Leigh Holland’s Interview with George Bachman

Leigh Holland’s Interview with George Bachman

Today, I’m interviewing George Bachman, author of “Spellcaster”, on my blog. Thanks, George, for the interview!

Thank you for speaking with me.

 Leigh: Tell us a little about yourself.

 I work in the software sector in New York in addition to writing.

Leigh: What inspired you to write Spellcaster? What drew you to Historical Fiction with a paranormal component?

I’ve always wanted to write something on the late Victorian era around the turn of the century, when social attitudes among the English aristocracy were under attack by wealthy Americans trying to penetrate their ranks. I have also always wanted to do a paranormal novel incorporating a whole range of historical magic beliefs such as those practiced by Aleister Crowley and his circle. I thought an alternate reality fantasy novel such as Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale or one of John Crowley’s Aegypt books would be the perfect medium to incorporate all these things.

Leigh: What was the most difficult thing about writing Spellcaster?

Dialogue is the most difficult part of any story, always. Besides that, making the magic believable in a recognizable social milieu.

Leigh: Which writers have inspired you?

Generally, Nabakov, because of his love of language, Cao Xueqin, because of his ability to mix fantasy and reality to make immersive worlds, Calvino, because of his intelligent use of genre, and Austen, because of her genius in creating characters that seem to walk off the page. For this particular story, Helprin because of his haunting magic realism and Crowley because of his inventiveness in mixing history and fiction.

Leigh: How much research did you do for Spellcaster?

Quite a bit. Most of the rituals in the book are historical or have a strong historical basis. I tried to get the social reality as right as I could to make the steampunk elements more believable. The historical background of the Sir Tomas section is how it may have been if a few facts had been different (such as Edward II not inheriting Gascony as a feudal vassal) with many real-life players of that era.

Leigh: What is your writing process like? Do you have a set writing schedule? Do you work from an outline or write the first draft from strict inspiration?

I generally write after work when I’m not doing anything else, for as many hours as I can fit in, no set schedule. I have a very general outline telling me where I’m heading and the major points to hit, not much else. The outline is the initial inspiration which never entirely goes away as I fill in more and more details.

Leigh: What are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about it?

Another historical fantasy, this one set in Renaissance Europe.

Leigh: What book are you currently reading?

Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years.

Leigh: Who designed your book cover?

A very talented artist named Clarissa Yeo, of Yocla Book Designs.

Leigh: What are some of your hobbies?

Travel, reading, Asian cinema, and anime.

Leigh: Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

Facebook: facebook.com/OfficialBachman

Twitter: @OfficialBachman

Amazon Author Page: George Bachman’s Amazon Page

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/childerolandusa

Goodreads: George Bachman at Goodreads

Thank you very much, George, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.

You can find George Bachman’s “Spellcaster” at: Spellcaster.


Spotlight on Alretha Thomas, author of “A Penny For Her Heart”

Leigh Holland’s Interview with Alretha Thomas

I’m excited to have Alretha Thomas, author of “A Penny for Her Heart”, on my blog today! Thank you so much, Alretha!

Leigh: Tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you, Leigh, for featuring me on your blog. I love having the opportunity to share more about myself with your readers. I was born in Oakland and raised in San Francisco. I came to Los Angeles when my mother passed away. I was 14 and she was only 36. That was a pretty rough time for me. However, my faith in God got me through, and I graduated salutatorian of my high school and went on to major in journalism at USC. Upon graduating I realized I really wanted to write fiction versus news copy. I started writing plays for my church and from there they were produced in the Los Angeles area. In 1999, I wrote Daughter Denied, a novel loosely based on my childhood. After unsuccessfully trying to land an agent and a book deal, I self-published in 2008. Fast forward to 2017. I’ve written eleven novels consisting of two series. My Cass and Nick series was picked up and published by Soul Mate publishing. The second series is the Detective Rachel Storme series: Justice for Jessica, Losing Lauren and A Penny For Her Heart.

Leigh: A Penny for Her Heart is set against a political backdrop. What inspired you to choose this backdrop for the book?

When I started the series, I decided each installment would have a distinct backdrop. Justice for Jessica’s backdrop is the world of wealth. Losing Lauren’s backdrop is the world of entertainment and as you mentioned, A Penny For Her Heart takes place within the political arena. I hadn’t planned that book three would be the political book, but the timing worked out well, especially considering all the drama surrounding the 2016 presidential election.

Leigh: How does this book differ or expand upon the first two books of the series?

Each book in the series is told from alternative POVS—Detective Rachel Storme’s and the friend and or relative of the victim. In Penny For Her Heart, unlike the earlier two books, the friend of the victim was in competition with the victim. The latest book also expands on the lives of the secondary characters. I don’t want to give things away, but Cassie, Rachel’s aunt, has a major development in her life. I also introduce the captain of the Buderwood Hills Police Department. He’s referenced in the previous novels, but in Penny For Her Heart, there’s an actual scene where readers will get to meet and hear him. Finally, this book contains more comic relief than the other books, complements of the character Vince Rossi. He’s married to Vanessa Johnson Rossi, Penny’s best friend. Vanessa is the alternative POV in the book.

Leigh: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What drew you to the mystery genre?

I realized I wanted to be a writer in the fifth grade. My English teacher assigned a short story project and I wrote a love story. That begs the question, what did I know about love at ten? LOL! But apparently, I knew a little something because the next day my teacher told us we all had done a great job but that one story stood out. It was mine. I was shocked. She read it aloud and the look on my classmates’ faces was priceless. They were really into it. I knew at that moment I wanted to be a writer. I made what seemed to be a natural segue into mystery. My Cass and Nick series is what I would call romantic suspense. All four books in that series, Married in the Nick of Nine, The Baby in the Window, One Harte, Two Loves, and Renee’s Return, have elements of suspense. In 2014 my first mystery novel was published—Missing Melissa. I was hooked. I love writing mysteries, coming up with red herrings and plot twists. It’s like playing chess.

Leigh: What was your favorite book in childhood? Which books have influenced you the most over the years as an author?

As a child, I loved Sounder by William H. Armstrong. I also read Madeline and Alice in Wonderland. Books in adulthood that have influenced me are novels by the late Bebe Moore Campbell. I also enjoy the works of Terry McMillan, the late Frank McCourt, Jodi Picoult, Gillian Flynn, and James Patterson, to name a few.

Leigh: What are you working on currently? What can you tell us about it?

I’m currently working on a mystery/suspense novel involving a mother and stepdaughter. I can’t say too much about it now, but it’s slated for traditional publishing.

Leigh: How much research do you usually do for a book?

I try to write what I know, so I don’t have to do a great deal of research. You’ll find many of my books have someone who works in investment banking. That’s because I worked as an assistant for over a decade in that industry. I’ve written novels that involved acting and the entertainment industry. I was heavily involved in acting in the 90s and have since returned to the business. Regarding police procedure, I have talked to detectives and I have relied on the internet. It’s amazingly resourceful.

Leigh: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

Leigh, I have learned a lot over the years, much by trial and error. As I mentioned, I majored in journalism. It’s nothing like novel writing. I had no clue when I wrote my first book. My biggest struggle was with structure. I joined writing groups and learned my craft. I’m by no means perfect, but I’ve come a long way. I now have what I call a creative confidence. I trust myself when writing, and I’ve developed a process that allows me to put out a strong product.

Leigh: What do you do to relax? What are some of your hobbies?

I love reading for pleasure. It takes me away. I also enjoy theatre, going to the movies and concerts. Television is really good nowadays, and I have a few favorite shows like—Scandal, Shades of Blue, This is Us and a few others.

Leigh: Where can readers find out more about your work?

Website: http://alrethathomas.com/

Blog: http://alrethathomas.com/index.php/blog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alretha.thomas

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlrethaThomas


Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Alretha-Thomas/e/B005IIRH00/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0


IMDB: Alretha Thomas at IMDB

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2003288.Alretha_Thomas

Thank you very much, Alretha, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.

Thank you for having me, Leigh. It’s been a pleasure.


Bio: Shortly after graduating from USC with a degree in journalism, Alretha soon realized her interest in her major was not heartfelt. Instead of writing news stories, she wanted to write plays and books. Several years later, her church gave her an outlet to fulfill her writing desires through their Liturgical Fine Arts Department wherein Alretha penned twelve theatre pieces—the community response was overwhelming. This led to plays outside of the church, including Alretha’s “One, Woman Two Lives,” starring Kellita Smith (The Bernie Mac Show), directed by four-time NAACP Image Award Best Director recipient, Denise Dowse. The production garnered rave reviews from critics and audiences.
In between plays, Alretha’s first novel, “Daughter Denied,” was launched in 2008 and in 2011, Alretha launched “Dancing Her Dreams Away.” Her third novel, “Married in the Nick of Nine,” was launched in 2012 and spawned a four-book standalone series affectionately known as the Cass & Nick Series. In 2014, Soul Mate Publishing acquired all four books, “Married in the Nick of Nine,” “The Baby in the Window,” “One Harte, Two Loves,” and “Renee’s Return.”
Alretha became an award-winning author in 2014 when she received the Jessie Redmon Fauset Fiction Award for her novel, “Four Ladies Only.” In 2015, her first mystery novel, “Missing Melissa,” was released to rave reviews. In 2016, she embarked upon a new mystery series called The Detective Rachel Storme series. “A Penny For Her Heart” is the third book in the series. “Justice for Jessica,” and “Losing Lauren,” are the first and second books in the series, respectively.

Interview with John David Bethel

Leigh Holland’s Interview with John David Bethel

I’m excited and pleased to announce that today I’m hosting the author of “Blood Moon”, John David Bethel, on my blog. Thanks for being here!

The pleasure is mine.

Leigh: Tell us a little about yourself.

My father was a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State and I spent my younger years overseas. After stops in Germany, Japan and Cuba (we also had six month stints stateside in Honolulu, Norfolk and New York City), we settled in Miami where I went to high school. Following graduation from Tulane University, I worked in Washington, DC for 30 years. I served as a speechwriter and press secretary to various members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. I also worked in the same capacity for the Secretaries of Commerce and Education. After a stint as Associate Administrator with the U.S. General Services Administration, I retired and returned to Miami. I have written and had published two novels; Evil Town, a political thriller and Blood Moon.


Leigh: What inspired you to write “Blood Moon”?

The truth inspired me to write Blood Moon.

The details of the story came to me from Ed DuBois. Ed runs a security firm, Investigators, Inc.in Miami, and had been brought into the case by a mutual friend of Marc Schiller, the true-life victim of the crimes on which Blood Moon is based. Ed read my novel Evil Town and enjoyed it, and when he wanted to explore the possibilities of having a book written about the events, he contacted me.

Initially, Ed wanted a true crime book written to counter the treatment the real story was getting in a movie that was being made of the crime, “Pain and Gain.” Ed was serving as a consultant on the movie and grew disenchanted with the “black comedy” slant being applied to the script. I wrote a treatment of the book but when it became apparent it could not be written and published in time to provide a balance to the movie, that project was abandoned.

I had become intrigued by the crime, especially by the courage of the victim, Marc Schiller, and by Ed’s determination to get the “bad guys.” Schiller’s survival of kidnapping and 30 days in captivity during which he was brutally tortured, and had every single penny of his substantial estate extorted, was a story that was too compelling to ignore. My wheelhouse is fiction so I went to Ed and Marc and asked if they’d mind if I treated the story as fiction, hewing closely enough to the real events to convey the true horror of what Marc endured, and how Ed worked skillfully and tirelessly to solve the crime. Both men agreed and were very supportive, even consenting to write the Foreword (Schiller) and Afterword (DuBois).


Leigh: Can you tell us a little bit about the true crime case the book is based on? How well were you acquainted with the real life people the characters were based upon?

As noted, Schiller – a talented and hardworking entrepreneur – was kidnapped and subjected to 30 days of unspeakable torture during which all his assets were pillaged. When the perpetrators had drained every last penny from his accounts, they attempted to murder him, thought they had succeeded, and went on to kidnap and, unfortunately, murder two other innocents.

DuBois was contacted by Schiller when he was recuperating and hired to find those responsible. Ed had contacts with the Miami Dade Police Department and went to them for assistance only to find disbelief and disinterest on the part of the authorities. They refused to believe the incredible story that DuBois and Schiller told them. In the meantime, Ed had deduced through conversations with Marc that Schiller’s second in command at his company was responsible for putting the plan into effect and managed to collect enough evidence that should have been considered by the police. It wasn’t, and over the course of the ensuing months, two others were victimized and killed.

It was only then that the authorities put two-and-two together and finally arrested the gang.

Over the course of writing the novel, I came to know Schiller and DuBois quite well. I admire the men immensely and dedicated the novel to them.


Leigh: Were there any parts of the book that you edited out at the end? If so, what were they like and why were they edited?

I didn’t edit out anything at the end of the book, but I did carefully edit the descriptions of the torture that was inflicted on Recidio Suarez (the character based on Marc Schiller). I wanted the reader to fully understand what the man was put through, but not describe his treatment in such a manner than might compel them to be put off by the story.

This was a challenge because, believe it or not, the truth is that Marc Schiller suffered more horribly than I described. An example would be the way the perpetrators tried to kill Marc. They drugged him with horse tranquilizer after forcing a full bottle of whiskey down his throat. They put him in his car and filled the rear seat with propane gas tanks before running the car into a telephone pole. After the car exploded into flames, Marc was thrown out because he was not belted into his seat. He struggled to his feet and was spotted by the bad guys who were watching the car burn. They ran him over and were on their way down the road when they saw him again struggle upright. They returned and ran him over a second time and were about to back over once more when they noticed an emergency vehicle approaching the scene and left.

This description is itself PG-rated as you can imagine the damage that was done to Marc. Miraculously, he lived.

I opted for an alternative manner of attempted murder that actually provided me with the title for the novel.


Leigh: What was the most difficult thing for you about writing “Blood Moon”?

Developing the characters of the antagonists was the greatest challenge since I had no experience with creating such sick individuals. I had to go to some pretty dark places to successfully “imagine” their thoughts and describe how they operated in committing the atrocities. It did force me to hone writing skills I had not used before and it helped me to polish my craft. But it wasn’t a lot of fun.


Leigh: Can you share with us a little bit about what project you’re currently working on?

I am working on a new novel, Little Wars. In a way, it is a combination of the political thrillers I have written, like Evil Town, and Blood Moon. It takes place during the final days of World War Two when a small town sheriff finds himself embroiled in a chilling murder case that propels him into a world of wartime profiteering and national politics.

Leigh: What hobbies do you enjoy in your spare time?

Not surprisingly, perhaps, I’m an avid reader. I also enjoy running, which clears my head after hours pounding away on the keyboard.


Leigh: How much do you think the book cover influences readers to select a book? Who did the art for the cover of “Blood Moon”?

A number of readers (and reviewers) tell me that the covers for both Evil Town and Blood Moon attracted them to the novels. Hence, I’d say cover art is very influential as a criteria for selecting a novel.

I do not know the name of the artists but I owe them a debt of gratitude.

Leigh: If you could go back in time and give any advice to your younger writing self, what would it be?

Sit down, plow ahead, and don’t be concerned with the initial words or ideas you put down. All that will be worked out in the long and excruciating editing process. I say this because I was far too concerned early on with getting every word, every sentence, every paragraph, every chapter, etc. perfect first time out of the box.


Leigh: How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Website: www.johndavidbethel.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/inspiredbytruecrime/

Twitter: @betheljd

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/John-David-Bethel/e/B007M27C6Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1498608063&sr=1-2-ent

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/14611583.John_David_Bethel

Other: tps://www.facebook.com/twodogpublishing/

Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview!

Thank you for offering the opportunity to connect with your followers.

Interview with Lucretia Stanhope, author of “Blessedly Bound”

Leigh Holland’s Interview with Lucretia Stanhope

Today I’m happy to be hosting author Lucretia Stanhope on my blog. Thanks for being here, Lucretia!

It is my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Leigh: Tell us a little about yourself.

There is so little to tell really. I am the consummate hermit. Since illness forced me into early retirement I spend my days relaxing and exploring various hobbies. I have a wonderful husband, fabulous daughter, two extraordinary grandchildren, and a pack of dogs. The pack has adopted a cat too, but we don’t tell him he is cat, that upsets him.

Leigh: On your Amazon bio, it says (humorously) you’re from a small town in Kansas that, at times, can be a bit creepy. How much did your home town and the folks in it influence the mood, setting, and characters we find in “Blessedly Bound”?

In some ways, yes. I think the warm welcoming from the ladies like Kathy and Mel are reflective of how we were greeted when we moved here from Orlando. It was certainly a culture shock that might have made its way on the pages. The mood of foreboding in no way reflects small town life, well, not in my experience anyway.

Leigh: The Elemental Witch Trials Series now has 7 books in it. Did you plan on it being a series when you wrote it? What can readers of “Blessedly Bound” expect from the series?

I did plan on it being a series. The funny thing is I planned on it being a cozy mystery series. I was trying to branch out from the horror and dark fantasy I usually write. I think I kept that sort of tone in the first part, but it didn’t end up a cozy series at all as darker elements did find their way into the journey that is Gwen’s life.

I think readers will have to expect the unexpected as they start with a sweet, spell-casting witch in a story that has a cozy mystery feel and are taken to much less sweet places. There is an underlying mood that might let some know the series direction will shift. By part two when vampires get involved, things get darker. The progression takes my lead witch, Gwen, and readers from unassuming beginnings, to witches’ council, vampire tribes, and off realm kingdoms. The underlying theme is a quest for freedom of will as the witches struggle against the vampires, who control everything behind and sometime in the front of the scenes.

Leigh: I see you also have a book out called “Rather Be Fishing”. What can you tell us about this book?

I had so much fun with Rather Be Fishing. In this book, I wanted to let my humor out to play. It’s told in parts rather than chapters, each part being a self-standing story of a call where Mike has to handle a monster. The main character, Mike, is a rough around the edges southern boy, who would rather be doing pretty much anything other than hunting monsters. He says the things most of us think, but know better than to say. In addition to being my exploration in sarcasm, it was a great chance to explore myths surrounding monsters and make up some of my own.

Leigh: What project are you working on currently? What can you tell us about it?

I am working on another paranormal thriller. This one also features a female witch heroine. She finds herself thrown into the middle of a dispute outside her the woods where her coven is located. The issue between dark elves and light elves, is somehow wound up in the coven, and her.

Leigh: How many books have you written? What’s your favorite genre to write in? Do you have a favorite book you enjoyed writing the most?

Published, there are currently nine. I have seven more fully written, in various stages of editing and formatting. I’m not sure I have a favorite genre. I combine genres when I write, but they all have an element of the paranormal to them. Most have some romance, or at least a deep look at relationships that drive the characters.

The book I enjoyed writing the most is Sweet Suffering, part 8 of the Elemental Witch Trials, which will be out September of this year. It was powerfully emotional to write. One part in particular brought tears to my eyes, made my beta reader cry, and even choked up the editor. I leave my soul on display in each book, but I think that one took a piece of my heart as well.

Leigh: What do you enjoy most about writing? What’s difficult for you about writing?

I enjoy the adventure. Watching the story unfold is extremely exciting. I equate the thrill to reading a book. It is my escape to a happy place.

I’m not a fan of all the aspects that are not actually story telling. Editing, formatting, blurb writing, marketing, all the things that stop me from actually sinking into my imagination.

Leigh: What are some of your leisure activities?

I love yarn arts. Crochet gives me hours of enjoyment. I’ve created so much beauty with a little yarn and my crochet hooks. In addition to beautiful blankets and shawls, I’ve also crocheted some pretty cool dolls, Pinhead and Chucky are my favorites. Knitting on the other hand, makes me mad with my lack of skill. I’ve created a lot of piles of torn back yarn. If the weather is nice, I enjoy a day at the range. That is pretty much the only thing that gets me out of the house, aside from the required adult tasks that must be tended to. If the weather isn’t nice my husband and I enjoy gaming. We play a variety of styles from COD shooter types to fantasy RPGs.

Leigh: Coffee. How addicted are you?

Extremely. I always have a pot on. Always. The only thing I consume more of is chocolate.

Leigh: Do you plan your series, or do you go book by book and see where the characters take you?

I never plan. When I try to they always mess it up. In fact, once I get a good idea about the last few chapters I struggle to finish them. It feels like knowing has stolen the adventure and I am ready to move on to the next tale.

Leigh: How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Blog: Lucretia’s Blog

Facebook: I rarely update my fan page it’s easier to send me a friend request or just follow my personal page as I always make book related announcements public. Facebook Page: Lucretia Stanhope

Twitter: @dianas58

Amazon Author Page:  amazon.com/author/lucretiastanhope

Goodreads: Lucretia at Goodreads!

Thank you very much, Lucretia, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.


Thank you for having me. ❤

Interview with Maria Mayer, author of “Crone”

Eerie, Ominous!

Leigh Holland’s Interview with Maria Mayer

Today I’m delighted to have Maria Mayer, author of “Crone”, here on my blog. Thanks for agreeing to be on the author spotlight!

I’m so excited to be a guest on your author spotlight. Thank you so much for having me.

Leigh: Your bio says you’re a Michigan native. Tell us a little about yourself and about Michigan.

I grew up in a suburb just north of Detroit. We witnessed the Big D’s rapid deterioration after two of the three automakers pulled out. That was the beginning of the end, but I do have fond memories of concerts, festivals, incredible fireworks displays, and outdoor ice skating at Hart Plaza, with my mother constantly reminding us ‘not to make eye contact’, ‘don’t open your purse’, ‘put toilet paper on the seat’, you get the idea. When it was still called the Detroit Zoo, we used to go with regularity. Me being an animal lover, I stooped to pet the cute little chipmunk sitting near one of the animal enclosures. My father grabbed my hand just as I was about to pet a giant rat! Hey, I was only 5.

The neighborhood was reminiscent of the burg Janet Evanovich describes in the Stephanie Plum novels – everybody knew everybody, and it was a gossip-cigarette-bourbon fest at the Bingo fundraisers instead of the beauty salons. We lived in a typical middle class, brick, ranch style home complete with creepy basement….where it all began, muhahaha!

Leigh: “Crone” is based on an urban legend in Michigan. What do the legends say about her? Have there been any sightings?

My sister and I always had pajama parties, and part of the festivities in addition to junk food and giggling all night were the story circles. We couldn’t wait to jump into the latest rumors, sightings and shrill screams heard coming from the uninhabitable stretch of woods behind the local elementary school. That despicable hag is real. I’m here to tell you there is something to the legend!

Yes! There have been evil faces in bonfires, but that was before the advent of cell phones. Still, some faces have been captured and can probably even be Googled. There were ominous black shadows and people gone missing after sitting in the cemetery calling to her. The UL goes back more than 6 decades. I referenced true-to-life events and embellished them like any imaginative writer would, lol, but I swear to you I heard the sinister laughing. My whole body went primal and I felt like a small rodent being stalked by a predator. It’s a feeling I can’t shake to this day when I’m alone in the dark.

Leigh: How has your professional and educational background helped you write?

Funny you should ask. I started out like any other aspiring pre-med student, but jumped ship to Pathology, earning a BS degree in Mortuary Science. Freaky me, I soon realized I was more interested in the science and technical end of things. Before long I was assisting then Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Werner Spitz, who was an expert witness in the OJ Simpson trial! Guess who was privy to all the evidence, documentation and court testimony…that’s right! I did a post-secondary training circuit at a huge medical facility in Oakland County, Michigan, where I learned how to perform autopsies. No! Bodies do not sit up randomly or move involuntarily, just in case you wondered. The rest is just my obsession with all things paranormal and a lot of humor to get through life.

Leigh: “Crone:” is the first in the Scarlet St. James series. What do readers have to look forward to as the series continues? Anything you can tell us without giving too much away?

I love the recurring characters in the Scarlet St. James series. Everybody knows that two Seers can’t co-exist for any length of time, right? Dum dum duuum, one of the Seers must go! Since both Scarlet and her 7-year-old niece Olivia have the gift, I had to come up with a solution. I love Scarlet and Crone because both antagonist and protagonist are formidable and fierce in their own right. The next novel has an equally strong female antagonist the readers will not soon forget.

Because Scarlet is a paranormal PI called in on special cases, there is a wealth of eerie, haunting, evil supernatural events ordinary people have experienced that can lead to inexplicable deaths to choose from. Rest assured Scarlet’s support systems, both dead and alive, will not abandon her on her next case. I scanned some of the newspaper obits and wrongful deaths reported in Michigan, where I will base the majority of my stories out of, and let my wild imagination do the rest.

Leigh: Which authors have influenced your writing the most? Do you have a favorite author?

At some point I started following Ken Follett, Robert Ludlum and Patricia Cornwell, back when “following” meant something different. I love the diversity. To be honest, The Thornbirds was my childhood favorite, then I grew up and discovered Michael Slade – by far my biggest influence. The novels had all the elements a horror fan could want, and all were based on actual cases in Canada.

Leigh: Zak, Nick, or Aaron?

Zak man, hands down. All 3 are amazing, but I’ve always had a secret thing for ZB. Too bad he won’t give me the time of day. I gave him a shout out on the Acknowledgements page in my book, offered to send him a free signed author’s copy, reached out to him on Twitter and nothing, lol. Crickets chirping.

Leigh: What TV shows and films do you enjoy?

Of course, I loved Bates Motel and am so disappointed the last season was on Netflix, boo! I’m an avid Columbo fan, and watch Ghost Adventures and Paranormal Lockdown pretty much every weekend. I love Shark Week, am addicted to the Planet Earth series, and don’t laugh – Finding Bigfoot! There are so many undiscovered species, who are we to think we know of every living creature out there? That’s my justification and I’m sticking to it.

Leigh: How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Come to Florida and hang out with me is one option. I’m a pretty private person and lie about my age, height and weight every chance I get, but I do have a Twitter address, FB page, Google profile. I’d stay away from trying to connect with former teachers and bosses, they all hate me, lol. JK not sure if they do or not.

Website: Novels by Maria Mayer

Facebook: CRONE, Book Series

Twitter: @realMariaMayer

Lnkedin: Maria Mayer

Amazon Author Page: Maria Mayer, author of Crone

Maria Mayer (fyi, there are 2 authors with the same name)

Goodreads: Mayer, Maria

Thank you, Maria, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.

It was my pleasure and a true honor. Thank you for the opportunity to connect with your fan base. You have changed my life.

Interview With Sojourner McConnell


Leigh Holland’s Interview with Sojourner McConnell

Today I’m delighted to host the author of “Who’s That in The Cat Pajamas?”, Sojourner McConnell, at my author spotlight. Thanks for being here!

Leigh: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am delighted to talk to you and share about myself and my work. I am a writer, and I am also a mother of 3 grown children and grandmother of 13 ranging in age from 16 to one year.  I am also the dog mom to Beau. He is my Australian Shepherd and my little time keeper. He keeps me on schedule.  When I am not writing, I am enjoying a good book, writing reviews on them, or blogging.  It is a favorite pastime to find fun things to blog about, funny moments, exciting events, favorite memories, and cute dog and kid pictures.

Leigh: Why did you decide to write children’s books? What attracts you to this genre?

I love children’s books. If you look on my Goodreads pages, you will see I love children’s books and always have. I still love a good Nancy Drew, The Secret Garden, and new releases. They make me happy and I do not have to write in a way that makes me uncomfortable. I am not a romance writer, or a mystery writer.  I write about hope and fixing problems basically.  I am now very happy to call myself a children’s writer.

Leigh: Where did the inspiration for the story behind “Who’s That in The Cat Pajamas?” come from?

I was requested by one of my granddaughters to write a book she could read. I took that request to heart and started writing a book about a fairy. A fairy that helps children with problems and troubles. When two of these grandchildren had to leave Kentucky and move to Michigan, it was hard on us all. This book is how I would have liked to help them adjust to the idea if they had been older, and I had been a fairy.  Many parts of the story are true in the adjustment period they went  through and Dolcey was able to help them see how fortunate they are to be living in this modern age.

Leigh: What is the first book you remember reading as a child? How do you feel about that book now?

I remember my very first book that I fell in love with was Mike Mulligan and The Steam Shovel. It was in a weekly reader pamphlet and my Grandparents bought it for me. I cherished that book and the illustrations. My sister and I still talk about Mike and his steam shovel.

Leigh: How is writing a book for children different from writing a book for adults?

My first book was a bit of a Young Adult book and I wrote about more mature subjects.  Sadness was more emotional and the storyline was a little darker.  Still with hope and difficult choices. Writing a children’s book gave me the opportunity to embrace the innocence of childhood. The problems are just as real for children, but they see things in a more black and white sense. The solutions need to come from their own decisions with prompting and guidance. I believe Melanie in The Path of the Child would have loved a fairy to help her see the light at the end of the tunnel. Both age brackets have a power and a beauty to me.  It is just the characters that are allowed to join in the telling of the story.

Leigh: Has being a Kentuckian shaped your writing? If so, in what ways?

I enjoy giving hints about Kentucky. I am from Alabama originally so I have used both places as the background for books and stories. It allows me to write in a southern accent so to speak. With southern rather old-fashioned ways. I find it is a gentle way to view life. I have been asked if I really say things like by George, dad gum it, and dog gone. I do, and my characters do.  My children talk like that too. I didn’t realize no one else was saying it.

Leigh: How can readers discover more about you and you work?

 Website: Http://sojournermcconnell.blogspot.com

Blog: https://vickgoodwin.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SojournerMcConnell/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThePageTurner1

Lnkedin:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/vickigoodwin/

Pinterest: Pinterest Link

Amazon Author Page: Amazon Author Page for Sojourner McConnell

Smashwords: Smashwords Profile

Book Links:   http://tinyurl.com/mdw5q7m

Amazon -Sojourner McConnell

Goodreads: Sojourner McConnell at Goodreads

Thank you, Sojourner, very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.

Leigh Holland’s Interview with Laura Pritchard

Leigh Holland’s Interview with Laura Pritchard

I’m delighted today to be able to host Laura Pritchard, author of “Monarchy”, on my author spotlight! Thanks for being here, Laura!

Thanks so much for having me Leigh!

Leigh: Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Laura Pritchard and I am from a small town in the South Wales Valleys in the United Kingdom. I am a teacher by day and an author by night! I currently teach music to children who have been expelled from school. I have written for as long as I can remember! I have distinct memories of filling notebooks with stories from a very young age.

Leigh: “Monarchy” seems to me to be similar in some ways to other YA Dystopian fiction, such as “The Hunger Games”. How much have other Dystopian writers influenced your work? What are your favorite novels in this genre?

I have always read young adult fiction as I found myself unable to move on from that genre. My favorite authors like John Marsden and JK Rowling are still firm additions to my bookshelves. Reading so much YA meant that my novels naturally fell into that genre and dystopia is one of my favorite YA adult settings. I think that my favorite modern dystopia is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins as it has all of the elements of a classic dystopia and her world building skills are first class. I came up with the initial story for my novel about 2 years ago and have put all of my time and effort into perfecting it since then. Being a mum to 2 young children and a secondary school Music teacher alongside means I have become a professional life juggler and I try to fit as much writing time as I can!

Leigh: What draws you to the Dystopian genre?

One of the first dystopian novels I ever read was The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Attwood. I was assigned this book for the reading section of my English Literature A Level and read it so many times during that time but always managed to find something different after each read. It is what introduced me to the idea of dystopia and how worlds can be controlled in so many ways and also taught me about the theme of rebellion. It is definitely something that has featured as a huge inspiration for Monarchy, my first novel.

Leigh: Which actors would you like to see playing the major characters in “Monarchy” if there were a movie made of it?

What an amazing question! I can imagine Constance being played by a soft, willowy actress but with a firm mind. Someone like Emma Watson or Amanda Seyfried. For Calloway, someone quite self-assured who would be able to throw some power into the role. If we are talking ideal world then it would have to Ryan Gosling!

Leigh: What are some of your favorite films and tv shows?

I love to watch (and read!) gritty crime dramas. My partner and I have recently finished watching Designated Survivor starring Keifer Sutherland. Similarly, I’m have just finished the second book in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy by Steig Larrson. I love complex crime plots that keep you guessing until the very end. Similarly, I hope that my books take on that characteristic. I love cliff hangers and have ended Monarchy on a huge cliff hanger. I want the audience to be thinking about what happens after the novel has ended.

Leigh: What’s your favorite motivational quote?

Tying into my earlier answers, it has to be “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum” which is taken from The Handmaids Tale. It has resurfaced recently due to the novel being made into a TV drama in the US. It is definitely a motto for my life and for writing in particular. Stay positive no matter what. This is such a tough industry to break into and you will be knocked down time and time again. The main thing is to have belief in what you are doing and to keep going as there will be so many points when everything seems worthless. Have passion in what you write and use that passion to drive you onward with your ideas.

Leigh: Why did you choose the Indie route over traditional publishing? What advantages did you find in this publishing route?

I self-published simply for the fact that I wanted people to have access to my novel. I have so much love for it and wanted to be able to share that with people. To me, having my work read is much more important than having my work sold and having reviews showing people sharing that love for my writing makes me feel like I have succeeded.

Leigh: If you could meet one famous person from history, who would it be and why?

Again, another good question! I’d love to meet Anne Frank. I recently holidayed in Budapest and spent a lot of time visiting WW2 sites. In particular, something that struck me was the Jewish graveyard which was the burial place of so many young children who were killed in the Holocaust. The fact that Anne Frank wrote about her experiences during such an awful time is heroic and I find her novel fascinating.

Leigh: What are your hobbies?

In my spare time, I run a children’s choir and an adult’s choir. I love singing and arranging music so it’s one of my favorite things to do. We sing in the local community in churches, schools and private venues. We’ve also ventured into weddings this year! I also read as much as I can. Books are an evening pastime for me and I prefer a good book than sitting down to watch TV!

Leigh: How can readers discover more about you and your work?

My novel is available on Amazon and Smashwords. I am in the process of building my social media platform so keep an eye out for my Facebook and Twitter pages soon!

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Monarchy-Trilogy-Book-1-ebook/dp/B071NH99VQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497862077&sr=8-1&keywords=laura+pritchard

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/723257

Goodreads: Laura Pritchard on Goodreads

Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview, Laura!

Interview with E.A. Minin, author of “Monoland: Into The Gray Horizon”

Leigh Holland’s Interview with E. A. Minin

Today, I’m delighted to have E. A. Minin, author of “Monoland: Into the Gray Horizon”, here on my blog. Thanks for joining me!

Good day Leigh. Happy to be here.

Leigh: Tell us a little about yourself.

Eugene: As it’s the informative part of my bio, I’ll talk numbers. Eighty four – the year I was born. One – number of children my parents had (one little egoistic child I am). Five – my age, when got into a first love triangle, back in kindergarten. Four – number of schools I changed during, before got into the university. Six – months I studied in university. Eight – jobs I had and I still work in the IT sector. Thirteen – age, when I decided I want to work with storytelling. Forty – approximate amount of failed and dropped series treatments, episodes and few feature film scripts in last six years. Twelve – months ago I decided to focus on book writing and produce stories I have in my head in book narration.

Leigh: What inspired you to write a book that takes place in Purgatory, or ‘the Gray Horizon”?

Actually I find afterlife a same pop-genre as writing about vampires or elves or passionate billionaires (probably last ones beats them all nowadays). Everyone has a fantasies or his vision on how it would be on the other side. I just wanted to share one of those I had in my head. Can’t say it’s the only one. First try was actually a movie script about human souls that work on assignments in our world, being our guardian angels, following their code and while not on assignment have their routine in Empyrean world as they call it. Maybe one day I’ll rewrite it as a short story or a novel.

Back to Monoland. I had a kind of a panic attack or an urgent need to drop words on paper. It ended up with first draft of three chapters. I came back to it in a year or so, and decided to go on with this story.

Leigh: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

It’s a craft. It can make you feel calm or mad at times, but it’s still craft. You work on it, you become better. Part when you find an idea, a lump of threads, then start slowly untangle it into something that becomes character’s arc or a plot or a twist – that can be called a spiritual practice. Moments when you stop being you.

Leigh: What book are you reading currently?

Machiavelli – The Prince, Terry Pratchett – Soul Music and Hegel – Science of Logic

Leigh: What are you currently working on? Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Currently I work in co-authorship with Dim Zimin on a fantasy book for children. It initially was planned as a animated series (and work on it still progresses). After that one I plan to get back to second book of Monoland and in parallel finish satiric-fantasy book (also first in a series) with working title Too old for this. Third part of the Monoland is to follow and I aim to close the trilogy in the beginning of 2018. There are lots of projects to follow.

Leigh: What one thing would you give up in order to become a better writer?

Probably pride. It’s important for me to get critics in order to grow. Yet as for any human being critics and truth it holds, sometimes awakes excuses powered by pride, that holds me from changing, adapting, looking for a better turns in plot or character development.

Leigh: Do you write full time or part time? How is your writing day structured?

Part time. I write about 4 hours a day and 6-10 on weekends. Sometimes I need music to keep thoughts going and each story has its playlist to keep mind focused. Other than that, I just sit in my crafting corner. Typewriter on my left, plant, wooden skull on my right and a magic chair, that switches me to writing mood the moment I sit in it.

Leigh: Who designed your book cover?

Dim Zimin. Friend of mine and a great artist. I hope he will design covers for all the books I plan to write and publish. He has an instagram account, where he shares his works – Dim Zimin on Instagram

Leigh: How do you relax?

Reading, bathtub and reading in bathtub.

Leigh: How can readers find out more about you and your work?


Lnkedin: LnkedN EA Minin

Amazon Author Page: E.A. Minin Amazon Author Page

Book Links: Monoland: Into the Gray Horizon

Goodreads: E.A. Minin on Goodreads

Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.

Thank you for the invitation. I was flattered to have this opportunity.

Interview with H.A. Callum (Author of “Whispers In The Alders”)

Leigh Holland’s Interview with H. A. Callum

Today I’m delighted to interview the author of “Whispers In The Alders”, H.A. Callum. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for my author spotlight!

Hi Leigh! It’s great to be here, and thanks for the invite!

Leigh: Tell us a little about yourself.

Let’s just talk about the book. Just kidding! All joking aside, I like to think that I’m a pretty down to earth guy, but intense at times. I have an amazing family who are all very supportive of me as a writer – especially my wife. Spouses of writers certainly understand what it’s like to live with us, and the crazy hours we keep. But outside of writing, I love to read, and most importantly spend time with my wife and daughters.

Leigh: What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

Letting go. I don’t want to say the writing was easy, but accepting that it was done – final – no more edits – and sending it out into the world was the hardest part. I could have spent months editing and revising, but after five major revisions I had to put it out there. So yeah, knowing when to say when was the most difficult part of getting Whispers in the Alders on the path to publication.

Leigh: What was an early experience where you learned that words have power?

Not to get too personal, but books became an escape for me at a young age. I was always reading. In books I could find answers, or a correlation to what was going on in my life. The ability for a writer to connect on a personal level with the reader was very apparent to me early on, and I think this has shaped who I am as a writer and how I choose to reveal a story to my readers.

Leigh: Do you read much? If so, who are your favorite authors?

I love to read! I hate limiting myself though, and I have so many authors that should be on this list. My favorites are Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, John Updike, Harper Lee, Philip Roth, and Maile Meloy. British Literature has always been a favorite of mine, and I couldn’t imagine a library without Virginia Woolf and Thomas Hardy. There are so many greats though – far too many to mention. Who did I miss? I know I’m going to catch flack for this!

Leigh: What famous person, living or not, would you like to meet and why?

That’s hard to pin down – there are so many people I could name. I tend to gravitate towards those who choose to remain outspoken rather than seek the safety of silence. Our nation’s short history has a long list of names – from the Revolution through the Civil Rights Movement. Their work is still ongoing, and without their sacrifices, where would we be today?

I was very fortunate as an undergrad at Penn State to have had an English professor who was a founding member of the Toni Morrison Society. Her class was amazing, and of course we covered several of Toni Morrison’s works. I’ve always admired Morrison’s work, especially her style of story-telling. Few authors can weave tragedy and beauty so closely. The darkest depths of humanity are felt in some of her works, yet as a reader, I always felt the pull toward the positive side of the human experience after reading her novels. If I ever have the opportunity, I would be honored to meet Toni Morrison to talk just a little about writing, but more so to be in the presence of a person whose humanity I’ve come to adore.

Leigh: Was it difficult writing from the perspective of someone of the opposite sex?

Of course it was! And it was something from the beginning that I took very seriously, and took great care to do my part to get it right. I knew Whispers in the Alders had to be told from the female perspective early on. My biggest fear was not coming across as appropriating the female perspective from a male point of view. I think (hope) I succeeded there with Aubrey. I spent many hours reading works written from the female teenage perspective, just to try and get Aubrey’s voice down. So far, readers seem to be connecting with her, and that’s a positive sign.

Leigh: Do you write full-time or part-time? How is your writing schedule structured?

Part-time, but of course some days I put in eight or more hours writing, editing, and submitting. My writing schedule is structured between the hours of 10 p.m. and 3 a.m., give or take an hour on either side of that range. I think my Twitter feed is a testament to that! Family is always first, so once the kids are asleep off I go. And I know I’m not the only one doing this. Writing is a passion, and well worth the sacrifices made in its pursuit.

Leigh: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Just write. I see people throwing word counts out on Twitter and Facebook all the time. But is that quality? So, for aspiring authors, just be consistent in writing every day. Every single day. Word count doesn’t mean much if you’re not writing, right? Go at your own pace and see that project through, whether it’s a piece of short fiction, a poem, or a novel.

It is important to network though. I have an awesome base of supporters on social media, they are my online writers group. We motivate each other. Likewise, I also belong to a local writers group where I can workshop with other writers. If you’re an aspiring author you must be around other writers and you must workshop. It’s the best way to get critical feedback and learn to accept criticism. That criticism will also thicken your skin and serve you well when it comes time to query. For me, querying wasn’t a negative process because I had learned to accept real criticism long before I started the process. Agents and publishers sometimes offer that same level of criticism when you query. Workshopping gets writers to the point of welcoming criticism of their work.

Leigh: What hobbies do you have? What do you do to relax?

When I’m not reading, I love watching movies. I’m also a runner, although not as fast as I once was! Running always recharges the battery and improves mood, helping to keep me centered. Oh, and it’s summer time – so I know I’ll be out tending the grill!

Leigh: How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Website: www.hacallum.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theauthorcallum/#

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HA_Callum

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/hacallum

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/HACallum

Once again, Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.

Leigh, I can’t thank you enough for having me here today! It’s been a real pleasure, and I look forward to catching up with you and your readers more on social media!