Tuesday, April 25, 2017

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Jackqui Letran, author of 'I Would, But My Damn Mind Won't Let Me!'

Jacqui Letran is a passionate and energetic leader who is truly gifted at helping teens transform into confident, happy and successful young adults. Jacqui teaches teens that success and happiness are possible, regardless of their current struggles or circumstances.

Jacqui is an International Best Selling Author, National Speaker, and Founder of Teen Confidence Academy. She has 17 years of experience in Adolescent Health as a Nurse Practitioner, Success Coach and Teen Confidence Expert. Jacqui is passionate and committed to guiding teens to achieve remarkable success in their academic and personal lives.

She is also the winner of the:
2016 Literary Classics Lumen Award and Gold Medal for Youth Non-Fiction
2016 Readers' Favorite Gold Medal Award for Young Adult Non-Fiction

When not working with teens or writing, you can find her traveling in her RV, hiking with her dog or spoiling her three cats. She now lives in
Asheville, North Carolina.

Her latest book, I Would, But My Damn Mind Won't Let Me! is available at Amazon.



Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I grew up with a love for books.  I struggled a lot with low self-esteem and difficulty connecting with people when I was younger, so books were my friends.  I remember going to the library and checking out 3-4 books at a time and devouring them.  Having these books gave me a sense of escape from the pressures of daily life.  As I got older, my love for books continued.  

I never entertained the idea of being an author until my clients requested it repeatedly.  I am blessed to have a private practice helping people take control of their lives by taking control of their minds.  I believe in helping people overcome their problems and giving them the tools to be their source of strength and power. So with each client, I would teach them about their mind and how to take control of it.  There is a lot of information to digest so my clients would ask me for a written summary.  After repeatedly hearing this request, the most logical thing to do was write a book.  

As the book evolved, I became more excited. I realized how important books were to me when I was a teen in need of help, and here was my chance to pay it forward.  And although the content in my book applies to anyone, whether young or old, I wrote the book specifically to help teens.  I hope that my work can reach teens who need some extra support. I want the book to help them feel less alone, give them some insights, as well as tools so they can go after what they want in life.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

My journey to becoming an author started slightly bumpy but turned out pretty smooth. When I decided to write my books, I sat down at my desk and started typing. I wanted every sentence to be perfect, so I would type, delete and rewrite. Then type, delete, and rewrite again. After hours of hard work, I only had a few paragraphs to show for it.

It was so frustrating.  I knew my topic very well, yet, I couldn’t articulate it.  I knew that if I continued to write this way, it would take years to complete my book.  I had a message that I wanted to share, and I did not want to wait (or work) that long to get it out.

This was when I decided to write everything out in longhand.  I bought a cute notebook, something small enough for me to take everywhere I go.  I would go to a local coffee shop or to the beach, and when the inspiration came, I would begin to write.  I wrote as if I were teaching the material to a client.  I wrote freely; no re-reading, and no editing.  I spent two to three hours writing each day, and within seven weeks I had the first draft done. It took several days for me to type everything up and then the first round of editing began.

I self-published my book approximately eight weeks after I started the writing process. It hit #1 in several categories and several countries on launch day and has consistently stayed within the top 20 books in those categories for the past two years.  

My tip to other writers is to take a deep breath in and just go for it.  Put your best effort into your work, but avoid aiming for perfection.  That’s just an excuse to not get your work out there.  If you believe in the message you have, then be willing to take a little risk to show the world your knowledge and talent.  Know in advance that not everyone will like your work and that you might receive some criticism… and that’s okay.  You will reach the people who need to hear your message, in a way that only you can deliver it.  Think about it, if you can reach just one person and change their life because of your work, wouldn’t that alone be worth it?

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I self-published my book. The ability to self-publish definitely gives me more confidence in moving forward with my work.  When I first started research publishing options, the traditional publishing route was overwhelming.  There is so much more that I would have to do to secure a publisher.  If traditional publishing was my only option, I’m not sure I would have gone ahead and written my two books.  There’s definitely a lot to learn about self-publishing, but it is a much easier entry into the authorship world.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

I was very pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get a book published.  Yes, there is a lot that goes into publishing your book, but there are a lot of amazing resources out there.  CreateSpace for print books and Amazon Kindle for eBooks are probably the two biggest players in the self-publishing world, and they have many free resources available for authors.  

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I have two books in the works.  One is the second edition of my book, 5 Simple Questions to Reclaim Your Happiness! I have been getting some awesome feedback and requests, so I’m working new ideas into the next edition.  Many readers requested more case studies, so I’m adding in several more.  Also, I’m making part of this edition a workbook so readers can follow along and use the questions and other tools provided to quickly reclaim their happiness.  

The second book I’m working on is called, How to Unleash Your Inner Super Powers and Destroy Anxiety and Self-Doubt.  This is the third book in my Words of Wisdom for Teen Series, and it is the most fun to write so far.  I’m working toward a late August release, just in time to help teens to go back to school with increased confidence, having learned about their own Inner Super Powers!

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

I think people will be pleasantly surprised to learn that they do in fact have the power to control their thoughts and feelings, and it’s easier than they might believe today.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Through my book, I hope to either introduce or reinforce the concept that you have the power to control your thoughts and feelings and whatever you focus on, becomes your reality. Even if your current external environment is not favorable, you can change your mindset, and you are able to free yourself from your suffering.  

Unfortunately, as humans, we will experience pain from time to time, but suffering is optional.  You are always at choice on how to feel, and by that I mean, you have the power to decide how to feel about any situation. You can choose to focus on the negative aspects and feel bad and weighted down, or you can focus on the positive aspects and purposefully decide on your next course of action that will bring you more peace, success, and happiness. The choice is always yours.

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Yes, I want to leave readers with two simple, yet powerful lessons I learned several years ago.  The first lesson is, “Change your thoughts, change your life!”  The second lesson is, “Happiness is an inside job.”

What I mean by that is if you look for happiness in your environment, whether it's to be popular, or to date a certain person, or have a particular material thing — you will find your happiness short-lived because the things that “happen out there” aren’t within your control.  The person or conditions that you are validating your happiness with can change or go away. And when that happens, you’ll need to search for another source to make you happy.  

When you are happy with yourself, regardless of what happens in your environment, you can look inward and focus on the things that bring you true joy and happiness.  

This all begins with taking control of your thoughts and feelings.  Even if your circumstance is not ideal, or even if it is painful, as long as you are willing to change how you think about the situation, you will notice a change in how you feel.  Keep focusing on the positives of every situation and create more happy moments for yourself.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Book Trailer Blitz: The Sisters: A Mystery of Good and Evil, Horror and Suspense by Don Sloan

About the Book:

Author: Don Sloan
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 239
Genre: Supernatural/Mystery/Horror/Thriller

In this book, written in the style of Stephen King, two young people on vacation in a small New England seacoast town battle unspeakable horror and solve a hundred-year-old mystery. Fourteen Victorian mansions whisper dark secrets among themselves, and a dangerous shadow roams up and down the wide, wintry boulevard in search of new prey.

The Sisters: A Mystery of Good and Evil, Horror and Suspense is available at Amazon

Book Excerpt:

Snow pellets blow white across the boulevard and up onto the wide, night-shadowed porch of the house just in the center of the block. Inside, past leaded glass doors and heavy oak furnishings, something moves.
Up the polished mahogany staircase, and up yet another flight to the third story something moves that has no breath, no warmth, no life.
There is a narrow passageway to the attic, locked behind a heavy door with steel bands. The shadow pauses at the door only long enough to pass cold fingers over the padlock. It falls heavily to the floor and the door opens. The shadow passes through, as quietly as a midnight breeze in an icy cold forest. Here, no light at all warms the creaking steps. It is darker than the inside of death.
In the attic, the bitter, knifing cold whirls and eddies around shapeless mounds of old memorabilia and the shadow moves silently to a dormer window. Cobwebs—spun by industrious spiders long dead—are brushed aside and a single candle is placed on the sill. And in the darkness a flame is struck.
Outside, the wind falls off to nothing, and snow drifts listlessly to the ground. The candle flickers briefly and catches, burning a pinprick hole in the vastness of the night.
Far out to sea, a single cry begins and then falls silent.
And in the dormer window, where the shadow has settled down to wait, the candle flares brightly and then goes out.

About the Author

Don Sloan is a former journalist for a large metropolitan daily newspaper and also an avid book reviewer, with more than 200 reviews posted on Amazon. His goal with the Dark Forces Series is to present readers with a new and exciting horror and suspense thriller experience. He currently lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with his wife of 39 years, and, when not writing, enjoys a cold glass of Chardonnay in the evenings, sitting on his back deck.



Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to a $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • This giveaway ends midnight April 24.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on April 25.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Feature: Dancing with Detective Danger by Lynn Crandall

Inside the Book:

Title: Dancing with Detective Danger
Author: Lynn Crandall
Release Date: June 24, 2013
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Uncovering secrets and exposing truth are all in a day's work for private investigator Sterling Aegar. But when her latest case threatens to reveal her own buried feelings for an old love, Sterling runs for cover. A body in the bathtub and pleas from a jilted wife to find her wayward husband mean a welcome break from the usual humdrum cases Sterling and her sister, Lacey, are called to investigate. But when Sterling's old flame, Detective Ben Kirby, walks into the murder scene, she feels her world spin out of control. Danger from thugs and murderers poses no greater threat than the peril she'd suffer if she lets daredevil Ben get too close. Seeing Sterling for the first time in two years is for Ben like drinking in a healing tonic. He could never forget the way it felt to run his hands over her delicious curves or the way she touched his soul. She remains the one person who can make the emptiness in his gut go away. Finding the murderer is his job, but protecting Sterling from seriously dangerous people is his mission. As the case unfolds, Sterling and Ben not only solve the murder and locate the missing husband, they confront secrets that set them each free from a painful past.


Meet the Author:

I started spinning stories as a child when I tried to entertain my younger sister at night when we were supposed to be going to sleep. In the dark, my stories typically took on a scary or paranormal element -- didn't do much to put us to sleep. Today, I hope my stories still fail to put readers to sleep, but rather take them on a journey. That's what I've been on since I decided to make writing my focus. As a reporter and magazine feature writer, I truly enjoy learning as I work on stories. As a romance writer, I enjoy doing the research and following an evolving story of my characters. I'm still learning as I go.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mystery at Manatee Key Book Blast!

We welcome Nancy Stewart's MYSTERY AT MANATEE KEY Book Blast today!

Author: Nancy Stewart
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Pages: 36
Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Bella and Britt love to explore along the beach and at more remote places like Manatee Key as well.  It is there that they discover a manatee smuggling ring. 

The manatees have already been netted, so the girls must act fast!  But a kidnapper snatches Bella, hustling her into their hideout.  When Britt sneaks a look in the window, she discovers that the ranger is being held, too.  Now it’s up to Britt.  But what can a single girl do?

Mystery at Manatee Key is available at Amazon


Book Excerpt:
A dark animal circled slowly in the shallow water of Manatee Key. Walking closer, Bella whispered. “A baby manatee. And it has a patch of white near its snout.” Britt frowned. “But where’s the mother? It must be hungry. We should tell the ranger.”
“Yeah,” Bella said. “This one’s too young to be without her mom. Let’s go.”
The friends worked their way through the jungle-like brush back to their bicycles. Britt took the lead. “It’s really hot, but we gotta make time.” 
After a twenty minute ride down dusty paths leading to the main road in their coastal town, they reached the ranger station. “It’s quiet in here today,” Bella said.
 The ranger’s assistant glanced up from his reading. “Hi, girls. Can I help you?”
“We need to see the ranger and report an orphaned manatee,” Bella said.
He frowned. “She hasn’t come in today, and that’s not like her. I’ve called her phones. Nobody answered. And no one’s seen her. Have you by any chance?”
“No,” they answered at the same time.
 “Well, it’s a mystery,” he said. “I won’t call the police yet. But I’m getting worried. Now, about that manatee. Can you take me to it?”
 “Sure,” Britt said. “If you can bring us back to town. We rode our bikes here.” He nodded. “Of course.”

Nancy Stewart has been an elementary school teacher and a professor of education.  Having lived in London for ten years, she was a consultant to the University of Cambridge. She is the author of the Bella and Britt series picture books and the authorized biography of Katrina Simpkins, a young girl whose life was forever changed by Winter, the dolphin (Guardian Angel Publishing.)  Her writing of One Pelican at a Time was featured on the PBS special, GulfWatch in 2011.  Nancy’s YA-LGBT novel will be published by Interlude Press autumn of 2017.  She is a member of the Rate Your Story organization as a critique judge.



About the Author

Nancy Stewart has been an elementary school teacher and a professor of education.  Having lived in London for ten years, she was a consultant to the University of Cambridge. She is the author of the Bella and Britt series picture books and the authorized biography of Katrina Simpkins, a young girl whose life was forever changed by Winter, the dolphin (Guardian Angel Publishing.)  Her writing of One Pelican at a Time was featured on the PBS special, GulfWatch in 2011.  Nancy’s YA-LGBT novel will be published by Interlude Press autumn of 2017.  She is a member of the Rate Your Story organization as a critique judge.




Friday, April 14, 2017

Cover Reveal: Chemistry of Magic by Patricia Rose

Inside the Book:

Title: Chemistry of Magic
Author: Patricia Rice
Publisher: Book View Cafe
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Ecopy 

A dying viscount, a bookish botanist, and a marriage of convenience that becomes. . . inconvenient. . .

Diagnosed with consumption, Viscount "Devil" Dare knows his days are numbered. With his greedy cousin scheming to throw Dare’s mother and sisters out of their home after his death, he can hardly refuse a mysterious lady’s solution—wedding vows. Her lands would ensure his industrial success—and secure the future for those he loves. 

Bookish botanist Emilia McDowell desperately needs the land she will inherit once she marries. Her gift for the healing arts requires growing and experimenting with herbs if she’s to save lives. When she learns that her funds would benefit handsome Lord Dare, who is said to be dying, she offers a marriage of convenience. 

But if Emilia touches Dare, her dangerous healing gift could kill her. As they learn to love under trying circumstances, Emilia longs to find the courage to be a true wife—until she discovers Dare's plans for her inheritance. Can love and marriage surmount death and betrayal?



With several million books in print and New York Times and USA Today's bestseller lists under her belt, former CPA Patricia Rice writes emotionally-charged contemporary and historical romances which have won numerous awards, including the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice and Career Achievement Awards.  

Her books have also been honored as Romance Writers of America RITA® finalists in the historical, regency and contemporary categories.

A firm believer in happily-ever-after for good reason, Patricia Rice is married to her high school sweetheart and has two children. A native of Kentucky and New York, a past resident of North Carolina and St. Louis, Missouri, she currently resides in Southern California, and now does accounting only for herself. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Authors Guild, and Novelists, Inc.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Interview: Talking Craft with Mystery Author Margaret Fenton

Margaret Fenton grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and moved to Birmingham in 1996. She received her B.A. in English from the Newcomb College of Tulane University, and her Master of Social Work from Tulane. She spent nearly ten years as a child and family therapist for the Department of Human Resources before focusing on her writing. Hence, her work tends to reflect her interest in social causes and mental health, especially where kids are concerned.  She is the planning coordinator of Murder in the Magic City, a one-day, one-track annual mystery fan conference in Homewood, Alabama. She is President of the Birmingham Chapter of Sisters in Crime and a member of the Mystery Writers of America. Margaret lives in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover with her husband, a software developer.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Little Girl Gone. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it? 

A:  Claire Conover is back in the sequel to Little Lamb Lost.  She has taken into custody a 13-year-old girl found sleeping behind a grocery store.  The girl’s murdered mother is found at a construction site owned by a family friend, then the girl disappears.   Her mother worked in an illegal gambling industry in Birmingham.  Things only get more complicated from there.  Is it possible the girl pulled the trigger?  She doesn’t have a lot of street smarts, so where could she have run? Claire has to find the answers, and the girl, fast. 

I knew when I started writing that I wanted to write a series, so this is the second book in the Claire Conover series.  It continues to tell the story of her life, and her relationships and struggles.  I got the idea for the plot from a newspaper article about teens and sexting.

Q: What do you think makes a good amateur sleuth mystery? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

  1.  Characters.  The book has to have likeable characters that a reader can relate to.  Claire and her crew have to be people that you want to spend time with, and be friends with.
  2. Realistic plot.  One of my pet peeves is an amateur sleuth mystery where the protagonist has no good reason to be involved in the plot.  Claire is a social worker, so she comes in contact with evil people and innocent children, so I think that’s a good reason to get involved.
  3. Conflict.  It’s important to maintain tension in the novel.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: I get the ideas for my novels from everyday sources.  Newspapers, magazines.  I come up with one “what if?” question and then it goes from there.  I don’t outline the whole book, but I do jot down ideas for the next couple of chapters so I know where I’m going.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A:  My protagonist is based on many of the child welfare social workers I worked with when I was a mental health consultant for the Jefferson County Department of Human Resources.  I was around them every day and got a good idea about what their lives were like.  My parents were avid readers of all genres, and made sure I read early and often.  I owe my love of mysteries to them.  Claire was my late mother’s middle name, and Conover is my father’s middle name, so she is named after them to honor them.  My first novel, Little Lamb Lost, is dedicated to my father, who was also a social worker.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: My books are first person, so the antagonist in each book reveals him or herself as Claire investigates the mystery.  The antagonist is revealed piece by piece until the end of the novel.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A:  Dialogue is the main key.  Realistic snappy dialogue moves the plot along and reveals the characters.  In addition, I’ve read many books where the author feels they have to describe absolutely every little thing.  Don’t.  Just please don’t.  Leave some to the reader’s imagination.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A:  Birmingham is an incredibly diverse, complex city with a sometimes shameful history, especially when it comes to race relations.  I use that in the books to increase conflict. 

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A:  Well, Claire is a child welfare social worker, so the theme tends to be children and teens in danger.  All of the violence is off-screen though.  So I guess justice for children is the theme, and I knew that when I started the series.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A:  No, editing just makes things better.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

1.  Write a lot
2. Stick to it.
3.  Don’t give up.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A:  I like homework, so that’s ok.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A:  Killer Nashville is a great writer’s conference.  Highly recommend that one.  If you are just starting out, talk to other writers, published and unpublished.  Read Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird.  There’s a great chapter in there titled “Shitty First Drafts” that is very encouraging.  Remember a lot of this comes from the soul, so I don’t think reading 800 books on writing is going to be helpful.  Trust yourself. 

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A:  Don’t give up.  This is hard, but you can do it. One of the funniest things I’ve ever read is:  Read Fifty Shades of Gray.  When you are feeling discouraged, remember that piece of sh** got published and made a lot of money.  You can do this.