love is supposed to make you better, then why do so many people become bitter after love?

Q: In your description of MY LAST LOVE STORY, you recommend “Weepers, keep tissues handy.” On the other hand, do you use humor either to create your characters, tell your story, or relieve tension?

Falguni Kothari: I do all three. Humor is my default state of being. My characters will always be witty and funny, sometimes even snarky. MY LAST LOVE STORY was a difficult book to write, because of the subject matter, and I had to keep reminding myself to insert hilarity between the sweet and poignant scenes. I even managed a couple of snarky ones. A good story must invoke a good mix of emotions in the reader. A story should not be one dimensional.

Q: When creating a romance, what are the most important traits, or attributes, of the characters falling in love? What draws characters to each other? How important are setting and timing?

Falguni Kothari: Good chemistry between the characters is a must. There also needs to be just the right amount of conflict between the potential lovers to make their getting together interesting.

Setting and timing are important in all novels for authenticity. Even if everyone knows its fiction, there has to be a sense of reality to it. MY LAST LOVE STORY is set in California. I couldn’t have my characters living in igloos, no matter the cute visual it conjures up.

Q: You have written three other novels in different genres. Do you have a favorite? Or do you prefer exploring different time periods, settings, and genres?

Falguni Kothari: I don’t have a favorite. I have loved writing all my stories. But I had the most fun writing the mythic fantasy because, one, I’m slightly obsessed with mythology and, two, I could play around with magic and demons and bizarre otherworldly goodies.

Q: What’s next?

Falguni Kothari: I’m working on Book 2 of the Age of Kali series. I’m brain-deep in unearthly problems.

Q: Tell us about Falguni Kothari. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

Falguni Kothari: Well, I enjoy dancing. I’m learning how to samba on Bollywood music and it’s a blast! I’m a serial episode watcher—I’m addicted to Netflix. I read like a maniac. I spoil my dog and give him Godiva. I take care of house and hearth under protest. It seems that in the blink of an eye my day is done.

About Falguni Kothari

Falguni Kothari is an internationally bestselling hybrid author and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a background in Indian Classical dance. She writes in a variety of genres sewn together by the colorful threads of her South Asian heritage and expat experiences. When not writing or dancing, she fools around on all manner of social media, and loves to connect with her readers. MY LAST LOVE STORY is her fourth novel.

Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes’s, Me Before YouMy Last Love Story is a heartbreakingly romantic tale about the complexities of trauma and whether love can right a wrong.

I, Simeen Desai, am tired of making lemonade with the lemons life has handed me.

Love is meant to heal wounds.
Love was meant to make my world sparkle and spin.
Love has ripped my life apart and shattered my soul. 

I love my husband, and he loves me.

But Nirvaan is dying.
I love my husband. I want to make him happy.
But he is asking for the impossible. 

I don’t want a baby.

I don’t want to make nice with Zayaan.
I don’t want another chance at another love story. 


“Love is a dish best served naked.”

As a child, those oft-quoted words of my father would have me rolling my eyes and pretending to gag at what I’d imagined was my parents’ precursor to a certain physical act.

At thirty, I’d long ago realized that getting naked wasn’t a euphemism for sex.

Neither was love.

It wasn’t my father wording the meme just now but my husband. Nirvaan considered himself a great wit, a New Age philosopher. On the best of days, he was, much like Daddy had been. On the worst days, he was my tormentor.

“What do you think, Dr. Archer? Interesting enough tagline for a vlog? What about ‘Baby in a Petri Dish’?” Nirvaan persisted in eliciting a response from the doctor and/or me for his ad hoc comedy, which we’d been ignoring for several minutes now.

I wanted to glare at him, beg him to shut up, or demand that he wait in the doctor’s office like he should’ve done, like a normal husband would have. Khodai knows why he’d insisted on holding my hand through this preliminary checkup. Nothing of import would happen today—if it did at all. But I couldn’t perform any such communication, not with my eyes and mouth squeezed shut while I suffered through a series of uncomfortable twinges along my nether regions.

I lay flat on my back on a spongy clinic bed sheeted with paper already wrinkled and half torn. Legs drawn up and spread apart, my heels dug punishingly into cold iron stirrups to allow my gynecologist’s clever fingers to reach inside my womb and check if everything was A-OK in there. We’d already funneled through the Pap test and stomach and chest checks. Like them, this test, too, was going swell in light of Dr. Archer’s approving happy hums.

“Excellent, Mrs. Desai. All parts are where they should be,” he joked only as a doctor could.

I shuddered out the breath I’d been holding, as the feeling of being stretched left my body. Nirvaan squeezed my hand and planted a smacking kiss on my forehead. I opened my eyes and focused on his beaming upside-down ones. His eyelids barely grew lashes anymore—I’d counted twenty-seven in total just last week—the effect of years of chemotherapy. For a second, my gaze blurred, my heart wavered, and I almost cried.

What are we doing, Nirvaan? What in Khodai’s name were we starting?

Nirvaan stroked my hair, his pitch-black pupils steady and knowing and oh-so stubborn. Then, his face rose to the stark white ceiling, and all I saw was the green-and-blue mesh of his gingham shirt—the overlapping threads, the crisscross weaves, a pattern without end.

Life is what you make it, child. It was another one of my father’s truisms.

Swallowing the questions twirling on my tongue, I refocused my mind on why we were here. I’d promised Nirvaan we’d try for a baby if he agreed to another round of cancer-blasting treatments. I’d bartered for a few more months of my husband’s life. He’d bartered for immortality through our child.


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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Skylar Nightingale, New Adult Romance Author

Skylar Nightingale, Author
Skylar Nightingale brings us her second novel, BOUND TO YOU, a new adult romance featuring characters  between 19 and 22 years old “still discovering who they are.” BOUND TO YOU  tells the story from the perspectives of a 19-year-old and her favorite singer. Although she wrote her newest novel for entertainment, she says that there is a message, “Love conquers all.”

Nightingale has been writing since the third grade. She likes characters with “a lot of personality.” She spends most of her spare time writing, but she also likes to listen to music, spend time with her family, and read. She is currently working on a new Young Adult novel.

Don’t miss the excerpt following the interview.

Q: Would you categorize your new romance, BOUND TO YOU, as a contemporary or new adult romance? Why?

Skylar Nightingale: I would categorize it as a new adult romance because of the age range. The characters are between 19 and 22 years old. They are still discovering who they are and who they want to be in the story. The characters are also finding out about love.

Q: A reviewer mentions that BOUND TO YOU is “full of unpredictable twists.” Do you view romance in general as a moving relationship of ups-and-downs? Or just the romance of your protagonists?

Skylar Nightingale: I view romance as a moving relationship of ups-and-downs.

Q: What will make readers care about your characters? 

Skylar Nightingale: My characters have a lot personality. You can hear their voices through narration and in dialogue. This helps readers to get to know them and care about them.

Q: How helpful is humor to develop your characters or their romance?

 Skylar Nightingale: Humor is important to a certain extent.  Some characters are more humorous than others in my stories. In each of my stories so far, the side character or the friend is the one who displays a large comical personality.

Q: What do readers like to read in a satisfactory romance? What will they not tolerate?

Skylar Nightingale: Many readers, including me, like to read stories with a HEA (happily ever after). Readers, this also includes me, do not tolerate stories where children are getting hurt.

Q: You have written BOUND TO YOU from the perspective of two protagonists. That is, one chapter is told from the point of view of the female protagonist followed by the same events from the male protagonist. Why did you choose this approach?

Skylar Nightingale: I wanted the reader to know each individual, to see how they are thinking in the same time span. I wanted to share how each character is experiencing the same moment and how they feel within that moment.

Q: Does the concept of heroes versus villains apply to your story? Do villains impede the progress of the lovers?

Skylar Nightingale: There isn’t any real villain, except the ex-boyfriend who cheats on Nina.

Q: Did you write BOUND TO YOU solely to entertain your readers or did you embed some key messages?

Skylar Nightingale: I wrote BOUND TO YOU solely for entertainment purposes, but there is a message--love conquers all.

Q:  What’s next?

Skylar Nightingale:  I am currently working on a Young Adult (YA) romance.

Q: Tell us about Skylar Nightingale. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Skylar Nightingale: I like to spend time with my family, listen to music, and read.

About Skylar Nightingale

Skylar Nightingale grew up in Syracuse, NY where she internalized ideas and events into stories. Skylar discovered her talent when she was in 3rd grade, winning every writing contest except one. When she moved to South Carolina, she entered a writing competition, coming in third place against thousands. 

Her first published novel is called FORBIDDEN ACTS. Skylar Nightingale’s second New Adult Romance, BOUND TO YOU was released on April 5th. 

When Skylar isn’t behind her keyboard banging out amazing worlds and characters, she can be found spending time with her family, reading, or listening to music.

Nineteen year-old Nina Stevens never dreamt it would be possible to meet her favorite singer, Terry Rayborn, until she wins backstage passes and tickets to see the megastar in concert.

Meeting Terry is surreal, but Nina can’t figure out the immense attraction she feels for someone she just met. Surely, it is physical. After Terry slips her his number and she gives him a call, she begins to second-guess her heart. Although she has a boyfriend, her connection with Terry is undeniable. Then she catches her boyfriend cheating, shattering her world forever.

Single and broken, Nina jumps at the chance to be in Terry’s music video. As they spend time together, their feelings intensify and Terry desires to have her in his life forever. She wants him more than she ever wanted anyone, but the fear of being hurt engulfs her. Now she must decide if she wants him in her life permanently or avoid another broken heart and run.

Dear Nina,

Ever since I met you back stage at my concert, you penetrated my heart, and there was no turning back.

Despite the fact that you told me you had a boyfriend, I still wanted you to be in my life, so I asked if we could remain friends. Unfortunately, he shattered your world forever when you caught him cheating on you. Although broken, I vowed to comfort you through it all.

Your beauty’s so profound, inside and out, I wanted you to be in my music video. I was pleasantly surprised when you agreed to do it. During that time, our relationship grew, and I knew I wanted you in my life forever. Then you pulled away repeatedly, allowing the fear of getting hurt again to engulf you.

Now, I’m damaged and alone, and don’t know how much more my heart can take. I need to know, are you going to keep me in your life or avoid another broken heart and run?

I hope you choose me because I’m Bound to You.

Love always,
Terry Rayborn


Chapter 5

Terry Rayborn’s bodyguard told us to line up in an orderly fashion so everyone could get their turn with him. As the bodyguard motioned with two fingers for the first girl to move forward, Terry stood next to him. I was the 5th in line. My stomach began swirling with excitement as I got closer. These types of moments only happened in my imagination. I became so eager; I didn’t realize I began to feel nauseated. Running to the restroom, I placed my head over the toilet. I continuously gagged but nothing came out. I guess I’m just experiencing queasiness from this eventful night. I exhaled sharply. Wonderful. One of the most remarkable moments in my life and this is how I spend it. As I gargled with warm water from the sink, I heard a knock on the door and then it slightly pushed opened. It was a guy’s voice.

“Hey, are you alright?” 

I gasped. Looking down in amazement, thoughts began running through my mind. It can’t be him. If it is, he really does value his fans, especially since he is bold enough to come into the women’s restroom.   

“Can I come in?” he asked.

“Yeah. Sure.” He walked closer with a look of concern.

“Do you need anything?” A confused frown formed in the middle of his forehead.

“No. I’m okay.” I smiled.

He smiled back. I screamed inside. Oh, my goodness Terry Rayborn smiled at me. I couldn’t believe I was behaving this way. Moving closer to me, he reached out and touched me on the shoulder. His touch enticed me to the core, infusing me in places I had yet to discover. I looked down at his hand through wide eyes, then looked back at him.

“I know I shouldn’t be in here but I wanted to make sure you were okay. So are you sure you’re okay?” He chuckled.

“Sure, I’m fine.” I waved my hand as if it’s no big deal. I mean, it wasn’t every day that I got to talk to Terry Rayborn.

He cleared his throat. Looking uncomfortable as he pulled in his lips, he moved his hand from my shoulder. And for a brief moment, I pondered his uneasiness. What would make him react that way?

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Yes. I think we should head back out there. There are still more fans I would like to interact with.”

“Did I lose my chance to get a picture?”

“Of course not.”

“Whew.” I wiped my forehead with the back of my hand.

He squinted his eyes as if he were trying to read my thoughts. Oh, how I wished I knew what he was thinking.

“Let’s walk back together,” he suggested.

“Are you sure?”

“Why not?”

We walked toward the door, and he opened it for me.

“Thank you.”

As I walked out, I noticed Jalissa’s agitated look. She mouthed the words, “save some for us.”


Purchase links
 BOUND TO YOU Amazon    

Author Links
 Twitter address: @ireca3