Excerpt, Giveaways, Interviews, Reviews

Author Interview & #Review of Spooning Daisy by Maggie McConnell w/a rafflecopter giveaway!

Spooning Daisy

by Maggie McConnell

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GENRE:   Contemporary romance (romantic comedy)

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BLURB:

Her mango chutney is exquisite; her blueberry sauce to die for. But Chef de Cuisine Daisy Moon is a woman without a kitchen after a “bit of trouble” at her last job. Now blacklisted from Seattle to San Francisco, Daisy’s sole job offer is from Wild Man Lodge in Otter Bite, Alaska, where the end of the road is just her beginning.

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Excerpt One:

Max cocked his head at her. No siree, Bob. Daisy Moon was not easy. She was like a 1500 piece puzzle, where all the pieces are really tiny, and similar in shape and color, but are nonetheless different, and it would take weeks, maybe even months, just to get the edges put together.  

“Don’t look so surprised,” she said. “I know I’m not exactly laid back. Okay, maybe that’s being kind,” she responded to Max’s smile. “But I’m an incredible cook. And a really good speller. Not to mention having a humongous vocabulary. I came in fourth in the national spelling bee championship when I was fourteen.”

Without meaning to, Max pictured Daisy at fourteen, in a prim white blouse and a demure plaid skirt with her hair tied back in a ribbon, triumphantly spelling words like…concupiscence.

“Do I know what men want, or what?” Now Daisy smiled…at herself.

Taking the cue, Max leaned into her and spoke sincerely, but resisted the urge to cup her hand.

“Somewhere there is a man who wants a pretty redhead who’s difficult and a great cook with a really humongous vocabulary who can spell…and next time it won’t be a cross-dressing felon.”

 

 

 

Welcome, Maggie. Please tell us a little about yourself.

My bio contains the official (nutshell) version of me. But here are some things not mentioned. During college, I worked as a go-go girl. About that same time, I made bi-weekly appearances on an ABC children’s show called Cactus Pete’s Funny Company. I would bring an adoptable dog or cat from the humane shelter where I volunteered and find homes for them. I once organized a fundraiser with pool great, Minnesota Fats. Before moving to Alaska, I owned a women’s weightlifting gym called The Body Shop. In Alaska, I waitressed at the legendary Mr. Whitekeys’ Fly-By-Night club before I found a “professional” job. I once served 18 months on a Federal grand jury. I adopted my first horse when I was 38; when we went out on trail, I strapped “bear bells” around one of his legs so the bears could hear us coming. I dislocated my right shoulder from a fall while skiing. I’m a (retired) marathon runner. I’ve been a blonde (natural color), brunette, and redhead. I can operate a John Deere tractor. I can relocate rattlesnakes without harming them. I love jewelry and art.  I don’t have a tattoo, but I really want one. Can anyone give me encouragement/advice?

Is Spooning Daisy a single title, or part of a series?

It’s the first in a series of books set in Otter Bite, Alaska. The series is a little unusual in that the setting is as equally important as the characters. You might say, the setting is a character as well. While we see some of the same people/animal characters from book to book, the stories aren’t necessarily related (as they might be in a series about a specific family or group of friends).

What were your inspirations for the story?

The original idea (and opening scene) was inspired by my own garage sale, right down to the sheets covering the makeshift plywood tables and the silver-plated chafing dish. As the day progressed, I started thinking “what if…” and the book was born. The primary location of the story, Otter Bite, Alaska is inspired by the very real Kachemak Bay village of Seldovia where I spent summers during my 23 years living in Anchorage. Anyone interested in learning more about this special place can visit Seldovia.com .

When did the writing bug first bite?

Around seven, with a very short story about a donkey, which I also illustrated. So even then I had a Gemini’s inclination for diversity. I haven’t been blessed with a “singular purpose” in life although I do have a few “constants.” That 7-year-old has never stopped writing. Over the years, I’ve taken writing courses, completed manuscripts, attended conferences, entered contests—You Had Me at Habari, set in Kenya, was a 2012 Golden Heart finalist. Now I take one page at a time.

You mention a few “constants” in addition to writing. What are they?

As early as I can remember, I’ve had an affinity with animals. In my family, I was the one who had the menagerie—birds, mice, fish, turtles, hamsters, bunnies, dogs, and cats. If I could get it at Woolworths (I’m dating myself now!) I had it. But that love grew and changed into a philosophy that today I live by. The more I learned about the exploitation of animals, the less I could be complacent and participate in that abuse. Peter Singer’s eye-opening book, Animal Liberation, was a huge influence. Forty years ago, when I became a vegetarian, there was so little public awareness about the cruelty of factory farming; I had to constantly explain why I wasn’t eating animals.

Through the years, I’ve witnessed a positive shift in the public consciousness about animals and also the environment. Two years ago, I became a vegan, which means no dairy. Now, my life has come full circle; living on a ranch, I again have a menagerie—two horses, a dog, a cat and a cornucopia of wild critters.

Do animals influence your writing?

My main characters always have some connection to and affection for animals. In Spooning Daisy, both Daisy and Max have animal companions—revealing more would spoil the surprise. I also like to include a variety of animal characters—domesticated and wild—so that the same dog and cat aren’t always showing up. My animal characters have a role to play; they aren’t there for decoration. Just as I learn from my animals, my hero and heroine learn from theirs.

Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time?

I’m a PBS junkie, although between ranch and writing I don’t have much spare time. I’m a sucker for everything English, Scottish, and Irish (In fact, I’ve visited England, Scotland, Ireland, and Australia). I’m currently hooked on The Great British Baking Show, which sadly, is about to end. Also LOVE Grantchester (not your mom’s vicar!), Call the Midwife, Nature, A Place to Call Home, Miss Fischer’s Murder Mysteries, Father Brown, The Coroner, and Murder in Paradise, Last Tango in Halifax, My Mother and Other Strangers, Home Fires, and assorted documentaries that catch my interest AND are often the source of the trivia that appears in my books. If I ever have real spare time again, I love to travel, probably a carryover from my childhood overseas.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard or seen?

I suppose it would be a rattlesnake climbing a tree. While there are snakes that live in trees, rattlesnakes don’t normally go there. I was in awe. I took a video of this one and posted it on my personal Facebook page.

Any ironies in your life?

I’m not keen on flying and yet I’ve been flying, in all types of aircraft, for over 50 years. For some reason I’ve been surrounded by pilots from my father to boyfriends and finally a husband, son-in-law, and stepson. I can even pilot a plane and yet, I’m not happy in the air.  

When you look at your life, what do you think will be your greatest accomplishment?

I hope it will be that I lived courageously, without regrets, and I made a positive contribution.

Thank you for hosting Spooning Daisy!

 

This book is not what I was expecting.  Nope, not all.  The tropes are there for me;  boss/employee, enemies to lovers (?), and opposites attract but at times I felt like the romance wasn’t there.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved Daisy and Max in spades but at times, their romance seemed a little off to me.  The comedy is there.  The tragic comedy, oh my, is in spades, too.  But I felt like the ending is a bit rushed.  I would have liked a more solid ending to their romance.

Let me explain…when I read opposites attract or for that matter, an enemies to lovers story, I expect some romance from them.  Now, the scenes on the ferry, at least to me, are the true romance parts of the books.  This is where Max and Daisy get to know each other and its enduring.  Daisy has got some quirks.  Like some serious quirks but Max isn’t without his, too.  But we don’t get see his until later.  True that Max does something that I almost couldn’t forgive him for and for awhile Daisy doesn’t.  I loved that she really gave it to him afterward but in the end, Max truly did romance Daisy on the boat.

The tragedies that Daisy had to endure were almost too much.  The garage sale and bar scene were PERFECT.  I loved that not only was her ex-involved but his new girlfriend, too.  Which happened to be Max’s ex-flavor of the month.  The dialogue between the four of them is priceless and unfortunately, it doesn’t end well for Max or Daisy.  Or when she thought Elizabeth as on a plane.  Honestly, my heart was in my throat during that.  And yes, I won’t tell you about Elizabeth and I loved her.  Again, I expected something else.  Nice touch, Ms. McConnell.

Charity, Rita, and Maeve are great secondary characters.  They rounded out Max and Daisy when they were having problems with one another.  Otter Bite is a character within itself.  I can’t wait to get to know it better in future books.  I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention the inn that Max owns.  Wow…once it is revealed to the extent of what the inn means to Max and his guests, I was totally blown away.  I just wish I knew about it sooner.  I felt like if Daisy knew about it, her feelings would have changed sooner, too.

Overall, I loved Daisy and Max.  The book flowed really well and the sex is off the page.  Oh, we get the build up but then fade to black.  This story didn’t need it.  Daisy and Max had some major “growing up” to do in the book for it to work out for them in the end.  Daisy especially with all of her quirks and the robbery.   Do yourself a favor and pick this one up.  You won’t be sorry.

 

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Golden Heart nominee Maggie McConnell spent her childhood overseas as the daughter of US diplomats. Attending college in Illinois, she earned a BA in Art and an MBA while working at the local humane shelter. At 26, she packed her dog and cat into a Ford truck and drove the Alcan Highway to Alaska, where she spent 23 years exploring The Last Frontier in a single-engine Cessna. A vegan and animal rights advocate, Maggie provides a sanctuary on her Arizona ranch for all creatures great and small, but her immediate family includes dog Molly, cat Sara, horses Quinn and Teena, and an ever-growing dynasty of chipmunks. Every year, like the Gray Whale, Maggie returns to Alaska.

Website:  

http://MaggieMcConnellRomance.com

Facebook Author Page:

https://www.facebook.com/MaggieMcConnellRomance/

Amazon Buy Link:

https://www.amazon.com/Spooning-Daisy-Otter-Bite-Romance-ebook/dp/B015VA3O10

Barnes & Noble Buy Link:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/spooning-daisy-maggie-mcconnell/1122713766?ean=9781601836861

Kobo Buy Link:

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/spooning-daisy

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE:

Maggie McConnell will be offering 1) Nordstrom “Daisy” vegan leather clutch, 2) Nordstrom turtle pin, or 3) Rebecca Minkoff star pendant/necklace to 3 randomly drawn winners (US only; international winners will receive a $25 Amazon/BN GC).

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Excerpt, Giveaways, Interviews, Reviews, TWRP

#Review of Second Chance in Laguna (Finding Forever in Laguna series #1) by Claire Marti w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @clairepmarti

Second Chance in Laguna

by Claire Marti

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GENRE: Contemporary Romance

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BLURB:

When Sophie Barnes’s fiancé jilts her at the altar, her carefully planned life implodes. Considering her ex’s betrayal to be a rude wake-up call, she leaves everything she knows in San Diego and flees to Laguna Beach. She vows to transform her life by avoiding men for a year and by fulfilling her dream of writing a wildly successful novel.  

Sophie’s new landlord, Nicholas Morgan, is a gorgeous, successful architect with a player reputation. He makes it tough for Sophie to remember that she’s sworn to be single. Nick’s avoided the intimacy of a long-term relationship–until Sophie’s independence, courage, and beauty touch his guarded heart. Both Sophie and Nick are terrified of being hurt again, but can they resist the pull of true love?

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Excerpt One:

Nick arrived right on time, looking gorgeous in faded jeans and a plain white t-shirt. How did he always manage to start the butterflies fluttering in her stomach? Just by standing there with the setting sun framing him? She was in trouble.

“Hi beautiful, ready to go?” He clasped her face in his hands and planted a soft kiss on her lips.

Returning his kiss, Sophie wound her arms around his neck and deepened it. She couldn’t resist. His strong arms wrapped around her waist, hugging her close to his broad chest.

“Mmmm, feel free to greet me like that every time I come over,” he said, lips curved up into a sweet smile.

Heat washed her cheeks and she returned his smile. “Let’s go. Prepare to be blown away by the movie snack of the century.”

Determined to keep things light and enjoy the movie before “the talk,” Sophie thrust down the lick of panic bubbling in her gut. She’d accomplished next to nothing all afternoon, instead wrestling with whether she needed to tell him about Doug.

The angel on her shoulder whispered to tell him because if they were going to have any kind of relationship, even a friends-with-benefits one, honesty and trust were vital. The devil urged her to zip it. They’d only known each other a few weeks. What if he lived up to his “Player of Laguna” reputation and expected only a fun fling? Even though he seemed deeper than that. What if she scared him off with a premature talk?

Welcome Claire Marti! Please start off by telling us a little about yourself.

 

My name is Claire Marti and I live in Encinitas, California, a sleepy beach town about twenty-five miles north of San Diego. I’ve been writing stories since I was a child. I majored in English at the University of Virginia, practiced law briefly, and transitioned into teaching yoga and writing full-time over the last few years.

My debut novel, Second Chance in Laguna, launched on March 31, 2017. The story grew from themes of starting over, carpe diem, and of living life to the fullest.

Is Second Chance in Laguna a single title, or part of a series?

Second Chance in Laguna is the first in the Finding Forever in Laguna series. It’s a contemporary romance set in, surprise, Laguna Beach, California. At Last in Laguna, the second book in the series will release later in 2017, and Sunset in Laguna, the third book should launch in early 2018.

What were your inspirations for the story?

Taking a negative experience like learning that the person you love is a serial cheater and turning it into an opportunity to transform your entire life. I love the idea of a new door opening when another one closes. Life is a cycle of growth—we’re always changing and learning. My heroine in Second Chance in Laguna, Sophie Barnes, is jilted at the altar and it’s a wake-up call for her. She realizes she isn’t living her most authentic life and takes a risk to follow her dreams.

Please share your setting for (book title). Have you ever lived or visited there? If so, what did you like most?

As you might guess from the title, the setting is Laguna Beach, California. I chose the setting because of its romantic atmosphere. With its gorgeous green hills, charming architecture, breathtaking beaches, and proliferation of art galleries, Laguna feels like a sanctuary. The first time I visited the tiny beach enclave, I felt transported to a magical new world.

On a personal note, Laguna holds a special place in my heart: I got engaged on the beach there. My passion for Laguna fuels my writing and hopefully sparks the same enthusiasm in readers.

When did the writing bug first bite?

I was a voracious reader at a young age. Writing came naturally for me and I started writing stories in elementary school. We rescued a baby squirrel and I fell in love with Squeaky. Naturally, he deserved a book. My cat Tom and my brother’s boa constrictor, Napoleon Bonaparte, each also starred in a book. Second Chance in Laguna features a rescue dog named Bailey and cat named Zack.

Who are you favorite authors, book/series?

Nora Roberts: Gallagher’s of Ardmore trilogy, Irish Born trilogy, Key trilogy, Three Sisters trilogy—did I mention I love her trilogies?

Kerrigan Byrne: Victorian Rebels series,

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast and The Sun Also Rises,

Jane Austen, Ayn Rand, Julie James, Lisa Kleypas, Sarah Maclean

If you could have an author roundtable discussion with any authors, who would you invite?

Nora Roberts, Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde, Kerrigan Byrne, J.R. Ward, Sarah MacLean, and Anne Rice.

Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time?

I love walking on the beach every day, reading, listening to live music, traveling every chance I get, practicing and teaching yoga, and spending time with my husband and friends. I love delicious food, as long as someone else prepares it!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard or seen?

A few years ago, we visited The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. It’s the place that inspired Stephen King’s terrifying story, The Shining. You can feel otherworldly energy in the hotel and I have the shadows of nightmares to prove it.

What is the one thing that you would tell an aspiring writer to do?

Never give up. Keep writing. Trust your voice. Here’s one of my favorite quotes: Don’t forget-no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell. Charles de Lint
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First of all, congratulations on your debut.  I remember when my one an only book came out.  I was over the moon and also in disbelief that someone took a chance on me.  But enough about me; on with the review.

This book starts off fast and doesn’t let up.  I like that when reading a new/debut author.  Ms. Marti doesn’t bog down the story with unnecessary details and since this is the first book of a series, I feel that we will get more of the Morgans, including Nick’s sister, Alyssa.  In fact, I feel like she has only scratched the surface with Alyssa and Brandt, Nick’s BFF.  I mean like, WTH?  Denial, denial, denial with those two.  I loved it but I’m sure there is much more going on.  That’s what I truly liked about this story.  It has a sense of family surrounding Nick and Sophie.  Sophie’s mom is a piece but she does love her daughter.  Sophie has Kelly, her BFF.  Nick has Brandt and Alyssa.  The turn to each other through the tough times but also through the fun.

Sophie’s ex, Doug…OMG!  What a douche and it didn’t help that Heather, Nick’s office manager, just acerbated the romance between Nick and Sophie.  I don’t think that Heather is through with her quest but we will have to see.  Too bad that Doug and Heather didn’t realize that Sophie and Nick’s love for each other is stronger than what those two tried to do.  Ugh!  But that makes for good drama in a romance book and Ms. Marti nailed it.

Zack, the cat, and Bailey, the dog were great, too.  Ms. Marti makes good use of all the characters that she has created in this book and also in the series.  I believe in love at first sight and while some might think that the book is full of instalove, I don’t think so.  Nick had to figure out why he could never settle down and Sophie had to realize that men like her dad and Doug were just stupid.  She is lovable and finding Nick made her finally stand up for herself to everyone around her and to fight for what she and Nick had.  I won’t give you exactly what Nick finally figured out with his lack of commitment but I will say…AWWWWW!  He’s such a sweetie.

Overall, I really liked Ms. Marti’s writing, her characterization, and the plotting of the book.  It’s fast with no filler.  I can’t wait to read the rest of the series later this year.  Bring on Alyssa, Brandt, and Kelly.

 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.

Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga. Her debut releases from The Wild Rose Press on March 31, 2017 and is the first in the Finding Forever in Laguna series.

Website:  www.clairemarti.com

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

Twitter:  @clairepmarti

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8203678.Claire_Marti

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2kafVLW

The Wild Rose Press, Inc.: http://bit.ly/2jk8iQY

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2mpGgq9

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/second-chance-in-laguna

iBooks:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/second-chance-in-laguna/id1196981760?mt=11

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

Claire Marti will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Excerpt, Giveaways, Interviews, Spotlight

Author Interview featuring Sick Like That by Norman Green w/a rafflecopter giveaway!

Sick Like That

by Norman Green

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GENRE:  Mystery (Detective)

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BLURB:

PI Marty Stiles was shot and paralyzed and is now in rehab, trying to decide whether to fight to recover. Meanwhile, his agency is being run by two women: the street-smart and savvy Alessandra Martillo, who’s the muscle, and Sarah Waters, a naïve, single mom, new to the job but who quickly becomes the brains. Though the two women grew up only a few miles from each other in Brooklyn, it might as well have been worlds apart. Now they’re partners, and for all their differences, are committed to their joint venture. When Sarah’s deadbeat ex-husband gets into trouble, Al would rather let him suffer, but she agrees to help Sarah figure out where he is and why another man has ended up dead.

This follow-up to The Last Gig features a tough and edgy, one-of-a-kind heroine—an entirely fresh take on the hardboiled women private investigators who dominate so many crime fiction classics.

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Excerpt Three:

Sarah Waters climbed the subway steps out onto the street and headed for home. She lived in the basement of her mother’s house in Bensonhurst, a largely Italian neighborhood down on the southern end of Brooklyn. She always found herself dragging when she got this close, the four blocks from the train station to the house always seemed the hardest part of the trip. You’re always so happy to get out of there in the morning, she told herself, and so bummed when you have to come back. Is the basement really that bad? But it wasn’t her mother’s basement she minded, not really, it was her mother, right upstairs, and all too often, downstairs and in her face. “Frank is a good man.” Her mother never got tired of saying it. “I don’t know why you two couldn’t work things out. Your father and I had our differences . . .”

Last night Sarah had finally had enough. “Frankie is only good for one thing, Ma.” She slapped her left hand into the crook of her right arm and pumped her right fist.

“AAAAGH!” Her mother squeezed her eyes shut and crossed herself. “Don’t talk like that in my house!”

“It’s the truth, Ma.” She glanced over her shoulder, but her son, Frankie Junior, was in his room with the door closed.

She could just hear the sounds of his television. “Frankie could be fun sometimes, but you can only be doing that for about an hour a day, am I right? What am I supposed to do with him the rest of the time? When you have a family, you’re supposed to grow up, bring home a paycheck, you’re supposed to quit hanging out in the bar drinking beers and chasing the waitresses. Besides, he’s outa work two years now. I get back together with him, you’re gonna have him in your basement, too. You want that? He’s like a stray cat, you give him food, a soft bed, and a nice place to shit, you’ll never get rid of him.”

“Would that be so bad? Your father and I . . .”

“I don’t wanna hear it.” You can eat shit for forty years if that’s what you want, but not me . . . But she couldn’t tell her mother that, since his death, her father had completely reformed his character and was now a saint.

Welcome, Norman Green! Please start off by telling us a little about yourself.

I’m a hardhat, aristocrat, spent half my life in the inner city, come with me and I’ll show you things you’ve never seen…

Is a single title, or part of a series?

It’s a sequel to ‘The Last Gig,’ and there might be one or two more out there somewhere. I thought I was done but I keep hearing voices…

What were your inspirations for the story?

The fine Borough of Brooklyn, and the unmatchable breadth of humanity you can find there.

Please share your setting. Have you ever lived or visited there? If so, what did you like most?

NYC, Brooklyn in particular. Yeah, I’ve been. The people are always the best and most interesting part of any place.

When did the writing bug first bite?

I always loved reading, and one day I finally decided to try writing, if nothing else, just to get it out of my system.

Who are you favorite authors, book/series?

Larry Niven, Lawrence Block, JD MacDonald, Ross McDonald, Joseph Conrad, about a thousand more.

If you could have an author roundtable discussion with any authors, who would you invite?

Mark Twain, Malcolm Gladwell, Christopher Hitchins, Carlo Rovelli, Dan John, Stephen King, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, how many chairs we got at this table?

Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time?

I wrote ‘Way Past Legal,’ which is about a birdwatcher, and I’ve been intrigued by birds ever since.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard or seen?

Saw a fat, naked, entirely hairless Chinese guy walking down the sidewalk on Union Street in Queens. Cop pulls over, doesn’t even get out of the cruiser. Rolls his window down, says, ‘hey, you. Get over here.’ Naked guy walks up to the cruiser. Cop says, ‘What’s your story?’ I didn’t stay for the story, I made up my own, which turned into ‘Shadow of a Thief,’ coming out this fall.

What is the one thing that you would tell an inspiring writer to do?

Get out, man, get your hands dirty, make some friends, and above all, learn how to listen.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Norman Green is the author of six crime novels, most recently Sick Like That. Born in Massachusetts, he now lives in New Jersey with his wife.

 

www.normgreenwriter.com

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

Norman will be awarding an digital copy of Sick Like That to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

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