Interview with Linda Naughton

I’m happy to welcome software engineer, paramedic, and author Linda Naughton. Today, Linda shares her creative journey and new release, Blackout Trail.

Interview

What was your inspiration for this book?

I’ve always been a fan of disaster movies—Armageddon, Twister, and The Day After Tomorrow to name a few. William R. Forstchen’s novel One Second After introduced me to the EMP survival genre. An electromagnetic pulse takes down the power grid, leading to a complete collapse of society.

I really enjoyed those stories, but most of them (at that time, anyway) were about preppers or ex-military folks who were well-equipped for an apocalypse. I wanted to tell a story about regular people. People who were in over their heads and just trying to do the right thing in a world turned upside down.

What is the best part of being an author? The worst?

Knowing that a story you wrote resonated with someone is a great feeling. I write stories for myself first, but it’s gratifying to see others enjoying them too.

On the flip side, it’s nerve-wracking to put a book out there after pouring so much effort into it. Will anyone even read it? What if they all hate it? Accepting criticism is part of the job—you’ll never please everyone—but it can still provoke anxiety and imposter syndrome.

Which authors have inspired you?

As a kid, I read a lot of sci-fi stories by Robert Heinlein. I really loved his straightforward writing style and tightly written plots. I am also a huge fan of Jennifer Roberson, especially the Tiger and Del novels. She has a way of really getting into her characters’ heads and making them feel like three-dimensional people.

What is your favorite quote?

I’ve always liked this one from Thomas Edison: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This resonates with me both as an engineer and a writer. Your first draft or first prototype isn’t the final destination. You just have to keep refining it until it’s right.

Besides writing and reading, what are some of your hobbies?

I’m a lifelong gamer. These days it’s mostly video games with my kids, but I’ll always have a soft spot for table-top role-playing games. My first paid writing gig was actually doing freelance work for the Shadowrun RPG.

What are you working on next?

I am currently working on the sequel to Blackout Trail. The first story stands alone (no cliffhangers here), but I get attached to my characters and feel like there are more stories to tell with them.

Blurb

Doctor Anna Hastings is no stranger to disasters, having spent much of her career as an aid worker in conflict zones around the world. Yet when an electrical phenomenon known as an EMP brings down the power grid, Anna faces catastrophe on a scale she never imagined. She must learn what it means to be a doctor in a world deprived of almost all technology.

As the blackout causes planes to fall from the sky, Anna crosses paths with devoted father Mark Ryan in the chaos at the airport. Mark convinces Anna to travel with him and his seven-year-old daughter Lily to their family’s cabin in remote Maine. There Mark hopes to reunite with his wife, and find a safe refuge from a society on the brink of collapse.

Journeying across a thousand miles of backcountry trails, they will face a daily struggle against nature. Their biggest peril, though, may come from their fellow survivors. As Anna grows closer to Mark and Lily, she resolves to see them safely home. But can she hold onto her humanity in a world gone mad?

Excerpt

I had just enough time to scoop Lily up and pull her to my chest before the wall of water hit us. I’d been knocked flat by ocean waves countless times before, but this was different. The wave hit low, sweeping my legs out from under me and then carrying us downstream. The shoreline zoomed by, branches and debris swirling all around us.

“Daddy!” Lily cried, squirming in search of Mark. I tightened my grip, fearful of seeing her swept away by the churning torrent of water. I couldn’t see him either. Hopefully he was just upstream from us, in my blind spot.

The creek didn’t seem that deep; I felt my leg smack against the rocky creek bed a few times. I tried to stand up, but I couldn’t get my feet planted. The fast-moving current just bowled me right over every time. Once, we went under and came up sputtering. I worried that our backpacks would sink us, but Lily’s was small and mine surprisingly buoyant.

Over the roaring of the creek, I heard Lily cry out in terror. It was a heart-wrenching sound, but at least it told me she wasn’t drowning. I scanned the shore for something that we might be able to grab onto, but nothing came within reach.

“Anna!” Lily’s shrill cry caused me to snap my eyes forward. A tree had fallen across the stream, and we hurtled towards it.

“Hold on!” Her arms wrapped around my neck so tightly it almost choked me. When we were nearly upon the tree, I twisted my body sideways, trying to shield Lily from the impact.

Buy Links

Amazon | Paperback (wide)

Author Bio and Links

Linda Naughton has been writing stories for as long as she can remember. She is the author of several novels, children’s books, and the blog Self-Rescuing Princesses. A proud geek and gamer girl, she enjoys sci-fi, disaster movies, and role-playing games. She is a software engineer, paramedic, and mother of two.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway

Linda Naughton will be awarding a $15 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Linda on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

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Excerpt Tour: Matching the Marquess

I’m happy to welcome USA Today bestselling author Darcy Burke. Today, Darcy shares her new release, Matching the Marquess.

Blurb

Benjamin Nash, Marquess of Creslow, must marry, for he is the last of the family line. Desirous of a business arrangement instead of a love match, he hires a matchmaker, but on the way to the May Day festival where he will meet her, as well as his matches, he encounters an alluring lady who may suit him perfectly…

After her husband’s death left her a pauper, Rebecca Sweet relied on family for help and in return guided two of them to successful marriages. Engaged with her first real client, she plans to present him a gaggle of young ladies eager to wed. But when she realizes the marquess is the same dashing gentleman she met on the way to the festival, the task becomes far more complicated. Attraction simmers between them, however Nash wants a loveless marriage and Rebecca would only wed again for love. She must find him a bride before she loses her heart forever.

Excerpt

The swarm of young ladies was trying even Nash’s patience. He could typically charm and flirt all night long. Doing so, in fact, was what he was known for. But this unfettered and unabashed attention by so many directed completely at him was unlike anything he’d ever experienced. On the London Marriage Mart, or even in London outside of the Marriage Mart, people were much more discreet with their attention. Usually.

Apparently, it didn’t matter that he’d tried to make himself less attractive. He hadn’t helped himself by being gregarious at first, but now he stood with his arms crossed in an attempt to keep the masses away. It still wasn’t enough. He set his lips into a deep frown.

“What’s wrong, my lord?” asked a fresh-faced young lady with round brown eyes.

Before he could grunt in response, Mrs. Sweet arrived outside the press. Their gazes met, and he sent her a silent plea. She threaded her way through the young ladies, tilting her head this way and that as she murmured things he couldn’t hear. He could only see her lips move. And what lovely lips they were.

When she at last reached him, she gave the young ladies a bright smile. “Forgive us, but Lord Creslow is due to speak with someone.” She clutched his arm and guided him through the throng.

“Thank you,” he whispered. “I was growing most desperate.”

She steered him out of the ballroom and into an antechamber where refreshments were laid out on tables. “I could see that.”

“There were just so many of them. I’m slightly embarrassed. Typically, I can hold my own. However, I’ve never been beset like that. I’m used to some decorum in London.”

“You are not in London, as you’ve learned.”

Author Bio and Links

USA Today Bestselling Author Darcy Burke loves history, her family, and cats (not in that in that order). She’s published over fifty captivating, compelling historical and contemporary romance novels and novellas. It all started with The Magic Swan when she was 11 years old, a happily ever after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him—with exceedingly poor illustrations. She still has plenty of ideas and writes (it seems) constantly in between hanging with her family, playing games, listening to the Dave Matthews Band, bingeing period TV shows, and chilling with her seven rescue cats. Join her Reader Club at https://www.darcyburke.com/join.

Facebook: Darcyburkefans | Facebook Group: DarcysDuchesses | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter | Goodreads | BookBub

Giveaway

Darcy Burke will be awarding the first two books in the Wicked Dukes Club series (One Night for Seduction and One Night of Surrender) – US winner’s choice of ebook or print, and international winner ebook only, to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Darcy on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

Keep Showing Up

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In A Year of Writing Dangerously, author and teacher Barbara Abercrombie shares anecdotes, insights, and solutions. Here’s a thought-provoking excerpt:

Maybe the essay you’re writing, or the memoir or novel, has now taken up residence in your inner life, like a DVD playing in your head. Maybe as you go to sleep at night, you’re working on your story, you dream it. And when you brush your teeth in the morning, you’re thinking about it, seeing flashbacks of your own life or your characters hovering behind you. If it’s a book you’re working on, you imagine what the cover will look like. Articles you read in the newspaper or online, things you observe, hear on radio or TV—everything starts to connect to your work.

Maybe you already have a draft of an essay or short story you’ve written that needs to sit for a while for you to get some perspective on it, and you’re looking for the subject of your next one. What you look for, you usually find.

Or maybe not. Maybe you’re stuck. But the only way to become unstuck is to keep showing up, to keep writing. And trust that when you do show up, something will be playing in your unconscious.

Source: A Year of Writing Dangerously, p.149

10 Interesting Facts about Sgt. Winston Windflower

I’m happy to welcome best-selling author Mike Martin. Today, Mike shares interesting facts about the protagonist of the award-winning Sgt. Windflower Mystery series and his new release, All That Glitters.

1. He’s Cree from Pink Lake, Alberta

Windflower is a Cree from the fictional community of Pink Lake Alberta. People ask why did I make him Indigenous? I didn’t make him anything. That’s the way he came. Windflower came out of the fog one night in Grand Bank, Newfoundland and started talking to me. I just wrote down his story.

2. He likes to eat

This will come as no surprise to anyone who’s read any of the Sgt. Windflower books. His favourite foods are mostly meat and fish. And desserts, especially chocolate peanut butter cheesecake. Food is an important element in the Windflower books because they give a break in the police action, an opportunity to visit with friends, and sometimes a chance to reveal clues or additional details about crimes or criminals.

3. He likes to cook

Almost as much as he likes to eat, Windflower likes to cook. His specialities would be grilling or barbequing. Anything from steak to ribs to pork chops. He also loves to cook fish and makes a delicious fried cod with garlic mashed potatoes and maple Brussel Sprouts. And scrunchions. Small pieces of fried fatback pork that are sprinkled over the cod fish.

4. He likes to pick blueberries

He could spend hours picking any kind of berries, but blueberries would be his favourite. For him, he enjoys the quiet, meditative action of picking berries. Being outdoors in nice weather and being close to Mother Earth. And he loves all the baking that comes out of the berry crop. Sheila, his wife, makes a blueberry buckle that he could die for.

5. He likes Shakespeare quotes

Windflower and his friend Ron Quigley had an instructor at the RCMP training college who loved the Bard. He inspired these two young RCMP cadets to learn and practice quotes. They picked up the habit and carried it into their professional careers together. That’s why quotes are found all through the Windflower books. One that pops up a lot is ‘Hell is empty and all the devils are here’. Pretty apropos for police work.

6. He likes classical music

He didn’t always like classical music. More of a classic rock guy. But his friend, Herb Stoodley, turned him on to this type of music and he loves it now. Every so often Herb gives him a CD and he likes nothing better than to play it when he is travelling by himself on the lonely highways in Newfoundland.

7. He likes trout fishing

Another passion that he picked up from Herb Stoodley who is a master fisherman. Herb takes him all over the area to find the best fishing ponds and the biggest fish. They even go sea trout fishing in the rivers that run directly into the ocean. Those are some of the biggest and tastiest trout that Windflower has ever eaten. He grills them on the BBQ, by the way.

8. He likes walking and hiking

Windflower loves being outside. Even in the winter. Even in the rain, drizzle and fog that is often the weather in this part of the world. He especially likes walking on the many trails in the area and over the barrens and rocky hills overlooking Grand Bank. The view from the top is spectacular.

9. His pets Lady and Molly

Windflower and his collie Lady have a love affair ever since he rescued her after her original owner died in a car crash. They are constant companions on their daily, and nightly, walks around Grand Bank. He loves Molly the cat, too. But isn’t so sure that love is reciprocated. But he keeps working on that relationship and finds that morsels of salmon always help.

10. He loves Newfoundland

One characteristic of Windflower that would be apparent to anyone upon meeting him is that he has a great love of Newfoundland. He liked the community of Grand Bank right from the beginning, fell in love with Sheila at the same time and then grew to love the people, the food, even the weather. Well, not so much the weather, but the feeling of being so close to the ocean filled him up so much he can’t imagine ever leaving.

Blurb

Sergeant Winston Windflower is moving on to a new chapter of his life, no longer an RCMP officer but now a Community Safety Officer in his home of Grand Bank, Newfoundland.

But when a body is found in the bed and breakfast he co-owns, diamonds are found in the body’s digestive system, and then Windflower’s friend Dr. Sanjay, who was given the diamonds for safekeeping, is kidnapped, it’s clear that crime has returned once more to Grand Bank.

Windflower finds himself back in the thick of it, helping his newly promoted friend, RCMP Corporal Eddie Tizzard, track down a ruthless diamond smuggler who will stop at nothing — kidnapping, even murder — to pull off his dirty business.

This is another finely spun Windflower mystery that contrasts suspense and tension with the joys of friendship, family, and gratitude.

All That Glitters is available in fine bookstores all over Canada and around the world on Amazon.

Amazon CA | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Author Bio

Mike Martin was born in St. John’s, NL on the east coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand.

He is the award-winning and best-selling author of the award-winning Sgt. Windflower Mystery series set in beautiful Grand Bank. There are now 13 books in this light mystery series with the publication of All That Glitters.

A Tangled Web was shortlisted in 2017 for the best light mystery of the year, and Darkest Before the Dawn won the 2019 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award.

Some Sgt. Windflower Mysteries are now available as audiobooks and the latest A Tangled Web was released as an audiobook in 2023. All audiobooks are available from Audible in Canada and around the world.

Mike is Past Chair of the Board of Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization promoting Canadian crime and mystery writers and a member of the Newfoundland Writers’ Guild and Capital Crime Writers.

You can follow the Sgt. Windflower Mysteries on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheWalkerOnTheCapeReviewsAndMore/

Honoring Tina Turner

Legendary icon Tina Turner died yesterday at age 83.

One of the best-known singers of her generation, Tina started performing as a teenager in rural Tennessee and embarked on a long, often painful, journey to global stardom. She was almost forty when she finally broke free from an abusive marriage.

In an interview with German Vogue, she commented, “A lot of people thought that Tina Turner was history. They only knew Ike and Tina Turner and didn’t understand what was going on. So I had to test myself.”

While she found it difficult at first, she achieved even greater success as a solo artist, proving she could hold her own against any man. At age 60, she was the biggest-selling concert artist in the world. Her high energy and uninhibited style earned her the title: Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

My favorite quotations from Tina Turner:

“My legacy is that I stayed on course… from the beginning to the end because I believed in something inside of me.”

“I believe that if you’ll just stand up and go, life will open up for you.”

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

“At every moment, we always have a choice, even if it feels as if we don’t. Sometimes that choice may simply be to think a more positive thought.”

“The older you get, the more you realize it’s not what happens, but how you deal with it.”

“You must love and care for yourself, because that’s when the best comes out.”

“My greatest beauty secret is being happy with myself.”

“Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go—purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything… whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”

“My heartfelt wish is that you and I, and everyone around the world, will continue expanding our hearts and minds while celebrating our differences and ridding ourselves of any form of discrimination. This, I believe, is a basic requirement for peace, both within ourselves and in our societies.”

“This is what I want in heaven… words to become notes and conversations to be symphonies.”

My favorite song:

Advice for First-Generation Writers

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In a recent post on the Writer Unboxed blog, award-winning author Jennifer De Leon shared advice for first-generation writers. Here’s an excerpt from that post:

Much has been said about being a first-generation college graduate, or a first-time home buyer, or the first woman in space. But being the first writer in the family is such a unique and often emotional experience. Here are a few things that have helped me.

Remember that it’s a job. It’s easy to say now, but for a long time I didn’t see writing as “a real job.” It was my hobby. It was something I did when I felt like it. I didn’t have any real deadlines. I now have contracts with publishing houses, deadlines for my agent and my editor, deliverables (such as this blog post!), and research to do for my next book. For a very long time, I did not get paid for my writing. But if I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self: it is a job, whether you get paid or not. It’s work. Real work. Really hard work, sometimes. It’s not frivolous. It matters. So: roll up your sleeves, make a schedule, commit to your art, and get to work.

Write about them. Yes, write about your family. For me, this helped bridge the gap between my identity as a writer and my relationships with family members. I have written about my parents, extended relatives, children, husband, and sisters, in my creative nonfiction essays. And in my novels and short stories, I often pinch certain characteristics from family members and give them to fictional characters. This doesn’t work for everyone, of course, but for me, I find that it is a privilege to finally be able to bring often marginalized stories, to the center. I love this quote by playwright Suzan-Lori Parks: “Write for them, fight for them.”

Take your family with you to readings and events. I have taken my mom to countless readings and even the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Sicily. My husband and I have spent time in several writing residencies across the country. I bring my young sons to readings and events. I have a distinct memory of my then three-year-old son running across an enormous stage towards me while I read at the podium. I looked at his sweet face, picked him up, and kept reading.

Know that it’s okay if they don’t “get it.” Sometimes family will say dumb stuff. Or ask questions at holiday tables that make you feel totally deflated. What have you published lately? How much do you get paid for writing a book? How long does it take? What page are you on now? Take it with a grain of salt. Most people don’t know what really goes into being a writer, into publishing a book.

Have a sense of humor. It really does help.

Above all, my advice is to keep going. Being the first writer in the family can be trying at times, joyous and celebratory at others, but above all, it is an honor to be able to do what you love in this life. And by being the first, it means you are helping to carve a path for others.

Source: Writer Unboxed

Inspiration from My Favorite Authors

Collecting quotations has been one of my lifelong hobbies. In the pre-computer days, I would jot down quotations on slips of paper and toss them in a desk drawer. Once a month, I would type them up and place them in a special file folder. I’ve kept the folder but now use Pinterest and Goodreads to store my quotations.

These quotations resonate during this season of my life:

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” ~ Margaret Atwood

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” ~ E. L. Doctorow

Continue reading on the Soul Mate Authors blog.

When Writing Does Not Come Easy

I’m happy to welcome back author Nancy-Lee Badger. Today, Nancy shares her creative journey and new release, The Rogue’s Ring.

I feel I was a late bloomer when it came to writing. During my junior high years, I recall going to some type of eye doctor who made mom make me do the oddest eye exercises that included laying on my back on the floor and moving my arms. I tried contact lenses in my junior year of high school and could see better, but I took a remedial reading course in my senior year that was all about memorizing blocks of random numbers. We got up to six numbers, which helped me once I began working in retail, since I had to punch each item’s SKU (stock keeping unit) number into the register.

I wrote a few stories and dabbled in poetry in college, but never once did writing a publishable novel fill my dreams. Marriage, work, and raising a family got in the way of any dreams, until I began to notice my surroundings at a Scottish Highland festival. The writing took off, but it wasn’t until I was in my fifties and had moved from New Hampshire to North Carolina that I sold a story.

I have published contemporary romances, time travels, and fantasies. My current series involves three Englishmen who meet Scottish women as they search for treasure. The Rogue’s Ring is a full-length story set mainly in 1817 Scotland. The Rogue’s Ring follows The Earl’s Treasure and The Duke’s Diamond. What happens? They find love they never expected to fall into their laps.

Tag Line

An English rogue, a Scottish pirate’s sister, and a quest that ought to keep them apart is thwarted when young boys are kidnapped.

Book Blurb

Bryce Ketteridge would never let down his friends. If finding the owners of signet rings was important, he would do his share. Shooting a masked bandit turned his life on end. What followed was not in his plans. The last thing Cat Douglas wished to do was steal coins from the handsome stranger. When he later shoots her while she threatened a nobleman’s coach, she suspected he had no idea it was her. Kidnapped boys, pirate threats, and murder propel them to save a boy named Blake. He was, after all, special to them both.

More about Me

I grew up in Huntington on New York’s Long Island. After attending Plymouth State, in New Hampshire, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree and met and married my college sweetheart. We raised two handsome sons in Rumney, New Hampshire while I dreamed of being a writer. When the children had left the nest, and shoveling snow became a chore, I retired from my satisfying job as a 911 Emergency Medical Dispatcher and moved to North Carolina, where I write full-time. I am a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Triangle Association of Freelancers. I find story ideas in the most unusual places. Connect with her here:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page

When Inner Peace Begins

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

A long-time fan of bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff, I look forward to reading their emails and blog posts. Here’s an excerpt from a recent post:

In the present moment we all have some kind of pain: anger, sadness, frustration, disappointment, regret, etc.

Notice this pain within yourself, watch it closely, and see that it’s caused by whatever story you have in your head about what happened in the past (either in the recent past or in the distant past). Your mind might insist that the pain you feel is caused by what happened (not by the story in your head about it), but what happened in the past is NOT happening right now. It’s over. It has passed. But the pain is still happening right now because of the story you’ve been subconsciously telling yourself about that past incident.

Note that “story” does not mean “fake story.” It also does not mean “true story.” The word “story” in the context of your self-evaluation doesn’t have to imply true or false, positive or negative, or any other kind of forceful judgment call. It’s simply a process that’s happening inside your head:

*You are remembering something that happened.

*You subconsciously perceive yourself as a victim of this incident.

*Your memory of what happened causes a strong emotion in you.

So just notice what story you have, without judging it, and without judging yourself. It’s natural to have a story; we all have stories. See yours for what it is. And see that it’s causing you pain. Then take a deep breath, and another…

Inner peace begins the moment you take these deep breaths and choose not to allow the past to rule your present thoughts and emotions.

Note: I highly recommend subscribing to Marc & Angel’s website.