Posted in Author Q&As

Author Q&A: Anne Montgomery

9780996390149_p0_v2_s192x300Yesterday, I shared my review of the fabulous book, The Scent of Rain by Anne Montgomery. Now, we get to hear more details about the book and Anne’s own true experience with the people of Colorado City as well as what she has coming up next!

Enjoy!

What inspired you to take on this subject?

The ideas for all of my books come from current events. I am an admitted news junkie and have been reading the newspaper front to back daily for about 40 years. I’ve learned that truth is often far stranger than fiction. Stories about the polygamists in Colorado City are often in the news here in Arizona. I had never heard about the cult until I moved here and was shocked that such a group could exist today in the US. In regard to Rose, the 16-year-old protagonist, I am a teacher in a Title I high school in Phoenix. Many of my students come from difficult and disadvantaged backgrounds. I am also a foster mom. I have seen what abuse and neglect can do to children first hand.

Many of the non-FLDS characters describe the hostility they face from the residents of Colorado City and at the end of the book, you said you traveled to Colorado City for inspiration and experienced similar treatment. What was that like?

I find it impossible to write stories without actually visiting the locations where my characters live, so I recruited a friend and we drove to Colorado, City. We concocted a story about looking for a place to retire. As we studied the community, children stared at us as if we were monsters. They are told that outsiders are devils. We drove around town, stopping at the the local market, the shuttered public school, the grave yard, and the leader’s palatial estate. I’m pretty sure we were being followed, at times. It was very disconcerting. I’m not afraid of many things, but I have to admit I was uncomfortable while doing research on site and have no desire to go back.

What other research did you do for the book?

As a former reporter, I greatly enjoy digging for a story. I read articles about Colorado City and conducted interviews with people who had lived or worked in the community, including Flora Jessop, who escaped twice from the cult and today works with the Child Protection Project: an anti-child abuse group that helps women and girls escape from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The stories Flora told me were so harrowing that to this day I have not listened to the three-hour recording of our interview session. The images were burned into my brain. I also interviewed Dr. Theodore Tarby who bravely confronted the cult members, asking them to refrain from marrying and reproducing with their close relatives, after he discovered that the cause of the awful birth defects in the community were the result of incest. Unfortunately, Dr. Tarby was ignored.

Many scenes in the book are very emotional and are based on real-life FLDS decrees and beliefs. How did you decide what to include in the book? 

I took into account the stories that Flora Jessop relayed and, when possible, I gave those experiences to Rose. I find it interesting that some readers have been put off by certain scenes and have suggested that I have overplayed the situation. But the vast majority of the information I wrote about came directly from my interviews with Flora and Dr. Tarby. I also included information gleaned from newspaper articles and TV reports.

What do you hope people take away from the book?

Be aware of what’s happening around you and speak up when warranted. Some characters in “The Scent of Rain” are kind, well-meaning people, but they don’t acknowledge what’s happening right under their noses. Mistreatment of people, especially children, is something no one should tolerate, and no belief or religion should be a mask for abuse.

What are you working on next?

Two of my books that were previously published are to be soon to be reissued. “A Light in the Desert” is a soft-thriller involving a Vietnam veteran who is succumbing to a strange form of mental illness called the Jerusalem Syndrome, a pregnant teenager, and the deadly, real-life, cold-case sabotage of an Amtrak train in the Arizona desert. “Nothing But Echoes” is historical fiction that deals with the discovery of a fabulous tomb in Northern Arizona that reveals a man interred 900 years ago who doesn’t look like the pueblo people who buried him, and which leads to questions about archeological looting, the black market sale of antiquities, and when Europeans first arrived in the Americas. “The Castle,” which tells the story of a female National Park ranger who is a rape survivor and the serial rapist who is stalking her, is currently being offered to publishers.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

First, don’t quit your day job. It’s extremely difficult in the ever-changing of world of publishing to make a living as an author. And remember that authors are not just story tellers. In order to be successful, they must be marketers and bloggers and speakers. Also, an author will not survive without extremely thick skin. Rejections can wear you down, but they are part of the process. When someone says no, politely ask why. Respect the person’s opinion and see what you can do better. Obviously, writers must write. When you finish that perfect novel, take a few breaths then write another one. Publishers are not looking for a one-hit wonder. They want to sign people who produce lots of books. Finally, try not to take the ups and downs of publishing too seriously. If you have a sense of humor and appreciate those baby steps forward, you will be a much happier author.

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Posted in Book Extras, For Fun

#Blog Tour: Project Pandora – Guest Post with author Aden Polydoros and more!

 

ProjectPandoraTour

Welcome to my stop on the Project Pandora tour! I’m so excited to share information about this great book with all of you – including a guest post by author Aden Polydoros! Enjoy!

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Links:

Link to Goodreads

Purchase Links: Amazon – B&N – iBooksKobo

Giveaway Details: Project Pandora Prize Pack (US) or a $10 Amazon Gift card (INT)

Book Description:

EntTeen-01224-webbanner-ad2-STATIC(800x800)opt2Tyler Bennett trusts no one. Just another foster kid bounced from home to home, he’s learned that lesson the hard way. Cue world’s tiniest violin. But when strange things start happening—waking up with bloody knuckles and no memory of the night before or the burner phone he can’t let out of his sight— Tyler starts to wonder if he can even trust himself.

Even stranger, the girl he’s falling for has a burner phone just like his. Finding out what’s really happening only leads to more questions…questions that could get them both killed. It’s not like someone’s kidnapping teens lost in the system and brainwashing them to be assassins or anything, right? And what happens to rogue assets who defy control?

In a race against the clock, they’ll have to uncover the truth behind Project Pandora and take it down—before they’re reactivated. Good thing the program spent millions training them to kick ass…

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Guest Post by Aden Polydoros: How to Handle Pressure: Writing Under Deadlines

I have never been great at deadlines. I have a natural tendency to procrastinate on my work and wait until the last minute to finish it. However, with writing, I have found that it is easier for me to meet deadlines than when I’m working on schoolwork or other tasks. I have also come up with different strategies to compensate for my procrastination.

It is important to approach writing as a job. Although I love to write and hope to make a full-time career out of writing, I don’t want to view writing as a hobby. If I allow myself to fall into that line of thought, completing work by deadlines will seem less important to me and I might procrastinate more than usual.

For me, there are two different kinds of deadlines for my writing: Those I choose for myself and those that are given to me. The deadlines I have created are usually very short term goals, like write 1,000 words a day or complete this chapter by the end of the week. By thinking about it like that, the process of writing a novel becomes less daunting. I don’t have to worry so much about completing an entire novel, and can divide my work into small, manageable tasks.

This was one of the strategies I used while working on Project Pandora. I made a list:

  • Overall goal: Aim for 1,000 words a day
  • Specific goals:
    Add more status reports
    Add a romantic scene
    Make an event calendar to check for consistency
    Check for name and appearance consistency
    Research the D.C. metro system
    Write an outline for second half of the book
    Change names

I try to approach editor-enforced deadlines in a similar fashion. For example, let’s say that I have to complete edits by September 31st and it is currently September 1st. Before I even begin edits, I make a list of what I have to do based off of my editor’s notes. I estimate the amount of words that will need to be added to the manuscript. In the case of Project Pandora, I added 40,000 words to my 65,000 manuscript over the course of the editing process. I had aimed to add only 25,000 words, but when I reached that goal, found that there was still so much more to elaborate upon. I had aimed for 1,000 words added and one chapter edited each day. When I began to increase my workload, it felt like I was accumulating bonus points at a game instead of just meeting a deadline. I tried to beat each day’s previous “score”, and in doing that, the process of editing actually became more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise.

Which brings me to my next point: it’s important to enjoy what you are doing if you want to meet deadlines. When so much creativity and emotion goes into writing, if you are miserable at what you are doing, it will show. Even if you don’t think that your story needs a specific edit or that one chapter is good as is, it is important not to become resentful about the deadline. I try to approach writing as a job, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have fun while doing it.

I try to set awards for myself for each goal I complete. Usually, these are small things, such as watching a certain show on Netflix, going somewhere fun, or eating one of my favorite foods. If you are also motivated by rewards, what you can do is set aside some money after completing each task. Maybe you put two or three dollars in a jar after completing each chapter. Once you reach the deadline and submit your writing, you can spend the money on something special that you have been wanting to buy. It will make the purchase even more enjoyable, knowing that you met the deadline on time.

One of the most important things to keep in mind while working with deadlines is that if you don’t have time, make time. If a deadline is quickly approaching, I will write on the bus or train, or while in the waiting room during doctor appointments. If I don’t have my journal or laptop near me, I write on my phone. You can also dictate on your phone. If necessary, I cancel plans to meet with friends so that I can make a deadline.

Aside from that, it’s also important to mention that you should keep your emotional and mental health in check. Completing deadlines is actually very stress-relieving for me, but there are times when I feel completely overwhelmed with the task ahead. If I also have other problems in my daily life, this only worsens my stress. That being said, if you have something going on or there is an emergency, don’t beat yourself up over not meeting a deadline.

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About the Author

Aden PolydorosAden Polydoros grew up in Long Grove, Illinois, the youngest of three children. Aden’s family moved to Arizona when he was in second grade. As a kid, he spent much of his time exploring the desert near his home. When he wasn’t searching for snakes and lizards, he was raiding the bookshelves of the local library. As a teenager, Aden decided that he wanted to be a writer. He spent his free time writing short stories. He was encouraged by his English teacher to try his hand at writing a novel, which inspired him to begin PROJECT PANDORA. The YA thriller is set for publication with Entangled Publishing in Summer of 2017. He is represented by Mallory Brown of Triada US.

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Posted in Reviews

The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

The Secrets She KeepsThe Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s been awhile now since I’ve been so wrapped up in a novel that I have to take a peek at the ending. If I don’t, I can’t just relax and read the book – I’m just racing to the ending, needing to know how it all works out. “The Secrets She Keeps” made me peek.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot because it all unfolds beautifully as you get further into the novel. But, generally, the book alternates between two women’s point of view: Agatha and Meghan, both of whom are expecting babies. Meghan is a mommy blogger who leads a life that looks perfect from the outside, but is fractured from within. Agatha works at a supermarket and from the beginning, you can tell something about her is….off. Her story unfolds as the novel goes on.

This novel isn’t about suspense, since most people can guess what’s going on early on, but it’s more about the thrill – how the heck is this going to work out?! I was absolutely glued to the pages. Both stories are fascinating and it’s hard to say which woman I enjoyed reading about more. In different ways, both were fascinating and captivated me.

The ending was as satisfying as it could be, and left me with both sadness and hope. It really shows how good a book this was in that it made me feel so many emotions; from happiness to extreme sadness.

Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Posted in For Fun

Teaser Tuesday: “The Secrets She Keeps” by Michael Robotham

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme that wants you to add books to your TBR, or just share what you are currently reading. The meme is hosted by The Purple Booker!

It is very easy to play along:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  •  Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.

Today, I’m actually just starting a new book, so I’m just as excited to see the “teaser” as I am to share it! Here we go:

Turning a corner, I step around a cleaner’s trolley and glance into the ward. Curtains have been pulled around some of the beds, creating cubicles. One of them is open.

Book Description

In the bestselling tradition of The Girl on the Train and In a Dark, Dark Wood, from the internationally bestselling author whom Stephen King called “an absolute master” of the psychological thriller, comes a riveting suspense novel about the unlikely friendship between two pregnant women that asks: how far would you go to create the perfect family?

Agatha is pregnant and works part-time stocking shelves at a grocery store in a ritzy London suburb, counting down the days until her baby is due. As the hours of her shifts creep by in increasing discomfort, the one thing she looks forward to at work is catching a glimpse of Meghan, the effortlessly chic customer whose elegant lifestyle dazzles her. Meghan has it all: two perfect children, a handsome husband, a happy marriage, a stylish group of friends, and she writes perfectly droll confessional posts on her popular parenting blog—posts that Agatha reads with devotion each night as she waits for her absent boyfriend, the father of her baby, to maybe return her calls.

When Agatha learns that Meghan is pregnant again, and that their due dates fall within the same month, she finally musters up the courage to speak to her, thrilled that they now have the ordeal of childbearing in common. Little does Meghan know that the mundane exchange she has with a grocery store employee during a hurried afternoon shopping trip is about to change the course of her not-so-perfect life forever…

With its brilliant rendering of the secrets some women hold close and a shocking act that cannot be undone, The Secrets She Keeps delivers a dark and twisted page-turner that is absolutely impossible to put down.

Posted in Lists

Thursday Musings: The DNF Graveyard

 

I’ve had a really great streak going lately – the last several books I have read have all been great. I’ve really been on quite a roll.

Which got me thinking about books that I didn’t mesh with – specifically ones that I wasn’t able to finish. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t make them “bad,” they just weren’t for me. Usually, if I only get a couple chapters into a book and realize it’s not for me, I don’t post a review. I don’t feel I can truly review a book having only read maybe two or three chapters.

So for the first time, I’m admitting which books I couldn’t finish – at least the first time I picked them up (See more on that below).

  1. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. Martin: After hearing all the hype about the TV series, I was really curious about the books, because that’s how I think. But I couldn’t get more than 100 pages in. Even though I knew it was a fantasy/epic/drama, it was just SO MUCH of all of that. I couldn’t stomach it, I guess for the same reasons I don’t like soap operas. Oh well.
  2. The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff: I have always been fascinated by the Salem witch trials, and have even visited Salem, Mass. But I couldn’t get into this book, which blended reality and legend and lots and lots of small details. I couldn’t follow it at all.
  3. One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell: I got about halfway through this book before letting it just drift off and finally putting it away. I just couldn’t really sympathize with others the characters here. But maybe that’s because they were just so different from me. Or the fact that I never liked “Sex and the City.” *shrugs*
  4. The Girl with the Dragin Tattoo by Stieg Larsson: Ok, so the first time I picked this book up in an airport bookstore, I let the Swedish names trip me up. I couldn’t focus on the Tory because I was distract d by the hard to pronounce names and places. But then, maybe 2 years or so later, I decided to give it another try. And I DEVOURED the entire series. I absolutely loved it. Which goes to show you: never give up on a book totally. You may change your mind.

What books have you never been able to finish? Or do you think I should give one of these another chance? Let me know!

Posted in For Fun

Goodreads Monday: “Black Chalk” by Christopher J. Yates

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To take part, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners, and add your own links!

Here’s my selection this week!:

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It was only ever meant to be a game played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University; a game of consequences, silly forfeits, and childish dares. But then the game changed: The stakes grew higher and the dares more personal and more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results. Now, fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round. Who knows better than your best friends what would break you?

This book has gotten mixed reviews so far, but the cover and description intrigue me! Let me know if you’ve read this one!

Posted in For Fun

Goodreads Monday: What Remains of Me by Alison Gaylin

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To take part, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners, and add your own links!

My selection is:

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On June 28, 1980, Kelly Michelle Lund shoots and kills Oscar-nominated director John McFadden at a party in his home. For years, speculation swirls over the enigmatic seventeen-year-old’s motives. Convicted of the murder, she loses her youth and her freedom—but keeps her secrets to herself.

Thirty years later—and five years after her release from prison—the past has come back to haunt Kelly. Her father-in-law, movie legend Sterling Marshall, is found in a pool of blood in his home in the Hollywood Hills—dead from a shot to the head, just like his old friend John McFadden.

Once again, Kelly is suspected of the high-profile murder. But this time, she’s got some unexpected allies who believe she’s innocent of both killings. But is she?

I love books with double the mystery like this – it sounds like a great read!