Saturday, November 17, 2018

CHECK IT OUT: Character Interview by Author Joyce T. Strand

Joyce T. Strand, Author
Dangerous Delays
Dangerous Changes
Following is an interview with my newest character sleuth, Emily Lazzaro, who is here to tell us what she’s been doing since her first book, Dangerous Changes, and to give us some hints about her second mystery, Dangerous Delays.

Fans of my other books might recall that Emily is the daughter of the winemaker at Brynn Bancroft’s Hilltop Sunset winery. When we encountered her in Overcast Sunset she had just broken up with her fiancé and is heading back home to Ramona, Calif. where her adventures begin.

Q: I understand that in your new mystery there is a body discovered on the first page?

Emily Lazzaro:  Yes. I was so upset. One of the workmen helping with the renovation uncovered it with the excavator. It was disturbing to see—I have trouble getting it or her out of my mind. And then the Native American artifacts surrounding her – we assumed it was a she because of the skirt.  It was all so surreal.

Q: I’ve heard about frequent discovery of artifacts in San Diego County but I thought bodies only turned up in burial grounds. Is this site a burial ground?

Emily Lazzaro: We don’t know. Several branches of different law enforcement, including the local Barona Tribal Council and an archeologist are investigating. 

Q: What can you tell us about why you were even at this site? 

Emily Lazzaro: I was hired to help manage a new B&B that we’re hoping will become a vital part of our town. I enjoy this job much more than preparing tax returns, by the way. Anyway, the first step in that project is the renovation of this mansion. I’m so excited to be part of it. The wife of the couple who owns it is from Ramona, and wants to create an iconic place that will represent the community.

Q: What will make it represent the community?

Emily Lazzaro: Well, there will be horses, riding instruction, and hikes available to those who stay there. As you know, Ramona is an equestrian town. And our menu will reflect local specialties, such as turkey and avocados. And, although we want it to be somewhat upscale, the décor will contain some aspect of Ramona—that is, if we ever get it complete given all the delays.

Q: What about your parents we met in the Brynn Bancroft trilogy? How are they doing?

Emily Lazzaro: My dad continues as the winemaker of the Hilltop Sunset winery, and my mom loves helping Brynn—the co-owner of the winery—whenever
she needs it. They’ve become really good friends. My parents still grieve for my brother who was killed in Afghanistan, but we’re all getting more used to it even though we miss him terribly.

Q: Has anyone special entered your life? 

Emily Lazzaro: Not really. I have made great friends with a local chef but we’re just friends. I met him through an incident that occurred with his brother who suffers from brain damage due to an accident. But, so far, we’re just friends.

Q: What’s next?

Emily Lazzaro: Well, I’m not sure—about that someone special or about the B&B. We’ve had so many delays—the usual kind due to permits, labor shortage, and material problems. But with this new cadaver in our back yard, well, that means more and more delays—dangerous ones, at that.

Finding a corpse buried with Native American artifacts wasn’t the first delay of the renovation Emily faced. But she was not prepared for what followed. A murder investigation, excavation to uncover more artifacts, and drug dealers looking for missing product further delay the mansion's restoration into an iconic B&B. While facing these setbacks, Emily is also realizing her growing attraction to a local chef, a man who believes a relationship isn't possible due to his commitment to care for his brain-injured brother.

Reminder: although there will be a total of three Emily Lazzaro mysteries, each is standalone and can be read without  knowledge of the previous book.

About Joyce T. Strand, Author

Joyce T. Strand is the author of who-done-it contemporary and historical mysteries set in California. Actual events and/or real people inspired all of her published novels, although they are definitely fictionalized. Dangerous Delays is her tenth book.

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


Dangerous Delays

Barnes and Noble

Dangerous Changes

Barnes and Noble

Twitter @joycetstrand

Thursday, April 26, 2018

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Elise Whyles and Ciara Lake, Authors

Ciara Lake, Author
Elise Whyles and Ciara Lake teamed up to write The Forsaken Series, a paranormal series of books about families on the brink of war returning to their homes and love following a king’s banishment. The two authors take turns writing each book. Lake believes that the creative paranormal is an extension of fantasy and offers a  place for romance. Whyles enjoys the freedom and excitement of creating characters in this genre. 

Lake, who lives on a farm, likes to travel and embroider when she’s not writing. She plans to continue to write more books for The Forsaken Series and has other projects in mind.  Whyles, who lives in Canada, also likes to travel and particularly enjoys the West Coast of British Columbia. She is working on a Romantic Suspense Paranormal as well as the next book in The Forsaken Series.

Elise Whyles, Author

Q: Elise Whyles – you wrote the first book in the Forsaken Series, FORSAKEN HEART. Did you intend for this to develop into a series? Why did you choose this genre?

Elise Whyles: Yes, I had the idea for a series and this is such a great topic. I picked the genre simply because I could have a lot of fun with it. I’d started reading some paranormal romances and fell in love with the idea of writing about mythology, and such, and this was the easiest way to do it. It didn’t hurt that my co-author is a huge fan of paranormal romance as well. 

Q: What draws you to write in the paranormal genre? 

Ciara Lake:  I like the ability to be inventive and more imaginative in paranormal fantasy type of books.  There is no limit to what you can create.  I enjoy the freedom it gives the author to create worlds, creatures, people, places, heroes, and villains.  

Elise Whyles: The freedom to create believable characters in unbelievable settings. The only limits are those I put in place. There’s a lot of freedom and excitement to be had creating a world and species as we move along. 

Q: Elise Whyles--You write in multiple genres in addition to paranormal, including LGBT and contemporary. Do you have a favorite? Why? 

Elise Whyles: Hmm, I have to say of all the genres I write in, the one I love the most is paranormal. But combining all three genres is even more fun so when I can write a story which features an LGBT paranormal character in a contemporary setting it’s even more fun.

Q: Ciara Lake--You also write in multiple genres besides paranormal, including romance, fantasy, and SciFi romance. What made you decide to write paranormal fiction? Do you like to incorporate romance somewhere in your story despite the primary genre? 

Ciara Lake: To me paranormal is just an extension of fantasy.  And Sci Fi is another genre that is similar allowing for the imagination to be the only limitation.  They are very similar genres.  Each of them allows for the creative reach I mentioned above. I started out wanting to be a romance writer.  The paranormal, sci fi, and or fantasy was created to be the worlds for the lovers to exist in. I like creating fantastic characters who are drawn to true love.  I am a romantic who dreams bigger then real life.  

Q: How do you create credibility for your paranormal stories or fantasy worlds?

Elise Whyles: When I build a world I rely on what I can see. I try to intersperse what we have in our world into their world. If a reader can see the image I’ve tried to describe, that lends itself the credibility. 

Q: What would cause your readers to stop reading? 

Elise Whyles: Stagnation, is a huge concern when it comes to writing. If you’re working on a major story line, such as Forsaken and you’re retelling the same story over and over in each book, a reader will lose interest and stop reading.

Q: How did the two of you get together and decide to write a series? 

Elise Whyles: We met when we published with another publishing house, which has long since closed.  I began helping Ciara with her writing, and when I came up with the tiny idea of a series of paranormal stories I asked her if she’d like to jump on board and develop the plan and get it going. 

Q: Why will readers care about your characters? How will they relate? Do you have villains and heroes? 

Elise Whyles and Ciara Lake: Our characters are very relatable. Each is flawed in their own way, be it obvious or not. When we began talking with our characters we wanted to ensure they were 3-D. They needed to have a personality – in fact most of the time we were able to create characters who came to life on their own. There are villains, and heroes, and heroes who are villains. 

Q:  Elise Whyles and Ciara Lake--What’s next? 

Ciara Lake:  I’m continuing to write books for the Forsaken series.  I also have several other projects in mind such as writing the next in the Triaxen and Xihirah books.   

Elise Whyles: I’m currently working on a Romantic Suspense Paranormal as well as the next book in the Forsaken Series. 

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

Ciara Lake: I live on a farm and I enjoy being outside with our animals. I like to travel and drive. I also embroider and other crafts. 

Elise Whyles:  Travel is a big one, my family and I routinely take day trips all over BC and Alberta. We love the coast of BC. 

About Elise Whyles

Born in Northern British Columbia, Elise is a small-town girl. She writes in a variety of genres including paranormal, contemporary suspense, m/m in various lengths. Currently, she lives in British Columbia with her husband and son, one dog, one cat, and a gecko. Elise enjoys reading as much as she does writing, with some of her favorite books being read until they fall apart. 

She is currently working on the next book in the Forsaken Series, Burning Rain. As well she has a new contemporary she’s working on. For more information on Elise, or to check out her books you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

About Ciara Lake

Welcome to Ciara Lake's World. Meet Gorgeous Werewolves, Vampires, Dragons, Mermaids, Wizards, Witches, Mythological Gods and Goddesses, Mere Mortals and More! Fiction has always been a passion of mine. Creating worlds and developing characters is a great way for me to relieve the stress and strain of my everyday world. In fantasy (paranormal) and sci-fi stories, the author has the unique ability to invent wonderfully exotic places and people. I do that in my books. These fantastic genres provide a limitless ability to be creative and inventive. My stories provide an escape into a special world filled with unique and otherworldly things. And there is always a happy ending.

Punished for crimes they didn’t commit, entire family lines were banished from their true homes by a grief stricken king. Now, on the cusp of war, they are finally finding love and their way home.

Punished for sins not her own, can a mortal claim her vampire mate?

The world of immortals must unite to save both themselves and the mortals they co-exist with from an ancient evil.

For Bede MacTaggert this means trusting in the warrior sent for her sister—a man of mystery, of power, and one who could easily sweep her into a world she's destined to be part of.

An imperial guard to the king of vampires, Gawain has always tuned out the needs of the flesh. Dedicating himself to the service of the royals, he's lived on the fringes of his people for centuries. Now he's forced from the shadows and into the arms of a woman who will awaken his heart and body to a passion unequaled.

Content Warning: graphic sex, some violence

The flame within a dragon warrior's heart awakens Arianna's passion as she begins a journey in which she will discover she's something more than she ever imagined possible. 

The realm of the dragons is a world of magic, danger, and mystery. For centuries they've been at war with the vampires, but now the two enemies must work together to save all immortals, and the mortals they co-exist with, from an ancient evil. In order to do so, they need the help of the Forsaken, descendants of immortals who were cast out into the human realm, their memories wiped clean of their true heritage.

Clayne MacDagon is a powerful dragon warrior who is sent on a mission to find one of the Forsaken. Although he's told that this woman is his fated mate, he can't believe it could possibly be true. Arianna Mergliano possesses both dragon and vampire blood, and Clayne has an intense hatred for anything even remotely related to vampires, the evil beings who were responsible for his beloved twin's death. 

When Arianna meets Clayne, she's convinced that the man is insane, or maybe he's a warlock or even the devil himself, but whichever it is, she wants nothing to do with him.

Clayne knows he can't fail at his mission. And once he meets Arianna he also knows that what he's been told is true—she is, ironically, his intended mate. 

Convincing her to accept him is only the beginning. He has to protect her from those who might want her dead. Together, they must face the shadows and evil that have long plagued the immortal realms and find a way to survive the coming war.

Content Warning: graphic sex, some violence


Ciari Lake

Elise Whyles

Thursday, April 5, 2018

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Jenny Morton Potts, Author

Jenny Morton Potts, Author
Jenny Morton Potts brings us HIDING, a psychological thriller that reviewers say has a “terrific concept, in-depth personalities” whose author has a “gift for creating terrifying atmospheres” “with twists and turns that border on incredible.” Potts confirms that the story is about the study of the two main characters, which might take it out of the crime thriller genre—but she believes it falls within that genre as well. She also allows the story to pull her away from traditional rules, when she believes the “unusual” is the way to go.

She has recently moved to a new location near London and lives there with her family. She  loves to travel and would like to do more, enjoys opera, theater, sudoku, and her dog. She is in the process of finishing a new thriller.

Q: You describe HIDING as a psychological thriller. What makes it so?

Jenny Morton Potts: It’s an incredibly deep psychological study of the two main characters. Although there is a lot of plot, HIDING I feel moves out of the classic crime thriller and into the realms of deep characterization analysis. That’s why I classified it as a psychological thriller. But it fits well within crime thriller too!

Q: Many of your reviewers claimed that HIDING is “character driven” “great” …“believable characters” and “in-depth personalities.” What character traits are important to develop in a psychological thriller? What will draw readers in and what will push them away?

Jenny Morton Potts: I think readers are drawn to the edge, the jeopardy the character finds themselves in. The trick is to make the reader feel it so closely, that they question their own responses fully. Then you must allow them to move away from that, back to safety, as the ‘baddie’ turns so bad that they are lost, and the reader no longer has to question themselves to the same extent.

Q:  First, congratulations on numerous thoughtful reviews of HIDING.

I was struck by the mild disagreement by your reviewers regarding the dual storylines that you use to tell your story. Some unequivocally enjoyed its use; others did not, but applauded how well executed it was and also suggested it would make a great movie. Why did you use this approach?  

Jenny Morton Potts: I think what distracted reviewers more was the fact that the duality lasted so long. I didn’t really intend for that to happen but it did, and it was strong, and so I rode that wave. I knew it would be controversial but that is mostly because it is unusual.

I once wrote a short story in second person and because that was rare, people fretted over it. However, by the end of the story, they got it, and I won a prize for it. I don’t mean to give the impression that I do controversy or gimmicky for the sake of it. It all grows organically. Sometimes I put a stop to it but then if I halt a process because of concern over feedback, I can, on occasion, question why am I writing? Who am I writing for? You know?

Q: One of your reviewers – who gave HIDING a high rating – was disappointed that not all the loose ends were tied up as normally done in mystery novels. I tend to also look for resolution when reading mysteries, my favorite genre. Did you deliberately write your story to leave out tying up loose ends for some reason? Are you planning a follow-up book?

Jenny Morton Potts: I could follow up this book but am very satisfied with it as it is. Most reviewers who remarked on loose ends thought that they were tied up in HIDING but I remember someone saying what you quote here. That was surprising, since I only left one end loose. And that was deliberate. It was a minor character and I just don’t think it is realistic to have total neatness.

Q: Were you able to use elements of the setting to help tell or enrich your story?

Jenny Morton Potts: Yes, setting was very important. Because I had an unusual story and an unusual take on spinning it, I wanted to make other elements simple and fully embraceable. That is why I picked an austere Highlands mansion and used the classic, American ‘porch.'  I didn’t want the reader to have any work to do with settings, just to love them!

Q: In addition to writing novels, you also have written a screenplay PIANO FROM A 4TH STOREY WINDOW. Do you prefer one over the other? Are you able to borrow techniques from one to apply to the other?

Jenny Morton Potts: I think ‘Piano…’ is the best piece of work I have ever done, as a novel. If I had to choose from plays and books, I think I’d pick novel writing, because you get to do dialogue and prose. I couldn’t relinquish the prose. I can’t think of how I appropriate a technique from one to the other, except that the screenplay is so disciplined for dialogue, it instils great honing for spoken scenes in a novel.

Q: One of your reviewers says that HIDING is “A wacky thriller that breaks all the rules.” Do you believe that you broke “the rules?” Why and what rules did you break?

Jenny Morton Potts: I think that reviewer is absolutely right. I am a wacky writer. But as I explained above, this isn’t something I focus on or try for. It is just me. I am also a gentle writer and a funny writer. I am thinking of the reader all the time and trying to make the experience as good as possible for me and you, in partnership. There are an amazing amount of rules in writing and whilst I think they should be read and understood, the best books will often break rules.

Q: What techniques or approaches did you use to create the “thriller” or suspense parts of HIDING?

Jenny Morton Potts: This is an interesting question (well, they all are). As if there was a little cupboard to go into and choose. What I did was lay clues. Some were supposed to lead you quickly, some were subliminal. I laid those and also creepy lines. I often let them hang. Later, I go back and lay more or uproot and replant them. HIDING is a puzzle. It was so much fun to make that puzzle.

Q:  What’s next?

Jenny Morton Potts: I’m just completing a new thriller. This has all my hallmarks but it has a more regular structure. I take you to places you’ll want to see and places you’ll dread. Fascinating dilemmas and unique situations. There’s death, birth, loss, mayhem, sex, heartache. All my staples.

Q:  Tell us about Jenny Morton Potts. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Jenny Morton Potts: I like travelling. I’d like to do a lot more, so that I can write about the far-flung world and its people. Just need to wait for my son to finish his schooling. I like opera, theatre, super-fiendish sudoku, my dog. I love tennis but can’t play due to injury. Oh yes, my family, I love them and doing stuff in our new location near London.

About Jenny Morton Potts

Jenny Morton Potts was born in a smart, dull suburb of Glasgow where the only regular excitement was burglary. Attended a smart, dull school where the only regular excitement was the strap. Worked in smart, dull sales and marketing jobs until realizing she was living someone else’s life.

Escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon who wanted to talk about The Da Vinci Code, wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England – and unlikely ever to leave again – Jenny, with assistance from loyal hound, walked and swam her way back to manageable health.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, partnered for 28 years, she ought to mention, and living with inspirational child in Thaxted, Essex.


Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.

This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens?