Friday, April 26, 2019

An Interview with Randy Overbeck, Author of 'Blood on the Chesapeake'

Dr. Randy Overbeck is a writer, educator, researcher and speaker in much demand. During his three plus decades of educational experience, he has performed many of the roles depicted in his writing with responsibilities ranging from coach and yearbook advisor to principal and superintendent. His new ghost story/mystery, Blood on the Chesapeake, will be released on April 10, 2019 by The Wild Rose Press. As the title suggests, the novel is set on the famous Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, home to endless shorelines, incredible sunsets and some of the best sailing in the world. Blood is first in a new series of paranormal mysteries, The Haunted Shores Mysteries. Dr. Overbeck’s first novel, Leave No Child Behind, a thriller about the terrorist takeover of a Midwest high school and one teacher’s stand against the intruders, won the 2011 Silver Award for Thrillers from Dr. Overbeck is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and an active member of the literary community. You can follow him on Twitter @OverbeckRandy, friend him on Facebook at Author Randy Overbeck or check out his webpage,
Find out more about his books:
Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about Blood on the Chesapeake, and what compelled you to write it.
Author: In my travels, I’ll always been intrigued by the possibilities of places I’ve visited, the “I wonder if” notion. When we journeyed to the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, I was overwhelmed by the quiet, scenic beauty of the area, but also intrigued by the duality of the cultures there. Here was a region bearing the hallmarks of a proud New England tradition, but with roots still very much in the South. (The area was home to famous slave plantations and was split in loyalties during the Civil War.) I thought it’d be interesting to explore that dichotomy in fiction. In this most peaceful and beautiful of settings on the Chesapeake Bay, what if something horrific happened in this small town and they tried to cover it up?
M.C.: What is your book about?
Author: Wilshire, Maryland seems like the perfect shore town on the Chesapeake Bay—quiet, scenic, charming—and promises Darrell Henshaw a new start in life and a second chance at love. That is, until he learns the town hides an ugly secret. A thirty-year-old murder in the high school. And a frightening ghost stalking his new office. Burned by an earlier encounter with the spirit world—with the OCD scars to prove it—he does NOT want to get involved. But when the desperate ghost hounds him, Darrell concedes. Assisted by his new love, he follows a trail that leads to the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and even the Klu Klux Klan. Then, when two locals who try to help are murdered, Darrell is forced to decide if he’s willing to risk his life—and the life of the woman he loves—to expose the killers of a young man he never knew.
M.C.:  What themes do you explore in Blood on the Chesapeake?
Author: Even though the book is set in the not-so-distant past (1998), I’ve tried to tap the themes and issues that are as relevant today as they were twenty years ago. The overriding theme of the story is racial injustice. Because I’m not an author of color, I tried to approach this issue my own perspective. What culpability and responsibility does a “white guy of privilege” have, when he comes face to face with racial injustice? As I completed this novel and it went through the publishing process, I was surprised—no, not surprised, rather disappointed—that with the Black Lives Matter movement and the resurgence of the White Supremists, this theme is more relevant than ever today.
M.C.:  Why do you write?
Author: I write because I have stories to tell, because I think some stories need telling. Since I’ve been in the education profession for three plus decades, I’ve witnessed countless acts of unselfish dedication, heroism, bravery and stubborn commitment by teachers at all levels. Yet, what we have in the common culture is either lurid tales of the rare pedophile teacher or reports of failing schools and teachers. So, I thought, if I’m going to tell tales of heroism and bravery, of standing up against the odds and sacrificing everything to save others, then I would cast educators—teachers and coaches—in the starring roles. Because that’s what I witnessed for real every day.
M.C.:  When do you feel the most creative?
Author: I’ve found that for me creativity cannot be scheduled. Yes, I do try to write every day, usually in the late morning and early afternoon, but I’ve discovered that sometimes the creative bug hits me in the middle of a TV show. Sometimes, an inspiration rumbles around in my subconscious so strongly that I have to get up in the middle of the night and head to the computer to get it down. I try to go whenever and whereever the muse leads me.
M.C.:  How picky are you with language?
Author: One of the things that delight me when I’m reading is a masterful turn of a phrase or a really memorable scene description, you know the kind that places you vividly in the middle of the action. I strive for these goals when I write, though I’d be the first to admit I don’t always reach them. I actually enjoy revisiting and revising my language, searching for just the right word or phrase. Some parts of Blood on the Chesapeake have seen ten or more revisions to try to get it right.
M.C.:  When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?
Author: That’s an interesting question. I often let the narrative take me where it wants to go, sometimes not at all where I thought I was headed. For example, since I write mysteries, the whodunit is pretty important. I plot and write my stories with multiple antagonists and don’t decide who the murderer is until I get near the end of the book. I try to plant clues for multiple suspects, but don’t “drop the dime” until the last few chapters—for me and the reader.
M.C.:  What is your worst time as a writer?
Author: When I’m stuck. Writer’s block is not usually a problem for me. But occasionally, when I’m at a certain point in the narrative, I’ve been stymied at just how to get my character to do A or how to get him/her to B. Most of the time I’ve been fortunate. I can usually work on another part of the manuscript and my mind subconsciously works out a solution. I’m able to work through it, but while I’m in the midst of the problem, it can be pretty thorny.
M.C.:  Your best?
Author: That’s easy. I write for myself, because I have something to say. But nothing in my writing life has brought me more joy than seeing how much my readers LOVE my work. After my first book, Leave No Child Behind, was published, I received scores of emails from readers telling how much they enjoyed it and how it scared them to death. (It’s supposed to scare them.) Several years later, I still keep and re-read those emails.
M.C.:  Is there anything that would stop you from writing?
Author: Nothing. I suppose there could be a perfect storm of family problems that would derail my writing efforts, but only until the storm passes. I found even in the worst of times in my life, when I’ve had to face tragedies, deaths, daunting challenges, my writing has sustained me. I can’t imagine not writing. It’s in my DNA now.
M.C.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
Author: Seeing my writing—years of imagination, creativity, perseverance, and just plain hard work—come to fruition and become real, the novel published, the book in readers’ hands, the great reviews coming in, I’d say those are my happiest moments as a writer.
M.C.:  Is writing an obsession to you?
Author: Yes, though not in a psychotic, creepy kind of way. For a good many years, I was an educator. I lived, breathed, pondered, thought, planned how can I best teach, reach these children? What can I do that will enrich their lives through what they learn from me? Over the past several years, that same kind of obsession now haunts me about my writing. Even as I finishing the sequel to Blood on the Chesapeake, I’m constantly planning the third instalment, researching the locales, and at the same time I’m nursing my next novel, a standalone mystery about a drug dealer and murderer who preys on elementary kids. I guess as I write this, it does sound like an obsession.
M.C.:  Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?
Author: Without a doubt. I subscribe to the adage, “Write what you know.” All my narratives are set in the world of school, a setting I hope most readers can recognize and relate to, even if my stories—terrorists taking over a high school in the Midwest or a kid who was murdered haunting the halls of a high school in Maryland—are well out of the realm of ordinary. Because of my experience and familiarity with these settings, I hope I can render a story with credibility and connection for the reader.
M.C.:  Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Thoughts?
Author: Interesting. I prefer S. J. Rosan’s quote: “Nonfiction is about reality. Fiction is about truth.” For me, fiction, my novels allow me to tell real truths, truths about how we treat each other, especially the youngest and most vulnerable among us, our children. My writing allows me to lay bare the beauty and the ugliness of the human condition. I’m buoyed when readers will tell me they had a teacher just like my characters, as it tells me my “truth” came through my words.
M.C.:  Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?
Author: Yes, I have both. At my website <> readers can learn more about me, check out my first novel, Leave No Child Behind, and of course order my new ghost story/mystery, Blood on the Chesapeake They can also get the scoop on my next steps as a writer including when to expect the exciting next chapter in the Haunted Shores mysteries series. There they can also connect with me via Facebook at Author Randy Overbeck and via twitter @OverbeckRandy. Of course, readers can find my blog at the website or at this link. <>

Monday, April 22, 2019

Blog Tour l 10 Confessions of A.S. Fenichel, Author of 'A Lady's Virtue l Regency Romance

Welcome to the blog tour for A.S. Fenichel, author of A LADY'S VIRTUE.  A.S. is here to give us her 10 confessions as an author. While you're enjoying her 10 confessions, be sure to scroll down and find out about her new book!

1.      I’ve wanted to write Anthony’s story since we first met him in Tainted Bride.
2.      Originally, I thought the heroine of A Lady’s Virtue would be Sylvia’s twin sister Serena.
3.      When I first pitched this series there was no Everton Domestic Society. I came up with the idea after the acquisitions editor told me I needed something to tie the ladies together. It turned out to be awesome as it solved a lot of my other issues, like chaperones and footmen. J
4.      Sylvia’s sense of humor is modeled after one of my best friends.
5.      I hate it when my character lie. I struggle with this all the time, perhaps because I abhor lies in real life.
6.      I chose to use my initials as a pen name because I thought it would look better on a book cover. Silly, I know, but that’s the reason and now I feel silly when people call me A.S. I always end up telling them to call me Andrea or Andie. So, that didn’t really work out. LOL
7.      I have an office, but hardly write there. I do all the other work, like this confession list, but when I write I sit on the couch or in my recliner. I hope good weather will allow me to start writing on the porch soon.
8.      My husband is much more romantic than me. In fact, I’m not romantic at all in real life. Though, I love it when he makes a fuss.
9.      As a child I was painfully shy. I think this is why I made up stories and fairytales. I have risen above my shyness. However, the idea of a crowd still gives me anxiety. Once I’m part of it, I usually can push those trepidations away.
10.  Without a deadline, I’d never get anything done. I write every day, but am quite slow until the deadline grows near enough that it sends me into panic mode.

There you have it. Now you know all my secrets. ;)

A.S. Fenichel gave up a successful career in New York City to follow her husband to Texas and pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional writer. She’s never looked back.

A.S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story.

Multi-published in historical, paranormal, erotic and contemporary romance, A.S. is the author of The Forever Brides series, the Everton Domestic Society series, and more. With several books currently contracted, A.S. will be bringing you her brand of edgy romance for years to come.

Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey, and now lives in the Southern Missouri with her real-life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history, puttering in her garden and spoiling her fussy cat. 

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Can a broken engagement ignite the spark of true love?

Sylvia Dowder had almost made it to the altar when her fiancĂ© unexpectedly became a viscount, and dropped her like a stale crumpet to make a more “suitable” match. Though Sylvia’s heart has been crushed, her spirit has not. She puts her wits and social savvy to use as a secret gossip columnist—and as the Everton Domestic Society’s party planner to the ton. Luckily, she’s not in danger of ever falling for an aristocrat again…

Especially not one like Anthony Braighton, Earl of Grafton. Raised in America, Anthony sees no reason to marry when he can enjoy all the perks of being an eligible earl. Determined to convince his family he doesn’t need a wife, he hires Sylvia to act as hostess and decorator for upcoming parties. Yet Sylvia is as adept at captivating his interest as she is at beautifying his home. And despite this Everton lady’s aversion to titled men, some attractions can’t be denied—and love rarely does go where it’s told . . .


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A Conversation with Victoria Landis, Author of 'Jordan'

Victoria Landis is a professional writer, editor, and artist. A 16-year member, and former board member, of Mystery Writers of America, she Co-Chaired the SleuthFest Writers Conference from 2015-2018.

She's taught at SleuthFest, the Authors Academy at Murder on the Beach, and the Alvin Sherman Library at Nova Southeastern University.

Find out more on Amazon
Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about JORDAN and what compelled you to write it.
Victoria: It’s the story of a modern-day miracle and how our viral social media world reacts to it. I wanted to write it because social media has turned into a wild west, and the story is so relevant to now.
M.C.: What is your book about?
Victoria: A young woman who went missing for three years reappears in her hometown, and within days, discovers she has the power to heal.
M.C.:  What themes do you explore in JORDAN?
Victoria: The primary theme is human nature and how it hasn’t changed in thousands of years.
M.C.:  Why do you write?
Victoria: I love it. It makes me happy. If I didn’t still have a day job, I could write all day long and forget to eat. I even love the editing and rewriting.
M.C.:  When do you feel the most creative?
Victoria: Creative bursts and inspiration hit me anytime, anywhere. I always have paper and pen with me. I’ve learned that if I think I’ll remember the idea later, I usually don’t.
M.C.:  How picky are you with language?
Victoria: In dialogue? As long as the characters remain true to who they are, not at all. In narrative? I tend to like sentence fragments, which drives one of my critique group members crazy (she was an English teacher), but I don’t overdo them.
M.C.:  When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?
Victoria: No. I suppose the closest I come to that is when I’m writing and a great idea for a character or situation pops in from seemingly nowhere. I’ll change what I had planned to accommodate the pop up.
M.C.:  What is your worst time as a writer?
Victoria: When I realize a chapter or scene just didn’t work, and I have to jettison an idea I loved.
M.C.:  Your best?
Victoria: When all the seemingly loose ends come together at the end as I hoped they would.
M.C.:  Is there anything that would stop you from writing?
Victoria: There have been times where I couldn’t because of personal life circumstances, but I always come back to it.
M.C.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
Victoria: It’s a tie. The first time a perfect stranger told me they loved my book and couldn’t put it down. And the first time a best-selling author told me they’d read my book and loved it.
M.C.:  Is writing an obsession to you?
Victoria: No. I love it, but I don’t think obsession is the right word. I’ve lived too many places, seen too many things, had too many weird things happen to be obsessed with anything. I roll with life, but I always go back to writing.
M.C.:  Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?
Victoria: Some are based on people I know/knew, some on situations I lived through. No matter where it comes from, though, it goes through a lot of tweaking and changing before it becomes a part of one of my books.
M.C.:  Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Thoughts?
Victoria: I think I understand what he meant. I call it the Van Gogh effect—‘This life was never meant for one as beautiful as you’—from Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) by Don McLean. Life here with humans is hard. I believe 85-90% of us are good people. The other 10-15% can really foul it up. If you’re a sensitive person and aware of the world, it’s so disheartening—man’s brutal cruelty to his fellow man is soul-crushing. Burying yourself in your creative work gives the sensitive artist/writer a way to avoid feeling so much pain.
M.C.:  Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?
Victoria: My blog is on my website—one stop shopping. Thank you for having me here!