Monday, January 28, 2013

Interview with Christian Author Ann Lee Miller

Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her husband or “meddling in her kids’ lives.”

Welcome back to my blog, Ann. Please tell us about your new book, Avra's God.

In the tradition of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, four friends navigate college and the drama churned up by their Florida beach band to cement friendship and more.

Avra wants love, but drummer Cisco—self-medicating from his parents’ divorce with intoxicants—is a poor choice. Cisco hungers for fresh-baked cookies and the scent of family he finds at Avra’s.

Kallie shares her classically trained voice only with lead vocalist Jesse and fights to keep her heart safe. Jesse feeds on fame and hides more than insecurity beneath his guitar. The friends surf ego, betrayal, and ambition and head for wipeout.  But somehow, when they're not looking, Avra’s God changes them all. 

Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?

Often my books grow out of long-time prayer burdens. In this case I had been praying for a man to reconcile with his wife after he had strayed. Unfortunately, in real life, the marriage did not survive. But in fiction, the relationship healed. My characters are single, but the process of forgiveness and rebuilding trust are the same.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I visited New Smyrna Beach, Florida where the book is set—and where I lived as a teen and young adult—to make sure I had all the locations and details correct. Because many scenes take place on the Daytona State College campus, I corresponded with several people who worked at or attended the college. The marketing director even offered to read the book to catch my flubs. My other research was more mundane—having my oil changed at Walmart, camping out on Google maps to determine where all my characters lived, and quizzing musical family members on music details.

I love it when authors add real life situations to their stories. Do you ever put real experiences in your books?

This contains many of my experiences as a teen and young adult, though altered for the purposes of the story.

Thank you, Ann, for a lovely interview. Your book sounds like one that will help the youth make better choices in their lives. To learn more about Ann, visit her website at:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Interview with Suspense Author Jeff Foltz

Jeff Foltz grew up in the Philadelphia area. He received a B. A. in history from Marietta College. In 2002, he returned to school and received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine. Jeff is an avid cross country skier and sculler, competing at the highest level of rowing during college and post college years. He has three grown children and seven grand kids and lives with his wife, Sue, in Camden, Maine.

Welcome back to my blog, Jeff. Please tell us about your new book, Two Men Two Suns.

Two Men Ten Suns is World War II historical fiction with a twist to the commonly accepted theory about why Truman was so quick to use the atomic bomb. Two young men, one American and one Japanese, battle their personal demons to win the first nuclear arms race. One is driven by grief and hatred, the other by pride and ambition. Doubts plague both men, but neither can stop as their governments push them to develop the deadliest weapon.

Only now is information about this desperate competition creeping out of history’s dark corners. Some historians believe Japanese scientists had kept pace with those of the Manhattan Project and were ready to test. Did a handful of the world’s most powerful men bury all evidence that Truman dropped the bomb to beat Japan to the punch? History has criticized Truman’s decision. “It saved half a million G.I.s” was the administrations mantra. Yet the United States could not have marshaled adequate troops and material for an invasion of Japan until five months after Germany’s May 8th surrender. In that time, continued allied bombing and blockades could have pounded the Japanese into submission.

Perhaps Truman knew a deadly clock was ticking as he gave the order to destroy Hiroshima. If intelligence had warned him Japan was close to using their Genzai Bakudan (atomic bomb) on an American city, he could not have risked delay. Two Men, Ten Suns is a gripping fictional account of this perilous episode.

Wow! This story sounds like it’s full of suspense. Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?

Discovering the details of history is fascinating for me. Sorting out which ones to use in a work of fiction is a challenge I enjoy. Enough “facts” to generate an atmosphere of authenticity, mixed with enough tension generating speculation about or deviation from “the accepted story” is the balance I seek.

When the corners of history don’t square or details of an historical event ride on the stooped shoulders of coincidence, I’ve found my fodder, my inspiration. I wrote Two Men Ten Suns as I did because both the American and Japanese atomic bomb programs offered some of those fascinating loose ends.

That’s so interesting. What kind of research did you do for this book?

Once I had my inspiration, I looked for three things in my research. First I sought historical facts, particularly those that might be unknown to most readers. I sorted out facts which could be evidence that, for reasons of national security or perhaps politics, some parts of the truth were buried. Second, I looked for the corners that didn’t square, the “accepted” versions of history that were light on common sense or heavy on coincidence. Third, I wanted to find ways, based on indisputable history, to offer the reader a reasonable, believable alternative to the conventional perceptions.

What first disturbed me during my research was Truman’s rush to drop the bomb. The test at Trinity Site took place on July 16th, 1945. The Enola Gay dropped the first bomb (Little Boy) on Hiroshima exactly three weeks later, on August 6th, the first possible satisfactory weather date. Components of  both bombs (Little Boy and Fat Man), though many accounts indicate that only the Hiroshima bomb was on the Indianapolis, reached Tinian Island on July 26th. Only ten days elapsed while the military moved a nine thousand pound weapon from New Mexico to the middle of the Pacific. In 1945 that’s as fast as they could transport anything so large and so classified. It’s reasonable to ask, “Why the hurry?”

Second, details about the advanced state of the Japanese uranium bomb program have not been detailed in our history texts. Two facts are indisputable. There were two Japanese programs, one run by the army at the University of Tokyo and one overseen by the navy in North Korea. Both had made far more progress than the Nazi program. I had to ask, “Why haven’t we heard more about the Japanese attempt to develop a bomb?”

Third, it was clear, even to the Japanese, that the Allies would win the war, especially if and when the Russians kept their Yalta Conference pledge to declare war on Japan. But from May 8th, 1945, when Germany surrendered, until August 8th, Stalin was content to let the U.S. military do the heavy lifting in the Pacific. Was it a coincidence that Stalin entered the Pacific war two days after Hiroshima? His spies had informed him of the success of the Trinity test. He had had three months to find evidence in German records of at least one shipment of U-235 from Germany to Japan. How could he have not suspected that the Japanese had a viable uranium bomb project? How could he have not wanted the opportunity to be first to reach Japanese atomic bomb data?

With those anomalies as a starting point, it was fun to hypothesize an alternative reason for dropping the bomb. Was there pressure on the “national security” nerve? Were Truman and his top advisors disturbed by more than the possibility of half a million military casualties in a full scale invasion of the main islands of Japan? Did they have knowledge, or at least sensible and genuine fear, that the Japanese might use an atomic bomb to annihilate an American city?

To be more specific, Two Men Ten Suns contains a great deal of historical accuracy. For instance, the fact that the Japanese built the largest submarine in the world and that it carried three airplanes is a fact. It was indeed called I-400. Manhattan project scientists did use lead lined Sherman tanks to navigate the Trinity test site immediately after the test. Nagasaki was not the primary target for the second bomb and that mission did encounter the incredible difficulties I describe. Scenes of the aftermath of the Nagasaki bombing are composites of actual eye witness accounts. It was the most gruesome research I’ve ever done and I wanted to be selective in what I used, but use enough to generate an authentic sense of horror for my readers.

Perhaps a bit of general philosophy about historical fiction is appropriate here. For me, an historical novel can and probably should be less accurate than a history text book (but some of those are becoming a bit trumped up), but fall well short of fantasy. Age of the history, the bias of the historical source, and the reader’s willingness to suspend disbelief are some of the factors that delineate an author’s boundaries as he or she puts together a story. Ten year old history is likely to be more accurate than history ten centuries old. Some recorders of history may have biases or agendas. Others may feel a need to protect secrets or perceptions. Some may never be privy to the facts or misunderstand them or the relationship of one fact to another. Enough history to generate authenticity blended with sufficient fiction to entertain is a good recipe.

I love it when authors add real life situations to their stories. Thank you so much for this great interview, Jeff. Your book sounds so intriguing. To learn more, visit Jeff at his website: Every week I have a new book giveaway so stop by often.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Interview with Romance Author Caroline Clemmons

Caroline writes full time from her home in rural North Central Texas where she lives with her Hero husband and their menagerie of rescued pets. After publishing twelve novels and three novellas, Caroline has plans for many more books in the future. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys family time, traveling with her Hero, genealogy and family history, and browsing antique malls and estate sales. 

Caroline Clemmons writes Romance, Mystery, and Adventure!

Welcome back to my blog, Caroline. Please tell us about your book, Bluebonnet Bride.

BLUEBONNET BRIDE is the third in the Men of Stone Mountain series, set in North Central Texas on the Brazos River. This is near the current site of Possum Kingdom Lake in the Palo Pinto Mountains. Most people would call them hills, but they are genuine mountains due to the formation. Comanche named them Palo Pinto because of the scrub oaks changing fall colors. Sheriff Joel Stone is the eldest of the Stone brothers, and the most serious in demeanor. In this book we learn that, while he appears businesslike, he has humorous internal dialogue. Rosalyn Vandagraff is posing as Rosalyn Dumas (her mother’s maiden name) and was wrongly accused of poisoning her husband and sentenced to hang. She lives in fear she will be discovered and sent back to the gallows.

Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?

I had the little movie in my head of Rosalyn some time back, but hadn’t slotted her into a book until I discovered Joel. They fit together so well because she is fearful of the law and he’s the sheriff. She is different from any heroine I’ve written before, which is always a good thing. 

I had the inspiration for the Men of Stone Mountain and the Stone brothers several years ago when I visited the historic Belding-Gibson Ranch. It’s a beautiful ranch, still large even after years of being divided among heirs. The original cabin remains and has been incorporated into the ranch house to preserve it. The Gibsons have done a beautiful job of respecting their heritage. Barbara Belding Gibson wrote an interesting book about the ranch, PAINTED POLE, which I have used for additional research.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

Even though I write this time period frequently, there is still a good bit of research involved with each new story. For this one, for instance, I was happy to learn that home sewing machines were adequate for Rosalyn’s use as a dressmaker. I’ve researched a lot of poisons for this series, as I wanted poisons that were easily available naturally.

Of course, we also have the Internet. I’d hate to be without Google, wouldn’t you? But Internet information must be double-checked to be certain it is correct. Only my characters and the town are fictional, I intend my books to be as factual as possible. That’s why I research every aspect of the story.

That’s wonderful. I love learning what an author researches for stories. You love to write western “sweet” or mildly sensual romances with adventure, murder, and mayhem. What intrigues you most about writing love stories with adventure?

A ticking clock or a threat adds to my enjoyment in reading a book, and that’s what I want my readers to experience. My goal is for readers to have an escalating ride that leaves them unable to stop reading until the end, but happy with the way the book turns out. I write the kind of book I enjoy reading, and I hope my readers are satisfied and want to read my next book.

I, also, love to read stories that have adventure with a bit of romance. The adventure puts me on the edge of my sit at times and it’s hard to put down. Thank you, Caroline, for this wonderful interview. Every week I have a new book giveaway so stop by often.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Interview with Sweet Romance Author Shirley Raye Redmond

An award-winning writer and frequent conference speaker, Shirley Raye Redmond has written 27 books and over 400 magazine and newspaper articles. Two of her children’s books, Lewis & Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President and Tentacles! Tales of the Giant Squid, are her best-selling books. She has been married for 38 years to her husband Bill, has two children and one grandson who wants to be a super hero when he grows up.

Welcome back to my blog Shirley Raye. Please tell us about your new book, Rosemary's Glove.

Set in 1806 in England, this story is about Miss Rosemary Addison, who sets her heart on becoming the wife of the dashing Thomas Alden, Lord Beverley—a man with a dubious reputation. But when Rosemary's widowed mother confides that she plans to marry Mr. Nevin at the end of the Season and wants to see her daughter properly wed before journeying with him to his diplomatic post in India, Rosemary realizes she must force the reluctant earl's hand. 

She convinces her childhood friend, Broderick Loren--a handsome amateur botanist--to agree to a "temporary engagement.”  When the announcement appears in the Gazette, no one is more surprised than the conceited Lord Beverley. Rosemary soon finds herself consumed by conflicting emotions. Will she "cry off" her engagement to Broderick and throw herself into Lord Beverley's arms?  Or will she realize she loves Ricky with all her heart?

Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?

Several years ago, there was an article in the Smithsonian magazine about 19th century orchid hunters. These men had adventures every bit as exciting as those of Indiana Jones! I clipped the article from the magazine, resolving one day to write about a “botanical” hero.

Also, I’d stumbled upon an interesting old article online that appeared in the NY Times in 1887 about the language of gloves. And I put gloves and orchids together and voila! The idea for Rosemary’s Glove was born. If your readers would like a link to the newspaper article, they can contact me through my website soon at

Wow! Imagine a hero as exciting as Indiana Jones hunting for orchids!!! I love it. What kind of research did you do for this book?

As this is my first Regency romance, I found Jane Austen’s Town and Country Style by Susan Watkins to be helpful. I also collected a list of slang words from 1806 and read up on orchid hunters. Because I wanted my character Rosemary to give Broderick an expensive microscope as a present—a bribe!--I did some research on these scientific instruments and was tickled to learn that early researchers often invited friends over to look at “little beasties” (germs!) and other items on the glass slides they slipped underneath the viewing lenses.

Little beasties? Haha. I love it when authors add real life situations to their stories. Do you ever put real experiences in your books?

Oh, absolutely—but not always my own! As most of my books are actually nonfiction, I’m usually writing about real incidents and real people, such as the amazing girls and women in my award-winning, Patriots in Petticoats, Heroines of the American Revolution (Random House).

I did spend three weeks in England before writing Rosemary’s Glove. Of course, I didn’t attend any balls. But perhaps, without realizing it, the impressions I had of old manor homes and drawing rooms and London streets and historic fashions in the museums influenced my novel. Also, British flower collectors did employ orchid hunters to travel to the swamps of Florida and Georgia to collect orchids and other rare flora for their collections. In the book, my hero Broderick has returned from a similar trip.

Thank you, Shirley Raye, for this awesome interview. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Rosemary’s Glove and “orchid hunters.”