Sunday, November 25, 2012

Author Melanie Pronia - Paranormal Thrillers

Melanie Pronia
Mystery, Thrillers and Paranormal

Melanie S. Pronia is a novelist of mystery, thrillers and paranormal romances.  She is also an amateur ghost hunter, herbologist and tarot reader. Melanie was born in south New Jersey and moved around the U.S. quite a bit, but spent most of her time growing up in Virginia Beach , Virginia as a Navy Brat.  She currently resides in Orange Park, Florida with her husband and two sons. She considers Descent her best work thus far. 

Melanie's Books:

The Women
Set in the bible belt of Jacksonville , Florida , Five Sisters Renovation and Cleaning, is a brand new company that also happens to be a coven of Witches, headed up by their fearless leader and high priestess, Martie.

The House
The Palm Breeze Inn, formerly known as the historical, Willcraft Manor, is a three story antebellum that has sat in the quiet town of Palatka , Florida for over one hundred years.  It was built as a family home by Lucien Willcraft who was rumored to be a Witch.

The Ghosts
In the year 1915, every member of the Willcraft family was murdered in their home, excluding Lucien, who seemed to have just disappeared. Even today, the mass murder remains unsolved.

Can a team of hand tool wielding Witches right the wrongs of Willcraft Manor and get out alive?

Dana, married mother of two has a disease, it’s called insanity and it’s all of the worm’s fault who entered through her stomach and has led a destructive path to her brain. She must remove herself completely from her adoring husband and beautiful young daughters in order for her disease not to contaminate them. With her bottle of beloved anti-freeze Dana sets off on a 300 mile trek southward through the state of Florida. During her long death march, she meets many interesting characters and learns quite well the many skills of how to live among the homeless comfortably. The end of her destination is beautiful Siesta Key Beach where she will finally end the suffering of her existence with her precious bottle of anti-freeze. The only question that remains is whether or not she’ll be able to go through with it among the tropical breeze and the faces of her loved ones stamped on her mind. 

Justine has had the gift of sight since she was a young child, now as a degree carrying parapsychologist, she starts to understand that with every gift there is always a curse. In the novel, Journey of Souls, Justine who is still recovering from the death of her much loved father and the resulting mess of her alcoholic mother starts working as a parapsychologist and discovers a spirit world that she's always known about but has been a bit afraid to explore. Spectrum Industries employees those who share her fascination with a world many choose not believe in. Along the way she falls in love with the companies' gorgeous playboy, Patrick, who happens to be as interested in Justine as he is with her gift. Justine encounters characters both living and dead who influence her life and ideas in fabulous and frightening ways. She quickly becomes Spectrum's most valued employee by being placed is some very vulnerable situations and finds within herself more psychic talent than she ever asked for and in the arms of a wonderful man who has his own ability to show her the ways of life, love and magick. Justine discovers a family secret that her father had always intended for her to learn but her mother has covered up for years. Is that a Witch she sees in the mirror or have there been too many ghosts to blur her vision?

To learn more about Melanie and all of her published books visit her Web Site and Amazon Author page.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Author Interview with Karen Rochester - Be Brave

 Karen Rochester

Why was 'Be Brave' written?

'Be Brave' was published in 2011 and came about originally from writing for therapy.   After my serious motor vehicle accident in 1992, I discovered I was suffering from extreme and debilitating emotions.  My world seemed out of control and I found it very difficult to live a normal and productive life even though I tried extremely hard to make it look as though everything was normal and OK.  This in itself takes a lot of effort and energy.  The physical injuries I suffered from my car accident certainly didn't make things any easier.

Reader’s Haven: Hi Karen! Thanks for visiting our blog all week. Tell us a bit about yourself  that our readers might not know.

Karen:  Years ago I was very ill and incapacitated both physically and emotionally and I started writing for therapy on the advice of my psychologist.  It was a wonderful release as I could now express in writing what I had not been able to actually communicate verbally.  This gave me strength.  I used that strength to get through some major surgeries and intensive rehabilitation. After another year of recovery, I decided to try scuba diving.  This turned out to be a wonderful decision as diving has been the first activity that has allowed my mind to rest from intrusive and disturbing thoughts. The fish demand nothing, beauty is everywhere and the feeling of weightlessness on my damaged body has been a major relief.   It is wonderful respite for the mind.  The things I have seen and the places I have been diving in the last few years have made me very happy and really improved the quality of my physical and emotional life.  Also, I absolutely adore my husband and my fox terriers.  They are very positive influences in my life.

Reader’s Haven: What made you want to become a writer?

Karen:  Actually, to be honest, I never really had any major aspirations about becoming a writer.  I have a degree in economics and spent 12 years in the military.  Now I spend a lot of my time just trying to keep healthy and well.  My writing style and ideas developed as I wrote for therapy. Saying that, the more I write, the more I want what I write to be meaningful and helpful.  I take more time now than I used to and actually think about what it is I really want to say.

Reader’s Haven: Please share a bit about your new release without giving away any spoilers.

Karen:  ‘Be Brave’ is not a novel, it is a journey that every reader takes individually.  It is not a story as such, but it is potentially my story and every reader’s story.  I realize that may sound like double dutch, but readers read their own experiences in to the text.  The book I for 8 year olds and above and while I have heard some people say it is also for young teenagers, I have also had it referred to as a book from ages 8 to 80 years old!  This is because the book is not a story, it is a message and that message is for anyone and everyone.  The goal of ‘Be Brave’ is to encourage the reader to seek help if they have been hurt by another person.  It does not specify how someone may have been hurt; that is an individual circumstance.  What it does do is provide understanding and empathy to the strong emotions and thoughts that come from being hurt and tries to encourage the reader to seek assistance to help overcome the problem.  

Reader’s Haven: Do you write under a pen name?

Karen:  No not really, but I am using my maiden name.

Reader’s Haven: What types of hero or heroine do you like best?

Karen:  ‘Be Brave’ doesn’t really have a hero or heroine as such as it is all about the reader.  If I was to describe the type of hero / heroine I like best it would be those who are somewhat of an underdog to start with but are smart and can solve complex problems and situations. I like characters that can think on their feet and say clever things to manipulate the people and situations they find themselves involved in.

Reader’s Haven: Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

Karen:  I have a pretty common thread in all my writing.  I used to write poetry about pain and trying to deal with it, now I focus more on overcoming adversity with a more positive approach.

Reader’s Haven: How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?

Karen:  Ages.  ‘Be Brave’ took nearly 7 years to write, edit and complete the illustrations.  While the editing and illustrations really only took a year, I kept tinkering with the words in the text and putting it down and coming back to it when I was in the writing mood.  I have to be in a certain frame of mind to write; it doesn’t come at anytime for me, it comes when it comes and I cannot force it.

Reader’s Haven: Do you have to be alone to write?

Karen:  Definitely!  I hate having music or television in the background – I find them very distracting.

Reader’s Haven: How do you go about naming characters?

Karen:  ‘Be Brave’ has no named characters and I planned this on purpose.  I didn’t actually want the reader to bond with a character as there was always the risk that some readers would not and thus the message would be lost.  The message is everything and the illustrations emphasize the message hopefully without alienating any reader.
Reader’s Haven: Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?

Karen:  ‘Be Brave’ was fully written before illustrations were even started.  The illustrations were individually designed to focus on the idea / message on that particular page.  While there are people in the illustrations, namely a boy and a girl, they have been very carefully designed to be almost non age or cultural background specific.  This is so most readers will accept them and be non judgmental towards them so again, not to detract from the central message.

Reader’s Haven: How do you pick locations for your stories?

Karen:  ‘Be Brave’ is not location specific so that anyone from any demographic in any town or city in any country can relate to the message.

Reader’s Haven: What are you working on now and what should readers be looking forward to from you in the future?

Karen:  I have a number of ideas but they are only ideas at this stage.  When the mood takes me it will all develop quickly.

Reader’s Haven: Where can readers find out more about you and your books? 

Karen:  I have a web site, and ‘Be Brave’ has a Facebook page and follow me on Twitter @BeBraveBook. Thanks Deanna and Louise.  I have really enjoyed our time. Details for my contest are below.

 'Be Brave' is a book about hope, learning to trust and understanding.  It is a book that encourages the reader to "tell someone" if they have been hurt by another person.  It is a simple, yet powerful message.  The book is not a story, it is a journey the reader takes as they read their own experiences into the text. 

"Every single person on the planet has to be brave at least once in their life, no matter who they are, how old they are, or how strong they are.  Being brave is about having the courage to do the best thing, even when it’s hard and especially when you’re scared to do it."  from 'Be Brave'.

A signed hard back copy of ‘Be Brave’
Leave a comment for Karen, say hi and let her know you stopped by, ask a question or tell Karen your favorite motivational book. 
Good Luck!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Author Interview w/Dianne Gardner - YA Fantasy

 Diane Gardner
YA Fantasy Fiction

     Come into my humble yurt deep in the eastern forest near the aspen grove. Choose for yourself the wooden bench or any one of the sheepskin fleece we have on the ground and cuddle up by the fire with a cup of wild herb tea.  It’s a joy to have you!

Reader’s Haven: Dianne, this is such a cozy place to hold an interview with you. Thank you. Tell us a bit about yourself that our readers might not know.

Dianne:  I was born in the east (Ohio) and raised in the west (California) but spent most of my young adult life in the deserts of Arizona where I lived on 80 acres surrounded by BLM land, raising horses sheep, chickens and a cow. Later I moved to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Washington. Here I am watching enjoying most of my children and grandchildren (some of them live in California and Arizona) in a beautiful landscape of forests, shoreline, valley and mountains.

Reader’s Haven
: (Deanna) I'm from the Pacific NW also! I live in the Lewis-Clark Valley! (Louise) Oh, I lived in Portland ,OR for 6 years. You've not seen a lush green forest unless you have visited the northwest. What made you want to become a writer?

Dianne:  I have so much to say. I’ve been a professional artist and up until recently sought to express myself by oil paintings alone. Remembering that I used to write poetry when I was very young, and how wonderful and satisfying it was, I decided to try my hand at a novel. I also wanted to write stories for my grandsons. So little work is out there for boys. I’ve always been a lover of fantasy and desired to write the kind of fantasy that I love reading. I have a wild imagination.

Reader’s Haven: (Louise) I'm glad to hear that you're able to use so many of your talents in your books. Please share a bit about Deception Peak without giving away any spoilers.

Dianne:  The first book of a trilogy, Deception Peak is a young adult adventure fantasy about a teenager, Ian Wilson, who follows his father through a portal that magically appears on their computer screen. They travel into a deceptively beautiful Realm, where horses run free, the wind sings prophetic melodies, and their computer avatars come to life. 
     But when the two are separated, Ian is abducted by a tribe of dragon worshipers and is forced to find his courage. As he struggles for his freedom and embarks on a perilous search to find his father, Ian meets the true peacekeepers of the Realm. It's then that he learns there is a greater purpose for being there.
     The next installment The Dragon Shield will be available early 2013.

Reader’s Haven:
What types of hero or heroine do you like best?

Dianne:  I like real people in my books—people who make mistakes and have to learn from them in order to achieve their goals, people who don’t always make the right decisions--People who have just as many flaws as they have strengths, maybe even more sometimes. That’s what makes a character believable, and likable if not loveable. Even though my stories are fantasies, they have a human component to them. And because my books are for young adults, I don’t want to give a false impression about life. I want kids to know that making a mistake is common. I want them to know that being afraid or weak in some circumstances is perfectly normal. And then I want them to see that those flaws can be compensated for, that those poor choices can be reversed. I want them to see forgiveness as well as victory.

Reader’s Haven: Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

Dianne:  On days that I am able to write all day (that is when no other pressing life event is happening) Here is what I do.  Early morning (6:09 – that’s what time my husband leaves for work. I’d get up with him but he doesn’t want me to turn the lights on and I can’t see in the dark) I put a pot of water on for tea (lemon ginger usually), boot up the computer, check my email and then try really hard to by-pass Facebook and begin writing. I write. I usually write until about 10 am. Then I shower, clean, eat some breakfast and write again. Sometime around noon I take a walk, have lunch and perhaps spend some time in the studio. (I am illustrating my books, doing my cover art and once a week I teach oil painting).

Reader’s Haven: Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

Dianne:  The trilogy is a three-book story arc so it has one theme. The books of the trilogy are Deception Peak, The Dragon Shield and Rubies and Robbers.
    Then I have four short stories that will be published soon that tell the legends of the fantasy world, (the Realm. I guess their theme is different.
The other books that will be published next year The Diary of a Conjurer and Cassandra’s Castle have somewhat of a different theme although they both take place in the Realm and have some of the same characters.

Reader’s Haven:  How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?

Dianne:  You know, it so depends on the story. For instance, I finished the first draft of Rubies and Robbers (the third book in the trilogy coming out next year) in one month for NaNoWriMo. I haven’t started the edits on that book yet, though. I think I was able to write it so quickly because the book resolved so many of the issues that were introduced in the first two, making it fairly simple to write. But recently it’s already taken me more than a month to write The Tale of the Four Wizards, four short stories that tell the legend of the Realm. And that isn’t a third the length.

Reader’s Haven:
 Do you have to be alone to write?

Dianne:  Yes. Absolutely. My husband tries to sit with me and when he does, the best I can do is edit.

Reader’s Haven:
(Deanna) I escape to my home office. Readers are always curious on this subject; how do you go about naming characters?

Dianne:  In my series I have several different cultures in the Realm. In Deception Peak, two of those cultures are based on Danish dress and appearance, so I researched Danish names. Later I have a story that will be released next year titled Cassandra’s Castle, and in that story the culture is taken from the Portuguese way of life. In fact, there’s a bit of historical fantasy to that book.

Reader’s Haven:  Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?

Dianne:  I wrote my characters first, and then I started seeing people who looked like them. Being a portrait artist, I hired models to pose for my characters’ portraits and since most of them were young people they were thrilled that they were going to be in my book. Now I have a long line of models eagerly waiting to be some of my characters.

Reader’s Haven:
 How do you pick locations for your stories?

Dianne:  I choose the Pacific Northwest for most of the location in my stories because I know, and love the country so well and because it’s such an inspiration to me. I go for long walks in the forest when I need to think about my work and it’s almost as though the trees and wildlife talk to me. Really.

Reader’s Haven:  What are you working on now and what should readers be looking forward to from you in the future?

Dianne:  I’m working on four short stories that are titled The Tale of the Four Wizards 1. Silvio which comes out in November and may already be released by the time of this interview. Meneka,  Kaempie, and  Reuben.
     These stories are very magical stories that introduce the myths and legends of the Realm.
     They will all be published one a month until February when book II of The Ian’s Realm Saga will be published.  That book is titled The Dragon Shield.
     From there, look for book 3, Rubies and Robbers, The Diary of a Conjurer and Cassandra’s Castle, all YA novels of The Realm. And who knows, I may spout out some more shorts in between those as well and there’s another Realm story cooking for book 6

Reader’s Haven:  Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

Dianne:  I keep everyone updated on everything (book signings, releases, work in progress) on my blog I wanted to tell you a little about my blog because I think the work in progress stories I have are pretty unique and fun. I work with re-enactors often times both for my artwork and my books. Recently I visited one family, who by the way are modeling for my illustrations, and they just happened to have a yurt that they set up for me. Yurts are the homes that you’ll find in the northern lands of the Meneks and Kaemperns in Deception Peak. I posted the step-by-step process of building a yurt on my Dragon Shield page.
     I also was fortunate to take a Discovery Trip on the Hawaiian Chieftain,  (a tall ship that sails these northwest waters) with my granddaughter’s class. Not only did I get some gorgeous photos, but I also soaked up scads of information I’ll be using for Rubies and Robbers (pirates and tall ships in that book). I have a Work in Progress page up for that as well on my blog.
     If you scroll through some of the blog’s backstory, you’ll also find the making of my 9’ dragon painting, a triptych oil painting where each panel has elements of the book covers for the trilogy.
     Click here for more of my illustrations.
Deception Peak Paperback (with illustrations) can be purchased here 

Deception Peak Kindle can be purchased here
And also these books can be purchased at Hydra Publications

Twitter @Dianne Gardner

     Readers, thank you so much for stopping in to meet Dianne. Please visit and share her website with your readers friends and don't forget to grab your copy of her books! Dianne, thank you so much for inviting us to the yurt!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Author Interview with S.J. Richard - Historical Romance

S.J. Richard
Historical Western Romance

      Welcome to The Fire and Water Saloon, the largest and most profitable saloon in the Town of Kanen. The room is dark with only weak light filtering through streaky windows that face a dusty street. The bar runs the length of the left side of the room. A large, slightly warped mirror hangs on the wall behind it, reflecting gaming tables on the other side of the room. A stage, dark and quiet now, commands the front of the room.  I prefer sitting at the table closest to the front door with my back to the wall so I can see everyone passing by outside and all those who enter. It’s empty in the Fire and Water so early in the day, but later tonight, half the town and a slew of miners will pack the place to listen to the bawdy singer on stage while trying not to lose their pay packets at the gaming tables. Pull up a chair so we can play cards and talk for a bit.  

Reader’s Haven: Hi S.J.! Thanks for inviting us here. (Deanna) *Wipes off two chairs with a bar towel before taking a seat. Points to the other chair for Louise to sit on* Tell us a bit about yourself.

S.J.: I was a reporter for New England newspapers and won some awards but found the grind of writing everyone else’s stories each day leached out my urge to write my own stories. So, I left the reporting world for a more structured (and better-paying) office job that gives me the freedom and space to hang out with my imaginary friends (aka the characters in my novels).
Reader’s Haven: (Louise) Glad we're not the only writers who like to hang out with imaginary friends! *shuffling, then dealing out the cards* What made you want to become a writer?

S.J.: I just always knew I was going to write. I remember being in second grade when a friend’s mother asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was doing math homework at that moment, but I looked up and without hesitation said, “Oh, I’m a writer.” It wasn’t that I would become a writer some day; I just knew, like the way I know my own handwriting, that I was a writer.  

Reader’s Haven: Please share a bit about your new release, The Peacemaker, without giving away any spoilers.

S.J.: The Peacemaker is about hypocrites and heroes, politics and religion. It is historical fiction set in the 1870s. Jack O’Malley, a civil war veteran plagued by vicious memories of the battles, was recently hired to be the Town Marshal following the suspicious death of the latest sheriff. O’Malley is not a religious man, unlike the devote and vocal citizens of Kanen. Add to the volatile mix a saucy red-head and salacious red-headed singer, some unruly miners, a newspaper hell-bent on stirring up trouble and a pious and beautiful woman who wants to reform O’Malley’s atheist ways and this quiet lawman is starting to wish he was back in the middle of a war. At least there, he knew who the enemy was and from which direction they would be firing. It has some weighty themes, a budding romance and plenty of humor salted through the story making it hard to put the book down once you start it.  

Reader’s Haven: (Deanna) Westerns are quite popular right now. We wish you luck with the sales. I think many of our readers will have questions for you. *pouring a shot of Jack Daniels for all of us* Do you write under a pen name?

S.J.:  I do. Thanks for the shot! *downing hers in two swallows* I use my initials. It is an homage to old-time reporters and satirists like H.L. Menken. I started using S.J. as my  byline when I began my journalism classes at college.  I was always a shy kid and using my initials helped me crawl out of that shell. I didn’t feel brave enough to use my legal name so I created the persona of S.J. to do what scared me: ask the difficult questions and write something for others to read. S.J. had no history, no hangs ups and nothing to lose, so that made her fearless. She could do all the things I wanted to try but didn’t dare. So, when the time came to publish my novel, it only seemed proper to do what worked and to honor the S.J. side of my personality with credit for The Peacemaker. She did the hard work all those years protecting the shy kid from New England who hid behind her name, so it only seemed fair that S.J. should appear on the book’s cover.

Reader’s Haven: What types of hero or heroine do you like best?

S.J.: *tossing a card on the table* I like the unlikely heroes, the ones who you judge too quickly or too harshly with an unflattering opinion. Those are the ones that can truly shine because they teach you about yourself. I find that people (and therefore characters) surprise me like that. The ones you least expect to step up and do the right thing, the ones you weren’t sure you could depend upon, can rise to the occasion and be there in those big and small moments. The Peacemaker has a few of those. It’s those fringe people, the ones nobody gave any credit to or thought were all that strong, who stand up and come through in  the tough times.

Reader’s Haven:  That is so true. It sounds like you have a handle on your characters. Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

S.J.: There is no typical in my world. *rakes in the winnings of that hand* Unless you count chaos, then chaos, I suppose, is typical. Writing is a must for me. If I don’t get to write, I get edgy and feel anxious and out of place. Once I get my fingers on my keyboard, I slip into my own little world. Whatever town or room my characters are in becomes my universe. I can lose hours and hours, only noticing that time has passed when I find myself sitting in the dark with only the light from my computer screen illuminating the room. Those are the best days, the ones I don’t know passed because I spent them all with the characters carving out my novel.

Reader’s Haven: What a great way to put that! Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

S.J.: Each one is different, but they do have some aspects that carry through them all. There is a theme of people not always being what they seem. Someone irritable and aloof may have a fantastic and heart-wrenching reason for being detached and difficult; likewise, the beloved and bubbly beauty in town might have a cold, dark, nasty side that devotees choose not to see. My main characters are usually not well-liked or popular in their settings. They certainly never crave attention. I feel there is great value and strength in being someone who can and does stand alone when needed. Friends are a wonderful gift, but we spent a lot of time in our lives on our own. Those who excel in those moments have something special inside them, a belief in themselves, that is remarkable so I like to show that when I can.
      *dealing the next hand* I also toy with questions and confrontations between faith and reason. I was one of those kids who was forced to go to church by my parents, but I would rather have been home looking at bugs and dirt under my microscope or looking at star charts to pick a star to find with my telescope that night. My goal isn’t to make anyone change anything they believe; it’s to show them another side of the story. If that strengths what they believe, great.  If it makes them refine what they believe, that’s good, too. It’s just such a fertile (and volatile) subject that you can start a lifelong discussion or an equally long blood feud with it. I don’t like the fights, but I do love getting people to think and talk about what they truly believe and why. It really tells you who someone is if he or she can answer that honestly.
     Still, regardless of themes or subjects, in the end, I figure I’ve done my job as a writer if a reader simply gets lost in the story and forgets, for just a moment, that they have to go to work in the morning, or that they have a dentist appointment tomorrow, or that it’s time to do the laundry. A few minutes pause from their lives to retreat for a little while into my world is the gift I try to give them.

Reader’s Haven: (Louise) How long does it take you to write and then edit a story? *tossing in two chips to up the anty*

S.J.:  *tossing in another chip* The initial writing takes very little time. When I get an idea, it takes over my thoughts and interrupts my sleep.  I have this compulsion to write and get every thought down on a page as quickly as I can. The editing is what takes such a long time. The Peacemaker only took a few months to write, but I spent a long time editing it, a few years in fact, until it felt like I had the story just the way it should be. 

Reader’s Haven: Do you have to be alone to write?

S.J.: Alone would be heaven, but I rarely get that. My dog, to whom I dedicated The Peacemaker, is a constant (and beloved) pest. He can’t stand when I settle in with my laptop so he fights for my attention.  Still, given the choice, I would prefer to be alone with my music to write and edit my work. For each story I write, I create a playlist on my iPod to keep me in the right frame of mind and on-track with the story.  Sometimes, the list is straight instrumental; Yo-Yo Ma’s “Butterfly’s Day Out” is a favorite “go to’ when I am stuck and looking for inspiration, but depending on what mood and my story needs, I could be listening to Irish folk music, or AC/DC or Pink as well. 

Reader’s Haven: (Deanna) *tossing in her losing cards, she pours another round* How do you go about naming characters?

S.J.: Fabulous question—and one I get asked often. It sounds odd, but they sort of name themselves. For a period piece (like The Peacemaker), I do research for what were common names for the time. Next, I look to whether the choices for names I have fit the character I have created. It’s a struggle sometimes, sort of what people feel about their own names I suppose.  Does your name become you or do you become your name? I’ve fallen in love with some names, but as I write, I just don’t feel it fits the character I tagged with it (and the characters let me know). When I get it right, everything feels smooth and meant to be. 

Reader’s Haven: Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?

S.J.: As I create them, I have a picture in my mind. It’s like I’ve met them, and sometimes I have, so I know precisely who they are and what they look like as I begin writing. I get such a kick out of hearing readers tell me who they picture could be the characters. For example, for the lead character in The Peacemaker I’ve heard a lot of actor’s names who readers picture as Jack O’Malley: They range from Clint Eastwood to Jensen Ackles. It’s amazing the interpretations a reader’s own mind will make
       Louise, I think you win this hand!

Reader’s Haven: How do you pick locations for your stories?

S.J.: I love small towns so I usually gravitate toward those and the myriad of places you can find within them. I’ve spent a lot of time in big cities in several countries, but there is something so entrancing about a small town to me. The family histories, the local politics, the way neighbors know (or think they know) everything about those who live around them fascinate me to no end. Part of that, of course is because I grew up in a small town so it’s a bit like going home to me. Plus, I  find them to be a source of infinite inspiration (the ugly and the beautiful parts). 

Reader’s Haven: What are you working on now and what should readers be looking forward to from you in the future?

S.J.: The Peacemaker is part one of a trilogy (informally called The Kanen Chronicles). The second book is titled The Widow-maker and is scheduled for publication in 2013. After The Widow-maker I will be taking a short break from the Kanen series to publish a novella loosely based on the entertaining, and at times hilarious, insanity that surrounds my family when we gather for a holiday. My hope is that my family finds the novella funny and still invites me to Thanksgiving Dinner. If not, I’ll have at least one day of uninterrupted writing each November for the next few years.

Reader’s Haven: Why did you choose the 1870s for the time period of your book?

SJ: I’m actually a very modern and techy person. I love gadgets and would be lost without my laptop and iPod, but my cell phone and I are not always friends. I was on vacation in Colorado and my phone was acting up. I was considering bouncing it on the pavement to cure what ailed it when the idea for The Peacemaker came to me. My frustration with that technology made me want to write about a time before cell phones, before any type of telephone, so that meant traveling back to the pre-1890s. The post-Civil War era always fascinated me so I wandered in that direction. The thought that there would be no phones and no instant way to verify information was intriguing as well because that plays into the flow of information in this town.  Jack O’Malley is a stranger and the people who live there have no easy, independent means to learn about his past.  I liied the idea that these characters would need to face each other and talk to learn about one another. There would be no texting, no leaving a message in voicemail, no split-second of Googling for information. They have to deal with each other, face-to-face, and talk to one another,  which is something we seem to do so rarely or poorly today. 

Reader’s Haven: SJ, it's been great chatting over cards and drinks with you. Readers, we're glad you stopped in. Pull up a chair and get your questions ready for SJ. Don't forget that you can earn more than one entry into her contest. SJ, where can readers find out more about you and your books? 

S.J.: Readers can find me on the following sites:

Goodreads   /   Amazon Author page   /   Twitter @s_jayrichard  

Purchase Links

Amazon paperback and Kindle editions    /    Barnes & Noble Nook edition 

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The Peacemaker
     With war scars that no one could see and that would not heal, Jack O'Malley drifted into Kanen, Colorado in the summer of 1873. Hired to be the new Marshal, he is confronted with the suspicion and anxiety of a once peaceful, small town with a growing mining problem (or perhaps it is a mining town with a small growing problem). Whatever the case, O'Malley swiftly learns that the invisible foes that stalk him in his sleep are nothing compared to the passionately pious force that is the Ladies Church Society and the beautiful but feisty Amanda Morgan, a woman who finds O'Malley's lack of religion as disturbing as he finds her attractive. Their tangles over faith and propriety peak with the arrival of a sultry and scandalous songstress from O'Malley's past, a wave of criminal accusations from the town newspaper and a flood of questions from suspicious citizens about the mysterious stranger O'Malley is giving sanctuary in the town jail. With troubling questions being raised regarding O'Malley's personal history, the one thing even the most patient of townspeople are growing certain of is that the new marshal isn't likely to see the New Year in Kanen.

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