Meet The Author Monday – Tracee De Hahn

Hello my Gentle Readers. Today we are going to catch up with Tracee De Hahn, who has a new mystery coming out on February 6th called “A Well-Timed Murder”. You can see my previous interview with her HERE. As usual my questions/comments will be BLUE and Tracee will be GREEN.

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Welcome back, Tracee. It’s been almost a year since we talked last. How has your book, Swiss Vendetta been doing?

It’s doing well, and I’ve enjoyed seeing the various editions come out. I didn’t give them much – or any – thought so the arrival of each one felt like a delightful surprise. I confess that listening to the audiobook was a surreal experience. Cat Gould is an amazing narrator, but hearing my words coming from someone else was… unsettling? Maybe that’s the right word. I didn’t expect that at all. Although perhaps I should have, since one of my sister’s said she had a hard time reading the book since my name flung itself at her every time she turned a page! And a close friend from college said he could hear my voice in every word he read and it took him a few pages to not hear ‘me’ and hear the book instead. That’s how I felt with the audio version. Large print and now the paperback have rounded out my year. And there’s been a nice uptick in sales with the paperback out! Always a good feeling.

I can imagine that you’ve read those words so many times you had your own cadence that no one else would match. And now you’re back with a new book. Does this one pick up where the last left off or is it a complete standalone?

This is where I have flashbacks to days of nail-biting uncertainty. When you begin a series this is a big decision. I’m not saying that the time between books is set in stone, but most writers establish a tradition within their books. After the nail-biting was over, I chose to begin A Well-Timed Murder a few weeks after the end of Swiss Vendetta. The new book works as a stand-alone – however, if you read the first one, you would know why Agnes is limping, and why she is returning to work from medical leave. I want a returning reader (and perhaps a new to the series binge reader) to feel the continuity in Agnes’s life. I also want to develop the personal connections in her life – specifically with Julien Vallotton – and not pick them up months or a year later. Let’s see how Agnes and Julien handle the start of a relationship – maybe they don’t make it through book two! On the professional front, going forward I plan to have a case from Agnes’s former role in in financial crimes stay with her. The elusive criminal who will continue to cross paths with her current work. 

Nail biting uncertainty. I like that imagery for the feeling I think all of us writers feel. For those who haven’t read your first book, can you give us a little spoiler-free short biography on Agnes?

Agnes is in her mid-30s, recently widowed (before the first book), with three sons. She was born in Switzerland to American parents, which gives her the advantage of seeing Swiss customs through the lens of both an insider and an outsider. This has influenced her desire to embrace all things Swiss and was partly what attracted her to her husband – his family’s perfect traditional Swiss chalet. Although the mother-in-law that came with the chalet was probably not exactly what she hoped for. Agnes was a successful member of the cantonal (state) police in the Financial Crimes division, but after her husband’s death decided a change of situation would ease her return to work. She started Book One new to the Violent Crimes division and let’s just say that it was quick immersion. 

That had to be quite a shock going from more sophisticated criminals to the more brutal. How does Julien enter her life and where does he come from?

Julien Vallotton came into Agnes’s life in Swiss Vendetta when a woman was found murdered on the grounds of his family home, Chateau Vallotton. He is completely Swiss – his family have been there longer than it’s been a country, beginning construction on their stronghold in the 11th century. At the same time, his wealth and personality make him a cosmopolitan figure. He was part of the complicated situation Agnes found herself in during her first murder case. You’re right, it is a disturbing event to come up against your first killer. Add to that the nature of the crime scene – Agnes and her colleagues were trapped by a snowstorm, forced to sleep in the very chateau where the murder occurred. With the power out and cold descending it would be a difficult situation for any police officer, more difficult for Agnes heading up her first murder investigation. Julien Vallotton wasn’t a suspect in the crime due to the timing of his arrival, therefore he was a logical ally. That’s where their story starts.
Sounds like a great recipe for a relationship to start. Now Agnes has one case under her belt. What can we expect from her return to action?
Agnes delves into the world of luxury watches after a renowned watchmaker, Guy Chavanon, dies under suspicious circumstances while attending a reception at his son’s boarding school. Watchmaking is a precise business but nothing about this case seems precise and when strange things happen at the boarding school Agnes has to wonder if Chavanon was the intended victim. Ultimately, timing is the key to catching the killer, and perhaps toward finding love.
I guess we’ll have to watch and see how her case goes this time. Run down the details for us. When can we get our hands on your new book?
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You can pre-order now anywhere books are sold: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, Apple and Books-A-Million. A Well-Timed Murder releases in stores and electronically February 6th, when I also visit stores in Little Rock, AR, Madisonville, Louisville and Lexington, KY, Chattanooga and Knoxville, TN, Atlanta (Woodstock), GA, Houston, TX, and Christiansburg and Roanoke, VA. The details are on my website. One of the great pleasures of writing a book is meeting the people who read it!  
Thanks so much for stopping by and keeping us informed about your progress. I wish you all the best with your new adventure and hope we will hear back from you with your next one.

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Meet The Author Monday – David L Heaney

Hello my Gentle Readers. I know our Meet The Author Monday has been a little thin lately, but I have a couple lined up for this week and next that I hope you will enjoy and check out what they have to offer. This week we will be talking with David L Heaney, a former pastor turned writer with his spiritual adventure, A Yorkie’s Tale: Lessons from a Life Well-Lived. Usual format applies with myself in BLUE and David in GREEN.fullsizeoutput_23e7
David, first off thanks for taking time to speak with us. Your book looks like a wonderful tale. Let’s start off with how you came to the world of literature and reading. 
I spent one year away at a Prep School in Peekskill, NY mostly because I had been doing poorly in school and was in and out of trouble. I hated that year. There was, however, one teacher who told me he thought I wrote well and would write better still, if I read more. He didn’t care what I read, just as long as I read. We had mandatory study hall after dinner so I read a lot of racy Harold Robbins books. I suppose that was when reading just became a part of each day.

A bit of a troublemaker, huh? Fascinating that you became a pastor then. After finishing with Harold Robbins, what genre did you explore? Who became your favorites?
I have always loved writers like John Updike, John Cheever, William Styron- I guess that’s literary realism. I also love biographies. More recently, I have been drawn to fantasy having recently completed a couple of Neil Gaiman books. I loved Phillip Pullman’s new book, Dust: La Belle Sauvage.

Gaiman is a favorite. So at some point you decided to not just read, but create your own stories. What inspired you to make that leap?
I was a parish minister for many years and was struck by the drama of people’s lives. I suppose this was because I was so often with people as they negotiated their way through critical developmental milestones. I also was obliged to write sermons for Sundays. I learned over time that stories were more powerful than traditional sermons. Stories also somehow help one make sense of experience. So, I learned that writing about things helped me better understand them.

From sermons to published author. Very interesting. Do you feel confined to one genre when you write or are you exploring several?
I dabble in in several genres. I surprised myself when I began A Yorkie’s Tale since I had never considered writing epic fantasy but enjoyed it quite a bit and am working on another fantasy story. I also enjoy writing personal essays.

Fantasy is my favorite genre so I’m always delighted to meet new fantasy authors. Can you tell us about your journey with “A Yorkie’s Tale”? How did it go from draft to available on Amazon?
A Yorkie’s Tale is my first book and most earnest attempt to publish in the traditional manner. It was a frustrating business to attempt to go the traditional route since I was a novice. Agents want to represent someone known. Publishers read manuscripts from agents. As the form letters stated-“We get X thousands of manuscripts every month…” so I understand it’s a very competitive business. I finally opted to self publish and am quite happy with how it all went. I found a wonderful illustrator who helped bring my characters to life and again, I’m quite pleased with how it all turned out. We’ll see about the next one.

When that next one is going to hit the shelves, would love to have you back to talk about it. When you aren’t writing, how do you like to spend your time? Is there a day job now that you have retired from being a pastor?
I have a small consulting firm with two UK-based partners. I worked internationally for a number of years in the area of public health and human services that were contracted out to private companies. My firm continues to represent companies interested in doing business with governments largely in Australia, the UK, and the US.
My wife, Lynda and I moved to Durham, NC with our 3 dogs from San Diego 4 years ago. She took a job at Duke Medicine and I work from home. Our five grown children and 3 grandchildren all still live in San Diego.

Sounds like you keep very busy. I’m glad you carved out the time to visit with me. You have a funny story about how you began your novel to share with us. Let’s hear all about it.
I lived for a year in London a couple of years ago. My flat was located on Poppins Court (yes, named for Mary Poppins). That’s where I started A Yorkie’s Tale. Our Yorkshire Terrier in San Diego started to get fat and we couldn’t figure out why. We later discovered he was eating the avocados that dropped from our neighbor’s tree. One lonely weekend afternoon at the Pub I started the story – the Yorkie in the backyard eating avocados.

And now that Yorkie is inspiring and helping people all over the world through your story. Wonderful. Thank you again David for visiting and please let us know when your next tale will be coming.

If you would like to follow David and learn more about him and his work, you can connect with him at the below links.

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Website: http://somethingtosaydotblog.wordpress.com

Twitter: @dlheaney

Instagram: heaneydavid

 

And if any of you would like to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, you can contact me here.

Book Review – Land of The Free by Michael Huard

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Land of The Free
(Mystical Slayers Book 1)
Michael W. Huard
3.5 Stars

Today, my Gentle Readers, I have a futuristic post apocalyptic story for you to check out. I enjoyed this book and recommend it, but with a few disclaimers.

Huard has built us a world where in the wake of widespread destruction and warfare, a corporation has arisen to take over all important aspects of our lives. The rich get richer and the poorer, well, maybe they live something akin to a life. To the average person, the American Dream is beyond dead. Enter the Q-Jin, the Mystical Slayers: a group of genetically, chemically, and in some cases cybernetically enhanced women with elite martial arts training across a spectrum of disciplines. Their mission is to return America to the great country it was and bring down Y-Wood Corporation.

Sounds exciting right? And it is. Huard delivers a diverse cast of women with their own unique styles and quirks, bonded by their sisterhood’s ideals and philosophy. The fight scenes are well described and, to my limited knowledge of such things, accurately portrayed. The one difficulty one may have with this cast is the hopping about from character to character is reminiscent of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, but not quite as long between jumps.

For me, the detractors center on two things. First is a constant repetition of the Q-Jin being the Mystical Slayers, being dedicated to bringing back America’s greatness. This seems to happen almost every time the focus shifts from one character to another. After the information drop in the opening chapters, it should be readily clear to all readers and not need repeating as often as it was. It seems like word count padding that pulls away from the driving action of the women’s battle against Y-Wood. Second are scenes that seem superfluous and don’t really drive the plot or provide a clear character development device. I don’t like to post spoilers, but suffice to say there were scenes that I don’t think would have been missed if they weren’t there.

Overall this was a delightful read with some really great fight scenes and a diverse cast of strong female characters. Don’t know if I would recommend it for kids, but late teens should be able to handle the violence and suggestive themes.

Find it on Amazon