Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Interview with Historical Mystery Author Marty Ambrose

Marty Ambrose has been a writer most of her life, consumed with the world of literature whether teaching English at Florida Southwestern State College or creating her own fiction.  Her writing career has spanned almost fifteen years, with eight published novels for Avalon Books, Kensington Books, Thomas & Mercer—and, now, Severn House.
Two years ago, Marty had the opportunity to apply for a grant that took her to Geneva and Florence to research a new creative direction that builds on her interest in the Romantic poets:  historical fiction.  Her new book, Claire’s Last Secret, combines memoir and mystery in a genre-bending narrative of the Byron/Shelley “haunted summer,” with Claire Clairmont, as the protagonist/sleuth—the “almost famous” member of the group.  The novel spans two eras played out against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Italy and is the first of a trilogy.   
Marty lives on an island in Southwest Florida with her husband, former news-anchor, Jim McLaughlin.  They are planning a three-week trip to Italy this fall to attend a book festival and research the second book, A Shadowed Fate.  Luckily, Jim is fluent in Italian and shares her love of history and literature.  Their German shepherd, Mango, has to stay home.
Find out more about CLAIRE'S LAST SECRET on Amazon

Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about Claire’s Last Secret, and what compelled you to write it.
Author:  The great Romantic poet, Lord Byron, once said, “I awoke to find myself famous.” – Truly, it is every writer’s dream to be thrust into a world of sudden, unfolding adoration for one’s work.  But the inspiration forClaire’s Last Secret was more of a nightmare:  I “awoke” during my summer teaching hiatus to find myself with a back injury that left me practically housebound on an island, in between writing projects, and feeling like the world was passing me by.  
I happened to pick up Daisy Hay’s book, The Young Romantics, and learned that she had found a fragment of Claire Clairmont’s (Mary Shelley’s stepsister) journal saying that the famous Byron/Shelley summer of “free love” in 1816 had created a “perfect hell” for her. Of course, Claire wrote those words when she was almost eighty, impoverished, living in Florence, Italy, having outlived the two great poets and Mary by many decades.  Intrigued, I wondered what it would feel like to outlive everyone who had been part of one’s youth.  As the lone remaining figure of that famous quartet, she’d been left behind.  In that moment, I bonded with Claire and decided to tell her story, but as a fictional memoir.
As I delved into Claire’s life, pieces came together in my thoughts:  her illicit love for Byron, her rocky relationship with Mary and Shelley, and her later years in Italy—and I knew I had to tell her story from two perspectives:  the young, reckless Claire and the older-but-wiser Claire.  Then, there was the mystery of her lost daughter with Byron. Her lovers.  Her passion for life.  It all coalesced into the kind of genre-bending novel that I’ve always wanted to create.
As I wrote the book, I healed after successful back surgery, wrote a grant, traveled to Geneva and Florence with my hubby to research the book—and awoke to find myself with a new life.
It turned out to be my own summer of awakening.

M.C.: What is your book about?
Author:   The book is Claire Clairmont’s story, beginning in 1873 when she lived in Florence, Italy—the last survivor of the “haunted summer” Byron/Shelley.  She is living out her final years in genteel poverty, with only the memories of her lost youth.  Just at her moment of greatest despair, the appearance of British tourist, William Michael Rossetti, brings hope that she may be able to sell some of her memorabilia to earn enough cash to support her and her niece/companion, Paula.  But Rossetti’s presence in Florence seems to begin a cycle of events that links with the summer of 1816 when Claire conceived an ill-fated child with George Gordon, Lord Byron, when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, and when four tempestuous lives came together around a tragic death.  As Claire begins to unravel the truth, she has to go back to that summer of passion and lost dreams to discover the identity of her enemy.
M.C.:  What themes do you explore in Claire’s Last Secret?
Author: The book really touches on the theme of memory:  what things we remember and why we remember them in a particular way.  Claire has spent most of her life believing that the people she loved let her down, but it’s really the opposite; they tried to protect her.  Connected to this theme is a secondary one about the interconnectedness of life.   In the book, we see Mount Tambora explode in Indonesia in 1815, which causes a massive dust cloud to drift across the earth; when it covers Europe in the summer of 1816, its violent lightening storms are part of what impels Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein.
M.C.:  Why do you write?
Author: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write.  I love the English language, and I love to spin fantasies with imaginary characters.  The drive to create with words feels like something that is just part of my nature.
M.C.:  When do you feel the most creative?
Author:  It takes me time to settle into writing during the day.  I like mornings best, in my home office, surrounded by my favourite books; but, for some reason, I can’t ever start writing until near noon.
M.C.:  How picky are you with language?
Author:  I’m pretty picky about diction and grammar and will spend a lot of time looking for just the right word—for the definition and the sound in the sentence.  I think word flow is most important to me.
M.C.:  When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?
Author: I love this question and would have answered it very differently a few years ago.  When I wrote my Mango Bay mystery series, I can honestly say that I would go into the “flow” experience at times, but I was always conscious of writing.  With Claire’s Last Secret, though, it’s the first time that I had the sensation that the words were already on the page and I was simply clearing away the white space.  It was an amazing shift for me!
M.C.:  What is your worst time as a writer?
Author:  My worst year as a writer was 2015.  My publisher decided to discontinue its mystery line, my agent retired, and I had a severe back injury.  It was not a fun time.
M.C.:  Your best?
Author:  Two years later:  I signed with a new agent, wrote the “book of my heart,” was picked up by a new publisher, and regained my health.  Life didn’t just turn around; it became amazing—the dark before the dawn, to quote a cliché.
M.C.:  Is there anything that would stop you from writing?
Author:  Not really.  I’ve had challenging professional and life events that might delay me, but I never stopped writing.
M.C.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
Author:  When I sold, Claire’s Last Secret.  It was truly the book that I was born to write, and I loved every minute of it.
M.C.:  Is writing an obsession to you?
Author:  Of course.  I don’t think you can be a writer if you’re not obsessed in some way with creating stories; they become a part of us and we live with them every minute of our lives.  I guess that more than qualifies as “obsession”!
M.C.:  Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?
Author:  I think every story reflects some part of the author/creator.  I couldn’t have written my latest novel if I hadn’t had some life experience and mature perspective.  When I wrote Claire’s Last Secret, I was pretty much housebound with a sense of “having been left behind” as I waited for surgery—and I connected with what it must have felt like for Claire Clairmont when she outlived almost everyone she loved by many decades.  I had this emotional connection with her before I started telling her story.   
M.C.:  Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Thoughts?
Well . . . we live in conflictual times (as I suppose we always have) and maybe the best thing to do is keep pumping the streams of creativity to offset the negativity of life.  I always feel that when people contemplate visual art, watch a play, or read a book, they are reaching for something beyond the everyday difficulties.  We write for the same reason.  It takes us to places that we can only dream of—and then maybe make happen.  PS:  I love Bradbury! 
M.C.:  Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?
Author:  Absolutely!

Book Feature: Unlawful Desires by Sassy Sinclair

UNLAWFUL DESIRES by Sassy Sinclair, Erotic Suspense, 198 pp., $10.99 (paperback) $3.99 (Kindle)

Author: Sassy Sinclair
Publisher: Goldman House Publishing
Pages: 198
Genre: Erotic Romance

Sparks fly when a handsome lawyer falls hard for a smart, seductive woman who thinks like a man and acts like one too.

Sharla Ratliff is done with having her heart broken. Her new dating rules are simple. No emotion. No expectation of commitment. Sex purely for her own physical enjoyment. Then she meets Marcel Dennard. The attractive lawyer has all the trappings of success: a thriving career, women at his beck and call, and enough money in the bank for the finer things in life.

Their lust for each other doesn’t just create sparks, it sets off explosions. The sexual attraction between them is so passionately erotic they behave in ways that can only be called reckless. After a shocking series of events place both of their careers in jeopardy, can they restrain their sexual desires long enough to keep everything they’ve worked for from going up in smoke?




“But I don’t understand. You said you loved me!”
Marcel stood in the doorway of his bedroom as Camille snatched clothes from his closet and tossed them onto the bed.
He didn’t realize she kept that much stuff at his house. They’d only been seeing each other for five months and had never lived together. Once he got her out of his crib, he wasn’t letting another woman leave a bubblegum wrapper at his house, much less a toothbrush.
“Don’t just stand there,” Camille cried. “Say something!”
Since he couldn’t tell her what he was really thinking—that he couldn’t wait for her ass to leave—Marcel thought it was best to keep his mouth shut. Yeah, he’d told her he loved her. More than once, in fact. But only in response to her saying it first and usually about three seconds before he came. Never once had he initiated the phrase or uttered the words while fully clothed. That should’ve been a clue.
“You’re upset,” he said, backing out of the room. “I’ll wait in the den until you finish packing up.”
As Marcel turned to leave, Camille hurled a bottle of deodorant across the room. It nicked him on the shoulder.
“Hey!” He rubbed the sore spot. “Was that really necessary?”
“You used me!”
Marcel almost laughed out loud. He’d taken her to Paris, bought her designer purses and treated her to the finest restaurants in L.A. He even paid off one of her credit cards. And she was being used? Go figure.
“I told you from the start, I didn’t want a commitment. We had a good time while it lasted.”
“But I don’t understand what happened,” she sniveled.
He did. The same thing that always happened. He got bored. All relationships were great in the beginning. Unfortunately, he had an addiction to pussy. New pussy in particular. But new pussy can’t stay new forever.
Marcel glanced at his watch. He wanted Camille and her drama to disappear before the Clippers’ game came on.
 As he headed into the den, he knew he only had himself to blame. He had let his guard down with Camille. The minute she started texting him ten times a day and trying to track his every move, he should’ve called it quits. But the girl worked wonders between the sheets and that did have its value. And those legs of hers. He loved doing her standing up with her back against the wall, her long brown legs clamped tightly around his waist. Even now, he got excited just thinking about it. Too bad she’d gotten so clingy.
Marcel picked up the remote and switched on the TV. It took another thirty minutes before Camille trudged down the hallway dragging two military-size duffle bags behind her.
When in the hell did you sneak in all this shit? And why didn’t I notice?
Camille wasn’t crying anymore, which he considered a good sign.
“I’m sorry I got so upset,” she said. “You were right. You did tell me you didn’t want a commitment. I should’ve listened.”
Marcel didn’t respond. Her apology was probably a trick. He feared saying something that might set her off again. His goal was to get her ass on the other side of his front door and lock the dead bolt. At least he’d been smart enough not to give in to her pleas for a key. If he had, he would’ve had to change all the locks.
“Do you need help with your bags?” he asked.
Camille nodded.
Marcel took the bags from her, surprised at how heavy they were. They had to weigh close to fifty pounds apiece. When they got to the front door, he waited for her to open it.
Instead of reaching for the doorknob, Camille just stood there.
Now what?
"Can you get the door?" Marcel asked.
She turned around to face him. “Despite everything that happened, I really enjoyed being with you. You’re a great guy.”
“Back at you. Now open the door.”
 Camille clasped her hands in front of her and spoke in an annoying little girl’s voice. “Don’t I even get a hug goodbye?”
Here we go. Women were so transparent.
Marcel let the bags fall to the floor with a thud and pulled her into his arms for a quick hug. Damn, she smelled good. Felt good too.
When he tried to pull away, Camille moved in closer, snuggling her face into the crook of his neck. Then she licked his earlobe, which she knew drove him wild. He instantly grew rigid.
Camille grinded against his erection. “Uh-oh.” She grinned up at him. “Something tells me you don’t want me to leave.”
Women made the mistake of equating sex with love. Just because his dick wanted her to stay, didn’t mean he did.


Sassy Sinclair, AKA Pamela Samuels Young, is an attorney and award-winning author of multiple legal thrillers. Unlawful Desires is her first foray into the erotic romantic suspense genre. Her mystery Anybody’s Daughter won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction and was a Top Ten pick by In the Margins, the best books for at-risk teens. Her novels #Anybody’s Daughter and #Abuse of Discretion are young adult adaptations of two of her most popular adult mysteries. Prior to embarking on a full-time writing career, Pamela was an associate at O’Melveny & Myers, LLP and Managing Counsel for Labor and Employment Law at Toyota. A former journalist, she also worked as a television news writer and associate producer for WXYZ-TV in Detroit and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles. Pamela received her bachelor’s degree from USC and earned graduate degrees from Northwestern University and UC Berkeley School of Law. A natural hair enthusiast, Pamela wrote Kinky Coily: A Natural Hair Resource Guide to educate women about the true beauty of their kinky coils. The Compton native is a frequent speaker on the topics of child sex trafficking, teen sexting, self-empowerment, independent publishing and fiction writing.



Monday, September 17, 2018

Interview with Michael McMenamin Author of Appointment in Prague

“KEEPING SECRETS from her husband, Bourke Cockran, Jr., was nothing new for Mattie McGary as she gently kissed her sleeping husband goodbye before she left for her office where she had to prepare two pieces of correspondence. One was an ‘eyes only’ letter to her godfather, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, telling him everything about her new mission, one he never would have approved had he known beforehand. The other was a letter to her husband on the same subject where she most definitely would not tell him ‘everything’. The second letter would be much more difficult to write than the first.”
--From Appointment in Prague by Michael & Kathleen McMenamin
Book Description:

In the novella, Appointment in Prague, one woman, a British secret agent, sets out in May 1942 to single-handedly send to hell the most evil Nazi alive—SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the head of
the SD, the domestic and foreign counter-intelligence wing of the SS; second in rank only to the head of the SS himself, Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler; and the architect of  “The Final Solution” that will send millions of European Jews to their doom.

When British Prime Minister Winston Churchill authorizes the SOE—the ‘Special Operations Executive’— in October 1941 to assassinate Heydrich, he is unaware that the entire operation has been conceived and is being run by his Scottish goddaughter, the former Pulitzer Prize-winning Hearst photojournalist Mattie McGary. The SOE is Churchill’s own creation, one he informally describes as the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare and, at his suggestion, Mattie becomes one of its Deputy Directors. 

Mattie has a history with Heydrich dating back to 1933 and a personal score to settle. In September 1941, when the man known variously as ‘The Blond Beast’ and ‘The Man With the Iron Heart’—that last coming from Adolf Hitler himself—is appointed Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, the remnants left of Czechoslovakia after the Germans had dismembered it in 1939, Mattie is determined—now that he is no longer safely within Germany’s borders—to have him killed. She recruits and trains several Czech partisans for the task and has them parachuted into Czechoslovakia in December 1941.

An increasingly impatient Mattie waits in London for word that her agents have killed the Blond Beast. By May 1942, Heydrich still lives and Mattie is furious.  The mother of six-year-old twins, Mattie decides—without telling her godfather or her American husband, the #2 man in the London office of the OSS—to parachute into Czechoslovakia herself and  “light a fire under their timid Czech bums”. Which she does, but her agents botch the job and Heydrich is only wounded in the attempt. The doctors sent from Berlin to care for him believe he will recover.

On the fly, Mattie conceives a new plan to kill Heydrich herself. With forged papers and other help from the highest-placed SOE asset in Nazi Germany—a former lover—Mattie determines to covertly enter Prague’s Bulovka Hospital and finish the job. After that, all she has to do is flee Prague into Germany and from there to neutral Switzerland. What Mattie doesn’t know is that Walter Schellenberg, Heydrich’s protégé and the head of Foreign Intelligence for the SD, is watching her every move.

Welcome Michael! Can we begin by having you tell us how you and Kathleen got started writing your historical fiction, Appointment in Prague? Did the movies influence you? Books?

Michael: Well, the book began life as the Epilogue (set in 1942 Prague) to our novel The Berghof Betrayal where my son Patrick was a co-author. The novel was set in 1933 Germany where the evil Nazi, Reinhard Heydrich, gives our heroine Mattie McGary more than enough reason to want him dead. We eventually cut the Epilogue and found a more immediate way for Mattie to put the fear of God into Heydrich.
I hate to waste good writing, however, so I was inspired to expand it into its present novella form to provide a platform for a six chapter preview of our next Mattie McGary + Winston Churchill 1930s Adventure, The Liebold Protocol, a full length novel that will be published in October 2018 where my new co-author will be my daughter Kathleen McMenamin, who has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from NYU. I did so by adding additional scenes after Heydrich dies focused on Mattie’s capture by SS Counterintelligence as she attempts to flee to Switzerland
My initial inspiration for the Epilogue that became a novella occurred on a trip to Prague for a legal conference where I noticed a sign on the street pointing to the ‘Reinhard Heydrich Museum’. I was taken aback. A museum to Heydrich?? In Prague?? Czechs hate Heydrich!! So I had to visit the museum, which was located in the basement of a church where Czech partisans had hidden after the murder and where the Gestapo found and killed them all. So the museum is more a shrine to them than homage to Heydrich. I knew the general details of Heydrich’s assassination by agents of Britain’s Special Operations Executive [SOE] but at the museum, I learned three new things. First, the SOE agents had been in country for nearly 6 months before they finally did the deed. Second, doctors from Berlin thought Heydrich was going to survive [and he would have except for the fact that the Germans didn’t have access to penicillin]. Third, he lived for a full week after he was wounded and finally died from septicemia.
That extra week in Heydrich’s life was all I needed. Mattie McGary may have put the fear of God into Heydrich in 1933 in The Berghof Betrayal, but given what Heydrich had done to her, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to let her take her revenge as well by personally killing Heydrich in 1942.  So, I envisioned what Mattie would be doing in 1942. Then I put her in the SOE, the personal creation of her godfather Winston Churchill; made her the SOE control officer over the Heydrich assassination mission; parachuted her into Czechoslovakia to find out from her agents why, after six months, Heydrich was still alive; and, when Heydrich initially survived the assassination attempt, I had her come up with a new scenario on the fly where she would gain access to the hospital and poison the bastard herself. Then, when she successfully escaped from Czechoslovakia into Germany on her way to Switzerland, I had SS Counterintelligence capture her before she reached the German-Swiss border. To go further would be a spoiler. Read the book! It’s not that long.

Did you find writing this book came natural or did you struggle sometimes?

Michael: There are always times when you struggle, but writing the 6th book in a series is always easier than the first one, especially if you are expanding something you have already written.

Can you tell us a little about the main characters of your book?

Michael: There are three main characters in Appointment in Prague which take place in 1942: Prime Minister Winston Churchill; his fictional Scottish goddaughter, Mattie McGary, Deputy Director of Churchill’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) and formerly an intrepid, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist for the Hearst media empire; and her husband, Bourke Cockran, Jr., #2 in the London Station of the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS).

All the previous five historical thrillers featuring Mattie and Winston’s adventures, however, take place during the 1930s. Some may question casting Winston Churchill as a key character in a series of historical thrillers set during 1929-1939, his “Wilderness Years” when he was out of power, out of favor and a lone voice warning against the rising danger posed by Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. They shouldn’t. Saving Western Civilization in 1940 when England stood alone as a beacon of liberty in a sea of tyranny tends to overshadow Churchill’s earlier accomplishments.

Churchill is, in many ways, the ideal historical figure around which to craft a period thriller. He was an adventure-seeking young man, a fencing champion in prep school, a championship polo player in the army and a seaplane pilot in the early, peril-filled days of aviation in 1910. In between, he was a much-decorated war hero in bloody battles on the Afghan-Indian border, in the Sudan, and in South Africa where his commanding officer nominated him for the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest military honor, and where he escaped from a prisoner of war camp and made his way to freedom over hundreds of miles of enemy territory. In World War I, while other politicians, safely abed, sent millions of young men to their death, Winston was with his troops in the trenches of the bloody Ypres salient daily risking death himself.

More importantly for the series, Churchill maintained a private intelligence network in Britain and Europe during the 1930s, which often left him better informed than his own government. This fact is a catalyst for our Mattie + Winston adventures. With Churchill at the center spinning his own web, he lures both Mattie and her future husband, the American lawyer, Bourke Cockran, Jr., a former U.S. Army counter-intelligence agent into many adventures.

Winston, a romantic at heart, brought the two young people together in 1929. Romance bloomed but it was not a match made in heaven. Both characters are strong-willed individuals and their Celtic tempers frequently clashed. They met in the 1st book in 1929 where she seduced him; Mattie was seduced by a Nazi villain in the 2nd book in 1931; they became engaged in the 3rd book in 1932; and were finally married at the end of the 5th book in 1933.
Here’s how one Goodreads reviewer accurately characterized Mattie: “Mattie McGary is what every woman wants to be: strong-willed, the ability to take care of herself, and who doesn’t take crap from anyone.”

What was the hardest scene to write?

Michael: I’m not sure it was the hardest, but I had to revise it more than any other scene. It’s where the OSS Station Chief in Switzerland, the very married and notorious philanderer Allen Dulles, sneaks into Mattie’s bedroom and unsuccessfully attempts to seduce her. Mattie, whose SOE training has taught her how to kill or disable an opponent in a variety of ways, stops him cold with only two words.

“Yes, Allen? What do you want?”
“I’ve come to ask permission or forgiveness, whichever you prefer.”
“Neither, Allen, dear, and if you advance even one inch closer, you will greatly regret it. I have but two words to bring both your big head and your little head to their senses.” Mattie said and paused for a beat …

You’ll have to read the book to find out those two words.

They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point when the reader just can’t put the book down. Can you give us one of those pivotal points in your book?

Michael: Sure. Mattie has just poisoned the evil villain Reinhard Heydrich in Bulovka Hospital in Prague and is trying to get the hell out of Dodge when she runs into an overly arrogant SS officer who has other ideas. The hospital is in lockdown until they find who set off a fire alarm. By that time, Mattie fears, they will have found Heydrich’s dead body. Mattie blames the fire alarm on one of the nurses on Heydrich’s floor.

“Sascha, of course. No glass of schnapps has yet to survive an encounter with Sascha Besch. I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes when our Nurse Supervisor learns of this.”
Both of the SS guards at the door laughed, but quickly stopped when the SS officer gave them a cold glance. “So why are you in such a rush to leave and where are you going?” he asked in a cold voice.
“Answer my question, Nurse Muller.”
“Back to the Hotel Steiner, of course. My fiancé Paul in the Waffen-SS is there on his last night of leave from the Eastern front as I told you earlier.”
“Well, Fraulein, I fear both you and your dear Paul will have to control your, uh, passions until we ascertain who was responsible for the false fire alarm. If it was Nurse Besch, as you say, then you won’t have long to wait.”
“Well, ‘Paul’—that’s Obergruppenfuhrer Paul Hausser to you—who commands the II SS Panzer Corps, is not accustomed to receiving advice on romantic matters from a mere,” Mattie paused as she leaned in and looked closely at the tabs on the young officer’s tunic, “Obersturmfuhrer, but when I eventually see him tonight, I hope he will see the humor in the situation. For your sake. Anyway, once I pass on to him what a zealous officer you have been, I’m certain he will want you by his side when he returns to the Eastern front tomorrow.”
“Well…” the young officer began, but Mattie cut him off.
“Come with me, Obersturmfuhrer. What is your name please? I must find a telephone and call Paul at the Hotel Steiner and explain to him why I am delayed. He may well wish to speak with you. If he does, don’t hesitate to dispense the same romantic advice to him that you did to me.” Mattie smiled sweetly.
“Hotel Steiner? This is SS-Obersturmfuhrer Ludwig Kleist. I wish to speak with SS-General Paul Hausser.” A pause followed. “Yes, I know what time it is! This is urgent! Put me through to his room now!” A pause followed.
Herr General,” Kleist said and repeated his title. “I am in charge of the third shift security detail for General Heydrich at the Bulovka Hospital. I have in custody a nurse named Marta Muller who claims to be your fiancée.”
Those were the last words Kleist spoke for the next two minutes, other than an occasional “Jawohl, Herr General!” as the young SS officer’s face grew progressively more flushed until Mattie feared he would have a stroke. With a final “Jawohl!” Kleist placed the receiver on the hook and turned to Mattie.
The SS officer’s face began to regain its normal color as he handed the slip of paper back to Mattie. “Fraulein, you are free to leave. I apologize for my ungentlemanly remarks a moment ago. I did not mean to offend. We are all on edge here because of our concern for the well-being of General Heydrich.”
Mattie smiled as she took the paper back. “I take it Paul was not in the best of humor? Well, it’s probably just as well that you didn’t offer him the same romantic advice you did to me. I accept your apology and your advice will remain our little secret.”
Danke, Fraulein,” Kleist said, bowed and clicked his heels.  

Will there be a follow up book to Appointment in Prague or other books in the near future?

Michael: You bet.

The Liebold Protocol, a Mattie McGary + Winston Churchill 1930s Adventure will be published in October 2018. It is set mainly in Nazi Germany in the days leading up to the ‘Night of the Long Knives’ on 30 June 1934 where the SS murdered most of Hitler’s political enemies. It was written with my daughter Kathleen McMenamin.  She and I are currently at work on The Prussian Memorandum, another Mattie + Winston adventure that will be published in 2019. It’s set in 1934 and tells the true story about the legislative process in Germany that led to the 1935 Nuremberg laws making German Jews second-class citizens and forbidding their marriage to Aryans. The Nazis used American state legislation and case law re racial miscegenation and second-class citizenship in the U.S.—what the Germans called ‘The Prussian Memorandum’—as models to do the same to Germany’s Jews. Neither the Americans nor the Nazis want this made public. Any journalist—like Mattie McGary—who attempts to do so will be placed in peril. But Mattie—who senses another Pulitzer Prize—is “strong-willed, [has] the ability to take care of herself, and … doesn’t take crap from anyone.” We’re not there yet, but my money is on Mattie.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hope is a Good Thing by Charlene Whitman

"Hope is a good thing . . ."
By Charlene Whitman
Hope. It's such a powerful thing. I'm reminded of the ending lines of one of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption—a movie all about hope: "Hope is a good thing. It may be the best thing. And no good thing ever dies."
We've all heard the saying "Hope springs eternal." There are probably thousands of saying about hope, but one really comes to mind when I think about my novel Colorado Hope:
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Proverbs 13:12).
When thinking up the plot for Colorado Hope (since I already had the title and, of course, the theme), I tried to imagine what might be one of the most hopeless situations I could put my lovers in.
And what could be worse than losing the man you loved? Well, I decided there might be something worse—losing him . . .  only to find him again but not be able to have him back in your arms.
Can you imagine how you'd feel if the person you loved more than anyone else was swept away in a flood (or vanished due to some other disaster: earthquake, explosion, etc.)? There is nothing more horrific and despairing than the loss of a loved one.
And can you imagine the elation you would feel to learn your loved one hadn't died at all but survived—and is safe and whole?
You would jump for joy, cry tears, your heart pounding hard as you envision the sweet reunion and those warm arms around you again. Your hope would soar.
But . . . what if you ran to the one you loved, and you were met with confusion and rejection. Worse—what if you saw your beloved on the arm of another, realizing in shock that you'd been entirely forgotten—and there wasn't a thing you could do about it.
This is the predicament I gave Grace Cunningham, with the challenge of creating a story that would show the hopelessness of such loss. Anyone, I believe, would despair so greatly, they would lose all hope.
But Grace never let's go of hope. She knows it's the anchor that she must hold on to. And while it seems utterly hopeless that she'll be reunited with Monty, she never gives up. She has faith that somehow, one day, his memories will return and he will be back in her arms and come to know his little son, Benjamin.
Here's the synopsis for Colorado Hope. It's a story like no other, and not at all your typical romance. For the hero and heroine are already married, and, in a way, Grace must woo Monty all over again.

1875 ~ Beset by a sudden spring storm on the Front Range, newlywed Grace Cunningham watches in horror as her husband, Monty, is swept downriver. Pregnant and despairing, she stumbles into Fort Collins and tries to make a life for herself, praying that one day the man she loves will walk into town and back into her life.
Montgomery Cunningham wakens on the bank of a river with no recollection of who he is or how he got the gash on his head. A woman named Stella, who claims to be his fiancée, nurses him back to health. Plagued by images of a faceless woman who he is certain is the key to his past, Monty concedes to Stella’s pressure to marry him and move to Fort Collins, but he quickly regrets his actions.
A year after Grace’s tragic loss, Monty walks into the dress shop where she works—with a woman on his arm. Shocked that Monty has no recollection of her, Grace is determined to win back his heart. Somehow she must help him regain his memories and his buried love for her—and not just for her sake but for the sake of their infant son, Ben.
Monty, miserable in his marriage to a woman he hardly knows, is inexplicably drawn to Grace. Every time he’s near her, memories surface, but they are hazy and troubling. He’s torn between his vows and the desires of his heart, for he cannot stay away from Grace.
Grace’s hope is sparked when Monty starts recalling glimpses of his past. But when murderous outlaws come to town, she is thrust into grave danger. Monty risks his life to rescue her, only to face even greater perils in the treacherous mountains. Can she truly hang on to hope when she is about to lose all she loves?
This full-length Historical Western Romance novel takes readers on a heart-wrenching journey of love, loss, and hope amid the dangers and challenges in Colorado Territory’s wild frontier.
The author of “heart-thumping” Western romance, Charlene Whitman spent many years living on Colorado’s Front Range. She grew up riding and raising horses, and loves to read, write, and hike the mountains. She attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins as an English major. She has two daughters and is married to George “Dix” Whitman, her love of thirty years.

The Front Range series of sweet historical Western romance novels (set in the 1870s) includes Wild Horses, Wild Hearts, set in Laporte and Greeley. Colorado Promise, set in Greeley, Colorado; Colorado Hope, set in Fort Collins; Wild Secret, Wild Longing, which takes readers up into the Rockies, Colorado Dream (Greeley), and Wyoming Tryst, set in Laramie, WY.


Two ranching tycoons. A decades-old feud. A sheriff bent on ridding the town of lawlessness . . .
In the midst of the trouble brewing in Laramie City in 1878, Julia Carson yearns to be free of her parents’ smothering and wonders whether she’ll ever find a man worthy to love in such a violent town rife with outlaws.
But when Robert Morrison sneaks onto her ranch the night of her sixteenth birthday party, Cupid shoots his arrows straight and true. Aware that their courtship would be anathema to their fathers, who are sworn enemies, Robert and Julia arrange a tryst.
Yet, their clandestine dalliance does not go unnoticed, and forces seek to destroy what little hope their romance has to bloom. The star-crossed lovers face heartache and danger as violence erupts. When all hope is lost, Joseph Tuttle, the new doctor at the penitentiary, is given a letter and a glass vial from Cheyenne medicine woman Sarah Banks.
The way of escape poses deadly dangers, but it is the only way for Robert and Julia to be together. It will take the greatest measure of faith and courage to come through unscathed, but love always conquers fear.

Click on Amazon graphic to purchase

Monday, September 10, 2018

Darkest Before the Dawn Pre-Pub Blitz! @mike54martin

Darkest Before the Dawn by Mike Martin, Mystery, 280 pp.

Author: Mike Martin
Publisher: Ottawa Press and Publishing
Pages: 280
Genre: Mystery

Darkest Before the Dawn is the latest adventure of Sgt. Winston Windflower, a Mountie who finds himself surrounded by a new family and a new life in tiny Grand Bank, Newfoundland. There are signs of trouble that may disturb his pleasant life, including a series of unsolved break-ins and the lack of supports for young people in the most trying time of their lives. But there are always good friends, good food and the sense that if we all pull together, we can find a way to get through even the darkest days.

Ghosts, mysterious deaths, and a new character enliven the pages as Windflower and Tizzard and the other police officers awaken the secrets that have been lying dormant in this sleepy little town. The deeper they dig the more they find as the criminals they seek dive deeper behind the curtains of anonymity and technology. But more than anything, this is a story of love and loss, of growing up and learning how to grow old gracefully. It is also about family and community and looking after each other. Of not giving up hope just before the dawn.

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland 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 author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home, which was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web was released in 2017 and the newest book in the Darkest Before the Dawn.