Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Time Travel At Its Most Charming Caroline Mather's Time Series #giveaway.

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 3 comments

I asked Caroline to do a blog post afterI read The Time Table last year,  She wanted to wait till book two was out. And today I’ve got her. And I have a giveaway at the end of the post.

My review of The Time Table

I love time travel (and write time travel), and this sounded like an interesting read. The Time Table exceeded my expectations. A series of short tales with one connection. A pool table fashioned in the 1600’s from a standing stone that occasionally creates time pockets. Caroline Mather deftly weaves four charming stories together, leaving room for more. I’m following her because I really want to read the sequel. Surely there will be a sequel? Five stars.

Please welcome Caroline Mather

Susan asked me about “time travel gone wild.” 
            The initial unifying image was the Table itself. There isn’t a single story line, or a single era. A former work colleague was a competitive pool player: a random comment made me wonder what might happen if you fell towards, or onto, a pool table, and went through.     
            As the stories progressed, there came the standing stone.  How do you travel back in time before billiard tables came to be, some time in the 1600s?  Except that we have a character in The Time Table who both went forward in time and emerged from a stone circle. I don’t know if slate is a good material for standing stones:  geologically, slate is like petrified mud.  However, it’s a good material for a billiard table slab. 
            As the series evolves, we have several moments when characters travel, or communicate, other than through the Table/stone circle.   There are other fantasy series which use more than one means of travel:  two classic examples would be J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.  The challenge with world building is simply to keep your world coherent.
            The third volume will have a longer range in time than the first two: after that, we’ll see.

Publishing first
            I met Debby Gilbert of Soul Mate at the New Jersey RWA conference in the fall of 2016.  I had just finished The Time Table, and I knew it was a bit quirky.  It is time-travel romance, but it’s a novella-length group of interlinked short stories, and it’s right on the edge of sci-fi/fantasy.  And…a billiard table? I’d pitched the book once or twice and gotten really strange looks.  Debby just looked a little thoughtful and said, “Send it to me.”  No promises, of course.  I don’t think we talked for more than a few minutes.
            When she emailed me a few weeks later to green-light it, I was both thrilled and stunned.  I’ve had non-fiction work published (mostly articles in reference books, different name, nothing to do with time travel), and a little self-published fiction (three parts of The Time Table first appeared under a pseudonym), but this series is now the first fiction with a serious publisher.

Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser”?  
            It’s a combination.  I don’t have everything plotted in detail:  if a character’s action surprises me and the plot takes a different turn, I’ll go with it.  It does mean that there are some questions left unanswered until a later installment.  There’s an unanswered question in the first section of The Time Line.  However, several sections of this volume are answering questions set up in The Time Table.  That said – if a story arc carries over more than one book, the author does have some responsibility to make sure that the pieces will fit together.
            One of the things I love about the Time Table series is that I get to read up not only on British history but also on contemporary theories of physics, time travel, precognition, and so on – and then to throw it all aside if necessary. Even if the details aren’t in the stories, the world I’m building really is founded on what may or may not be possible.  A good example would be the restoration of the Table in The Time Line: my partner and I spent an afternoon touring a truly amazing facility where billiard tables are made and restored – and then I had to work around those practicalities because the Time Table has a vortex! 

Current WIP is part 3 of the series:  Time Pieces, due out late in 2019.  There are some challenges in that volume:  one character is seriously annoyed because he’s in love with a someone who keeps going into the past and spending time with his forebears.  (Teaser: that plot line is first introduced in The Time Line.)   Several characters also travel without going through the Table – that also occurs in The Time Line – but, given where/when they’re each traveling in Time Pieces, it may be a bit more difficult to get them back again.

Advice for new writers just starting out:
            Just. Do. It.  The story only you can tell may or may not be one that propels you to the best-seller lists the first time out, but it’s your story.  Read a lot, write a lot, and just keep showing up.  If you wait for inspiration before you sit down at the keyboard, it may not come. The Muse needs to know where to find you, and you need to keep honing your skills while you’re waiting. 
            That said – there are times when you’ll find your inspiration somewhere else, and some of it may simply be in your memory or some unrelated comment.  Celebrate those memories and discoveries:  the sources of creativity are endless and enlivening.

My favorite pastime other than writing is one I can’t do at the moment: I love the experience of flying a small plane, even in the bumpy air of summertime over the northern New Jersey hills. I became interested in learning to fly because of a non-fiction project I was working on some time ago. I managed to log about fifteen hours, although I never soloed because life kept getting in the way. Even if I never get back there, I’ll always have that flight time.

And…when you’re not in the air or at the computer? 
            I’m hanging out in northern New Jersey, in an old apartment building on a busy main street, with far too many books, a great coffee maker, and a traveling Hero.  If you move back to your childhood town, be prepared for the possibility that it, too, has changed:  as the late, great Stephen Hawking said, “We are all time travelers, traveling together into the future.” 

Where can we find you?
            The Time Table series is published by Soul Mate Publishing and is available on Amazon Kindle.  The Facebook page “Writer Caroline Mather” is under construction: if you get over there and it’s still got pots of paint on the floor and sheets over the furniture, please be patient!  

The Time Table blurb and excerpt:
Jeremy Finch loses billiard balls. One stormy night, his billiard table disgorges a person known to the house’s future owner.  What?

Tony Finch disappears while playing billiards in the 1850s. He reappears in the early 21st century through an ancient stone circle. What?

Is it the billiard table? The standing stones?  Are the Finches just prone to time-travel, or is this about true love? These intertwined stories explore the future-and-past of The Time Table

The clock struck midnight as Jeremy Finch lined up his shot and sighted carefully along the billiard cue. Outside, a chill spring rain lashed against the windows.
            He choked back an exclamation.
            A young man’s crumpled figure in a pale shirt and dark trousers materialized on the billiard table as if he had come out of the felt. Without disturbing the balls scattered across the surface, he rolled over and tumbled onto the floor then crouched on his knees. Sheet-white and dazed, he met Jeremy’s eyes across the shadowed room.

The Time Line blurb and excerpt:
Returning to her own time via the Finches’ billiard-table, Cara McCrae came up short. She must find another way to travel the last five years. Now she finds herself in the middle of a casino floor, faced with a possessive man, and possessing experience that makes her a “conductor.”

Why did the “time table” fail? Can it be restored? What of the man who made that final “jump” with Cara? These intertwined stories follow the future-and-past of the next generation from the Time Table.

            Dane laughed. “Cara, when we met in Halkin Street before we jumped – you said that you had dreamed me. Did it happen often?”
            Cara shook her head. “Not often. Yet I knew there was someone out there, someone challenging and vibrant, and that I would not be a plaything.” She ran one finger over the patterned stone countertop.
            “Correct. You’re not.” Dane watched her, his voice quiet and grave.
            “Thank you.”
            “You’re welcome.” Dane drained his coffee cup. “What is it that interests you?”
            Cara blinked again.
            “Since you refuse to be kept, or a trophy,” Dane prodded. “Yet traveling time distances – years, centuries – does not faze you.”
            “I didn’t do it on purpose,” Cara demurred, “and clearly I wasn’t dressed for it.”
            Dane’s eyes danced with mischief. “Please tell me that you were not out comparison shopping.” At her incredulous look, he added, “Well–Edgar, Gareth, me—”
            Cara blushed. “I wasn’t shopping.

 Caroline, thank you so much for this post.
My review of The Time Line

I continue to be charmed by Caroline Mather’s writing, BUT you really need to read the Time Table first. Part of the story is a continuation of characters introduced in the first book. Some of the characters are new. And the door to the sequel is wide open. When I finish a Time Table book, I feel as if I had a cup of Earl Grey and a cucumber sandwich served with the very best butter. Read The Time Table and then sample part two, The Time Line.Caroline Mather: The Time Table series

            The Time Table (vol. 1, May 2017)
            Time Pieces       (vol. 3, late 2019)

Caroline is giving away two copies each of the ARC's for The Time Table and The Time Line. The ARCs are PDFs which can be read on any reader. I suggested this because I would love to see her have more reviews of these delightful books. Both books are novella-length. If you are interested and would be willing to review one or both, please enter below.
 Happy reading.


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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

WWI England. Rhys Bowen's The Victory Garden, #Giveaway

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 2 comments
WWI England. Rhys Bowen. The Victory Garden. #Giveaway. Need I say more? 

Well, I will, of course, because many of you may never have experienced a Rhys Bowen novel. She's a wonderful storyteller and always draws me in. 
And I have a copy to give away. The rafflecopter is at the end of the post.
The Victory Garden takes place during the latter part of World War I, The War to End All Wars  
The Victory Garden takes place in the late stages of the War by which time few families were untouched by its ravages. Women from all walks of life volunteered to fill the jobs men left behind.
Emily Bryce lost her brother in the first months of the war and most of the young men she knew haven’t come back. Her well to do, overprotective parents despise the young Australian pilot she meets in the convalescent home near their estate. When Emily turns twenty-one, she escapes her stifling life and enlists in the Land Girl Army.
I found the book fascinating, full of wonderful memorable characters and situations. My biggest problem with the story is that it ended. I wanted it to go on and on.

Blurb: As the Great War continues to take its toll, headstrong twenty-one-year-old Emily Bryce is determined to contribute to the war effort. She is convinced by a cheeky and handsome Australian pilot that she can do more, and it is not long before she falls in love with him and accepts his proposal of marriage.
When he is sent back to the front, Emily volunteers as a “land girl,” tending to the neglected grounds of a large Devonshire estate. It’s here that Emily discovers the long-forgotten journals of a medicine woman who devoted her life to her herbal garden. The journals inspire Emily, and in the wake of devastating news, they are her saving grace. Emily’s lover has not only died a hero but has left her terrified—and with child. Since no one knows that Emily was never married, she adopts the charade of a war widow.

As Emily learns more about the volatile power of healing with herbs, the found journals will bring her to the brink of disaster but may open a path to her destiny.

I feel bad this giveaway is US only, but . . . POSTAGE! Sorry. I know your library will probably have this book. If you don't win, please look it up, and,if you like it, please consider leaving a review. Happy week to you all.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Meet Cherie Claire. Mystery, Romance and Ghosts #Free First-in-Series Books

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with No comments
Please welcome Cherie Claire, a freelance travel writer by day and mystery and romance novelist by…well the rest of the time. She has written three series — the Cajun Series of historical romance, the Cajun Embassy contemporary romances and the Viola Valentine paranormal mysteries.
The fourth book in her mystery series, “Ghost Trippin’,” was published February 14th.  
(FYI The first book in each of her series is always free to download. You can find a link to the free downloads at her website https://www.cherieclaire.net/. I found other fun goodies there too. I’ve downloaded my copy of  A Ghost of A Chance (which has 105 reviews on Amazon with an average of 4.5 stars)
I read it and am looking forward to reading the next one.  I give it 4.5 stars too. Great read. Ghosts, History and a heartwarming heroine.
I enjoyed the mystery, loved getting to know the heroine. I loved the travel writer theme and getting to know Eureka Springs Arkansas. I look forward to Viola's next adventure
Cherie, please tell us a little more about yourself. 

I hail from New Orleans and, although I moved all over the United States as a newspaper editor, I always seem to come back to Louisiana. Just can’t live without Mardi Gras and gumbo. I now work as a freelance travel and food writer so I still get to see a lot of the country, mostly work in the Deep South, and yes, it’s a really fun job. In addition to all that writing, I’ve been writing fiction my entire life.
I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when you decided to self-publish.
I have been with several traditional publishers with many different experiences. When it was time to start finding an agent for my mystery series, my heart wasn’t in it to start beating the sidewalk again. Two friends introduced me to ebook publishing and with my experience in publishing, social media and web work I knew it was the right fit. I never looked back.

Did you hire an editor?  
My sister is an editor and she reads everything. And I’m an editor and I edit and proof my work extensively. That still doesn’t mean it’s perfect. It’s so difficult to edit a book and I would strongly encourage everyone to find a good editor — or two!

How did you choose the cover?
For my romances, I hired a romance cover artist who uses real models because you want to stay true to what sells in genre fiction. For my mystery series, I enlisted my son Josh Coen who’s a graphic artist. I needed a cartoon cover but something unique because my novels blend cozy with supernatural with paranormal - you get the idea — and Josh is excellent at this. Being able to work with someone who knew exactly what I wanted helped a lot. I love the Ghost Covers. You son did a great job.

What advice do you have for other authors who are considering self-publishing?
Publishing, in general, is not for the faint at heart, but self-publishing is time-consuming and you must be the editor, artist, copy editor, formatter, etc. It requires a lot of knowledge, being tech savvy and marketing. Join Novelists Inc. or another writing organization and learn the business. Search out others who are doing this and ask for help. Go to conferences.

Got a recipe you want to share?
Dark Sugar Pralines
3 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup evaporated milk or whipping cream
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2 cup pecans
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix brown sugar, evaporated milk, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once a boil has been reached, cook until a candy thermometer reads 234 degrees, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add butter but do not stir. Cool until candy thermometer reads 150 degrees, about 35 minutes. Stir in pecans and vanilla with wooden spoon until candy thickens and butter and vanilla are well absorbed, but is still glossy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Quickly drop on to wax paper in patties. Allow to cool. Makes about 30 medium pralines.  
Thank you. I love pralines. They are my undoing. Drat! I think I have all the ingredients. I have a huge problem with temptation in brown sugar form.

 Tell us about your Viola/Ghost series.
I started my Viola Valentine series with A Ghost of a Chance.
They say there are blessings from Hurricane Katrina. For Viola Valentine of New Orleans, it was losing her dead-end job and leaving behind a loveless marriage and an overbearing family.
 But the storm also blew open a psychic door. Now she sees ghosts who have died by water. 
 As she enters her new career as a travel writer, solving mysteries that appear with apparitions everywhere she goes, the one person she hopes to speak to — her daughter who died of leukemia years before — continues to elude her. 

Or does she?
 It’s followed by Ghost Town, Trace of a Ghost and Ghost Trippin’, which comes out on Valentine’s Day this year. 

Blurb: John Valentine left home for a birding conference and never returned, his family chalking it up to the divorced father’s mid-life crisis. But when a body is found on the old family homestead, his daughter Viola must piece together the clues her father left behind. Along for the ride are her witchy Aunt Mimi, her uptight lawyer sister Portia and her sometimes ex-husband Thibault Boudreaux, otherwise known as TB. What they discover on this crazy ghost trip through Texas will be much more than they anticipated.
The fifth book of the series, Give Up the Ghost, will be published this fall.

 Thank you very much for being here, Cherie.
Dear ones, click over to Cherie's Website. The first book of each of her series is free. Each series has a different tab. How's that for a Valentine's present? If you read any of her books, please consider leaving a review. That's how other people find us. I wish you all a good-book-filled week.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Meet Anne Roebuck and her Dear Departed - Victorian Romantic Suspense #Giveaway

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 1 comment
I am delighted to welcome Ann Finnin to my blog. Ann is a member of the Los Angeles chapter of RWA and writes romantic suspense as Anne Roebuck. I bought her novel, The Dear Departed, read it in two days and loved it. (Was not fond of the cover, but the book?!)

The book reminded me of Amanda Quick at her best and I love Amanda Quick. The characters, plot, and setting captured me from the first moment and deposited me regretful at the last page, wishing it hadn’t ended. A late Victorian romp with a lovely intelligent widow and a handsome mysterious magician with a secret. Together they work to uncover a diabolical mastermind whose is helping love starved widows to their deaths.
 Ann, please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a long time student of the strange and arcane, of bygone eras that have become less history and more myth, when the rules about what was real and what wasn’t was less cut and dried as it seems to be now.  I have always kept my interaction with so-called ordinary reality at an absolute minimum while participating in a variety of esoteric and magical organizations, historical reenactment societies, and other ‘weird’ groups.  Fortunately, the gods sent me a husband who shared my interests, and he and I have traveled hand in hand for over forty years through a number of very odd places that most people would swear don’t exist.
 We now live quietly in a 1930s cabin in the mountains behind Los Angeles with a lovable mutt named Rufus.  I still work writing user guides for a medical software company.  I hope to retire this year and devote all my time to writing novels.

I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when a publisher told you they wanted to publish your book.
 Utter panic. 
I had spent nearly thirty years sending books out to publishers and having them rejected.  Being rejected had become a habit.  It wasn’t particularly fun, but it was comfortable and familiar.
 Then, in 2010, an editor at Flux emailed me an acceptance letter for my YA Fantasy.  I honestly didn’t believe it.  This wasn’t supposed to happen.  I was supposed to get a rejection, dammit.  NOW, what was I supposed to do?  And what was this revision letter thing all about?  I had never gotten one of THOSE before.  I didn’t know how to write on a deadline.  At the time, I had a full-time job with a two-hour commute, a house, and a husband to take care of.  I usually had an hour to write on my lunch hour and maybe a couple of hours over the weekend.  Would that be enough?  What if I couldn’t make the changes he wanted?  Would he just end up rejecting the book in the end? What happened to that book? I would love to know. I am assuming you used a different pen name?
My YA Fantasy was published by Flux in 2010 under the name Ann Finnin.  It was called The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice and it's about a young wannabe magician in the year 1480 who is about to be burnt at the stake for sorcery.  He is rescued by the abbot of a Benedictine monastery that turns out to be a haven for other renegade wizards, sorcerers, alchemists, and astrologers.
If you have a copy, I would love to read it.

Any advice for new writers just starting out?
Keep writing what you love.  Believe in your visions and continue to hone your skills.  If your books don’t sell today, they might sell tomorrow or next year or next decade.  That’s the thing about novels.  They don’t go bad sitting on your hard drive.  My YA fantasy was first written in 1975 (with a major rewrite in 1991).  It didn’t sell until 2009.  I pitched it as a ‘medieval Harry Potter’ and it sold on the first try.

So, never give up.  Never stop writing.  Keep believing in yourself.  Easier said than done, I know, but it’s been true for me.

Tell us about The Dear Departed
 My latest book is a paranormal historical romance called The Dear Departed.  In this story, a young widow and a mysterious magician battle a psychic killer in Victorian era San Francisco.
 The heroine, Virginia Paley, has no interest in attending the séances at The Society for Eternal Love, but the women of the society are dying mysteriously in their sleep, leaving their fortunes to Professor Arthur Chadwick, its charismatic medium. As her aunt might very well become the next victim, Virginia must join forces with the darkly mysterious Jonathan Bradshaw, a man who isn’t the grieving widower he appears to be.
 From the moment he spies Virginia, Jonathan is smitten. But romance is impossible. Mrs. Paley is a respectable woman, and he himself is outside of society, an orphan, an ex-thief and a true wizard, able to hypnotize with a word and even separate his spirit from his body. No, he must instead remain focused on his goal, avenging his mentor’s death. But, facing a foe with power over demonic forces and Virginia’s very life in the balance, love might indeed be the only salvation.
What’s your current WIP?
 My next book takes place in England in the year 1774. The Grand Master of the local Masonic Lodge, who secretly sponsored the American Revolution, has been found dead with his ritual sword thrust through his vitals.  In order to discover who killed him and why, his daughter Julia must leave her sheltered virginal seclusion and descend into the bowels of the closest thing to eternal perdition in 18th century England – the limestone caves of the notorious Hellfire Club.  Only there can she find the one man who not only holds the key to her father’s murder but has the power to unleash an unearthly sensuality within her – a man who wears a golden mask. I know about the Hellfire Club and I can't wait to read this one.
And finally, where can we find you?
 The best place to find me is on my website: www.anneroebuck.com.  There, you will find a link to my book, my bio, a blog with posts on a variety of arcane topics (including an entire series on Sex Magic) and an invitation to sign up for my newsletter with more esoteric goodies to come.
Thank you for being here, Ann. Dear ones, I really loved this book so I am giving away one Kindle copy. Please don't enter unless you are willing to review the book after you read it. We authors need reviews. If we don't have enough of them, book sales don't happen. Nowadays when I read a book and like it, I publish the review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, and ever-popular BookBub. Rafflecopter below. Happy Reading.

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