Interview with Author Amy Woods

September 2, 2014 at 7:29 am (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , )

AmyRecently I read an reviewed His Texas Forever Family.  Shortly after reading the book, I had the opportunity to interview the author!

1. Your debut novel His Texas Forever Family is Harlequin’s September 2014 Special Edition® release. That’s incredible! What’s going through your head right now?

To be honest, I’m a little overwhelmed. As a new writer, I’ve worked hard to put together the absolute best book I can at this point in my career, but it’s scary knowing that not all readers will love my story. Falling in love with a book is such a subjective thing, and it’s almost impossible to please everyone—something that every author knows when that book hits the (physical and virtual) shelves. Being new, I haven’t yet gone through the experience of reading reviews from people who don’t like what I’ve written, and I imagine it’s not a great feeling. All that any writer can do is write her very best book at any given time, and hope that each subsequent book will get better and better as her writing and storytelling skills improve—I just keep reminding myself that this is enough.

His Texas Forever Family2. How has your Harlequin experience been? Do you hope to write more for them, pursue other ventures, or both?

Harlequin has treated me very well and yes, I do hope to continue writing for them. I love my editor, Carly Silver, which makes things run really smooth. She and I get each other and she understands my writing and my goals for each story, which makes the process of readying each book for publication a pleasant experience. I do plan to venture into indie (self) -publishing at some point, but I want to write for Harlequin as long as they’ll have me.

3. This is a romance novel, do you plan to stay in the genre or get your toes wet in another area of the book community?

For now, I’m very happy writing romance. I also love to read cozy mysteries, and at some point, I’d love to spend more time learning the craft of writing one and try my hand at that genre. Lots of cozies have a romance subplot, as well, so at least I would have that part down.

4. What authors influenced your writing of this book?

I’ve spent a lot of time reading Nora Roberts’ old category romances—the ones she wrote long before she was the romance writing icon that she is now. When Roberts started writing category romance, she broke a lot of the genre’s conventions with her strong, intelligent, independent heroines that often had very interesting or unique careers. I’d love to follow in her footsteps with my heroines. And, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want a career like hers? Roberts worked hard to build a readership and to make a name for herself—actions I very much admire and hope to emulate in my own romantic fiction career.

5. What authors do you generally read? What is your favorite genre?

I read widely—both genre and literary fiction—anything from scifi to biography, and I love it all. I’m not sure I could choose a favorite. I think it’s important for writers to read both in and outside of their genres, to stay open to new ideas and new worlds.

6. In addition to your budding writing career, what else do you have up your sleeve?

Right now I’m just concentrating on keeping up with my contracted book deadlines, and promoting my debut release. In the near future, I’m planning to write and self-publish a new series, in addition to continuing to write for Harlequin.

fredri 27. How much of Peach Leaf was drawn out of real experiences? You seem to know your way around an elementary school and children…

Although the book’s setting, Peach Leaf, Texas is a fictional small town, it’s loosely based on one of my all-time real favorite places—Fredericksburg, Texas. Fredericksburg is a town in West Texas with a population of a little over 10,000, and was founded in 1846 and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. Both Fredericksburg and Peach Leaf are home to several amazing German restaurants boasting excellent beer and mouth-watering Reuben sandwiches, and Pioneer Museums that share artifacts and tons of information about the towns’ intriguing histories. As for the school setting—I was a teacher myself for a bit, though I taught high school rather than elementary.

8. What made you choose Texas as a setting?

I chose Texas mostly for the low risk of messing up.  I’ve lived here my whole life, so I figured for my debut novel, I’d better stick to what I know best. I plan to travel, do some research, and branch out a little in the future, but Texas will always be in my bones.

9. What brought you into the writing world? What got you writing?

I’ve always loved to read and I think, like many, for me writing was a natural response to having enjoyed so many books. I’ve always written here and there, but, despite a degree in English, I never considered making a career out of it until I found myself in a job I loathed and needed a creative outlet. Once I started writing frequently, I fell in love with the process, and eventually decided to submit some work.

Amy 210. What is one thing you would like your readers/fans to know about you?

That I’m pretty easygoing and open. I love hearing from readers and I’m always happy to answer questions about the writing or publishing process, and to help out when I have something to offer.

Readers are always welcome to contact me via my website.

For additional information on His Texas Forever Family, please visit the Books page on my website, or find me on Facebook as Amy Woods Books, or on Twitter as @amywoodsbooks.

Thanks so much for having me as a guest today!

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Peter Pan

August 30, 2014 at 6:44 pm (Uncategorized)

Anakalian Whims:

Oh Peter Pan…

Originally posted on burning oceans:

Our fingertips carelessly knitted
to the fermented bone-rifts, bone-strings
of my shy, shy hands to yours –
to the harmonica of your words
strung within whispers, saying,
“I wanted our hands intertwined, like this.”

You tugged the heartstrings of my own,
little world to yours.
Just like that.

You set off fountain oceans into
enkindled adventures against
strong currents, and downpour of
dumb, dumb dreams
we chase off.

And so we chase those teeny-tattered smiles
burying within the middle-mist joy,
terra cotta tiles
of post-afternoons.

You tugged, and
tagged me along to somewhere,
somewhere I might not know.
But this might be the way
to the tunnel and high-waters
where the skies are infinite.
Infinite in my own, little
naive tea-time party.

And if I was chasing for something,
for something nothing
that I do not know,
lead me still.
Lead me still, and hold me close
to you, Peter…

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Coming Soon… Black Rose

August 29, 2014 at 4:14 pm (The Whim) (, , , )

cool TWCS logo

PRESENTS. . .

A Cover Reveal

for

Black Rose

by Kris Thompson

Black-Rose-Hi-Res-Cover

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Colors of the Wind

August 28, 2014 at 10:50 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Colors-of-the-Wind-cover-for-website-243x300

A Weekly Low Down on Kids Books

Title: Colors of the Wind

Author: J.L. Powers

Publisher: Purple House Press

Genre: Picture Book/ Children’s

“J.L. Powers! I love that guy!” Kiddo shouts when she hears me telling my husband that we got a new picture book to review in the mail today.  Never mind that J.L. Powers is a woman and that we’ve never read her work before.  Kiddo just loves getting new books in the mail, loves discovering new authors as much as I do.

P1000277Colors of the Wind is the story of George Mendoza, two time blind Olympian runner who sees the world like a kaleidoscope and has become a painter.  The picture book is visually stimulating and intentionally motivational to do your best and pursue your dreams, no matter what trials you may face.

P1000279

“That book is beautiful, like Grandmother’s Cabin,” she says when we’re done.  Artistically speaking, Grandmother’s Cabin is the picture book by which all others are now measured in my three year old’s eyes.  Colors of the Wind gets her art stamp of approval and  she was particularly intrigued by the tribute to other paintings at the back that were not included in the story.  She’s officially asking when we can meet George and we can’t wait to share this story with the cousins, our friends, and the homeschooling groups we are a part of.

“An illumination of the persistent power of art.  Colors of the Wind reminds us all that our biggest burdens are often our greatest gifts,” Kathi Appelt is quoted on the marketing packet.  I couldn’t say it better.

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Revisiting Of Blood and Brothers

August 27, 2014 at 9:51 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , )

blood and brosTitle: Of Blood and Brothers: Book Two

Author: E. Michael Helms

Publisher: KoehlerBooks

Genre: Historical Fiction

Length: 265 pages

“I swallowed the last of my coffee, reached for the pot and poured another cup.”

Cup after coffee cup, I drank and read the second installment of E. Michael Helms Civil War series.

When life is hard, it’s nice to escape into another century’s problems.  I suppose that’s the root of the issue when it comes to historical and science fiction lovers.  We like to flee into other eras when humans are the same, but the world is so different.

My favorite tidbit about Helms series is that he was inspired by two elderly brothers he once knew as a boy, who had a Confederate veteran father.  On his acknowledgements page he tells them, though they are long gone, that “It was your voices that gave rise to the voices of Daniel and Elijah Malburn.” As a fiction writer myself, those tiny details make my heart swoon, because so often we writers are asked where our ideas come from, and so often we are unable to precisely pinpoint it.  Ideas sort of sprout and grow from nothing more than a vibe or a passing fancy, very rarely rooted in much of substance other than things our subconscious has gathered and created from nearly thin air.  That Helms remembers these gentleman who told him stories as a boy is marvelous to my scattered mind.

This is a great piece of fiction to add to a high schooler’s American Civil War studies.  The mind wraps itself around facts and truths of an era so much better when the facts are rooted in a riveting story.  My favorite thing to do when I study any time in history is to read a biography or political piece side by side with a bit of fiction.

Well done, Helms! Looking forward to reading Deadly Catch, one of another series by Helms that I can’t wait to get my teeth into.

 

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A Fancy Dinner Party

August 26, 2014 at 3:07 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Cover_Kindle_New_largeTitle:A Fancy Dinner Party

Editor: Hilary Comfort

Publisher: Grey Gecko Press

Genre: Thriller/ Horror

Length: 184 pages

For nearly two years now, I have had the joy of being acquainted with a small, local publishing company called Grey Gecko Press.  As a whole, they are fun and spunky, and I enjoy both hosting events for them and attending ones where they are present.

At one of the more recent signings, Jason Kristopher handed me a copy of A Fancy Dinner Party.  I was warned not to read it too late at night – or when I was alone.

I took my time with it, limiting myself to only one or two stories per sitting.  The anthology features ten different authors, a fantastic forward by Jonathan Maberry, all neatly packaged and edited by Hilary Comfort and the folks at Grey Gecko Press.

I did read it at night.  But I did not read it alone!

These stories are a lot like P1000274the group who wrote them, spunky and fun – even when they’re scaring the crap out of you.  I enjoyed the anthology, I love that I have a copy signed by all the contributors and would highly recommend it to short story lovers…

and science fiction lovers… and readers of fantasy, and horror, and thrillers…

As the back jacket says, there’s even a bit of Americana and Japanese folklore.  The book has so much to offer and is a prime example of Grey Gecko Press, yet again, putting their best foot forward.  I especially liked the dedication at the front: “For all the new and still-struggling authors whose stories have yet to be told.”

With the chapters arranged like a menu and a forward urging us to “Sit back, tuck P1000275in your napkin [...] and dig into this bizarre feat,” the book keeps the menu theme alive from start to finish. Well done.

As a reviewer of an anthology, I can’t just stop there and fail to mention one crucial point – my favorite course, of course!

Drum roll…

GGP managed to save the best for last: George Wright Padgett

I loved his story The Arrangement and it was truly the cherry on top of a very disturbing dessert!

The ebook of A Fancy Dinner Party is $2.99, well worth the download.  Good luck reading alone.

 

 

 

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Adventures of an Independent Bookseller

August 25, 2014 at 11:52 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

kings-englishTitle: The King’s English
Author: Betsy Burton
Publisher: Gibbs Smith
Genre: Books on Books
Length: 302 pages

In 1977, Betsy Burton opened a little independent bookstore in Salt Lake City, Utah. The rest is history, captured elegantly and passionately within the pages of The King’s English, a book named after the store it chronicles.

I love books about books and bookstores.  Burton’s passions speak of my own as she details the pleasures of getting the right book into the right hands at the right time.  She breaks up chapters with lists upon lists of must haves for people searching specific genres or moods.  She tells the tale of a store’s life blood, its employees, customers, and ultimately all the people who have made it the world renown establishment it has become.

The store has been molded by dreams, authors, legal battles, and the patrons who have kept walking through the doors.  The book industry, American history, and religious nuances of Utah have shaped what TKE has – through time – chosen to stand and fight for.  It’s been a beautiful life, and to this day it continues through politics, economics, and the ever changing publishing practices.

I loved every minute of it, every word, and I’m a little ashamed to say that a few other titles were put on the back burner for this reading whim when they deserved my full attention.  The experience has been fulfilling and the store has now been added to my places to visit before I die.  Even more fulfilling would be to see one of my own books perched on their shelves, knowing what great care they go into selecting their inventory.

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Here is my interview with George Wright Padgett

August 19, 2014 at 3:29 am (Uncategorized)

Anakalian Whims:

I love this man. Check out the Interviews tab to find my own interview with George Wright Padgett.

Originally posted on authorsinterviews:

George Inset Photo

Name:  George Wright Padgett
Age:  Acts like: 9 1/2 Actual: Middle-aged
Where are you from:
Houston, Texas
A little about yourself; ie your education Family life etc:
I’m a husband (25+ years) and father of two children (13 year old girl/10 year old boy) a jazz piano player, a graphic artist, and sometimes a playwright. I also live with a mini dachshund that goes by Jenny.


Tell us your latest news?
My first horror novel, Cruel Devices is in the hands of the editor and is due out this winter. I also just signed a contract for a 2016 release of a steampunk detective novel entitled Addleton Heights. Both are being released by a small press publisher in Katy, Texas known as Grey Gecko Press.

When and why did you begin writing?
Looking back over the years I’ve always enjoyed telling stories. Only recently did I realize that I’ve unofficially…

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My First Harlequin

August 17, 2014 at 2:53 am (Uncategorized)

His Texas Forever FamilyTitle: His Texas Forever Family

Author: Amy Woods

Publisher: Harlequin

Genre: Home & Family Romance

Length: 216 pages

I’ve read a few romance novels in my day, but as far as I can recall this is my first Harlequin.  Though I’m not a new die hard Harlequin customer, I am pretty ecstatic about this particular title… since my brother’s wife wrote it!

I’m a little more than biased and absurdly proud.  It’s exciting to be a first time author, and even more exciting that her first time out the gates she’ll be hitting the shelf of every Wal-Mart in America and more.  I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m a little bit jealous she’s getting such amazing exposure, but I’m so happy for her – she’s earned it!

I enjoyed my brief 216 page stay in Peach Leaf, Texas. Woods had me wondering if Peach Leaf were real and when I could visit.  It’s apparently one of the safest places on earth and the people are awfully nice.  Everyone needs a place where the lady at the grocery store will order your favorite coffee when they discover they don’t already have it in stock.  Favorite coffees are important!

The main characters, of course, are intriguing… a sexy art teacher recently divorced, a widowed and emotionally guarded assistant principal, and a kid that won’t talk sets the perfect stage for a romance about matters of hearts in need of healing.  Woods is a great writer (a fantastic copyeditor too, if you’re in the market for one) and draws you into a seemingly simple plot with every carefully placed sentence and word. 

This debut novel will be available September 1st, 2014.  Take note, mark your calendar, set aside a few bucks for a new book! And once you’ve read it, be sure to leave a review for our favorite Harlequin author.

 

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Two Brothers, A Reporter, and the Civil War

August 9, 2014 at 12:02 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , )

of-blood-and-brothersTitle:Of Blood and Brothers

Author: E. Michael Helms

Publisher: Koehler Books

Genre: Historical Fiction

Length: 269 pages

“It was war, I said, and war makes people do bad things.”

Historical fiction that involves research and spans time within a story is always my favorite.  Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, any of Kate Morton’s novels, A.S. Byatt’s Possession… these are among my must own forever books.

So, of course, I was pleased to discover E. Michael Helms’ Of Blood and Brothers series, which follows reporter Calvin Hogue (from 1927) as he researches the story of the Malburn Brothers (who fought in the Civil War).

As a child from the South, I adored Civil War tales.  I didn’t care whether they were written from our perspective or the Yanks, I just couldn’t get enough of it.  Gentle Annie and Red Badge of Courage were both beloved titles during my elementary school years.  I played Colonel Shaw in the school play of Glory.  Part of my obsession with Little Women was the mid-to-post war setting.

E. Michael Helms took me back in time to Elijah Malburn, and I got to experience being stolen from by the Confederates, being interrogated by the Union soldiers, and working at the saltworks.  I traveled with Jefferson, the Malburn’s slave and found it oddly appropriate that the rift that doomed the brothers wasn’t just a political one, but one that included a girl.

I could easily turn this review into a political debate – there’s plenty to talk about, especially with me being from the south and having all sorts of views on the Confederacy.  But that wouldn’t do Helms’ work justice.

Of Blood and Brothers is about people and homes being torn apart by circumstances outside of their control.  It’s about being a soldier and not always being one because it’s what you believe in, but because it’s what saves your backside.  It’s about protecting your loved ones and lamenting their departure from this world…

It’s a darn good book and I’m looking forward to the sequel.

 

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