Author Interview #316: Olympia Heights: The Pantheon by Amy Leigh Strickland

September 17, 2014

Our interview is with Amy Leigh Strickland author of Olympia Heights: The Pantheon (4.4 stars, 31 reviews, $0.00 – FREE). A brief book description before the interview: They say that lightning never strikes the same place twice, but for Zach Jacobs, that just isn’t true. It’s hard enough being seventeen– juggling school, football, friends, and teenage romance– but Zach’s about to find out just how complicated it can get when he begins to suspect that maybe he was the lightning. Teenage woes hardly seem significant when you’ve got lightning shooting from your fingertips and a couple of murderous Titans trying to settle an ancient score.

Author Interview with Amy Leigh Strickland

1.   Give me the elevator pitch: what is your book about?

Olympia Heights: The Pantheon is the first book in the Olympia Heights series. It’s about a group of teenagers in Miami, Florida who find out that they are the Greek gods reborn into mortal bodies. They have to juggle their school work, their social lives, and attacks from vengeful titans all while figuring out who they are and why they’re here.

2.  What makes this series special to Young Adult readers?

When teens reach out to me to tell me what they liked the most about Olympia Heights, it tends to be their connections to the characters. It’s a large cast, and every character was inspired by the traits of their Theoi identity, making them a very diverse group of personalities. There are lots of different characters to relate to. Different people latch on to different characters.

On the surface this is a series about teenagers shooting lightning, talking to animals, seeing ghosts, lifting cars, etc. Beneath that are the universal YA themes: discovery, responsibility, and identity.

3.  Which of your characters do you most relate to? Read more »

Author Interview #314: Stone of Destiny by Mary L. Ball

September 10, 2014

Our interview today is with inspirational author Mary L. Ball. Her books include Escape to Big Fork Lake (4.4 stars, 38 reviews) and Stone of Destiny (4.6 stars, 21 reviews).  The end of fall promises a new release, Redemption in Big Fork Lake.

In addition, this autumn brings another Christian themed book titled, Postmark from Heaven.

Before we get to the interview, here is a brief description of Stone of Destiny.

Taylor has given up on everything but her work. After becoming the youngest CEO of Mugful’s Beverage Company, she believes life is complete–until her grandmother asks her to oversee the renovations of the family home, in addition to searching for a missing heirloom.

Her first contact with what she believes is an insignificant ring, lost for fifty years, sends her life spinning. Taylor experiences strange. Unexpected feelings surface that she doesn’t understand. Thoughts that should remain unspoken are voiced.

Taylor’s emotional journey begins, testing a heart as cold as the ring itself and forcing her to question everything she believes.

Is this a fairytale, or simply her soul reaching out for a different world–a life she can only find through faith and a divine trust in God?

1. What inspired you to write Stone of Destiny?

My oldest grandson likes to read YA fantasy. One day while seeing him read. I thought, “I need to write a novel about spiritual wonders and remarkable things that happen when we put our trust in the Lord.”  Over the next week Stone of Destiny was born.

2. What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story? Read more »

Author Interview #312: Double Blind by Tiffany Pitts

September 3, 2014

Our interview is with Tiffany Pitts author of Double Blind (4.8 stars on 42 reviews). Before we get to the interview a brief book description: Delilah Pelham’s brother, Paul, is missing. She should probably be worried about that but honestly, he’s been in trouble since the day he learned the words “trust me.” In fact, if it weren’t for his roommate, Carl, she would gladly leave him to his fate.

Carl is a good guy, even if he’s a bit of a dork. Okay, a large slice of a dork. Possibly the entire cake.
But he wants to help, as do his gamer friends; which is how Deli finds herself in the middle of Hong Kong with the King of the Dorks, running from creepy guys with slicked back hair and shiny black guns.

Back at home, Carl’s friends aren’t faring nearly as well. All they had to do was monitor the situation and feed Deli’s cat while she was gone. How could that possibly end in bloodshed?

Interview with Tiffany Pitts

1. When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?

I actually don’t know. I mean that honestly. Until I was like, 32, I didn’t even know what I did counted as writing because I never felt I was ‘born a writer’. I was born a scientist. I grew up a scientist. And all good scientists keep notes. My notes just happened to be more colorful than most. Plus, I always kept a journal.

But then I had a kid and when kids are really tiny they are sort of boring. I mean that with all the love in my heart, I swear. But you can only take so many notes on a tiny (boring) sleeping baby before you reach a point where you just want to talk to someone, anyone really, so long as you get to talk. I wasn’t too picky. I had conversations with the cat. I had conversations with the walls. I had long conversations with myself. Eventually I started writing the conversations down. That turned out to be wicked fun so I kept doing it.

2. What inspired you to write Double Blind? Read more »

Author Interview #310: The Secret of Isobel Key by Jen McConnel

August 27, 2014

Before we get to the interview, a brief description of the series:

Lou is in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. Fresh out of college, she’s unemployed and unsure of herself. But when she gets the chance to escape to Scotland with her best friend, it could be the answer to her quest for self-discovery. The trip is not at all what she expected, especially when her tour guide turns out to be the dreamy historian Brian, and together they embark on a hunt for information about Isobel Key, a woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century. They set out to learn the truth of the condemned witch, but Lou isn’t prepared for the knowledge that awaits her. She must face her own demons if she has any hope of righting the wrongs of the past. Flashing between seventeenth century Scotland and a contemporary romance, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY (4.5 stars, 28 reviews) is a mystery that will please readers of all ages.


Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. A graduate of Western Michigan University, she also holds a MS in Library Science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania.  When she isn’t crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches college writing composition and yoga. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.  Her debut NA novel, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY, was released in 2013 from Bloomsbury Spark, and the sequel, HER SECRET INHERITANCE, is out now. Her YA titles include DAUGHTER OF CHAOS, the first book in the RED MAGIC series from Month9Books.

1.  When did you start writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I got serious about it toward the end of college. Probably because I’ve always been an avid reader, it made sense that I realized I had stories I wanted to tell, and the summer after my first year of teaching, I started to write my first novel. It’s currently living in a drawer, not likely to see the Read more »

Author Interview #308: Demon Inhibitions by Gary Starta

August 20, 2014

Our interview today is with Gary Starta, author of the Caitlin Diggs series title: Demon Inhibitions (SCI FI, 4.0 stars, 34 reviews).

Before we get to the interview, a brief description of the series:

FBI Special Agent Caitlin Diggs altered by a mysterious crystal and beginning to develop paranormal abilities uses her psychic sense to track a fugitive from her world to an altered universe. Diggs begins to sense the ‘demon’ she is tracking has been crafted, eugenically, but for what end?

When she finds the being’s father is a fringe scientist the puzzle becomes more disturbing. Could the scientist be in league with a demon hating group in the altered world planning genocide? Diggs’ notion of evil and good is challenged when she finds it may the humans of this world who are most devious and dangerous. But a singer, with the power to curb demon violence, may also be the creation of the scientist and if so, is she an instrument of peace? As Diggs begins to trust this mage she learns the special girl is high on the killer’s hit list merely because of family jealousy. Diggs comes to find families and feelings aren’t very different in a parallel world or whether you are a demon or not.


Author Gary Starta weaves multiple sub-genres into this story, including paranormal (witches-demons-off in the backstage, lycans and vamps) and science fiction (parallel universes, doppelgangers, alternate dimensions), plus mystery-but keeps it all balanced as he juggles several subplots and many characters. You can find Demon Inhibitions on Kindle at a sale price.

1.  What was unique about the setting of the book and how did it enhance or take away from the story?

The unique setting was the parallel universe my protagonist Agent Caitlin Diggs finds herself relocating to Read more »

Author Interview #306: At the End of the Line by Kathryn Longino

August 13, 2014

Our interview today is with Kathryn Dionne, author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller, The Eleventh Hour Trilogy:

and her children’s book, Derek the Fireless Dragon. Her most recent work, At the End of the Line (4.8 stars, 54 reviews), coauthored with Abby L. Vandiver under their pen name, Kathryn Longino, is also an Amazon #1 Best Seller.

Before we get to the interview,

And here is a description of At the End of the Line:

A wrong number, and a cry of desperation at the end of the line, sparks a long distance friendship between two women who’ve never met. Through fourteen years of trouble and heartache from a stagnant domestic life, the struggle for civil rights, and the stigma of interracial relationships, a bond forms between the two that changes both of their lives forever.

It’s 1958, a time when women and Negroes are deemed second-class and are being second-guessed. From there arises the perfect storm for change, and the perfect time for an unlikely friendship.

Beatrice “Beanie” Peterson, forced to marry at fifteen and live with two sister wives, six children, and an abusive husband twenty years her senior, is looking for a way out.

Adeline “Liddie” Garrison, friend of Jack Kennedy, wife of a prominent Boston business man, and resident of Beacon Hill has already found her way in.


1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I knew when I was 8 years old I wanted to write. I remember telling my father that I wanted to be a writer. He replied, Read more »

Author Interview #304: What She Saw by Sheila Lowe

August 6, 2014

Sheila Lowe is the award-winning author of the Forensic Handwriting Mysteries series. Like her fictional character Claudia Rose in the Forensic Handwriting Mysteries series, she’s a real-life forensic scientist who testifies in handwriting-related cases. She holds a Master of Science in psychology and is licensed to provide continuing education for marriage and family therapists. On the nonfiction side, Sheila authored the internationally acclaimed The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis and Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous, as well as Handwriting Analyzer software. She lectures around the country and is often called on for celebrity handwriting analysis by outlets such as Time, Teen People, Tiger Beat, Us, Mademoiselle, numerous Bar Association magazines (that’s legal, not drinking!), and many others.

You write the Forensic Handwriting Mysteries, but What She Saw (4.2 stars, 300 reviews) is a standalone. Why did you choose to write it?

While I was writing Last Writes, my editor at Penguin left to get married and the new editor wasn’t interested in continuing my series. My then-agent said that another publishing house was unlikely to take a series in the middle, so, my solution was to write a standalone story of suspense that I hoped she could sell. I gave my series characters an important, but secondary, role so fans of Claudia Rose and Joel Jovanic would not forget them. What She Saw is a story that I’ve wanted to write for a long time, addressing two areas that have always fascinated me. The plight of Read more »

Author Interview #302: Season’s End by Will North

July 30, 2014

Our interview is with Will North author of Season’s End (4.2 stars, 45 reviews). Before we get to the interview a brief summary of Season’s End.

Every summer for generations, three families intertwined by history, marriage, and career have spent “the season” at their beach cottage compounds on an island in Puget Sound. Today, Martha “Pete” Petersen, married to Tyler Strong, is the lynchpin of the “summer people.” In childhood, she was the tomboy every girl wanted to emulate and is now the mother everyone admires. Colin Ryan, family friend and the island’s veterinarian, met Pete first in London, years earlier, when she visited his roommate, Tyler. He’s loved her, privately, ever since. Born in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen, son of a bar owner, he’s always been dazzled by what he sees of the sun-kissed lives of the summer people.

But this summer, currents strong as the tides roil: jealousies grow, tempers flare, passions clash. Then, on the last day of the season, a series of betrayals alters the combined histories of these families forever.

Author Interview with Will North

1.    When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?  There were three. It all began with an eighth-grade essay about Longfellow’s epic poem Evangeline.  The day the graded papers came back I didn’t get mine and the teacher stood before the class and said, “As you know, I give grades for both style and content. I have here a paper to which I’ve given a third A for something I cannot begin to explain to you.”  That’s when I knew there was something I could do better than others. I got degrees in English Read more »

Author Interview #300: Lost:Cinderella’s Secret Diaries by Ron Vitale

July 23, 2014

Our interview today is with Ron Vitale, author of Lost: Cinderella’s Secret Diaries (fantasy, 4.2 stars, 53 reviews, $0.00) and its sequels, Stolen and Found.

Before we get to the interview, here’s a brief description of the series:

What happened to Cinderella after she married the Prince? Set in the late 1700s as Napoleon is rising to power, Cinderella embarks on a journey of self-discovery as she tries to come to terms with her failed marriage and her inability to have a child. Torn between the Queen’s insistence that she try all means necessary to conceive and her own desires, she agrees to travel to Paris to consult with a witch to help her become pregnant. Her journey leads her to find her long lost Fairy Godmother and aids her to solve the mystery behind her mother’s death. Yet the Fey Lord, the Silver Fox, also takes notice in her and her world is suddenly turned upside down.

The Cinderella’s Secret Diaries series will challenge your notions of the fairy tale and whether “happily ever after” truly exists. Reviewers note that the series is not a “sweetness and light” Cinderella story, but it’s dark and permeating, taking readers on a very unexpected and imaginative adventure. New Age, historical fantasy and action-adventure readers will enjoy this dark and intriguing journey as it shows Cinderella’s growth after she marries the Prince.


Ron Vitale turns the fairy tale on its head with a dark and twisted look into the private life of Cinderella and her struggle to find happily ever after in a world of magic and politics. Drawing rave reviews for its creepy and original imagining of the Cinderella fairy tale, Lost: Cinderella’s Secret Diaries, and its sequels, Stolen and Found, are available in print and e-book through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and on Apple’s iBooks.

1. When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?

I wrote my first story when I was about 9 years old. I remember reading the story to my friends during our lunch break at school and being amazed at how they were really interested in what would happen next. With my circle of friends around me, one of our teachers, who was a nun, came up to us, thinking that we were doing something bad. Read more »

Interview #298: The Legend of Juan Miguel by Anna Sargent

July 16, 2014

Equal parts history and mystery, romance and hero’s journey, The Legend of Juan Miguel is a Texas tale with more twists and turns than a country back road. Anna K. Sargent revisits Texas in the late 19th century, that famed era when the West began and Texas was in a border conflict with Mexico. What makes this story different is that the hero is Hispanic. Sargent asks us to cast aside what we think we know about identity and the history and mythology we’ve been taught. Ride along with the young Juan Miguel as he uses every guise and all the courage he can muster to win back his fortune, his good name, and his lost love. Deprived unjustly of his birthright by ambitious Anglo ranchers, the son of the wealthiest Tejano in Texas is spurred on by a forbidden passion for the woman who is married to one of those ranchers. Handsome, loyal, brave, and cunning, this caballero reinvents himself over and over and becomes a Hispanic hero for the ages.

The author

Anna K. Sargent writes historical fiction set in Texas’s colorful past, and yet her books are really about identity—who we are and how we became who we are. Anna was well into a successful career as a writer and editor. Then one day, life “threw a craving” on her, as they say in Texas. Her spirit wanted to do what her spirit wanted to do. She wanted to write historical fiction, because she loves history and she loves stories and she loves Texas. She had worked as a journalist for years, starting out as a newspaper reporter. She went on to be the editor of two newspapers and later was a publicist, communications director, and magazine editor. Through it all she had an abiding passion for the place of her heart and its history.

1 When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?

I started writing as a child, winning poetry contests and American Legion essay contests. In college, a professor who Read more »

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