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Friday, February 16, 2018

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Heather Wallace


I met Heather in New York City while attending the EQUUS Film Festival. We clicked over our shared loves of horses, books, and writing. I found Heather bright and engaging with a fresh perspective on many issues that vex horse lovers. I think you'll find her take interesting as well.

1.) Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Yes of course! If someone says otherwise they would be lying. For me I find that time is always working against me. There is always something else demanding my attention. I own two businesses, and am a full time mother and wife. Balancing my writing, photography, animal massage clients, and of course riding my horse does not leave much free time during the day. Once my children are home it’s full throttle ahead for activities and being “mommy”.
I’m lucky to be hyper organized and have a flexible schedule so I try to write at least a few hours a day. It’s a good thing I’ve learned to tune others out because there isn’t a lot of quiet in my house.
That being said, I would love to have a Time Turner because the days go by faster than I would like. I just never seem to get as much done as I want to! I’m pretty sure most working parents feel the same way.

2.) What do your fans mean to you?
I’m still a new author having published only one book, and working on my second. Fans and readers are everything to an author, and especially to me. I spent my life writing stories but being too afraid to share them for fear they wouldn’t be good enough. Fear of rejection can be a powerful thing. My first blog post I was nauseated and only comforted by the thought that perhaps no one would read it. But of course I feared that as well. The same goes for my books.
To have someone buy my book is amazing. But to have them go out of their way to write an Amazon review or to tell me how much it made them laugh or relate? That’s priceless. We live in a world where everyone is accessible. Social media and the internet can have a way of bringing people together and making the world seem small. To focus on the positive and tell an author their writing means something? There is no greater compliment. All writers know that words matter. So for all you fans out there- thank you.

3.) Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I honestly couldn’t tell you about the first story I ever read. But it must have been amazing because I’m a lifelong reader and have been since my earliest memories. To this day I love getting lost into the world contained in books.  To read the words on the page is one thing. But to become part of the story? Visualizing it in your own head. Writing is a symbiotic partnership between author and reader. One cannot exist without the other. And each reader may learn something new or create something different in their minds from another reader of the same text. That, is the truest form of magic.

4.) What motivated you to become an indie author?
Confession: I am a bit of a control freak. While I love the idea of working with a publisher, I have a clear picture of how I want my books to look and feel. Self publishing really called to me because while there is a learning curve, I have complete creative control. Yes, there are limitations such as access to professionals with experience in design and marketing, but the mistakes are mine and mine alone as are the successes.
Now that is not to say I would never consider working with a publishing company. I’d like to experience that first hand as well. But knowing that I’ve created something from start to finish gives me a sense of immense satisfaction.

5.) How did you come up with the idea for your book?
First hand experience! As a horse crazy girl I would find it crazy when other equestrians would cancel their lessons last minute. After all, I was always looking for more time in the saddle. I decided to write a blog post for Bridle & Bone about all the crazy excuses we tell ourselves and our trainers for why we can’t ride. I asked my fellow equestrians on social media for some excuses they had used and the responses absolutely poured in. Each was funnier than the last. So I decided to turn it into a short and sassy book, Equestrian Handbook of Excuses. To my surprise and excitement it became a 2017 Literary Selection for the Equus Film Festival!
I’m working on my next book, Confessions of a Timid Rider, to be published later this year. It’s based on the most popular series of my blog which serves as a personal diary of sorts. You see, I’m a returning adult equestrian with a lot of self-deprecation and fear of injuring myself in front of my children. I’m extremely hard on myself and think way too much. But my passion for horses is greater than my fear and I keep pushing myself. Make sure to stay tuned for it’s publication. It’s for every woman who was afraid to do something but didn’t let that stop her.

6.) Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas.
Often I find story ideas come to me while I’m doing something like driving the car, or riding my horse. Then I can’t think of anything else until I get it down in writing! Last night I woke up with a great opening line for a freelance article I’m working on. It’s like a little voice in my head that won’t stop talking until I start writing. Is that normal? Probably not, but I’d like to think it’s inspiration rather than something more alarming.

7.) Where is your favorite place to write?
I absolutely cannot write at my desk. I try and it’s just so uncomfortable. So often I will find myself writing on my sofa, with my two rescue dogs trying to use me for a pillow. It’s so much more comfortable even if sometimes I have to move a furry head off my laptop keyboard.

8.) Tell us about your horse(s) and how horses influence your writing.
This is such a loaded question! It’s taken me 40 years to have my own horse. Much of my writing the last year has been about my burning desire to have my own horse and the connection that I dreamed of having. As of January this year I now have Ferrous in my life. He’s an 11 year old Welsh pony cross and he’s basically that much sought after unicorn. At 14.2hh not only can I ride him but so can all three of my daughters. He’s quiet and forgiving enough to walk/trot with 6 year olds and athletic enough to go into a frame and jump with me. He’s not hard to look at either, being a red roan and full of personality.
Going forward with my writing I expect my passion will remain. But now rather than taking care of horses that are not mine, I have first-hand knowledge of horse ownership myself. I’m sure this will give me a lot more experience and perspective that I can use in my writing. More, I hope that having my own horse will help inspire more confidence in the saddle.

Links: 







Bio: 
Heather Wallace is a Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist (ESMT),  Certified Canine Massage Therapist (CCMT), and Aromatherapist. An overachiever by nature, Heather is always seeking to learn more to help animals of all kinds. As the writer and photographer for her blog, Bridle & Bone, Heather is working diligently to reveal to the world the benefits natural therapies for animals.  Heather has written for a number of publications including Sidelines Magazine, Holistic Horse Magazine, Good Dog Magazine, and Equine Info Exchange. Her first book, Equestrian Handbook of Excuses was a 2017 Literary Selection for the Equus Film Festival and she is busy working on her second book, Confessions of a Timid Rider, due to be published in 2018. 

Subscribe to Heather's mailing list at www.heatherwallace.us so you receive news and special offers.









BIO: Heather Wallace is a Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist (ESMT),  Certified Canine Massage Therapist (CCMT), and Aromatherapist. An overachiever by nature, Heather is always seeking to learn more to help animals of all kinds. As the writer and photographer for her blog, Bridle & Bone Heather is working diligently to reveal to the world the benefits natural therapies for animals.  Heather has written for a number of publications including Holistic Horse Magazine, Good Dog Magazine, and Equine Info Exchange. Her first book, Equestrian Handbook of Excuses was a 2017 Literary Selection for the Equus Film Festival and she is busy working on her second book, Confessions of a Timid Rider, due to be published in 2018. You can follow her on social media @bridleandbone or at www.bridleandbone.com.

Friday, February 9, 2018

LAUNCHED: DEADLY SOLUTION by Keenan Powell

I "met" Keenan because we share the pages of SNOWBOUND: Best New England Crime Stories anthology published by Level Best. Her story, the Banshee of North Adams, struck a chord in my heart. Banshee is an Irish ghost, so I knew we shared an Irish connection. (Banshee was also the name of my first pony, but that's a story for another day.)

Level Best has expanded to publishing full length mysteries and I'm so thrilled that Keenan is among their first releases. It's a sign of success for both author and publisher to have quality on both sides of the publishing equation!

I know you'll love meeting Keenan and getting to know her stories.


Debut: Deadly Solution by Keenan Powell

Thanks for inviting me to Out of the Fog, Connie! I’m excited about the release of my debut, DEADLY SOLUTION, by Level Best on January 23, 2018 and the warm reception it is receiving.  

DEADLYSOLUTION a contemporary legal thriller set in Anchorage Alaska. The protagonist, Maeve Malloy, has recently opened a private criminal defense practice and is asked to take over a case of a homeless man accused of murder when the prior attorney commits suicide.

The book is the first in a series introducing Maeve and her investigator, Tom Sinclair. I was moved to write it when I trip across a little-known law, to wit: the medical examiner has the authority to declare the cause of death without doing an autopsy and to dispose of (cremate) the remains within seventy-two hours. So, who’s to say he’s right?

We often hear: “Write what you know.”  I, in fact, was a young female criminal defense attorney in private practice aided by one curmudgeon investigator who floated in and out of the office at will.  I write about what it’s like to be a female trial attorney in a man’s world, what it’s like to be in sole practice not knowing how you’re going to make next month’s rent, and what it’s like to believe desperately in your client’s case yet face the very strong possibility that justice will miscarry.





Less than a year after drinking sidelined her career as a public defender in Anchorage, Alaska, Maeve Malloy is asked to defend an Aleut Indian accused of beating another homeless man to death. With no witnesses to the crime and a client who claims to have no knowledge of the night of the murder due to a blackout, the case is stacked against them.

As Maeve works to maintain her sobriety, she and her investigator Tom Sinclair search for answers in homeless camps, roadside bars, and biker gang hangouts. When they uncover more than a few people with motives all their own for wanting the victim dead, they are determined to prove their client's innocence before he is sentenced to a life behind bars for a crime he swears he didn't commit.

When Maeve and Tom discover there may be a link to an unusually high number of deaths among the homeless community, the search is on for a killer hunting among the most vulnerable members of society.   

Find the book on Amazon 

About the author

Keenan Powell was born in Roswell, New Mexico, several years after certain out-of-towners visited. Her first artistic endeavor was drawing, which led to illustrating the original Dungeons and Dragons when still in high school.

A past winner of the William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic grant, her publications include Criminal Law 101 in the June 2015 issue of The Writer magazine and several short stories. She writes the legal column, Ipso Facto, for the Guppies’ newsletter, First Draft, and blogs with the Mysteristas. Several of her short stories have been published in anthologies.

She lives, and practices law, in Anchorage, Alaska. When not writing or lawyering, she can be found riding her bike, hanging out with her Irish Wolfhound, studying the concert harp, or dinking around with oil paints.

Visit Keenan at: www.keenanpowellauthor.com




Saturday, February 3, 2018

My Russian House Guests

Twenty-five years ago I hosted two bankers from Russia to live in my home during an exchange program supported by the Boston bank I worked for. Oleg was a suave and savvy twenty-something from Moscow. Boris was a gray-haired fireplug of a man from Vladivostok. They were honored to be selected to come here to learn about the American banking system.
Their day life was filled with meetings and tours of banking back room operations of check clearing and reconciliation. Free time was dedicated to seeing Boston's historical sights. They joined my husband and I for dinner most nights. Great night life for Boris was glass of fine wine, thick steak, and a leisurely conversation with my husband--and yes, I felt the proverbial pat on my pert feminine head when I expressed an opinion to Boris or tried to enter said leisurely conversation. Great night life for Oleg would have been spent at D.B.'s Golden Banana, a strip joint north of Boston, but, well, my hosting manners could only stretch so far.
With the recent news swirling around Russia, I find myself thinking of our conversations and wondering if our shared experience provides any insight into current events. 
For Boris dismissing my involvement as anything more than a cute little tour guide, I chalked up his chauvinism to a generational and cultural divide. I got a kick out of his shock when, toward the end of his stay, he learned I hold a doctorate in law. Even with his limited English, his old world manners clearly expressed his respect. He witnessed my professional life as an accomplished cash manager at my bank, and he saw my personal life as a working mom, engaged in my community, and in a marriage of mutual support. I could see him take in what being an American woman meant. I don't know what the lives of Vladivostok women look like, but I had the sense it was not as multi-faceted as the lives of American women.
My most vivid memory of Boris came when he wanted to buy a gift for his wife. I took him to the jewelers building in downtown Boston. He sized the diamond ring for his wife by placing the ring on his sausage-shaped thumb. I can only imagine the woman attached to hands that such a ring would fit. My stature with that jeweler was forever sealed when Boris pealed off a wad of hundreds to pay the ring and matching bracelet. 
But it was my interactions with Oleg that I think about the most these days. I remember him reading articles in the Wall Street Journal and asking questions about credit card fraud that populated the news then. I had the feeling my answers were logged away as more "how to" than "how to avoid."  He insisted on coming with me on errands to a grocery store and marveled at the lack of lines and the stocked shelves, so much so we had to stop at another to satisfy himself that my grocery store was not a fluke or a set up. He was impressed that a whole store was devoted to health and personal care, and we spent several hours one day at a local CVS store while he and the pharmacist walked the aisles in search of pills and tonics for Oleg's extended family. At Filene's Basement, he bought multiple pairs of new underwear and immediately threw out his old.
I had a lot of fun with Oleg. We sailed on a friend's boat out of Gloucester Harbor. After scoring a pair of roller blades at a local flea market, he and I bladed around quiet neighborhood streets. I saw sailing, knick-knacks, and suburbs. He saw harbor patrols, police surveillance at the flea market, neighborhood watch signs and town police cruisers. He wondered why Americans felt so free when we were being watched so carefully.
So, what do these memories lead me to in light of recent events? American life has long been the envy of the world. I had the feeling that all those many years ago, my Russian guests had their noses pressed against the glass, peering inside our lives to see what life could hold. They loved their country and were fierce defenders of its government...but still...
What I come away with is that envy is a scary thing. If what I felt from my two guests could fairly be an insight into the mindset of a country, then a green-eyed monster is not to be ignored.

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on partisan attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice:
“In 2016, the Russian government engaged in an elaborate plot to interfere in an American election and undermine our democracy. Russia employed the same tactics it has used to influence elections around the world, from France and Germany to Ukraine, Montenegro, and beyond. Putin’s regime launched cyberattacks and spread disinformation with the goal of sowing chaos and weakening faith in our institutions. And while we have no evidence that these efforts affected the outcome of our election, I fear they succeeded in fueling political discord and dividing us from one another.
“The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s. The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

Monday, January 29, 2018

EVENT: Porter Square Books Women Author Panel






Women authors of Best New England Crime Stories discuss why they enjoy writing female protagonists as murderers. Join Sharon Daynard and Connie Johnson Hambley, with Christine Bagley as Moderator, as they make you laugh - and your skin crawl…

When: Friday, February 2 at 7:00 pm
Where: Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA

Read Christine's "On a Winter's Night", Sharon's "Ghosting Mrs. Muir," and Connie's "Black Ice" in Level Best Books' newest anthology, SNOWBOUND.



Also, treat yourself to WINDWARD featuring Christine's "The Burren," Sharon's "A Glutton for Punishment," and Connie's "Giving Voice."





Friday, January 26, 2018

LAUNCHED! DEEP ZERO by V.S. Kemanis

BOOK LAUNCH: DEEP ZERO by V.S. Kemanis

Thanks for having me back on Out of the Fog, Connie! From the moment I discovered your books and website, I knew that we had a lot in common. We’re both lawyers-turned-authors of crime fiction, who love to create strong female protagonists and throw them into the thick of things!

A lot has happened since December 2015, when I contributed “The Greatest Challenge” to your blog (http://thecharitythriller.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-greatest-challenge-by-vs-kemanis.html). At that time, I had written two novels about prosecutor Dana Hargrove, and now, I’m about to release the fourth standalone novel in the series, Deep Zero.

Dana strives for justice in every case she investigates, juggling the demands of a high-powered legal career with her loyalties to friends and family. She’s a strong and smart woman, but not without her vulnerabilities. I love to challenge her with dilemmas of ethics and conscience, and many of her thorniest problems involve the intersection of career and family. As I said in my earlier blog piece, the biggest challenge in my legal career was to maintain a balance between the personal and the professional, especially when my kids were young. In the Dana Hargrove novels, I’ve taken this theme a step further, mixing Dana’s family and friends into the legal morass, often unwittingly!

The series has taken Dana from her rookie days in 1988 (Thursday’s List), into very different stages of her professional experience and family life (Homicide Chart, 1994, and Forsaken Oath, 2001). In Deep Zero, it’s 2009, and Dana is the newly-elected District Attorney of Westchester County. Dana and her husband, a civil litigation attorney, are raising their two teenage children in the county where Dana is the chief law enforcement official. Things heat up very early in her new administration when she’s hit with a tragic cyberbullying case and other crimes involving teens in the very school district where her own children are enrolled. She comes under fire in the media for her handling of these cases, and even for her personal parenting choices!

After six years and four books, Dana, her family and colleagues, have become a part of my life. It’s a lot of fun having a second family. They’re an interesting bunch, and I hope you get to know them.

Book blurb:
It's one a.m. Do you know where your teenagers are? Prosecutor Dana Hargrove makes it a point to know. But one night, in the dead of winter, she should have known more.

In February 2009, Dana is the newly-elected district attorney of a suburban county north of Manhattan, where she lives with her husband, attorney Evan Goodhue, and their two teenage children. The Great Recession has seen a rise in substance abuse and domestic violence. It's also the era of burgeoning social media, an intoxicating lure for wayward and disaffected teens who find new methods of victimization: a game to some, with no thought of the consequences.
During an arctic cold snap, the body of a high school student is discovered, lodged in the ice floes of the Hudson River. People are crying for justice, but there doesn't seem to be a law that fits. Days later, in one hellish night, Dana's children are sucked into a criminal investigation against several of their classmates, making her a convenient target for community outrage.
In Deep Zero, the fourth standalone legal mystery featuring the dynamic prosecutor, Dana walks the tightrope like never before in her tricky balance between professional ethics and family loyalties.

Author bio:

V.S. Kemanis has had an exciting and varied career in the law and the arts. As an attorney, she has been a criminal prosecutor for county and state agencies, argued criminal appeals for the prosecution and defense, conducted complex civil litigation, and worked for appellate judges and courts, most recently as a supervising editor of appellate decisions. Ms. Kemanis is also an accomplished dancer of classical ballet, modern jazz, and contemporary styles, and has performed, taught and choreographed in California, Colorado and New York.

Short fiction by Ms. Kemanis has been published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, The Crooked Road Volume 3, and several noted literary journals. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America. Her award-winning short fiction is available in four collections, Dust of the Universe, Everyone But Us, Malocclusion, and Love and Crime. Legal mysteries Thursday's List, Homicide Chart, Forsaken Oath, and Deep Zero feature prosecutor Dana Hargrove who, like the author, juggles the competing demands of family with a high-powered professional career in the law.

Links:

Deep Zero on Amazon:

Deep Zero on NetGalley:

Website:

 Author video on YouTube, “The Dana Hargrove Novels”:








Amazon author page:

Goodreads page:

Twitter:

Facebook:


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Ready for the Olympics?

It's always fun and games at the Olympics. Right?

Guess again.

The drama for these Olympic Games in South Korea has almost eclipsed the inspirational stories of the athletes themselves. An unpredictable neighbor with an itchy trigger finger hovering above the nuclear button has a way of capturing our attention.


We want our focus to stay on the athletes, but the sad truth is that history happens. We know world governments are working feverishly to ensure a safe event. We can only imagine the lengths they go to identify, assess, and deal with every threat.

Most of my readers will recall that the last Olympics to be held on U.S. soil was marred by a domestic terrorist. On July 27, 1996, a bomb exploded in Centennial Park in Atlanta, Georgia. Two people died. Over one hundred were injured. The scars from the shrapnel-filled backpack are still on the statue celebrating athletes and on our own hearts. We're were changed. 

We can read newspaper accounts of what happened that day and cringe at the rush to justice that ensnared an innocent man. We can marvel that the manhunt lasted years after the event. We can shake our heads at all we know now and wonder how so much went so wrong and how luck kept much worse from happening.

It's hard for me to write about why I set my books in the time period involving so much strife in Northern Ireland and the United States. History happens and we cannot undo what was done to us or to others. We can keep those touched by horrific events in our prayers in the same way we pray for all others to be safe from harm.

But, after I'm done with my prayers and wishes for a safer world, I write.

I cull history for facts. Some facts fit our world view and make us feel safe. Other facts rock us to our core and make us stare at dark ceilings in the early morning hours. Historical facts make my settings and time periods real. Human nature provides other facts that, when blended into my characters, make evil sadly real.

The Wake takes you to that hot summer night when a bomb exploded at the Summer Olympic Games.

Your imagination will take you even further.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Perfect Gift for a Horse-Loving Reader

I'm about to save your skin with this gift idea.

Do you have an book-loving reader on your list who also loves horses? 

Connie Johnson Hambley's award-winning trilogy is on sale at Amazon.
Buy the whole trilogy for under $20 on Kindle

You can buy all three books for under $20 TOTAL!

Horse Nation's review is here. Yeah. The reviewer LOVES this trilogy. 

"A LITERARY BOMBSHELL
Not only was I riveted and moved by the ending, but I credit book three, The Wake, for bringing me back to the incredible adventure that is reading a genuinely good book.
- Lorraine Jackson, Horse Nation Book Review


Go ahead, buy a last minute gift, save your skin, and reap appreciation from your reader. Oh, and buy a set for yourself. You'll be glad you did.

You can thank me later. 

CLICK HERE FOR KINDLE TRILOGY