Friday, December 13, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe
You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.
- Andrew Murphy
Thursday, December 12, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Christmas Remembrances with Susanne Matthews

The Write Way Café welcomes Susanne Matthews, who shares memories of the magic of Christmas from days gone by.

Well, it’s December. For some, as the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” while for others, it’s a time of sorrow and pain. This Christmas will be different from the others we’ve spent as a family. This past fall we lost not only two good friends, one who spent Christmas with us each year, but my father passed away. He lived a long, rich life, but that doesn’t make his passing any easier for us.

1955As I sit here, I reminisce about the Christmases of my youth, and dwell on the fond memories of days long gone. One of my memories focuses on my grandparent’s tree. My grandfather would go out to the bush and collect a pine tree, and then he would bring it home and spray paint it all white. To me, it was the most beautiful tree ever. If you look at the picture of my mother and I, taken in 1955, you’ll see the branches of the tree. Notice the tinsel? Each strand was lovingly placed by hand, and while the picture doesn’t show it, each light was shrouded in angel hair—raw fiberglass—to keep the heated bulbs from setting the tree on fire. How times have changed!

Other things I recall included the new pajamas to wear to bed on Christmas Eve, and the fact that bedtime came very late indeed since we attended Midnight Mass, and then went to my grandparent’s house for a Réveillon, the first of many feasts consumed over the holiday season. By the time we got to bed, it was well after two, and yet we were up before dawn and Santa had stopped by and filled our stockings with candies and treats, like an orange, an apple, a chocolate bar, and candy canes, as well as coloring pencils or crayons. Under the tree, there would be a new doll, a baby carriage, a storybook, a coloring book, a new snow shovel, and maybe a pair of skates. One year, I specifically recall an aluminum toboggan. My sister and I were the envy of every kid on the hill since our toboggan was so much lighter to carry back up the hill than their wooden ones.

When I decided to write His Christmas Family, I wanted to put into it some of the magic I remembered from that time—going tobogganing, taking a sleigh ride into the bush to pick out the perfect tree, making cookies, going to the Christmas fair—all the things that made the Christmases of my childhood special to me.

The other thing I remembered from that time was the way my mother and father put together baskets and delivered them just before Christmas. We weren’t rich, but Mom and Dad did what they could for those less fortunate than we were. That was the main inspiration for the book. Christmas isn’t about you or me. It’s about others; it’s about community. It’s about giving, not just receiving, and it’s about making memories. So while I will miss those who’ve gone, I take comfort in the memories that I have of wonderful Christmases past. Like Lee in the novel, I’ll never forget the ones who’ve gone, but I’ll rejoice in the ones still with me.

###

by Susanne MatthewsSince losing his wife, children, and parents six years ago to a drunk driver, Lee Ostler stopped celebrating the holidays, especially Christmas. But he isn’t a modern day Scrooge by any means. Because his parents would’ve wanted it, he does his duty by his employees at Ostler Construction, the Payton Falls community, and his sister and her family, but that’s it.

When Sonia has to leave the country for a few weeks before Christmas, she begs him to watch the twins for her. Even if it means, parades, pageants, and fairs, how can he refuse? But things get complicated when the twins accidentally injure one of his employees, who turns out to be the shy girl he admired years ago in high school.

Life has dealt Laurie Wilson a lot of blows, but this year, the widowed mother of four has hit rock bottom. How will she give her children a magical Christmas when the cupboard’s bare, her wallet’s empty, she can’t work, and may well lose the roof over their heads? She needs a miracle, and if he happens to be her boss and the former high school quarterback she was too terrified to even speak to back then, how can she say no?

Can Christmas magic bring two broken souls together?

His Christmas Family is available exclusively from all Amazon dealers and is free to read in Kindle Unlimited.

About Susanne:

Amazon bestselling author Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She is of French-Canadian descent. She’s always been an avid reader of all types of books, but with a penchant for happily ever after romances. A retired educator, Susanne spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

While most of her books are romantic suspense, Susanne writes stories that range from contemporary to supernatural and everything in between. She is a PAN member of the Romance Writers of America.

When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, or traveling to interesting places she can use as settings in her future books or as interesting entries for her blog, Living the Dream.

Follow Susanne on her:  Website     Facebook page    Twitter @jandsmatt
Amazon author page  and Goodreads author page




Tuesday, December 10, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: Weeping Women Springs

TAMARA EATON


by Tamara EatonA magical Spring of Hope was their protection--or so they thought...

The tranquil little town of Hope Springs, New Mexico is shattered on December 7, 1941. All the village boys go to fight, leaving their families behind to pray for their safety. Their hope knows no boundaries the boys will return unharmed—for they have a secret. The Spring delivers hope to all who drink from it.

They’ve kept this secret for years, but all is lost when tragedy strikes. Their grief dilutes the magical waters. The wives, mothers, and sisters have no option but to face the loss on their own. They struggle to find hope again, while withdrawing further from the world. Yet another war looms on the horizon and even the measures they’ve taken cannot protect them.

An exploration of the various facets of sorrow and its effects, Weeping Women Springs is “like finding a scrapbook long hidden” of interviews, letters, journal entries and poems. The novel is “intriguing and mysterious.” “A “beautifully wrought story,” which will make you think long “after you finish it.” –Various Amazon Reviewers

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We hope you enjoy this excerpt!

I DIDN’T ALWAYS WANT to hide. The Council made sure we hid the water from the start, but I would rather have gone out into the world. Hope Springs was a good place to grow up. Once I reached high school, I dreamed of going places. Did you know that? You came to town later, so I never shared that with you. The Council wants us to tell you the secrets so you can report everything that happened, maybe we won’t be forgotten.

You only see what is left, middle-aged and old women who teeter on unsteady legs, searching for balance that is never quite there, the dusty roads, the faded buildings, the closed up businesses, all but Fiekens’ General Store. Maxine always kept that open, even after—no I’m getting ahead of myself. Remind me to stay on track. It’s always best to start a story at the beginning, then maybe you’ll understand.

On that crisp December afternoon the air wafted over me cool and brisk. That morning I went to church with my family like every other Sunday. Maxine didn’t attend church, not since her parents died in an accident the year before. Anna Frolander never did attend church much, but I couldn’t pass judgment, not then or ever.

Maxine spent Sunday afternoons with us kids at the gym when the boys practiced basketball, and well, we girls practiced watching the boys.

I met up with Maxine at the store, but I’d seen the new carving, so I wasn’t surprised when she shared the latest.

“Have I got news for you.” Maxine’s voice sang over the aisles of canned goods and staples. It was like my old friend was back, happier than I’d seen her in so long.

“Does it have anything to do with the new heart on the Sweetheart Tree? Spotted it this morning after church.” I waited at the front door and hooked my arm into her elbow when she came up to me. We headed down the dusty street toward the high school. My friend almost skipped beside me.

Her face glowed. “Yes,” she said with a little squeal. “Billy asked me last night. Liv, you’ll be my maid of honor, right?”

I hugged her hard. “You bet. When’s the wedding?”

“Not until school’s out.”

“Let’s hurry. I’m sure Billy’s eager to see you.” I pulled her along faster toward the gymnasium.

On that quiet Sunday, few people were outside. We waved to my mother’s good friend, Anna, who was sweeping her front walk. An early snow dusted the craggy mountains in the distance, but the moderate temperature promised a mild winter. The surrounding mountains and hills sheltered Hope Springs in a verdant valley. It made hiding easier then and later when it became more necessary. Our seclusion saved our lives or perhaps it ended them. I suppose you’ll be the judge of that when the story’s told.

We stepped inside the gym. The basketball players’ shoes screeched on the wood floor. The boys practiced non-stop since the big game on Tuesday with our rival, Tularosa High, loomed in our future. We’d lost the last game with them, and we wanted to make the state playoffs.

The ball whooshed through the net.

“Billy made a good shot,” I said and Maxine just grinned. “So tell me about the proposal. Did he get down on one knee?”

“No. He made my favorite sundae at the store and put a little toothpick with a flag on top. On the flag were the words, ‘Will you?’”

Billy had loved her it seemed like forever, so I wasn’t surprised, but his parents weren’t a fan of the idea. “Did he decide to stay in town and run the store with you?”

“Mother and Papa would have approved, don’t you think?” Her question came out breathless as she searched for confirmation.

I squeezed her hand. “I’m sure they would have.”

The excitement of a moment ago faded from her eyes, replaced with the haunting pain of grief. At least while watching the boys, Maxine could be a girl again. I worried about her since she’d quit school to run her family’s store. On Sundays and game days she closed the door and warmed a seat on the bleachers, cheering Billy Fiekens on. She hadn’t lost her place in our class of 1942, though she wouldn’t graduate with the rest of us. Without Maxine we’d only have thirteen on stage for the ceremony in May. She had confided to me she hoped to get her diploma after marrying Billy, if he could watch the store.

“His parents approve of it?” I asked.

Maxine closed her eyes a moment. The hesitation spoke volumes. Over the last year, I had watched her deal with the unthinkable. I couldn’t imagine losing one parent, let alone both. My poor, gentle Maxine, who always had a kind word of encouragement for me whenever I grew tired of waiting to leave town, withdrew even deeper into herself after the accident. With the proposal, I saw signs of her sorrow lifting.

“They still want him to go to UNM?” I asked.

“Yes.” Maxine clenched her green cotton skirt before smoothing it down. “I kept telling him to go ahead and attend school. Teaching is so important to him. He just said, ‘If your parents were still alive, I’d do it, we’d go together and live in Albuquerque.’ Then he’d mention selling the store.”

“You could sell the store, but—”

“I can’t do that, not yet. It’s too soon. Besides, Billy’s parents can’t afford to support us both. Who would buy a store in the middle of nowhere, New Mexico?”

I laughed. “Or if the Council would even let you sell. I’m sure they’d have to authorize it.”

The door at the end of the gym burst open and little Eddie Frolander ran inside. “The Japs bombed Pearl Harbor!” he shouted. “Melvin’s dad heard it on his radio.”

Everything went silent, all but the bouncing ball echoing through the gymnasium. The players surrounded Eddie and everyone began talking at once.

“Where’s Pearl Harbor?” Maxine asked me.

“I don’t know,” I answered. We climbed down the bleachers to join the players.

Nine-year-old Eddie’s words tripped over one another. “I dunno any details, but Mr. Bracht said to tell everyone. He said we might be at war and spread the word.”

“War.” The word was murmured repeatedly through the crowd.

“Pearl Harbor is in Hawaya. The president said they bombed the navy base there.” Eddie’s dark hair fell over his eyes.

Maxine rushed over to Billy and he threw a sweaty arm around her shoulders. At that moment, I longed for a shoulder to lean on too.

Donnie Frolander, Eddie’s older brother, sidled up to me. “If we’ve been attacked, what will it mean?”

“Surely the president will tell us what to do.” I said. “President Roosevelt has seen us through a lot already.”

“Maybe we ought to head over to Mr. Bracht’s house,” Billy suggested.

“The Council was mad when Mr. Bracht bought a battery radio last year,” Donnie said. “But maybe this is a good reason to have a radio in town. Imagine if we didn’t find out until Tuesday when Tularosa comes to play the game. Boy, would we look dumb.”

I itched to tell Donnie to keep his opinions of the Council to himself, but swallowed the urge. Too late anyway. The other young people muttered an agreement, falling into their common theme of whining about the Council’s decisions. Uncle Jim’s words echoed in my mind. “You youngsters have no real idea what it means to this town to keep us isolated as much as possible. Besides you have opportunities enough to get outside, go to Tularosa or over to Alamogordo to the movie house.”  Arguments of the young people wanting more freedom, and wishing to see the world, or letting more visitors in to see us always fell on deaf ears. Freedom wasn’t in the Council’s vocabulary.

From the time I started school, my parents and other adults in the community drilled into us the necessity of keeping the secret. On the verge of adulthood, me and my friends questioned the rules set up by the founding fathers. I pushed the thought away. War on the horizon? What did it mean to Hope Springs?


Tamara Eaton is a "western woman." She lives in the southwest USA, and wide-open spaces of the desert and prairie are often portrayed in her work--fiction and poetry. Several of her stories have been published online and in print. When she isn't writing, she is often editing for others. Weeping Women Springs is her debut novel.

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Monday, December 9, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: Storms of the Heart

... a taste of romance

STORMS OF THE HEART
by Lainee Cole

Emerson Lane slowly zigzagged her SUV down the winding dirt drive, hitting more potholes than she missed.

Jagged lightning sizzled through the murky night sky, followed by a shock wave of thunder. She cringed and her hands tightened on the steering wheel as she peered through the watery darkness. The ominous cracks and booms reverberated through her body, anticipated and yet still so unexpected. So out of her control.

Like everything else in her life.

Bouncing over another pothole, she rounded a curve and slammed on her brakes. The SUV lurched to a stop just short of a downed tree.

She groaned and briefly bent her head to the steering wheel. What else could go wrong?

“Don’t ask, Em, just don’t ask!” She shoved the SUV into park but left the engine idling. Wavy rivers of water cascaded down her windows, blurring the lines between her past and her future.

Her life was a storm. A destructive tornado that had twisted her into someone she didn’t know or like before it finally spent itself out and dropped her into adulthood, leaving her to deal with the aftermath of her youth.

She was at the end of a fifteen-hour drive, running away—again.

She frowned at the rivulets of water. She loved her job as an archivist, until she discovered her controlling ex-boyfriend was the son of a board member at her small, elite university. She might have avoided dating him if she’d known. At the very least, she would have kept her thoughts to herself after she dumped him. Then she wouldn’t be in danger of being suspended from the job she loved.

Emerson blinked. Maybe something good could still come from the whole experience. Uncle Wayne had been inviting her back ever since she left seven years ago, but this time he wanted her help. Maybe they could bond over their shared love of history as they worked together on the Centennial.

Her heart swelled with gratitude. He’d always been there for her, even if she hadn’t acknowledged him. Here was her chance to repay him. Although, heaven only knew what words would spill out of her mouth when the time came…

Her heart beat steady, strong, and reassuring in her chest. She was here now. That’s all that mattered.
Two weeks of vacation would allow her to help Uncle Wayne, and hopefully mend their relationship. She was sure going to try anyway.

And with a little bit of luck, the Tony situation would blow over by the time she returned.

She waved her hand in front of her face. Enough thinking for now. She shut off the engine and pocketed her keys.

Waiting out the storm would only delay the inevitable. The drive was too narrow to attempt a three-point turn, and she had zero faith in her ability to back all the way to the main road. Good thing she had her own two feet!

She zipped her lightweight jacket and pulled the hood up. It wasn’t a raincoat but it was better than nothing. She grabbed her backpack and flashlight then climbed out and locked the doors. So what if it was the boondocks of southern Illinois? One could never be too careful.

With her back to the SUV, she swept the flashlight beam over the trees. The thought of wildlife scuttling through the underbrush sent a shiver spiraling through her body. She was accustomed to manicured lawns and well-lit cityscapes. Everything was so dark out here.

Rustling noises sounded nearby. She gulped and scurried past the SUV, picking her way around exposed tree roots. Then she was striding up the dirt driveway with the storm on her heels.

Rain pelted her back. The wind howled through the trees. Lightning crackled over her head, striking an old oak tree. A branch fell across the drive in front of her. She shrieked and jumped back.

With her heart battering her chest, she stood stiffly in the rain, unable to escape the words forming in her head. Bad things happen in threes. Okay not a tree – a large dead-leafy branch. That was three things. She wasn’t normally superstitious, but she was counting anyway. She scowled. Now she would have to maneuver through the soggy grass around yet another obstacle in her already soaking wet tennis shoes, in the still pouring rain, with lightning crackling over her head. Yeah, she should definitely be done.

Oh, stop feeling sorry for yourself and just get on with it! 

Emerson glared at the branch. She yanked her backpack higher and tugged her hood farther forward. She hurried through the wet grass to skirt the branch. One last mad dash of about twenty feet, and she ran up the front porch steps.

Dismissing the childish urge to stick her tongue out at the storm, she slipped her hood off and slumped against the house to catch her breath.

God, she hated storms, especially lightning storms. She hated driving through them in the dark even more.

Stop it! Think about the positives! Despite the doubts, despite the storms—both real and imagined—she’d made it back to Twin Creeks. She’d made it home.

Home. She blinked several times. Her heart climbed into her throat, but she would not give in to tears. Breathe in, breathe out, she coached herself. You can do this! 

Despite Uncle Wayne’s pleas, it had taken her a long time to be brave enough to return to the last place that had been a semblance of home after her parents had been killed in a car accident.

Now that she was home, she couldn’t wait to feel his firm bear hug.

She straightened her shoulders and pushed away from the house. Yes, she could do this! At twenty-five, she could finally take control of her own life. She could put her past to rest, and look forward to her future.

Emerson flinched when another crack of lightning split the air and forked through the sky, illuminating two cars parked at the side of the house. She’d been so focused on where she was stepping she hadn’t noticed them before. One was a distinctive black and white car with SHERIFF in gold lettering on the side.

Her breath hitched as she peered through the downpour. Wait. What is the Sheriff doing here? She’d already lost her parents and her aunt. She couldn’t lose Uncle Wayne, too. Not now.

Want to read more?

by Lainee Cole
Blinded by the painful loss of her parents and life as she knew it, Emerson Lane fled Uncle Wayne, Twin Creeks, and Justin “Max” Lomax – not necessarily in that order – immediately after graduation. When she returns seven years later, ready to make amends with Uncle Wayne, he’s away on a secretive business trip and Max never left. Can she carry out her uncle’s work in time for the town Centennial beginning in less than a week, all while protecting her heart from Max?

RELEASING JANUARY 2020!

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Friday, December 6, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe
Just remember, the people that say "your dreams are impossible" have already quit on theirs.
- Grant Cardone
Thursday, December 5, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Meet Barbara M. Britton

The Write Way Café welcomes Barbara Britton. Author of romantic adventure, she opens up to our readers.


When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book?
     I never dreamed of being an author. I enjoyed creative writing in high school, but no one ever mentioned being an author as a career. After teaching chapel for several years to elementary students, I was feeling burned out. I needed to prepare lesson material and music for the next school year, and I prayed to God to hit me with some creativity. I received ideas for my lesson plans, but I also had a prompting to write a story. I sat down and wrote a novel in a year. I continued writing stories and I sold my fourth manuscript eight years later.

What was your path to getting Lioness: Mahlah's Journey written and published? What type of research did you do?
     “Lioness” was the seventh book I had written. I had released three works of Biblical Fiction with my publisher (Pelican Book Group) previously. I was fairly sure my publisher would contract and release “Lioness.”
     I always say that I came in the back door of publishing. I was chosen to be mentored in a program called Pitch Wars. My mentor had taken on an alternate who was an acquiring editor for a Christian publisher. The rest is history. I was asked to submit my manuscript to the editor, and I received my first contract a few months later. My debut novel released three years ago all due to a mentoring program. I have contracted seven books altogether--without an agent.
     Biblical fiction isn’t easy to write because you are dealing with historical research and also theological study. I am married to an ordained minister and my basement is a library of Bible commentaries and historical books. The internet is great for research, but you have to check the facts.

Where did the idea for your story come from? Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real life? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
     I lead a weekly Bible study for women. One of my fellow leaders mentioned a story about five sisters who petitioned for land in the Old Testament. I have been a Christian for a long time, but I had never heard the story of the daughters of Zelophehad. I went home and read the account in the Bible. The next week, I asked if my friend would mind if I wrote about the daughters in my next book. She laughed and said it wasn’t her story. “Lioness” was born.
     Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah are historic girls.  There is quite a bit of Scripture written about these brave sisters. You can find them in Numbers 26:33, 27:1-11, chapter 36, and Joshua 17:3-6.
     Mahlah is much bolder than I am. We both have a strong faith in God. I haven’t faced Moses or an assembly of angry men, but I have faced a long battle with breast cancer. God got me through challenging times, and He was there for the daughters of Zelophehad.

Did you face any blocks while writing Lioness: Mahlah's Journey, and if so, how did you handle them?
     With all the Scripture about the daughters of Zelophehad and with all the chaos in the book of Numbers, I had plenty of material to work with for writing my novel. After I finished the manuscript, I felt like the girls’ story wasn’t done. It took seven years to conquer Canaan, so the girls’ inheritance would not come for a while. I decided to write two more books and follow the sisters through the book of Joshua and make sure they received their inheritance.
     More books should have been easy, right? Since I wasn’t planning on writing a series, I had made the hero in my second book a mute, and the hero for book three was less than stellar as a role model. I had to work harder to bring these character to readers. I also had to tackle some tough Scripture in Joshua.
     I had promised my publisher that I would have the books finished by a certain date. I made my deadline, though it meant I was overly busy during that time period.  I am happy with the way “Heavenly Lights: Noah’s Journey” and “Claiming Canaan: Milcah’s Journey” turned out. All the girls get a happily-ever-after in the three-book series.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing Lioness: Mahlah’s Journey and after?
      My biggest surprise was finding a villain in the book of Numbers who is maligned throughout the Bible. Balaam, son of Beor, has been made famous by being in a Bible story about a talking donkey. How fun. Not really. I discovered he is one of the baddest boys of the Bible and that he is maligned throughout Scripture—even to the book of Revelation. I brought out Balaam’s wickedness in my story to show his sinister ways.
     My other surprise in writing “Lioness,” is how many Christians do not know the story of the daughters of Zelophehad. I hope to change that with my series. And yes, there is a girl in the Bible named Noah.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about Israelites and Zelophehad?
     I learned I could write a book in five months when under a strict deadline. I usually allowed myself a year to finish writing a book, but when I had to get the second and third books done, I forced myself to make my writing a priority and work hard even when I didn’t feel like writing.
     The Bible has so many amazing stories that I have forgotten, or never really studied. I enjoyed being with the Israelites as they followed God into their Promised Land. I also saw how sin affects our lives and draws us away from God.
     The daughters of Zelophehad had a great faith in God. We don’t know much about their father. When the girls speak about their father in Numbers 27:3, it isn’t a glowing eulogy. We know their father sinned and that it wasn’t as bad as Korah’s followers. God had the ground open up and swallow Korah and his followers. This is not lavish praise for Zelophehad, but he and his wife did raise five amazing girls.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
     Consistency is my biggest problem in my writing life because I wear so many hats. I am a marketer, promoter, ambassador, coach, critique partner, teacher and the list goes on and on. These other aspects of being a published author can whisk your writing time away. They can also deplete your creativity and energy. Currently, I am in promotion mode with this series, so I have to get serious and carve out time to work on another story.

What are you working on now?
     You mean, what I should be working on? I have started another Biblical story. I am getting nervous about my writing time as I see Christmas looming. Last year, I did take the month of December off from daily writing goals. After a battle with cancer, I learned that you must take time to make memories with your family. Tomorrow is never a guarantee. Make sure you say, “I love you,” often. Remember, each day is a blessing from God.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
     I have a WWI Historical that will probably release in the fall of 2020. “Until June” is still under the Christian Fiction umbrella. Where my Biblical novels mention God’s name hundreds of times, “Until June” will mention God only a few times. I pitched the novel as “Me Before You” without euthanasia. It’s a caregiver romance set in Alaska in 1918 and based on a true story. We will see what my readers think of the genre switch.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
     I would like to be a taste tester at a Godiva or See’s Candies factory. And I would come up with a calorie-free chocolate that tastes fabulous.
     On a serious note, I am grateful to have two of the best jobs in the world—a mom to two young adults and someone who gets paid to write hope-filled stories.


by Barbara M. Britton
While the Israelites struggle to occupy the Promised Land of God, Mahlah bat Zelophehad is orphaned and left to care for her four sisters. But daughters of the dead are unable to inherit land, and it will take a miracle for Mahlah to obtain the means to care for her sisters and uphold the vow she made to her dying mother.

Mahlah must seek Moses, the leader of her people, and request something extraordinary—the right for a daughter to inherit her deceased father’s land. A right that will upset the ox-cart of male inheritance and cast her in the role of a rebel.

But, God is the protector of the orphan and the widow, and five orphaned daughters need His help. With God, anything is possible. Even changing man’s tradition.

Amazon        Barnes & Noble        Pelican Book Group     

Kobo        Google Play    Apple Books


Barbara M. Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Southeast Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. Barb writes romantic adventures for teens and adults in the Christian fiction and Mainstream markets. She is published in Biblical fiction and enjoys bringing little known Bible characters to light in her stories. Barb is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Find out more about Barb’s books at www.barbarambritton.com. Barb is also on Twitter and Facebook.


Tuesday, December 3, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: What Happened to Naughty Nana?

Saralyn Richard


Since the first in the Detective Parrott Mystery series, Murder in the One Percent, was published, and the sequel, A Palette for Love and Murder, is being readied for publication, I’m often asked what’s happened to my first book, Naughty Nana, and specifically what’s happened to its fluffy narrator, Nana the sheepdog.

I’m happy to report that all is well for Naughty Nana, which is in its second printing, and has delighted thousands of young fans in seven countries. Nana’s misadventures, which are, unfortunately, fact-based, yield a bit of mystery and humor, while teaching a few lessons along the way.

Nana, the exuberant and indomitable puppy, has, fortunately, grown into a perfectly mannered dog, who lights up when she’s around children. Her many appearances at schools, libraries, the children’s museum, parades, and parties have led to her being named the city’s tourism ambassador dog. That title has, in turn, led to adventures. For example, Nana is the only canine who has been in the bumper car at the local amusement park. She’s had dinner on a famous destroyer escort boat. She’s pranced around the stage of a gorgeous historic theater, and she’s greeted guests at Mardi Gras, shrimp festivals, Victorian festivals, and, of course, kids’ festivals.

Nana’s message is as important today as ever—that anyone can change. Nana’s search for fun turned out to be selfish and led to bad feelings with the people she loved. Once Nana grasps that concept, she finds the happiness that comes from being nice—in the book and in real life.

As the holiday season engages us in thinking of others, Naughty Nana’s message is as fresh and meaningful as ever. Nana’s calendar is full, and my writer’s heart is full with the love for young readers, who fall in love with my dog. As one of the youngsters recently put it, “Nana is Santa without a lap.”

Sensitively written and vividly illustrated by the great artist, Rebecca Evans, Naughty Nana is a durable hardback book that comes with Nana’s pawtograph and a personal inscription to its recipient. It is sold only in a few local bookshops and online at
http://pal circle press.com/bookstore/


About Saralyn:

Award-winning mystery and children’s book author, Saralyn Richard, is a writer who teaches on the side. Winner of the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Readers’ Choice 2019 Award, and first in the Detective Parrott series, Murder in the One Percent pulls back the curtain on the privileged and powerful rich.

Kirkus says about it, "An Everyman detective is asked to solve a murder in a wealthy community in which ample motives and abundant resources make everyone a suspect. Detective Oliver Parrott, who takes charge of the case, is so struck by the partygoers' consensual impressions of the selfish businessman that he realizes the case may be more about who didn't kill Preston than who did."

Reviews, media, and tour schedule may be found at www.saralynrichard.com.

Saralyn's children's book, Naughty Nana, is narrated by the fluffy sheepdog puppy who "just wants to have fun." The now not-so-naughty Nana leads a busy life as a tourism ambassador and guest "barker" at schools and libraries.

A member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn continues to write mysteries. Look for A Palette for Murder in 2020. Her website is www.saralynrichard.com.

I enjoy meeting readers through social media. Here are my links:

Twitter        Facebook       LinkedIn        Pinterest

Instagram       Goodreads

I am available to meet with book clubs and organization members. Contact me at saralyn@saralynrichard.com.


Monday, December 2, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: Permanent

...a taste of romance

PERMANENT
by Kim Carmichael


Chapter One

"WHAT'S THIS?" A blast of hot air and a stack of envelopes greeted Shane Elliott when he opened the door to his apartment. He stepped back. The scorching air he could handle, but envelopes only held bad news, commitment and work.

"Mail." His brother, Carson, thrust the pile at him.

Though the stagnant warm air threatened to choke him, he froze at the return address on the top letter.

Carson flicked the envelope. "What are you going to do?"

He crumpled the unwanted paper in his fist and headed straight for his couch, shoving the evil thing under the cushion. "We're not going to talk about it."

"Shane." His brother shook his head on the way to the kitchen.

"Let's get out of here." He sat, the multitude of letters hidden in the couch crunching like cockroaches.

"You need help."

"I said not to talk about it." As he pounded his fist into the arm of the couch, a horrible crash boomed through his place, vibrating the wall he shared with the apartment next to him. "Whoa! I didn't know I was that powerful."

Carson ran over and put his ear to the wall. "Did you finally get a new neighbor?"

"Four days ago. Some little old lady." He joined his brother.

"How do you know it’s a little old lady?" Carson cupped his hand over his ear.

"She hasn't made a sound in four days. What if she broke a hip or something?" He winced at the image entering his mind, dashed out of his apartment, and knocked on his neighbor's door. "Hello?"

No one answered.

Once more, he pounded on the door. Maybe the lady's hearing aid fell out. "Hello!"

"She could have passed out." Carson tapped him.

"Damn!" All he needed was some little old lady in her housecoat lying helpless in her apartment. No way would he start their relationship as the jerk that allowed the woman to rot away. What if he ever needed her for anything?

"Watch out." With no time to second guess, he kicked the door in. The door flung open, breaking off one hinge. "Don't let any cats out!" A silent little old lady would definitely have a cat or a million to keep her company. He leapt inside to find his victim, only to be met with nothing but a mountain of perfectly labeled moving boxes and he peered over one of the peaks to find her.

At his discovery, he smiled. No old lady, instead a bona fide woman lay flat on her back on the generic beige carpet with a hammer only a few feet away from her. With red cheeks and glassy eyes, she seemed somewhere between wanting to scream and bursting into tears. This entire situation was great, perfect even, if not for the huge gash on her forehead with blood gushing out of the wound.

Not wanting to terrify her more than she had to be already with her injury and two men bursting into her apartment, he sprang into action, sliding around the boxes and dropping to one knee next to her. "Shane Elliott." He thrust his hand out and bowed his head. "Your neighbor and your savior."

She opened her mouth but said nothing, only continued to stare at him.

"I see nothing of the feline persuasion either in the apartment or fleeing the apartment." Carson entered hunched over as he examined the area.

A slight whimper escaped his patient's throat.

"We may not have any cats, but I think we got ourselves a chick." He winked at her.

Her eyes darted between the two of them.

"She's stunned." Carson snapped his fingers in her face.

Shane swiped his brother's hand away. "Go get the first aid kit. This needs special equipment."

While Carson left, he took over the role of the calming and soothing gentleman and patted her arm. "We heard you go down and came right away."

"I'm so embarrassed." She reached up to her forehead and winced.

"It happens." He took a moment to study her, with her big blue eyes and straight, long blonde hair, she was a perfect Hollywood princess. She wore a pair of black yoga pants and a pink t-shirt, fine for moving in, but the black designer stiletto dangling on her foot caught his attention. No wonder she fell.

"Everything will be okay, don't try to move." He grasped her shoulder. "We'll stabilize you."

"Triage." Carson returned with the sought after kit. "So, did you figure out what happened?"

She raised her hand.

Not wanting her to exert herself, he pushed her hand down and scanned the room locating the second shoe, a step stool and some framed art of pastel flowers. "Looks like she tried to hang a picture in her heels, lost her balance and came down with a splat. Her shoe landed in the eastern quadrant." He reached over her and picked up the hammer. "This hammer hit her causing a contusion to her right temporal region." There was no better time to start things right, and impressing her with some multi-syllabic words was merely one tool in his arsenal.

"Thank you, detective." When Carson flipped the lid of the kit open, an envelope popped out. "Shane."

"Focus." Before Carson grabbed the offensive thing, Shane snatched it up, balled the paper in his fist and shoved it in his pocket. "We have an injured woman."

"This involves all of us." Carson rifled through the bandages.

"It's my problem, leave it." He yanked the kit over. "I'm the boss, don't think about it."

"That's a crock and you know it." Carson pulled it back.

"Excuse me." Again, his fallen angel waved her hand.

"We have a wound we need to tend to." He smiled down at her. "What is it?"

"I want to thank you for coming here, but why don't you two go take care of your mail issue. I'll be fine." She licked her lips and inhaled. "This is nothing a bandage won't fix, the odds of it being something worse is very small. I was just taken off guard."

"I don't think the odds are in your favor this time." The injury seemed worse than he originally thought, much deeper and her forehead now swelled. He tore open the package of gauze. "Actually, this may be beyond my vast medical knowledge."

"Sir?"

"Don't call me sir. It's Shane." Sir was some old man and he didn't want that image in her head. He tilted his head, trying to assess how to fix her.

"Shane?" Her voice came out a little stronger.

"Hold on sweetie, don't worry." Once more, he approached her with the gauze.

"It's fine." She propped herself up on her elbow and a trail of blood oozed down her face. "Oh no."

"Wait up." Somehow he got her back down on the floor and shoved the gauze on her forehead. "This is way beyond a bandage."

He exchanged glances with Carson and blurted out, "Urgent Care."

Want to read more?

by Kim Carmichael
What is Permanent?

Always on the outside looking in, accountant, Lindsay Stevens, has calculated her transformation from a small town, nerdy bookkeeper to a sleek, high-powered accountant down to the last penny. With all her checks finally in balance, she moves to California to start a new life free of her embarrassing past she never wants revealed.

As Hollywood's hottest tattoo artist, Shane Elliott thrives on standing out. Charismatic and free of commitments, he travels through life with a wink and a smile, hiding the letters he receives from the IRS as if they don't exist. Now with bills to pay and tax collectors breathing down his back, for the first time in his life Shane can't charm his way out of his situation.

However, when his new neighbor literally falls into his life, he knows he has struck gold once again. Though Lindsay tries to keep her distance, she suddenly finds herself trying to hide her true self as she thrust into a world she doesn't think she belongs, but can't resist. In his good-time life, Shane must discover there is more to life than a party if he wants something more. With their lives intertwined, the two must learn accept each other, themselves and their love. Worlds collide as they decide what is truly permanent. Permanent is the first book in the Indelibly Marked Series that follows the lives and loves of those surrounding Permanent Tattoo.

Amazon     


USA Today Bestselling Author, Kim Carmichael, began writing fourteen years ago when her love of happy endings inspired her to create her own. She has a weakness for bad boys and techno geeks, and married her own computer whiz after he proved he could keep her all her gadgets running. When not writing, she can usually be found slathered in sunscreen trolling Los Angeles and helping top doctors build their practices.

Facebook          Website            Instagram           Twitter


Friday, November 29, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe
You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
- Oscar Wilde
Thursday, November 28, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

We Appreciate You!



As we at The Write Way Café do every Thanksgiving, we want to thank everyone who has blessed us with their input, their sharing, and their support over the past year. So thank you to all authors, readers, and visitors. We have truly appreciated doing our part to bring you all together.

As we review the journey we've been on since The Write Way Café debuted in 2012, we think back to our primary goal of establishing an inviting space where writers and readers could engage, share, vent, and celebrate. We had no idea when we started how many authors would touch our lives with their stories. To date, we've featured more than 180 authors, some more than once. It's been our treat to get to know the breadth of authors, and come to call some friends.

But things always change, and we, HiDee and Lynn, have decided it’s time for change at The Write Way Café. We need to evolve personally and devote more of our time to our writing. So with gratitude, excitement, and a little sadness, we are announcing that The Write Way Café Blog is closing down at the end of December.

But we're not going away completely! 

Please join us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheWriteWayCafe/ and Twitter at https://twitter.com/writewaycafe2, where we plan to continue promoting books for our fellow authors.

Authors: please continue to send your book information (Title, genre, buy links and one preferred social media link) to us at thewritewaycafe@gmail.com and we will post on our Facebook page and Twitter. How often we post will depend on how many submissions we receive, but we sincerely want to continue helping you by promoting your books.

Again, a huge thank you to all the authors we've featured at The Write Way Café, and to all the visitors and readers who have taken time to share and support the blog and our authors. We thank you for a wonderful and enriching 2019!

We hope you will continue to support this circle of life in our writing world!

HiDee and Lynn



Tuesday, November 26, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: The Seeds of Change

Augustina Van Hoven


The last thing Dexter Thompson expected was to get a field promotion from being a member of the ship’s construction crew to the ship’s ambassador. When the Halcyon crash lands on Planet Kao, he’s the first one to interact with the aliens who showed up to help. The blue haired beauty, who led the delegation, haunts his thoughts and dreams.  Is it possible for them to have a future together?

Laize never believed in the prophesy that a new species was coming to their galaxy.  She didn’t believe until the day when a ship dropped from ski and landed at the base of Mount Denair. When the Council sends her to be their emissary, she’s surprised by the size of the ship and the humans inside. She’s even more surprised to find the handsome human ambassador is slowly melting her frozen heart.

Amazon        Barnes & Noble         Apple           Kobo



Augustina Van Hoven was born in The Netherlands and currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two dogs and three cats. She is an avid reader of romance, science fiction and fantasy. When she’s not writing she likes to work in her garden or in the winter months crochet and knit on her knitting machines.

@augustinavhoven     FaceBook     Pinterest

 

Monday, November 25, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: Gold Lust Conspiracy

...a taste of romance


GOLD LUST CONSPIRACY
Lynda Rees

May, 1880

Jessie entered the secluded alcove near adjoining railcar doors toward the necessary. After dealing with her needs she exited to return to her seat.

Swish! Hot outside air assailed Jessie as the connecting doors between cars opened and closed.

Before she could turn, rough hands gripped her shoulders. The intruder spun her around and she slammed against the wall. A stunned gasp escaped as her heart skipped. Her head shook to clear her vision.

“What in tarnation?”

A burly man in soiled deerskin leaned into her. A wicked grin exposed a few rotting teeth left in his mouth. An array of revolting odors assaulted Jessie’s nose and she flinched then shivered, repulsed as the stench reeked of perspiration and something else—dried blood, urine? His smothering, steamy breath stank of cheap whiskey and decay.

The man sniffed Jessie’s neck, pushing against her body. His guttural voice slurred, “Give old Wheezer a kiss. Will ya? One smackeroo will do. I ain’t seen no white woman in more’n a year.”

He licked Jessie from her neck toward her ear, sending tremors of fear along her spine. Heart racing, adrenaline pumping through her veins, fumbling for the fan hanging from her wrist, exposed a slim, razor-sharp dagger hidden within its ivory tines. Attempting to aim the blade at the disgusting man’s side, Jessie groped for the hidden compartment in her skirt to withdraw another weapon, but couldn’t reach it.

Suddenly, the connecting doors slid open and slammed shut. Hot air swooshed in. Jessie’s attacker glanced behind him as she struggled harder.

Just in time to see a large hand catch Wheezer’s neck in a chokehold. His tongue lolled out as he gagged and sputtered.

A statuesque man had pulled Wheezer off Jessie. The towering intruder’s powerful appendage grabbed the back of Wheezer’s neck and dragged the now-helpless tormentor toward the open connecting door, pushing him through it. With a zip-slamming rumble from the door, they were gone.

Free from her attacker, Jessie stood, shaking but erect. She smoothed her skirt, righted herself, and surveyed what she could of her appearance, bringing a hand to her hat to ensure it remained properly attached.

A lady must look regal in every circumstance. That lesson had been ingrained in Jessie during the last year.

Jessie stepped through the door, curious about the gallant stranger who’d come to her assistance, following him out to a walkway connecting the railcars. Throat still clutched in her rescuer’s hand, Wheezer’s feet swayed above the floor. Squealing, protesting, mostly gasping, he attempted to fill his lungs with sufficient air.

The man flipped Wheezer across the barrier, dangling him above the train coupling and the open rail like a weightless rag doll, while the train raced above a steep ravine to a shallow rocky riverbed at least a mile downward.

Jessie gaped at the spectacle. Would her savior drop the rude mountain man?

“Listen, old codger,” The stranger spat, “if you accost this lady or any other on this train again, you won’t receive a warning. Your miserable ass will be sent to hell. Understand?”

Wheezer’s panicked eyes grew as big as saucers as he visibly trembled and frantically nodded. Between his parched lips, slobber drooled from his gaping mouth.

The scent of testosterone oozed from the impressive stranger, the essence of maleness. Powerful shoulders and arms threatened to burst his jacket seams. Her height barely reached the towering stranger’s shoulder.

“You owe this lady an apology.” He brutally shook the quivering Wheezer as Wheezer’s head wobbled back and forth helplessly. All the fight had deserted Wheezer. He became limp as embroidery thread.

“What’re you waiting for?”

Wheezer blinked at Jessie, seemingly forgetting her presence. Quaking, Wheezer rasped, “I apologize, ma’am.” Wheezer appeared sorrowfully on the brink of tears.

Satisfied, her rescuer brought Wheezer back across the railing, settled Wheezer’s feet gently onto the floor, and released him. The wretched bully scurried through the connecting door and disappeared into the next car.

Jessie’s champion turned, chuckling low, his face actually turned pink. The spectacular male appeared embarrassed.

Intriguing. 

A broad hand brushed back shaggy blonde hair which had come untamed during the tussle. His stunning face held a gracious smile. Flashing that adorable, dimpled expression at his mama, he could likely get away with anything.

Jessie tingled with a sudden desire to touch the appealing dent in his strong jaw. Hot blood surged through her veins.

Had someone fired the potbelly stove in the already s weltering railcar?

Heart pounding against the corseted restraints Jessie waved the fan over her face and pressed a gloved hand hard on her chest, as if keeping it from busting loose.

“Please forgive my rudeness. I apologize for my language. I don’t normally speak that way in front of a lady. I had no choice.” The stranger’s head bowed nobly. Raising his face to Jessie, his smile exposed perfect white teeth.

Jessie gazed transfixed at those lips, unable to hold back an involuntary sigh.

“The old coot got himself liquored up and bent on mischief, so I followed him. He’s a recluse, a mountain hermit. They rarely come out into public and don’t care much for people. When they do their lack of social skills leads to chaos. Wheezer’s sort only understands strong language and a firm hand.” The stranger’s voice held an apologetic note.

The handsome gent grinned. Had he read her silly thoughts? His eyes seemed to glint with an appreciative light as he inspected her from head to toe.

She should take offense. Oh, hell! She ogled him, too.

Want to read more?

by Lynda Rees
A marriage of convenience turns Jessie Blackstone into a young widow responsible for the livelihood of many in savage, lawless Skagway, Alaska. Jessie faces severe weather, brutal landscape, her sordid past and her attraction to virile lumberjack, Logan Pace. She must learn to thrive in a man’s hostile business world.

Amazon



📚  Find Lynda Rees here:


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Friday, November 22, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe
A writer is like a bag lady going through life with a sack and a pointed stick collecting stuff.
- Tony Hillerman
Thursday, November 21, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

The Last Humans with Steven M. Moore

The Write Way Café welcomes Steven M. Moore to discuss The Last Humans.

Tell us a little about your post-apocalyptic thriller, The Last Humans.
     First, let me say that I thank you, HiDee, and the Write Way Café for interviewing me today. You offer a great service to readers and writers by sponsoring these posts about authors and their books.
     Now to The Last Humans: This novel from Black Opal Books starts with Penny Castro, an ex-USN diver and current Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, surfacing from a forensics dive off the SoCal coast. She finds everyone around her dead. But she’s not the last human on Earth.
     Some survivors become cannibalistic hordes; they pursue her. Two other survivors join her within a few years; they form a family unit. Penny’s adventures in the drought-afflicted, torturous apocalyptic landscape, scarred by fire and quakes and overrun by gangs of wild humans, are now shared adventures as they try to survive. Penny has a family to protect. But when they are placed in a refugee camp at Edwards AFB, Penny acquires a new foe, the mostly incompetent survivors of the US government. More adventures come her way as military leaders manipulate her and her new family.
     Some reviewers have called this book an unusual post-apocalyptic story, and they’re correct. Post-apocalyptic is a subgenre of sci-fi, but many books in that genre have a strong but depressing message that’s really a warning—Atwood’s Oryx and Crake comes to mind, for example. That novel has a similar biological apocalypse. My novel ends a bit more optimistically, though; hence the difference: the sane survivors make a new life for themselves. Same warning essentially, but a bit of hope in the aftermath too.

If The Last Humans was made into a movie, who would play your main characters, and why?
     This is a difficult question. Penny’s sweet but also smart and tough. At the risk of being accused of cultural appropriation, my first choice would be Jenette Goldstein, who played the tough Latina marine and almost upstaged Sigourney Weaver in Aliens. I think she’s been in a few TV shows too, but I haven’t seen her lately. Her role beside Ripley in Aliens might not exhibit enough sweetness and innocence, though, but she certainly can play smart and tough.
     I write about and feature a lot of sweet, smart, and tough female characters in my thrillers. Too often Hollywood includes them only as a romantic interest for the strong, male lead character to save. I’ve known quite a few real women who have shattered the glass ceiling in different ways and belie that Hollywood image of helpless female, though.
     Sean Astin would make a good Sammy, Penny’s adopted son, but he’s a bit heavyset and too old for the part right now—I’m thinking more of his role in The Goonies than Lord of the Rings. I’d like to have Ben Kingsley play the physicist Ben, Sammy’s friend who becomes the surrogate patriarch of Penny’s new family.

Tell us about the sequel you’re working on!
     It’s done, it’s different, and I’ve submitted the manuscript. While the publication process is percolating (one is generally in a long queue), authors should be writing their next novel.
     The first book is about Penny’s survival adventures, and it’s written in the first person. The sequel is written in the third person and uses multiple points-of-view as the reader hops back and forth between action in the country responsible for the biological attack and SoCal.
     At the end of The Last Humans, most readers must wonder, “What will become of Penny Castro and her adopted family?” The sequel answers that question. The remaining leaders of the US government are bent on avenging the biological attack and forcefully draft Penny and her new husband. Their children held captive, they’re forced to join a government-sponsored SWAT group that’s planning an invasion. Half their incursion fails, and Penny becomes a prisoner.
     How things evolve from there make The Last Humans: A New Dawn more of a standard thriller, although it still takes place in a mad, post-apocalyptic world.

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?  
     Hmm. Interesting question considering marketing gurus always tell authors to look for that “target audience.” Let me say this: At book events, I’ve met readers from young adults to ninety-year-olds who enjoy reading thrillers. It’s a very popular genre. The first book and its sequel are more thrillers than sci-fi, although the post-apocalyptic nature places them in the sci-fi genre. It’s very hard to define a target audience in this case.
     I’d say anyone who enjoys a thrilling plot, lots of action, and strong characters would probably enjoy these two books. I certainly read books of this type for my own reading entertainment.

How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?
     I’ll start by defining the theme. The Last Humans is about how failures of diplomacy and guessing wrong about an enemy’s intentions can make things go terribly wrong in a flash. A focused biological attack on the US West Coast morphs into a worldwide contagion and even affects the country that organized the attack. California, already battered by drought, brushfires, and earthquakes, becomes a battleground between a few sane survivors and groups of wild humans. In brief, the book is a warning about unintended consequences.
     But it was also a personal challenge to return to my roots a bit. I’m originally from SoCal, my hometown of Visalia not far from Lemon Cove where Penny ends up. My other books take place on the US East Coast, Europe, Korea, China, or South America. Also, I’d done dystopian sci-fi, so it was also time to do post-apocalyptic. I’ve done a lot of reading in both subgenres. I was an avid reader as a kid—all my life, in fact—and the Cold War and threat of Soviet attack was a constant in our everyday lives, leading to a plethora of books in those subgenres that I devoured.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
     Penny is undoubtedly my favorite, but I like Ben Hur a lot. That’s the nickname given to the ex-physicist Ben, Sammy’s friend. Although it sounds a bit immodest, Ben’s a bit like me. He becomes the surrogate patriarch to Penny Castro’s new family, the sage of the family who helps Penny stay focused. He has a less important role in the sequel, but he’s still around and kicking.

How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?
     That’s easy: Penny’s brother Roberto. There are many villains in The Last Humans, but he’s the worst because he’s family. He tried to control Penny’s life previous to the apocalypse and left her alone to take care of their mother, who had Alzheimer’s, and became furious when she joined the USN. He’s a mental distraction for Penny all through the book and haunts her until the end. He’s the flip side of Penny, not a nice guy at all. Yen and yang, darkness and light—whatever you call it, that describes Penny and Roberto.

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork? 
     Black Opal Book’s cover artist Jack Jackson designed the cover. As is my custom with cover artists, I offered him several “word pictures” taken from the novel to give him ideas, and we agreed upon the one you see today. He let his creative juices flow to produce a great cover. It’s the scene where the purposeful Penny is on a borrowed Harley coming off I-5 and heading towards the radio station to broadcast her “Help me!” message to whomever might be listening, hopefully not the gangs of wild humans.
     This is all before she finds other survivors and begins to create her adopted family. She thinks she’s all alone with the world against her as she rides on that motorcycle. (By the way, her only experience with a Harley was on a road trip with an old boyfriend, a Navy SEAL she’d lost during a tour of duty in the Persian Gulf. She dwells on his loss throughout the book, yet still finds love again.)

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series.
     Part of the book takes place in Yosemite Valley, now an air force fuel supply depot and a sanctuary of the sane against the insane bands of roving humans. I cut out a scene where Penny climbs to the top of the falls. I did that once and discovered I was afraid of heights. I was afraid that fear might enter my prose! Penny is such a strong woman, I couldn’t imagine her fearing anything.
     Okay, maybe that’s not a “fun fact”—acrophobia is a serious business—but it’s an example of how a writer’s life experiences, no matter how trivial, can affect her or his prose.

2019 has been a productive year for you! Would you like to share your other accomplishments?
     Considering the time it takes to publish a novel, I suppose we’re talking about more than a year’s stretch of time that ended with my new book Son of Thunder. In March, Black Opal Books published The Last Humans; in May, Carrick Publishing published my YA sci-fi mystery Mind Games (written under the pseudonym A. B. Carolan); and in September, Penmore Press published my mystery/thriller Son of Thunder. I also finished the manuscript and submitted the sequel to The Last Humans to Black Opal Books.
     Writing a novel is a mental marathon. I ran four of them, so I thought I deserved some time off. Writing a lot of short fiction and taking a trip to Europe we’d been planning for a while (lots of new ideas for stories!) gave me a bit of a respite from these four mental marathons. I also plan to dedicate more time to my blog, helping other authors with reviews and interviews in particular. I’ve been doing this all along, but I hope to do more.
     I’m also a bit involved with the Wolfpack Authors. They have an anthology of short fiction and poetry out titled Once Upon a Wolfpack. All proceeds of that go toward helping wounded wolves and wounded warriors, so it’s a good cause. They’re planning another anthology too.
     But I’m addicted to storytelling, so 2020 might be just as busy as far as novel writing goes. I hope I can pace myself better!

Why are you a writer?
     The last paragraph indicates the reason: I’m addicted to storytelling. I’m having a great time as a full-time writer without the hassle of stealing a few hours to write while working at a stressful day-job. That’s where many people often start now, and I know the difficulty. However, I always wanted to be a writer. As a kid, I would tell myself after finishing a book, immodestly to be sure, “Hey, I can write stories like this.” The joy in telling a good story or in reading one keeps life interesting.
     I have to admit I’m a bit of a nerdy introvert, but writing has also allowed me to associate with intelligent people and make many friends, even if it’s via the internet—readers who love to read books and authors who write them. Of course, there’s also the wonderful people who help readers and writers learn about books. They all create a wonderful community.

Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
     Here’s a bit of advice from my English prof at UC Santa Barbara: “I simply kept my goal in mind and persisted.  Perseverance is a large part of writing.—N. Scott Momaday. (Note: Prof. Momaday, a Kiowa Native American, taught me to love poetry, even though I can’t write it very well! He would later receive the Pulitzer for House Made of Dawn in 1969.) Of course, the goal always is to write good stories. Persistence, perseverance, and patience are all required to get the job done. When added to talent and skills, we have a winning combination.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
     Tell their family and friends. Word-of-mouth is still the best advertising. If they belong to a book club or discussion group, have them suggest it to their group (I can provide a list of discussion questions to help out). Write a review on Amazon saying what they liked about the book and why—or anywhere else, for that matter (almost every online retail site allows reviews). In general, create buzz about the book. Small press and self-published authors offer great reading choices that are often lost among the many books that are published. Authors need readers’ help to get their books known.

What can we expect from you in the future?
     The sequel, The Lost Humans: A New Dawn, is coming. I also generated a lot of ideas for a third “Esther Brookstone Art Detective” novel during that recent trip to Europe. I also have lots of ideas percolating for other stories. Many only become short fiction, which I now give away at my website, either via free downloads or in blog posts. But I’m sure there will be more novels in my future.
I intend to maintain my efforts of helping other authors and small presses. We’re all in this together, and I think readers can help there too. After all, the more good novels that are available, the more choices readers will have for their reading entertainment. And storytelling and reading those stories are quintessential human activities that must never be lost—they’re what make us human.

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by Steven M. Moore
The Last Humans. Penny Castro, ex-USN Search and Rescue and current forensics diver, goes on a forensics dive for the LA County Sheriff’s Department off SoCal shores and surfaces to find herself in a post-apocalyptic world. A bioengineered and airborne contagion has been delivered to the West Coast. It will be carried around the world, killing billions. Her adventures trying to survive in this new and dangerous world will make you ask, “Could this really happen?” (A sequel has been submitted.)

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About Steven:  Born in California, Steven M. Moore is now a full-time writer of many thriller, mystery, and sci-fi novels, short fiction, blog articles, and book and movie reviews. His stories reflect his keen interest in the diversity of human nature that he has observed in his different abodes across the U.S. and in South America as well as in his Latin and European travels for work and pleasure. After spending more than two decades in scientific R&D in the Boston area, he and his wife now make their home just outside New York City, where he devotes most of his time to storytelling.  For more details, visit him at his website https://stevenmmoore.com. He can also be found on Facebook  and @StevenMMoore4.