Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gift card giveaway winner!

Last week I posted an interview with Tracie Ingersoll Loy about her book, Slip Into the Night. As promised, I chose a random commenter to receive a $10 Musa or Starbucks gift card. Congratulations to our winner, Anna Maria Junus! Anna, I've already emailed you to tell you how to claim your prize.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Author Interview: Greg Ahlgren

Our interview today is with Greg Ahlgren, author of The Medici Legacy.

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

Author Link:

Purchase Links: Amazon:

Barnes and Noble:

Jennifer: Tell us about your book.

THE MEDICI LEGACY by Greg Ahlgren $4.99 Kindle and Nook (88,250 words)

When thirty-something Deputy Inspector Antonio Ferrara of the Italian Polizia di Stato discovers that the seemingly random victims of a Tuscan serial killer are all actually illegitimate descendants of one Giovanni di Cosimo de Medici, a 15th century Florentine banker, his superior scoffs at his theory, the Italian military police caution him to leave this closed case alone on the basis of “national security,” and even his father uses the occasion to hector him to leave police work and return to the family art business. Undeterred, Antonio enlists the aid of Rachel Fuller, an American Fulbright scholar working on her Medici dissertation in Florence, and together they travel to America to unlock a secret that spans three continents.

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

Greg: All three of my books are actually based on real historical events, although obviously not my own. Crime of the Century: The Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax, is a non-fiction, true crime book analyzing the Lindbergh kidnapping case. Prologue is a time-travel novel centered around the President John F. Kennedy assassination in 1963, and my latest book, The Medici Legacy, is based in part on the Japanese germ warfare experiments of World War II, especially the notorious Unit 731 actions in Pingfang.

As a self-confessed history junkie I’ll run across a piece of history, in this case perhaps a piece I read on the Medici family, and that will inspire me to start doing additional research for my own pleasure. Sometimes, as in this case, it will lead to additional information, perhaps a cross-referenced website on Florence in general, and maybe on the Plague that devastated the city in the 14th century, and that in turn leads to an article about World War II atrocities, and slowly an idea takes hold in my brain. I may play with it for weeks or months, thinking of a plot line, characters, etc. I’d say maybe nine out of ten times I eventually discard it and move on to something else, but if I find myself opening a spiral notebook and jotting down plot points, as I did here, I know I’m a goner.

Jennifer: What is your greatest writing challenge?

Greg: Starting. When I first open the notebook (I write longhand) the trail seems to stretch so far into a vast wilderness. O.K., O.K., I know, that’s a bit trite. But I always say “you gotta’ get black on white;” you just have to start someplace and not think about how far you have to go. Remember, a journey of a thousand miles starts with going to Rite-Aid and buying a spiral notebook.

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

Greg: This may sound strange – but for me it is editing. Yes, that’s right. Looking at what I wrote and saying “Yuck, that is awful,” and then fixing it, well, I think that’s when you really learn the most about writing. And when you read another’s writing, and say, “Gee, they should have trimmed that sentence and it would have flowed better,” that’s when you know you are learning. And I include all kinds of editing, not only fixing the misspells and inserting the missing end quotation mark, but also the re-writes of poorly worded phrases, sentences, paragraphs and sometimes whole chapters.

Jennifer: Tell us about your previous work.

Greg: It’s been an odd journey for me. My first book was Crime of the Century: The Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax, a non-fiction, true crime analyses of the so-called Lindbergh kidnapping case. It got written more by accident. In 1990 I had stumbled across an old article about the case. Of course, reading about the child’s disappearance, and the subsequent investigation and trial, some fifty plus years after the fact, I had the advantage as a modern criminal defense lawyer of being privy to forensics, motivations and knowledge of intra-familial crimes that law enforcement officials did not have in 1932. Over the years the case had been looked at by journalists or others who had never tried a criminal case to verdict, and therefore lacked that perspective. What started out as a hobby ended up evolving into the book, which I co-authored with a police criminal investigator. And I’ve been rewarded with the number of contemporary investigators, victims rights advocates, etc., who have contacted me since its publication and said how obvious the solution was. Obvious today, perhaps, but it was unthinkable in 1932.

I had an agent, and Crime was published traditionally. It had a bit of literary and commercial success, and I started thinking that hey, maybe I could write after all. I played around with other non-fiction ideas before getting my novel Prologue published in 2006 by a very small publisher, which then almost immediately closed its doors. When I finished writing The Medici Legacy I was told by several other writers that it was unlikely that an American publisher would ever publish an American thriller with a non-American chief protagonist (unless the book was already a commercial success abroad), but that if I changed my main character to an American it had a decent shot of being placed. I thought about it, but ultimately decided against changing it. I liked my main character and did not want to change him to an American. It was about that time that I began learning about Kindle. I had never had an e-reader myself, and knew Kindle only from their cute television commercials. I did a bit of research, and went to Kindle directly. I put Prologue up on Kindle in e-book format, and then found a paperback publisher to take over the old print contract for it. I talked to a couple of POD publishers, but some did not have the same definition of “take over the contract” that I did. I liked the result, so I put The Medici Legacy up as an e-reader, and then used the same POD publisher as Prologue to handle Medici. So, I actually had two releases last year.

Jennifer: Do you write full time? If so, tell us how you manage it. If not, what is your day job?

Greg: After finishing college and law school, and clerking for a year in Philadelphia, I returned to my home town of Manchester, New Hampshire and opened a criminal defense practice. That is still how I consider myself – as a lawyer – and how I make my living. The writing is just something I do on the side, like some people who play golf on weekends, but don’t earn their living on the PGA tour. On Mondays they return to their real job, and so do I. There are probably only 15 to 20 people in the United States who make a full time living out of just writing novels – for the rest of us we either have a day job or do something else related to writing.

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

Greg: I have a plot roughed out in my head, but you should never be slavish to a plot outline. It’s like a walk in the country; you head out with one path in mind but then something grabs your attention and you detour. Or something just isn’t working in your story. Or rereading what you wrote you suddenly get a great new idea you hadn’t had before, or an additional character. Sometimes I’ll start giving chapters to a friend who reads for me, and he’ll make suggestions as to what he thinks is missing, or what he thinks really doesn’t work. I think that a writer should have two mandates: 1) be flexible and 2) don’t have an ego. Don’t get defensive or entrenched on how you originally conceived it.

In The Medici Legacy, I originally intended to set it in New York City, and make my chief protagonist a young Italian-American woman who was a Medici descendant, but did not know it. I drew it up in my head that way and started writing. Then a writer friend suggested basing the novel in Italy and making the police officer the central character, and I scrapped everything and started over.

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

Greg: No group. I have a good friend, Bennett, who is not only a good friend but a voracious reader and, I’ve discovered, one heck of an editor. He reviews what I write, and is not afraid to tell me when it sucks, which he does often. (Not just because he’s not afraid, but because it often does suck). I’m pretty proud of the final product I put out, and much of the credit really goes to him.

Then I have other friends who I’ll distribute copies of the manuscript to and get their feedback. One key for me is “don’t have an ego.” I think I always incorporate virtually every suggestion that is made to me to some degree.

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

Greg: I’m what is politely referred to as “an older guy.” My daughter is grown up, finished college (which means my current writing projects do not include tuition checks) and my wife and I rattle around our house with three cats who deign to allow us to live with them.

As for hobbies, I’m a self-confessed history addict and college sports nut, and if I had to spend eternity watching one cable network over and over it would be a toss-up between The History Channel and ESPN.

Thanks to Greg Ahlgren for stopping by!

Monday, February 27, 2012

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 Gary Olson, author of Brutal Light. Listen live Wednesday, February 29, at 3:30 Pacific or hear the recording any time after the show at

Gary W. Olson's debut dark fantasy novel, Brutal Light, features high-octane weirdness, bloody mayhem, and stubborn persistence in the face of overwhelming odds. The road to publication, while featuring much less actual bloodshed and strangeness, required even more persistence.

Learn more about Gary at

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Author Interview and gift card giveaway: Tracie Ingersoll Loy

Our interview today is with Tracie Ingersoll Loy, author of SLIP INTO the NIGHT. Read to the end of the interview to find out how you can get in on a giveaway of a $10.00 gift card for Starbucks Card or Musa Pubshing!

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

Tracie: I do have a website,, a twitter account @TracieLoy, and Musa Publishing also features each writer and a biography, plus Facebook - Tracie Ingersoll Loy. SLIP INTO the NIGHT is available at, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, I-Tunes and all the major e-book retailers.

Jennifer: Tell us about your book.

Tracie: SLIP INTO the NIGHT is a light mystery/romance taking place in Washington State San Juan Islands. After the murder of her husband, Jeannie Rogers retreats to Hartz Island to follow her dream and open up a cafe. Three years later Jeannie is at a crossroads of what to do. Her cafe is failing, and her CPA brother wants her to sell it. Her daughter feels she should start dating. Neither option sounds good to her.

Kip Hendricks has one mission in life and that is to stop terrorism. Kip Hendricks and his crew arrive on Hartz Island to monitor ships arriving from Indonesia suspected of smuggling in terrorists. All the ships must pass Hartz Island before they head to their ports. Unbeknownst to Jeannie and Kip their lives are about to change. As the full moon casts its beams, the mysteries of the islands reveal themselves as do some of the residents' behavior. Life isn't so innocent on Hartz Island.

Jennifer: Where did you get your ideas for your book?

Tracie: I grew up in the Pacific NW and have relatives up in the San Juan Islands and we would boat around. Over the years you hear about smuggling, poaching and oddities. I have many friends who are single via divorce or death and are struggling emotionally and financially. I just thought a good love story and mystery taking place on one of the islands would be good. I like authors who continue their characters and bring in a setting that continues into sequels. Oddly, feet do keep washing up on the shores of Washington State and Vancouver Island.

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

Tracie: Besides enjoying the creative process, I like to have an emotional hurdle my characters must conquer, and I always hope people will feel my message to them about succeeding and overcoming their issues.

Jennifer: Tell us about your previous work.

Tracie: I have always been in a high tech industry of marketing and sales and one of them was for radiation monitoring instrumentation company. Actually, I was the first woman hired in the USA to do this. It was an all men's club, but I answered an ad wanting a Sales Engineer at Hanford, WA and I thought, why not me. I traveled all over Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. This was before Dragon Slayers, and tiny little recording devices, laptops etc. I constantly thought of stories and looked at situations for future writing when I had time. The technical knowledge I gained in this position helped me in research and writing, SLIP INTO the NIGHT.

Jennifer: What other projects do you have coming up?

Tracie: I am currently working on the sequel, bringing in additional characters to Hartz Island that also have emotional issues to tackle. Feet keep washing up on the shores, and I feel this mystery needs to be solved.

Jennifer: If SLIP INTO the NIGHT were a movie, who would act in it?

Tracie: I've been thinking about this a lot. Since Kip is in his late 40's, I am thinking George Clooney. So the actress opposite of him needs to be in her middle 40's, auburn hair, somewhat vulnerable and Tom Hanks' wife, Rita Wilson, comes to mind.

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

Tracie: If you'd asked me this question back in the summer I would have said getting it published. SItN has a couple of genres to it, and agents kept saying, "is it a romance or is it a mystery?" My answer was both. With the E-Readers, my style of writing is perfect because there isn't that 1/4th of inch shelf space no longer available at the box book stores. Now that I am published, I will say marketing. You have to be innovative to reach your audience and the old way of selling doesn't exist.

Jennifer: Tell us a little about your non-writing life.

Tracie: My husband I live in northern Illinois on the Fox River that feeds into the Chain-of-Lakes, so I do get my boating fix in the summer. Our daughter has "left the building" and is finding her way in life. I miss the mountains of PNW but I have found my nature niche in our area called the Chain-of-Lakes State Park, and that is where I take my border collie, Ozzy and my cock-a-poo Tibby running/walking/hiking every day - even in the cold weather. The mornings out at the park clear my mind and I think of the day. It is a beautiful spot!

Thanks for reading our interview with Tracie Ingersoll Loy! To get in on the drawing for a $10 Starbucks or Musa Publishing gift card, leave a comment on this entry by midnight PT on February 28. The winner will be announced on February 29!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Author Interview: M.M. Rumberg

Our interview guest today is M.M. Rumberg, author of Codename: Snake and Sting of the Geisha. Mr. Rumberg will also appear this week on the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show. Listen live Wednesday, February 22, at 3:30 Pacific Time or an time after the show at

Author Interview with M.M. Rumberg

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

M.M. Rumberg: I have two websites: and You can go to these sites and read the first chapter of each book and contact me through the sites. My bio is also posted. My books are available on paper and as an ebook; at;; Smashwords;; and They can also be ordered through any bookseller.

Jennifer: Tell us about your book.

M.M. Rumberg: CodeName: Snake is a military thriller. It's about a Jewish assassin operating in Berlin during WWII. A boy's family is arrested and sent to a camp and killed. The boy escapes via the underground to England, is trained by the SAS (at that time, the greatest fighting group in the world) to be an assassin and sent back to Berlin. His mission: to kill Nazi officers.

Along the way he meets up with the man who sent his family to their death.

There is a final confrontation, but it¹s not one you expect.

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

M.M. Rumberg: To have readers contact me and tell me how much they enjoyed (or didn't enjoy) the story. CodeName: Snake won a national writing award. When the contest administrator called to congratulate me, it was 8 PM here in Sacramento and she was located in NY where it was 11 PM. I commented on her long working hours and then she said the most wonderful thing: ³I was going to call you earlier, but I started to read your novel and couldn¹t put it down.² Now that¹s what a writer wants to hear about his work. Of course, I immediately proposed, butÅ 

Jennifer: Tell us about your previous work.

M.M. Rumberg: I have numerous management articles published, but the high-octane thriller novels were just bursting to get out, so I concentrated on them and it¹s been a most satisfying and rewarding decision. My writing has become a passion and if I miss a day of writing I feel frustrated and need to make up for it. I also love to write short stories and several of them have received national recognition.

Jennifer: What other projects do you have coming up?

M.M. Rumberg: My second novel: Sting of the Geisha, another high-octane thriller, was recently published. It's about a beautiful and erotic female serial killer who trained as a Geisha in Japan, and is being pursued by the FBI and local detectives. As with all my stories, the ending has a slight twist. It doesn¹t end exactly as you¹d expect.

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

M.M. Rumberg: I'm a member of the Suburban Sacramento Writers Club and the Sacramento Writers Group. I also work with several critique groups. It¹s great for networking and being with these talented people helps me craft my stories. I treasure the friendships that develop. These people have been extraordinarily helpful and I recommend that all writers join a club and critique group.

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

M.M. Rumberg: I love to read and write the high adventure novels and thrillers. I want every story I write to be a page-turner. I feel that if the reader finds it easy to put the book down, I haven¹t done my job as a storyteller. I want my stories to grab you and never let go, and when you finish the story I want the reader to say "WOW! That was good!"

I also think it¹s important to read stories and identify their flaws as well as their beautifully crafted scenes. I learn from both.

Jennifer: Who is your favorite author of all time, and why?

M.M. Rumberg: There are two that stand out: Leon Uris and James Patterson. Both are extraordinary craftsmen. They do excellent research and are absolutely great storytellers. It¹s my writing dream to be in their class.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Book Review: The Girl Who Remembered Horses, by Linda Benson

The Girl Who Remembered Horses, by Linda Benson

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 310 KB
Publisher: Musa Publishing (November 2, 2011)
ASIN: B00635UBW8
Rating (1 to 5 *): *****

Book Review: The Girl Who Remembered Horses

After the Dark Days, the people of the world revert back to a nomadic state, living much like Native Americans did before America was colonized. However, there are some differences. For one, they gather goods left over from before the devastation to trade, and they don't remember horses. In fact, few have even seen them. That is, except for Sahara, but she only sees them in her dreams.

One day, a band of horses crosses her clan's path, and when her clan reaches the village where they trade their goods, Sahara learns that a band of horses lives nearby. She is also given a book on horse training, although almost no one knows how to read anymore. It is then that she realizes her dreams could come true, and that horses are not for hunting, but for sharing their lives with humans. She sets out to claim one of her very own to prove the entire clan wrong about these beautiful creatures, but can she overcome each setback and convince the clan that horses can be trained?

Linda Benson has ventured into what may well be completely unknown territory: a post-apocalyptic horse story. The story line is unique, the imagery powerful, and the characters ring true. There is even a subtle statement here about horse slaughter, a very touchy subject that Benson handled well. I thoroughly enjoyed the escape into Sahara's world and hope Benson writes a sequel to The Girl Who Remembered Horses.

Monday, February 13, 2012

This Week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book: Gigi Amateau

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book, Jennifer will interview Gigi Amateau, author of Chancey of the Maury River. Listen live on Wednesday at 3:30 Pacific Time or hear the recording any time after the show at

On the night that Chancey is born, a "fire star" races across the sky, a signal that a great horse has entered the world. But it will take many years of slights and hardships before Chancey will believe that the prophecy is truly meant for him. First he must find a home at the Maury River Stables and a girl named Claire who needs him as much as he needs her.

Learn more about Gigi Amateau at

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Author Interview: Amber Garza

Our interview today features Amber Garza, author of PROWL.

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

Amber Garza: My blog address is:

You can purchase my book at Amazon:

Or at my estore:

Or Barnes and Noble online:

Or if you live in the Sacramento area you can pick up a copy of the book at The Cove bookstore in Lakeside Church. In the Vacaville area it is sold in the Mission Church's bookstore.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your book.

Amber Garza: It’s a young adult thriller about a seventeen-year-old girl named Mackenzie Smith who lives in Washington with her mom. When she is sent to her grandma’s house in Folsom, California, for the summer she is fully prepared for the longest, most boring three months of her life. But then she meets Wesley. He tells her exactly what she wants to hear and has information about her past no one else knows. It’s almost like he can read her mind.

Only Wesley isn’t who he seems.

By the time Mackenzie discovers his true identity it may be too late. She’s in too deep and he won’t let her go. Now Mackenzie must call on the strongest power of all in order to save her life.

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

Amber Garza: I’m currently working on the sequel to PROWL called ENTICE. It’s scheduled to be released by Summer 2012.

Jennifer Walker: Do you write full time? If so, tell us how you manage it. If not, what is your day job?

Amber Garza: No, I have worked at Lakeside Church in Folsom, California, for the past four years.

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

Amber Garza: I usually start with a character I want to write about it and some sort of plot idea. I write the first couple of chapters and then sit down to sketch out an outline. After another couple of chapters my characters usually throw a few surprises in the mix, and I have to go back and rewrite the outline again.

For me the outline is more of a map to guide me to the end, but I know I will take many detours before I get there.

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

Amber Garza: I have a wonderful husband named Andrew and two kids – Eli, who is 12, and Kayleen, who is nine. They keep me pretty busy with sports and extracurricular activities. Outside of writing, my other hobby is singing which I do on a regular basis at Lakeside Church. We don’t have any pets because between working, writing, singing and all the kids activities I have no time to take care of one.

Jennifer Walker: Is your famly supportive of your writing?

Amber Garza: Very. I have been serious about my writing since 2006 and over the years my husband often takes the kids out so I can have time alone to write. He also helps pay for conferences and classes I attend to hone my craft. When I participated in the 3-Day-Novel contest last year, my kids kept a running tally of what page I was on all weekend on a white board on the fridge. They left me alone for three whole days to work out my novel and celebrated with me at the end of it.

One of the most memorable moments for me was right after PROWL came out, when my son read the book and told me he was proud of me.

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

Amber Garza: I’ve loved the written word since I was a little girl and used to make books out of paper and staples. My imagination has always worked overtime, creating people and worlds in my mind. Recently, I found a paper I wrote in second grade stating that I wanted to be a famous author when I grew up. I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read and write.

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

Amber Garza: I love thrillers and suspense – anything that gets my pulse racing. My favorite books are ones I can’t put down until I turn the very last page.

Jennifer Walker: Who is your favorite author of all time, and why?

Amber Garza: Alice Hoffman. I think her writing is so haunting and enchanting. The way she strings words together is absolutely breathtaking. My favorite book by her is "Blue Diary."

Thanks to Amber for stopping by!

Monday, February 6, 2012

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 M.L. Hamilton, author of Emerald, an epic fantasy, its sequel, The Heirs of Eldon, and the contemporary fiction novel Ravensong. Listen live Wednesday at 3:30 Pacific Time or hear the recording any time after the show at

From M.L. Hamilton: "I am a 20 year veteran of public education, teaching high school English, and while I love my job, I always wanted to be an author. My first and only New Year's Resolution happened in 2009. I resolved to get serious about my writing. I began sending my fantasy novel out to agents and publishers, getting the requisite rejection letters. Finally, a new publishing company, Wild Wolf Publishing in the United Kingdom, took a chance on me and published Emerald in April of 2010. They also published my second novel, The Heirs of Eldon in the summer of 2011, and are currently reviewing my third fantasy, The Star of Eldon. Also in the summer of 2011, I published my first contemporary novel, Ravensong, and this past month, I published my first murder mystery, Potrero Hill. Writing continues to be the ultimate escape and I am so excited to see where my next adventures take me."