Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

This week on the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show, I will interview This Judy Reene Singer, author of HORSEPLAY, STILL LIFE WITH ELEPHANT, and AN INCONVENIENT ELEPHANT. Listen on Wednesday, June 29th at 3:30 Pacific at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/jennifer-walker/2011/06/29/a-cup-of-coffee-and-a-good-book. As always, the show will be archived in case you miss it.


After a year spent caring for baby elephants in Africa, Neelie Sterling is preparing to return to the States and a life filled with exes—ex-boyfriend, ex-husband, ex-house, ex-horse. But she is leaving behind some unfinished business in Zimbabwe: a very special elephant targeted for execution. With the help of her new friend Diamond-Rose Tremaine, an eccentric safari operator, Neelie manages to buy some time for the imperiled pachyderm, knowing that when she lands in New York they'll need to raise funds for his rescue.

Once they're home, everything becomes a struggle. Neelie and Diamond-Rose now must relearn how to survive in an urban jungle of table manners and real beds while coping with the overbearing affections of Neelie's family. Harder still, Neelie desperately needs the help of her wealthy conservationist ex-boyfriend, Tom, to save the magnificent creature—and swallowing her pride just might be the biggest challenge of all.

Monday, June 20, 2011

This week's book give-away!

From our friend, Linda Weaver Clarke:

Book Give-Away June 20 - 27: To win Gifted, leave a comment about this interview with your e-mail. International.

Gifted centers on family, friendship, love and sacrifice. After years of wanting to be parents, Brent and Susan adopt Anna, a beautiful baby whose parents died in a car accident. As she grows they discover there are unusual things about her and theyre torn about how to handle these special gifts. The story spans sixteen years and we see how Annas gifts impact the lives of those around her.

To win a book, leave a comment at http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com/

P.S. If you have any problems posting your comment, then email me and I can post it for you. I don't want you to miss out on these awesome books.

Winner of An Unusual Journey Through Royal History

Shame on me, I forgot to pick a winner for a free e-book of An Unusual Journey Through Royal History, by Victoria Martinez! The winner is....Cathy! Cathy won simply by posting a comment on the interview. Thanks for playing, and thanks to Victoria for offering this give-away.

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

This week on the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show, I will interview Carol Anita Ryan, author of the very inspiring story, Right Now Is Perfect: A Romance, an Adventure, the Unexpected Thereafter. I have listened to Carol talk about her book and its inspiration in person, and I am very pleased to have her on the show!

This book is for everyone who dreams of finding a soul mate, ditching a job, and sailing off into the sunset—or for those who’d just rather  read about it!

Listen to the show on Wednesday, June 22nd at 3:30 Pacific Time at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/jennifer-walker/2011/06/22/a-cup-of-coffee-and-a-good-book. As always, the show will be archived.

Learn more about Right Now is Perfect at http://rightnowisperfect.com/

Friday, June 17, 2011

Author Interview: McCarty Griffin

Our interview today is with McCarty Griffin, author of Monstor Story, The Tribe, and Half-Inch.

Comment on this interview, and you could win a copy of your choice of her three e-books!

Jennifer Walker: Where can we find out more about you and buy your book?

McCarty Griffin: I have a website at http://www.mccartygriffinbooksonline.com/. I’m on Smashwords.com. My author profile is found at http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/McCartyHGriffin. You can find links to buy all three of my books on this page. I’m also on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Diesel and Apple. My story Half-Inch is on Kobo, but for some reason, they have never listed Monster Story and they haven yet to post The Tribe. I’ve been told they have a huge backlog, so I’m hoping they’ll get on it and list all three of my books.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your books.

McCarty Griffin: Monster Story is a werewolf story set in West Virginia.; Half-Inch is a story about an abused woman who decides to kill her husband, which also takes place in West Virginia; and The Tribe is about a colony of feral cats rescued by a young couple, and once again, takes place in West Virginia. I suppose I have a theme going here, don’t I? West Virginia is my home, regardless of where I’m living. I’m not certain I could set a story anywhere else.

Jennifer Walker: What do you find most rewarding in writing a book?

McCarty Griffin: When someone reads it and loves it. Especially when they “get” the book in the way I meant it to be understood and appreciated. I feel a deep sense of satisfaction when that happens and an intense desire to do even better on the next book I write.

I love creating a whole other world, with lives and people and events quite separate from my own life. They seem real after I spend so much time with them and when I’m really into the writing, I feel as if I’ve slipped into their world and am living their lives with them. I want anyone who reads my books to feel exactly that way.

Jennifer Walker: What is your writing process like--do you outline first or just start writing, etc.?

McCarty Griffin: The story forms in my thoughts over time as a loose outline with an overall theme to it. I write from that mental picture when I feel like it’s “ripe” enough to be written. This process leaves a lot of room for surprises in the plot, even for me, the writer.

Jennifer Walker: Do you work with a writing group or mentor? Why or why not? If you do, what do you get out of it?

McCarty Griffin: No. I’ve joined some things with the best of intentions, but I’ve known since at least high school that I’m just not a group kind of person. I don’t mind occasionally drifting in and out for some intellectual exchanges, but I can’t do the “group think” thing and crowds, even virtual ones, make me uneasy. I’d rather stay friendly with other indie authors in general, participate in a few activities that interest me, but mostly just keep to myself. In other words, I’m an indie author loner. I was horribly shy as a child, which was often misinterpreted as unfriendly, I think. I hope that’s not true for my interactions now, but I can’t be certain.

Jennifer Walker: What have you done to develop your writing craft?

McCarty Griffin: Oh, the usual. I read a lot. I’ve studied print books and online resources about writing. Once, in a fit of extravagance, I paid a professional editor to look at a book I’d written, and I learned a lot from the things she had to say. I think the process of writing, re-writing, editing, re-writing and editing again, ad nauseam and ad infinitum, is a learning experience, albeit a tedious one. I also have an undergraduate degree and a law degree, which require a lot of research and writing in several courses in order to earn the degrees. I still think I have a lot to learn and no matter how much I study grammar and style, I have some quirks in my writing style that I’m certain I’ll never shake.

Jennifer Walker: What was the hardest part: writing the book, getting it published, or marketing it? Why?

McCarty Griffin: If I were still trying to go the traditional publishing route, I’d say that’s the hardest, for the obvious, universally known reasons. Since I’ve opted for self-publishing, it’s not a problem anymore. Writing is the hardest, simply because of the difficulty in getting oneself to actually sit down and write, then apply the mental gun to the head for editing unto death. Marketing is not a skill I have learned yet. I’m really quite flummoxed as to how to convince other people to buy and read my books. Plus, there are so, so many ebooks coming out every single day. Virtual needles in an infinite electronic haystack doesn’t begin to describe the situation. And marketing is a time-eater. Since I decided to get as many bloggers as humanly possible to look at my books and write about them, that’s all I seem to have time for these days. Here’s where I want to say I deeply appreciate the bloggers who take the time to read my books and then write a coherent review for their readers, and I admire them. I don’t see how they do it. Keeping up a daily blog seems on par with writing a thousand-word essay for your high school teacher every day. Talk about torture. These brave, generous souls must truly love reading ebooks and discussing them with their followers. I don’t know what indie authors would do without them.

Jennifer Walker: What have been your most successful marketing techniques?

McCarty Griffin: Nothing. I’ve hardly sold any books, although when I participated in Read an Ebook Week through Smashwords, by providing coupons for readers to download my books for free just for that week, my books went like proverbial hotcakes. As soon as they cost actual money again, no one wanted them. I’ve had some great reviews of all three books, so I don’t think the lack of sales is because the books aren’t good. Some or even a lot of it may have to do with being an unknown. I can understand a buyer being unwilling to plunk down actual cash, virtually speaking, for a book she or he may loathe. I think my books are well worth the risk, but then I would, wouldn’t I?

Jennifer Walker: Tell us a little about your non-writing life. Family? Pets? Hobbies?

McCarty Griffin: My non-writing life is mom, wife, cat mommy, dog mommy and goldfish mommy. I’m up early, taking care of animals and getting kids off to school. At times, I have feral cats I help care for and sometimes trap for rescue. Right now I’m feeding a group of cats who were abandoned by the woman who was feeding them, because her trailer, under which these cats lived, burned. I’ve trapped several, who have been neutered and released to a person who volunteered to maintain them as a feral colony. I still have at least three left I need to catch. Meanwhile, I keep them fed and watered every day. As for hobbies, the closest I come is begging bloggers for reviews. Sad, huh?

Jennifer Walker: If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be, and with whom?

McCarty Griffin: I’d go home and I’d take my family with me. I miss West Virginia terribly. We moved west to escape the bad economy, which worked at first. Now, the bad economy has followed us cross country and is affecting everyone around us. So, since I can be poor in West Virginia just as easily as I can be poor in the Pacific Northwest, I might as well go home. I’m a hillbilly, heart and soul. Although the Pacific Northwest is a beautiful, interesting place to live, I feel as if I’m living in exile right now. That’s part of the reason my stories are all set in West Virginia; no matter where I am physically when I’m writing, at least in my heart, I’m home.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Author Interview: Vickie Hall

Today's interview is with Vickie Hall, author of All That Was Promised.

Jennifer Walker: Where can we find out more about you and buy your book?

Vickie Hall: I have a website at http://www.vickiehall.com/, my blog is http://www.authorvickiehall.blogspot.com/. My book, All That Was Promised, can be found online at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, CedarFort.com, DeseretBook.com, and can be purchased in the Utah market at Deseret Book and Seagull Book.

Jennifer Walker Tell us about your book.

Vickie Hall: The book takes place in 1847 Wales when a Methodist minister converts to the Mormon Church and faces the rejection of his former congregation, the indecision of his wife, the betrayal of his brother, and the violence of mis-informed villagers. The story is a testament to courage, faith, and conviction, with a good dose of memorable characters and surprises.

Jennifer Walker: Where did you get the idea for the story?

Vickie Hall: The idea came from the journals of my great-great grandparents, who joined the Mormon Church in Wales. Many of their p
ersonal experiences and their strong relationship became a part of the story.

Jennifer Walker: What is your greatest writing challenge?

Vickie Hall: I think trying to keep things fresh. The more I write the more I am aware of trying not to repeat overused phrases or character types. This can truly be a challenge but one I try to keep uppermost in my mind.

Jennifer Walker: What do you find most rewarding in writing a book?

Vickie Hall: For me it's the telling of the story and hearing from readers how much they enjoyed the book. Although I write because I love it and would even if no one ever read a word from me, there is a wonderful vindication in finding acceptance of your work.

Jennifer Walker: What other projects do you have coming up?

Vickie Hall: I've already completed a Part 2 to All That Was Promised and recently completed a manuscript about the experiences of a Japanese-American family during World War II and their internment in a relocation camp.

Jennifer Walker: What is your writing process like?

Vickie Hall: I always have in mind the general plot including the beginning and a clear ending. I do outline my characters and their traits, but everything that happens in between comes as a surprise!

Jennifer Walker: Tell us a little about your non-writing life. Family? Pets? Hobbies?

Vickie Hall: I am single, so in one aspect I probably have a lot more time to devote to my writing than those with family responsibilities. I love animals and have kitty named Katie. I enjoy camping in the mountains with my family, enjoy needlework, and am always on the lookout for an interesting historical tidbit that might lead to a new book.

Jennifer Walker: When and why did you decide to become a writer?

Vickie Hall: I wanted to be a writer from the time I was about 14 years old. I always looked forward to my English assignments and could write a story or an essay. That's when I discovered how much I loved writing and planted the seed of striving to become a writer.

Jennifer Walker: If you could choose your last meal, what would it be?

Vickie Hall: Chocolate lava cake as an appetizer, with chocolate fudge brownies smothered in chocolate sauce for the main course, with chocolate mousse for dessert!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Two book give-aways this week!

I have two book give aways for you this week. The first is for a free e-book of An Unusual Journey Through Royal History by Victoria Martinez. To get in on this one, read my interview with  her and leave a comment.

The second is from Linda Weaver Clarke:

Interview with Childrens Author Nancy Stewart and Book Giveaway

Book Give-Away June 13 20: To win a childrens book, One Pelican at a Time, leave a comment about this interview with your e-mail. International.

Bella and Britt think its so cool living by the beach, and they particularly love the old crooked beak pelican that theyve known all their lives. (Pelicans live up to forty years, by the way.) But when an oil spill occurs, everyones life changes, especially the pelicans. The girls try to do something. But what?

To win a book, leave a comment at http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com/

Monday, June 13, 2011

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

This week on the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show, Jennifer will interview Linda Weaver Clarke about her new book, Montezuma Intrigue. Tune in at 3:30 Pacific Time on Wednesday, June 15th, at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/jennifer-walker/2011/06/15/a-cup-of-coffee-and-a-good-book. As always, the show will be archived for later listening.

Montezuma’s treasure, mysterious events, family secrets, and the importance of learning about your ancestors are themes in Montezuma Intrigue. When a leather parchment of Montezuma’s map is found in great-grandfather Evans’ old chest, April and the twins know this summer is going to be a memorable one. With Julia’s help, she and the girls convince John to go on a treasure hunt. Is Montezuma’s treasure a legend or reality? Whatever the case, John insists on keeping their little treasure hunt a secret. If certain people find out about it, the family could be in danger.

Find out more about Linda at her work at http://lindaweaverclarke.com/

Friday, June 10, 2011

Author Interview: Julie N. Ford

Today's interview is with Julie N. Ford, author of Count Down to Love.

Jennifer Walker: Where can we find out more about you and buy your book?

Julie N. Ford: I have an author page on both Amazon and Goodreads, a blog, Queries2Reviews.wordpress.com, and a website, JulieNFord.com. My book(s) are available on Amazon and in select bookstores.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your book.

Julie N. Ford: Count Down to Love is a story about a washed-up country singer, Kelly Grace Pickens, who is deserted at the altar by her manager/fiancé and then ends up going on a reality show akin to the Bachelor. Heartbroken, she barely notices the bachelor, Dillon Black, at first, but as he offers her one invitation after another to stay, she slowly starts to see him and her future in a different light.

Jennifer Walker: Where did you get the idea for the story?

Julie N. Ford: The idea for this story began as most of my ideas do, with a dream. Often I’ll wakeup in the morning with a story brewing. If I’m intrigued by the premise I’ll mull it over some more, allowing it to mushroom until I have a basic concept—characters, plot, central conflict. Then, living in Nashville, around all the struggling music artists, I was inspired to make Kelly a jilted signer/song writer. Since I’m completely tone deaf, I decided to take the opportunity to live vicariously through her.

Jennifer Walker: What is your greatest writing challenge?

Julie N. Ford: That’s an easy one—time. With two teenaged daughters, a husband and a job outside of the home, finding even just a few hours together to sit down and write is a challenge. I have a backlog of stories in the recesses of my brain clamoring to be freed if only I didn’t have so many distractions. However, having said that, I do love my “distractions” and wouldn’t trade them even if it meant clearing my brain of all those pesky potential plot lines.

Jennifer Walker: What do you find most rewarding in writing a book?

Julie N. Ford: I love it when the plot and/or words just seem to flow effortlessly as if being sent from a special place I have yet to discover. It truly feels like my own little miracle.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your previous work.

Julie N. Ford: My first novel, The Woman He Married, is about a stay-at-home-mom struggling to find balance, not just with regards to her busy schedule, but also between the expectations she’d always had for her life and the reality she now finds herself living.

Jennifer Walker: What other projects do you have coming up?

Julie N. Ford: My second novel, No Holly for Christmas, comes out in November and is a follow-up to the first. I took one of the sub-characters, Brian, who turned out to be my favorite, and built the plot around him. Then, I added some romance, suspense, an atypical heroine and topped it all off with a nice dose of the holidays. Essentially, all my favorite genres rolled together in one novel. My first two novels have a different publisher from Count Down to Love, which means the third novel is coming out in between the first and the second. It’s confusing, I know, but we all just have to go with it.

In addition, I have a fourth novel in the works—The Cadaver Ball. It’s sort of a sci-fi/women’s fiction/suspense about a woman who meets the man of her dreams at, you guessed it, Vanderbilt Medical School’s Cadaver Ball. Two weeks later she finds herself saying, “I do,” in a room full of strangers to a man she barely knows. From here she gets caught up in the mystery of what really happened to her husband’s late wife. Throw in a few evil clones and maybe some end of the world stuff, and we’ll have to see what happens. Stay tuned to my blog for more one this one. It’s going to be interesting—wink, wink.

Jennifer Walker: What is your writing process like?

Julie N. Ford: In the beginning I’ll simply allow a plot to stew in my head until I have a good idea of the beginning, middle and end. Then, I sit down and write a synopsis that will likely change, but it gives me some direction and I think helps me feel like I actually have a feasible concept. Next, I’m usually anxious to sit down and start writing, so I will. I’ll write a few chapters until the plot builds enough for me to need some concrete direction in the form of an outline. Usually the outline is rough, just handwritten in a notebook kept by the side of my bed. At this point, I will go ahead and write the end. It always changes a little too, but I like to have it written—settled—and then I can just relax and let the rest flow as I fill in the blanks.

Jennifer Walker: When and why did you decided to become a writer?

Julie N. Ford: I never “decided” to become a writer, per se. I’ve always had stories in my head that I would play around with but never really considered turning any of them into a novel. About five years ago, I had just finished chemotherapy treatments for Lymphoma when we moved to a new city. I didn’t know anyone, my girls were in school, and I was at home waiting for my hair to grow back when the dialog and narration for my first novel just started coming to me—insistent, almost, that I let it out. I thought I might as well go ahead and write some, so one day I sat down at the computer for a few hours and started my first chapter. One chapter turned into twenty and three months later I had my first novel.

Jennifer Walker If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be, and with whom?

Julie N. Ford: I would love to see all of Great Britain—England, Ireland, and Scotland. The only person I could possibly fathom taking such a trip with would be my husband, Tracy.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Author Interview: Victoria Martinez

Our interview today is with Victoria Martinez, author of An Unusual Journey Through Royal History. Be sure to read all the way to the end to find out how to get a free e-book!

Jennifer Walker: Where can we find out more about you and buy your book?

Victoria Martinez: I have a website dedicated to my writing, travels and other interests at http://www.victoriahill.com/. I also have a blog called Arbitrary History where I have fun randomly posting arbitrarily selected history gems and tidbits. I’m also all over the web posting guest blogs and articles here and there.

An Unusual Journey Through Royal History can be purchased at the following sites:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004X7LYPQ

Barnes and Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/An-Unusual-Journey-through-Royal-History/Victoria-Martinez/e/2940012509307

Who Dares Wins Publishing: http://www.whodareswinspublishing.com/UnusualHistory.html

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your book.

Victoria Martinez: An Unusual Journey Through Royal History is not your typical royal history book. The table of contents reads more like a menu at a good restaurant, where there’s something for everyone’s taste. Each of the 18 chapters tells a unique story about an overlooked or unusual aspect of royal history, spanning centuries and countries, but in no particular order. From first to last, they will take you on a journey through royal history you’ve probably never seen or thought of before. Chances are, even readers who usually find historic royalty boring and stuffy or modern royalty anachronistic and detached will find something to enjoy.

In few – if any – other books will you find the British Monarchy compared to London’s sewer system, or read of the challenges of finding a suitable husband for a 200-plus pound Victorian princess who was nonetheless a “remarkably light dancer.” Rarely are the lives of historic and modern royals from Queen Victoria and Catherine the Great to Prince Charles and Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark “illustrated” not by paintings but by tattoos. Even more intimate topics, like the practice of circumcision among royals – including Princes William and Harry – are explored for the sake of inquiring minds. In short (much like the Court dwarfs you’ll read about), this book will leave you with a sense that you not only know royal history – and enjoy it – but that you have also journeyed through it and know the royals personally, from who exterminates their palaces right down to their infamous last words.

Jennifer Walker: Where did you get the idea for the story?

Victoria Martinez: For two years, I wrote a weekly column for a website called Unofficial Royalty under the pseudonym “The Royal Scribe.” Each week, I wrote about what I felt were overlooked or ignored people or aspects of royal history. Soon, I began writing similar articles for magazines and journals, and I was really pleased with the feedback I was getting on what I wrote. A good friend of mine suggested that I should publish my articles as collections of themed essays in book format. I agreed with her that it was a great idea, but I never pursued it.

As the saying goes, life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans, and that is just what happened to me. Earlier this year, I was attending a writer’s conference to shop around another book idea to agents. Instead, I met a publisher. She and I hit it off immediately and she asked me not about my current book idea, but about what I had written in the past. She was interested enough to suggest the possibility of doing exactly what my friend had been suggesting for years – publishing collections of my writing from the past augmented with new works. After the conference, the publishers did their due diligence on me – and I on them – and we found we were a great match with the same vision, and my first book was born!

Jennifer Walker: What other projects do you have coming up?

Victoria Martinez: My second book, “The Royal W.E. – Unique Glimpses of The Duke and Duchess of Windsor,” is due out in June. Like my first, it is an anthology of articles, this time focused exclusively on this famous and infamous couple. Some of the articles have been previously published online and in magazines while others are brand new.

I’m currently working on a third book, a biography, which I hope to publish later this summer. Right now, I’m keeping the subject somewhat under wraps since it’s quite an unknown story and I’d hate to give too much away prematurely. At the same time, I’m already working on a second edition of “An Unusual Journey Through Royal History,” that will double the current length of the book and also make it available in print form as well as eBook. Of course, I have several other projects up my sleeve, but I don’t want to overwhelm myself or anyone else by detailing them all here.

Jennifer Walker: What was the hardest part: writing the book, getting it published, or marketing it? Why?

Victoria Martinez: It’s so funny that you ask this question because not long after “An Unusual Journey Through Royal History” was published, I suddenly realized just how much work goes into marketing the book. I told my husband that writing and publishing the book were easy compared to marketing it. And this coming from a public relations professional! Although my publisher, Who Dares Wins Publishing, provides great support and help in marketing the book, I now know that it is more than a full-time job to both market your published books and work on future books.

I just read a fascinating biography on Emily Post, and the author talked at great length about how hard Mrs. Post worked to keep relevant, stay in the public eye, and continue her prolific writing. It’s actually been very comforting to read this while beginning to face these challenges myself as a new author. It confirms something I already knew – that writers work very hard – and validates something I had never really thought of before – that what I’m doing now is not very different from what nearly every writer at any stage of their career must do. That said, I wouldn’t say that any of the elements – writing, publishing and marketing – are “easy,” but they are part of a life that gives me great personal satisfaction. Even though doing all of these things at once is a juggling act at times, I really enjoy it, and I know that it’s what I want to be doing.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us a little about your non-writing life. Family? Pets? Hobbies?

Victoria Martinez: At the moment, my husband David and I live not far from my parents in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas-area with our two cats. It’s actually a little bit ironic that we live so close to where I lived starting at the age of 11 because David, a Spaniard, and I met when we were both living as ex-pats in England. We were both travelers, so it’s appropriate that we spent the early years of our relationship traveling and living around Europe. After we were married, we ended up spending two years in Chicago before deciding we wanted to live in the DFW-area. David is a freelance translator and interpreter with knowledge of seven languages, and we both work from home, which allows us to travel frequently.

We love living in the U.S., but the time is coming for us to move back to Europe, and we expect to be living in London by fall 2012. For now, however, we are sort of your typical American suburban DINKs. Well, maybe not so typical, but we do enjoy working on our house and garden, spending time with friends and family, and all the usual things. David has even become something of a master at Texas barbeque. For the past year, I’ve been taking belly dancing lessons to try to counteract what I like to call “writer’s butt” and it seems to be working well so far.

Jennifer Walker: Is your family supportive of your writing?

Victoria Martinez: I have an amazing family who have always supported my writing and encouraged my ambitions. My Dad is a wonderful writer and has been a great editor over the years, while my Mom is a voracious reader and is always there to give constructive criticism. Both my parents are great promoters of my writing, although sometimes they get things a little bit wrong. Recently, when I told my Dad that my book was a best-seller in several categories on Amazon, he clearly misunderstood and immediately emailed his friends to tell them that his daughter was “a New York Times best-selling author!” Bless him.

Like my own parents, my in-laws in Spain are fantastic and think I’m pretty special no matter what I do. Obviously, my husband inherited this generous nature because he has always told me that he doesn’t care if my books sell 1 copy or 1 million; as long as I’m doing what I love, he’ll be happy. As if that weren’t good enough, David has become an excellent research assistant, helping me in my historical research both home and away, especially when foreign languages come into play. Right now, in his “spare” time, he’s translating An Unusual Journey Through Royal History into Spanish.

Jennifer Walker: When and why did you decide to become a writer?

Victoria Martinez: It probably sounds a bit clichĂ©, but I loved writing even as a young girl. I think it was a natural extension of my passionate interest in and vivid imagination for history. I also felt a strong desire to understand and explain aspects of history I didn’t feel were being sufficiently addressed. Although I knew I wanted to write, I also knew that I didn’t want to be a starving writer, so I took my undergraduate degree in mass communications and decided to go into public relations even though I had loved working in journalism in college.

I earned my master’s degree and continued working as a public relations professional until I gradually realized that the writing I was doing for others didn’t give me the satisfaction that my personal writing did. The result was I left the corporate world to do freelance public relations, which allowed me to sell off all my belongings and move to Europe where I could research and write. As I mentioned earlier, I’m back in the U.S. now, but I find myself doing increasingly less public relations work for others and focusing more and more on my writing. Eventually, I hope my public relations experience will serve primarily as a tool to help me market my writing and other interests.

Jennifer Walker: What is your favorite genre to read? To write?

Victoria Martinez: As a writer of primarily historical nonfiction, I think it comes as little surprise that it is my favorite genre both in terms of reading and writing. That said, I do admire high-quality historical fiction and occasionally indulge in a good suspense novel. Not surprisingly, I am most fond of authors who are now regarded as historical in the genres I prefer. For instance, with suspense, my favorites are Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier. As for historical fiction, I can usually tell right away whether I will love or hate something in that genre, and I am passionate about expressing my opinions, which is why my husband tells me I should never be a reviewer for historical fiction. As someone who is passionate about history, I am merciless when it is badly mishandled in fiction because – unfortunately – that is sometimes the only way people ever really learn about history! When I do find great historical fiction, however, I am devoted to the author and generally treasure the book as a masterpiece.

Perhaps surprisingly, I actually started out my serious historical writing career with an attempt at a book of historical fiction. I don’t think it was half-bad, and I’m not ruling out the idea of ever writing historical fiction, but I learned early that my passion for research and my style of writing is well-suited for nonfiction. My goal is to always write history in a way that is as enjoyable to the reader as any good historical fiction would be.

Jennifer Walker: If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be, and with whom?

Victoria Martinez: Together and individually, David and I have seen a lot of the world, but nowhere close to as much of it as we’d like. My dream would be to take at least a year and literally travel the world with David. I don’t mean stopping in all the major cities for a couple of days; nor do I mean seeing every country in the world. What I imagine is plotting out an itinerary of all the places – large and small – we want to go, and then staying in those places for as much or as little time as we decide once we’re there. Okay, maybe that would take at least two years…

Want to win a free e-book of An Unusual Journey Through Royal History? Make a comment on this blog with your email address, and I'll pick a winner on June 16th. If I don't have a way to contact you, you can't win!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Guest Post: Cheri Chesley on helping her friend

I received this through a mutual friend, and I hope you will read it and make a purchase to help this courageous woman!

From Cheri:

My friend, Rebecca White, is 35 years old and has breast cancer. She got her diagnosis May 11th. She had a mastectomy May 13th. Three days later, she went back to the doctor to have the bandages removed. She confessed, almost in a whisper, that she just wasn't ready to see under the bandages.

Rebecca is an amazing, strong person. She's so skilled in all those craft-type things that leave me with glue on my fingers and glitter in my hair. She has a happy marriage and three great kids age 10 and under. Rebecca could be me. She could be your sister, your friend, your mother. She could be you. You can meet her and get to know her on her blog, http://allaboutthewhites.blogspot.com/

In general terms, we know cancer can strike anyone at any time. It's not an old person's disease anymore. It strikes children, mothers; in short, anyone. Soon Rebecca will start her chemotherapy. We're all optimistic for a positive outcome, but cancer surgeries and treatments do not come cheaply. Since she won't let me shave my head, I've decided to show my support for Rebecca in other ways.

This is more than taking her meals and taking her kids to and from church; I've done that. Anyone can do that, and they do. We have a supportive ward out here. But I wanted to take it a step further.

I'm donating all my book sales income through August 31st to help Rebecca and her family pay their medical expenses. This is something they need, and in order to make it the most effective I need all the help I can get. And this is why I'm appealing to everyone I can. My book sales don't just mean the royalties from selling print copies of The Peasant Queen (which, incidentally, is on LDS Living's Summer Reading List), but also all income from my two e-books--The Wild Queen and my short story, Ghost Bride.

It's so easy. All you have to do is purchase depending on your interests and ability to help. The Wild Queen and Ghost Bride can be found at http://www.smashwords.com/, which not only offers the e-books for every e-reader including simply your home computer, but also offers the highest revenues.

Printed copies of The Peasant Queen can be found, or ordered, at your local bookstores. You can also find it online at Amazon

Barnes and Noble

And Borders

Amazon and Barnes and Noble also offer each book for the Kindle or Nook, respectively.

Thank you in advance for your help, and happy reading!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Book Review: Nia, by Mella Reese

Nia, by Mella Reese

Paperback: 224 pages

Publisher: Black Rose Writing (March 3, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1612960103
Rating (1 to 8 *): ****

Book Review: Nia, by Mella Reese

Princess Nia didn't want to be Queen. In fact, no one wanted her to be Queen. She was in some danger of becoming just that, however, if her stepmother didn't produce an heir. Nia was content to practice the healing arts her mother taught her, even though they made her father and members of his council uncomfortable. Unfortunately, she has a lot of opportunities to use her skills, because her war-loving father seems to always be in a conflict with someone. It is after he wins one such conflict that Nia receives a gift she never expected or even wants: a guard who has pledged his life to protect her 24 hours a day and refuses to leave her side. Now, she not only has to take care of her own matters, but deal with a constant shadow as well.

Nia manages to form a friendship with her guard, Garreth, and the shadow who was once unwanted becomes an important part of her life. He is nearly as important to her as her betrothed, Andras, the love of her life. Both of them become instrumental in her quest to avoid the crown, but also to prepare Nia in the event the unthinkable happens and she must become Queen. However, as is always the case in politics, there is danger and intrigue around every corner.

Nia is part one of a three part series, so the princess's story is nowhere near over. At the end, while there is some resolution, it is really just the beginning of a new chapter, and it left me wanting to know what happens next in her life, politically and romantically. Author Mella Reese makes a few mistakes that are common in first novels--rushing the story by skipping through time a little too quickly, telling a little too much of the story in retrospect, and telling vs. showing. Some more development of the story would make for a more robust story that is longer and closer to the typical fantasy novel length. Yet, her characters are engaging with realistic interactions, which is always the most important part of a story for me. It will be interesting to see how she handles the rest of the series.

Learn more about Mella Reese and Nia by listening to the podcast of Mella's interview on the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show!

Monday, June 6, 2011

From our friend, Linda Weaver Clarke:

Interview with Romance Author Dana Precious and Book Giveaway

Book Give-Away June 6 - 13: To win Born Under a Lucky Moon, leave a comment about this interview with your e-mail. U.S. and Canada.

Born Under a Lucky Moon is a warm comedy. Its the tale of two very important (but distant) years in the lives of Jeannie Thompson and her (embarrassing, crazy) colorful family members to whom things just seem to happen. It is a story of surprise marriages, a renegade granny, a sprinkler system cursed by the gods, and myriad other factors Jeannie blames for her full-tilt, out-of-control existence. But it's also about good surpriseslike an unexpected proposal that might just open Jeannie's eyes to her real place among the people she loves most in the worldthe same ones she ran away from to begin with. To win a book, leave a comment at http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com/.

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

This week on the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show, I will interview Vincent Hobbes and Nathan Palmer, co-producers of the horror anthology The Endlands.

Do you believe in a place outside human knowledge-a place where myth and legend collide-where the unthinkable is the mundane?

There is a thin veil between reality and make believe. When you take a moment, and push the veil aside, perhaps you will see this place, a place not of the imagination. Everything you see here is real.

Nothing is what it seems-noises are not what you think. Nothing is off limits-no place is safe.

You might find yourself lost in the past, or trapped in the future-amidst vampires and werewolves-or in a most peculiar lost and found department.

This is where unimaginable creatures roam wild-where humanity is absent, and dreams turn into nightmares. If you are looking for refuge, this is not the place to stop.

Welcome to the Endlands. 12 authors. 17 stories.

Find out more at http://www.hobbesendpublishing.com/.
Tune in this Wednesday at 3:30 Pacific Time at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/jennifer-walker/2011/06/08/a-cup-of-coffee-and-a-good-book. As always, the show will be archived for later listening.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Book Review: When the Getting was Good, by Susan G. Bell

When the Getting Was Good, by Susan G. Bell

Paperback: 424 pages
Publisher: AuthorHouse (June 4, 2010)
ISBN-10: 9781449081225
Rating (1 to 5 *): *****

Book Review: When the Getting was Good, by Susan G. Bell

Kate Munro is the sole female trader at a prestigious New York bank, and when she completes a trade that nets a profit of millions of dollars, she gains a lot more attention from her peers on Wall Street than she ever intended. Her joy over her success is not long-lived. Morehead "Woody" Woodson, a powerful bond trader from another firm that she shut out in her infamous trade, has been hired as her boss. Kate has enough worries being a woman in a sexist industry, but now she's worried that the egotistical Woody will want to retaliate for the humiliation he faced at her hands. Woody immediately changes the whole atmosphere in the trading room, bullying traders and salesmen and turning people against each other. Things really get hot when Kate receives a tip that Woody's trading practices at the firm are under investigation—and her own job may be at stake.

Susan Bell's When the Getting was Good is a great story that calls into question just how much a job can take over your life—and how healthy that is. It's about thinking everything is falling apart around you, when really it's just clearing out so you can get some clarity and focus on the things that are truly important. It's also about relationships, and how those relationships are everything.

Don't let the little bit of pink on the cover fool you—this is not chick lit, although it certainly speaks to the plight of women in the workplace—particularly at that place and time, which although it has evolved since then, is still not the most welcoming to women. While it is a story people who have worked in the financial industry can appreciate, it's really a story many different people will enjoy.