Monday, October 31, 2011

Interview with Mystery & Sweet Romance Author Debra Brown

Debra Brown took up writing later in life after her education in other fields, and after raising her family. Over the years, she enjoyed studying homeopathy and the arts informally and has used them both to enrich her life. She has enjoyed oil painting, had a successful business making jewelry and worked as an assistant in the interior design field. She finds writing to be a satisfying career, and she looks forward to many more books in the English Historical Fiction genre.

A Mystery and Sweet Romance ~ Inspired by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens: “Companion of Lady Holmeshire is such a stimulating good read. It also has the most compelling kick, which can knock you sideways. And let it be known; the outcome could never have been predicted.” --Jann England"

Hello Debra. Your book is set in the early Victorian Era. Please tell us about your new book.

Hi Linda, thanks for inviting me to your blog! My book is the story of a foundling infant girl who grew up to become the companion of a countess after serving as a servant in her Northumbria household. The countess insisted on dragging poor Emma along into London’s snobbish aristocratic circles where she became the unhappy subject of rude remarks. Sweet romantic developments provide comic relief and sighs while mysterious events perplex. My readers report that the ending comes as a great surprise.

Where did you get your inspiration for this book? Do you get any ideas from real life experiences?

I had enjoyed reading English historical fiction as a teenager, and I watched many period movies while making jewelry. I simply wanted more! I decided to write a Jane Austen style book, throwing in some of Charles Dickens type of reality, and greatly enjoyed it. This book does not touch on my life, but my second book, though entirely fictional, does draw heavily on my personal experience with OCD. 

A Reviewer wrote, “Gracing the pages of this novel is a cleverly condensed portrayal of a Victorian way of life, inviting you to embark upon one journey after another whilst constantly whispering in your ear who, why, when, how? Reeling you in through the doors of British Aristocracy, legacies start to unfold, each time reminding you of your place in society.” What kind of research did you do to help us feel this time period?

The beginnings of my “research” was to simply enjoy watching many period movies. I watched the entire Upstairs, Downstairs TV series, which amazed me with its strictly structured rules between the late Victorian family and its servants. Being American, I was shocked at how the servants “knew their place” and would never consider themselves equal to the upper class family. I began to do research on the internet and in books from the library. And I truly do continue to rent movies specifically to observe the culture.

With romances, you know the outcome of the plot…that he and she are eventually going to get together. With mysteries, you don’t know what’s going to happen next. You have written a mystery/romance. Is it difficult coming up with a plot for a mystery, one your reader won’t be able to figure out?

I feel that I stumbled into it. I was developing the beginnings of a story based on the upstairs/downstairs arrangement, which does play a large part in the finished novel. However, I needed “something”, and suddenly, the whole story made a huge twist in my mind. From that moment on, it seemed that I could not type fast enough to get it all in print.

Your book sounds very intriguing. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I think that one of the best experiences of my life was studying homeopathy. I went to a homeopath at the insistence of a friend when I was deathly ill, not expecting much. I was shocked at the rapid healing response of my body, and was ravenous for information as to how this had worked. (It is a bit like an immunization, where the body reacts to a minute amount of substance or its electrical properties to promote healing.) At my next visit, the doctor gave me a book, and I devoured it. Before long, I went to work in his office, and he devoted a good deal of time to teaching me about the remedies and how to use them. If it had been formal training, I would now be practicing as a homeopath, but I am very thankful just to be able to help myself and my family with this great kind of medicine.

Of course, this leaves me free to write, and write I will! Thank you very much for the visit.

Thanks, Debbie, for this wonderful interview. I have learned something about you that I didn’t know. It sounds like you have had some trials in your life. I appreciate you sharing this part of your life with me and my readers.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mayan Intrigue: Mystery and Adventure

Mayan Intrigue: The Adventures of John and Julia Evans


The jungles of the Yucatan, Mayan ruins, looters, a mysterious artifact, and a nosey reporter are focus of Mayan Intrigue. With a blend of mystery, suspense, and Julia's curiosity, John and Julia find themselves on the run once again. The discovery of a priceless artifact soon puts Julia’s life in great danger. From valuable artifacts to shady businessmen, the Yucatan Peninsula becomes a dangerous vacation spot for John and Julia Evans.

Suko’s Notebook Review: “Excitement prevails…this book is full of mystery and suspense… Linda's writing is lively and down-to-earth; she has the ability to make you feel as if you're in these stories, along with John and Julia, trying to decipher the truth and escape from harm.”

Socrates Book Review: "Ms. Clarke’s descriptions easily transports the reader to Mexico. You really feel as if you are part of the story. Her words flow beautifully through each page of the book. Readers learn more and more about the beautiful relationship shared by John and Julia. Their commitment to each other is stronger than ever. With each book, these two become more like friends of the readers instead of book characters. I enjoyed this very much and am looking forward to the third book in this thrilling series."

Chapter 1

Julia strode down the well-traveled path. Her heart was beating rapidly and she had a feeling of urgency as she hurried along. She stopped and looked around. The trees on both sides of the trail were so thick that she couldn't see beyond them, and a canopy of branches overhead was hiding the sun from view. Thick vines and vegetation had crept up the trunks of many trees and were hanging over the limbs. She heard the chatter of monkeys and a few tropical birds communicating with each other, but other than that, it was peaceful and serene. So why had her pulse rate accelerated?

Julia continued on for a ways until she came to a fork in the path. The trail on the right was trimmed and well-worn but the one on the left was less traveled and narrow. Not only that, a large fat snake was hanging from a branch. The snake's head lifted and followed her every movement. This sent a chill up her spine and Julia shivered involuntarily. Snakes had never bothered her before but this one was much larger than an ordinary garden snake. Whether or not it was poisonous, she didn't know.

Julia bit her lip, wondering which path to take. The one on the right seemed more inviting, but she was curious about the other and where it led. After a few seconds, she headed down the well-trimmed path. For some reason, she felt a deep foreboding with each step she took. Had she chosen wisely?

It did not take long until she came upon an opening in the thick forest. Julia's eyes widened at the beauty, so green and lush. A magnificent aqua-colored lake stood out from this forest and peacefulness seemed to rein over this area. As her eyes scanned the beauty of this land, she heard crunching of debris from behind her.

Instinctively, she knew that her life was in danger. Why, she did not know. Julia's heart pounded furiously. Beads of sweat formed on her brow and her chest tightened. Taking a deep breath, she slowly turned and found herself face to face with a large burly man that had an angular scar across his cheek. His piercing dark eyes were hard and cold as he glared at her. His contemptuous smile told her that he had been hunting her like prey.

Julia was helpless. She was in a remote area by herself. When the man saw her fear, he grinned, accentuating the scar along his cheekbone. As he slowly approached her, to her horror, she could not move an inch. She was frozen to the spot. So she did the only thing she could think of. She let out a blood-curdling scream that echoed in her ears.

Instantly, John bolted upright from his bed, his heart pounding erratically as he awoke from a deep sleep. He blinked his eyes a couple times, trying to come to his senses when he finally realized that Julia had awakened him, screaming at the top of her voice. He leaned toward the nightstand, switched on the light, and then turned toward his wife. When he saw how pale she was, John realized she had had a nightmare. Was it the same dream again? He took her hand and squeezed it lovingly as he watched her chest rise and fall in quick breaths. After a few moments, her eyes flickered open and met his. When he looked into her hazel eyes, he knew she was frightened.

"You had another one, didn't you?"

Julia nodded.

"The same one?"

She nodded again, her eyes wide with fear.

"It's been a month now and you've had this same dream once or twice a week. Does it ever vary or is every detail the same?"

"The same," she answered as she pushed her fingers through her rich auburn hair. "There's no variation."

John slid next to her and pulled her into his arms. How he loved this woman, his wife and companion! And it wrenched his heart that she had to endure such dreams. What had caused them in the first place? He wrapped his arms around her in a protective manner as she snuggled in his embrace. She gave a sigh of relief as he tightened his arms around her.

Julia was an investigative reporter for the Dixie Chronicle in St. George, Utah. She was a stubborn, determined woman but her pleasant smile was genuine, which warmed the soul of those she met. She, also, had a deep faith in God but she had her mischievous ways. For fun, she would introduce herself by using her first and middle name, just to see the surprised look on people's faces. What was her middle name? Roberts. That's right. Julia Roberts! In fact, she almost laughed out loud when someone actually asked for her autograph. She didn't even look like the movie star. Not wanting to embarrass the poor man, she gave him her autograph. Julia vowed that one day she would ask her father why she had been given such an unusual middle name.

She was stunningly beautiful, a farm girl at heart with a touch of grace and elegance, when needed. Her husband cherished everything about her, even her strong will and stubborn ways. She was completely opposite from John, which made his life with her even more intriguing. They had been married for twenty-one years. She was forty-one and he was forty-three.

Right now they were in a hotel in Merida on the Yucatan Peninsula on assignment for the Chronicle. Needless to say, they decided to make it a vacation and stay two weeks instead of one.

As Julia heard the deep breathing of her husband, she knew that he had fallen asleep again. She smiled. This vacation was a much-needed one for both of them. John had been working extra long hours lately and she had greatly missed his presence at home.

Julia had longed for his attention and loving ways, even his teasing, for the past six months. She longed for that affectionate kiss as he passed through the kitchen, holding hands during a movie, and words of communication while lying in bed. It sort of rekindled the fire that may have been forgotten from every day life in a busy world of responsibilities.

Julia knew how important it was to keep a romantic relationship with her husband. She liked a romantic evening best when it was spontaneous rather than planned. But who had time to even plan lately?

It had been quite a while since Julia felt her heart beat rapidly as she felt her husband's arms tighten around her waist and she desperately missed it. She felt a need to renew those special feelings as often as possible, to keep their love alive. So, here they were in Mexico, and finally taking time for one another.

The only thing that confused her was why she was having these dreams. They were the same exact dreams every time. As she lay staring at the ceiling, Julia knew that she could not fall back to sleep so she very quietly slid out of bed.

She walked to the dresser and slipped on some clothes, brushed her hair, and put on some makeup. Then she turned out the lamp beside the bed and slipped out the door to take a relaxing walk. It was six o'clock in the morning and not a soul was up and stirring on this Sabbath day. This was a perfect time to meditate and think of all her many blessings, for her husband and their three daughters.

Julia walked out into the cool morning air and breathed in the fresh fragrance. As she slowly strolled down the sidewalk, she thought about her assignment for the Dixie Chronicle. She was supposed to write about the ruins of the ancient people of Mesoamerica. What an exciting assignment! She was so thrilled when her boss had given her this important project, the first one he had ever given her since her promotion as an investigative reporter. She smiled with contentment as she walked toward a bunch of tall thick shrubs next to a park.

As Julia stepped around the shrubs, she saw a short pudgy man with wisps of grayish brown hair surrounding his balding head. He was smiling as he admired something in his hand. The man beside him was an unusually tall Latin. His short sleeves revealed his tanned arms and he had dark curly hair that touched the collar of his white shirt.

As the balding man pulled a large envelope from his jacket and handed it to his companion, he exclaimed, "Beautiful! It's simply..."

His words trailed off when his eyes met Julia's. As if startled by her presence, he froze, staring at her with widened eyes.

Instantly, his companion turned around and looked over his shoulder to see what he was staring at. But it did not take long for the Latin's dark eyes to quickly change from surprise to irritation. Julia noticed that his eyes were hard and cold and his jaw was rigid. A chill went down her spine as a feeling of apprehension crept inside her. Something told her to leave and to leave now. She was not about to question those feelings, so she instantly turned on her heels and strode toward the hotel.

Why had these men acted so strangely? If they had wanted privacy, why did they meet at a public park? But as she thought about it, it was only six o'clock on a Sunday morning. Why would they expect anyone to be wandering through the park at this time of day? What surprised her most was their attitude and the way the Latin had reacted to her presence, as if he were angry.

Feeling uneasy, Julia dared not turn around and see if she was followed but quickly picked up her pace.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Interview with Children’s Author JD Holiday

J.D. Holiday is the author and illustrator of two children’s books: Janoose the Goose and The Great Snowball Escapade. A chapbook of her short stories called, Trespasses was published in 1994 and she has had short stories printed in literary magazines and numerous articles about writing and publishing. JD is a co-host of The Writing Mama Show on Blog Talk Radio. She is a member of both The Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators, and Small Publishers of North America.
JD’s website:
JD'S Blog:

A goose that wears glasses, a fox up to no good, and a barnyard of farm animals make for a story that will delight young readers. Parents, be prepared to read it over and over to your children.” - Author Beverly Stowe McClure

Hello JD. Please tell us about your picture book, Janoose the Goose.

Hi Linda! Thank you for having me on your blog. I'm so happy to be here. Janoose the Goose likes life in the barnyard very much. She is there visiting her cousin, Molly Duck and her baby, DeeDee. Her vacation is over and Janoose must go home because there are no job openings on the farm. When her flight home arrives, the fox has begun a crime spree. Though the farm animals had a farm watch program once, they were no good at it! Janoose is the only one who can stop him.

Your book sounds fascinating. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

It comes right out of my childhood. My father gave me two nicknames. My first name is Janice and when I was very young, my father would tease me by calling me, Janoose the goose. I actually developed a life for the goose. That is what inspired my story! When I was in my teens my father began calling my JD. 

That is so funny. My husband uses rhyming names for our kids, also. I enjoyed the review by Jean S. Eisele. She wrote, “This could be the beginning of the Janoose the Goose detective stories - sort of like the Hercule Poirot sleuth of the barnyard.” Hercule Poirot? I love that series. Tell us your thoughts about this review.

I was surprised and pleased that it was clear that Janoose was a problem solver. In the story, Janoose is trying to figure out why the fox is coming to the farm and chasing her friends around. So she is somewhat of a sleuth herself. I had no intentions of having a series when I wrote Janoose but my 5 year old grandson has encouraged me to write a second Janoose book and I'm in the writing stages now. Janoose will be following the trail of her nemesis, the fox, in this one too.

I think a series like this would be fun. It would be something an adult would enjoy reading to her child or grandchild. You have another book called The Great Snowball Escapade. What is it about?

This story also comes out of my childhood. As a child, every winter day that snow was on the ground I would spend time on the hill in front of the high school near where I lived sledding. I loved sledding!

The Great Snowball Escapade is a chapter book for 6 to 8 year olds. The young girl in it is Wilhemena Brooks. Wil's, as she likes to be called, cousin Bud Dunphry comes to live with her family. Right around Christmas Wil finds her new pink pencil sharpener is missing. And Wil knows Bud has it! Who else would have taken it?

Bud has problems! He doesn’t like girls and in fact, Bud doesn’t like anybody. Wil tries to ignore him but he pulls her friends hair, takes over games at school, and when Bud is in trouble he makes his “you’re going to get it” face at her.

After a snowstorm closes school, Wil and her friends go sled riding. Bud shows up and starts a snowball fight, which lands Wil in her room for the rest of the day for fighting. When her pencil sharpener is found, right where she left it, on the piano, Wil decides she has to try harder to understand her cousin and stay out of trouble. Her mother told her to be nice to Bud and to treat him like she would like to be treated. Wil doesn't think this will work. And if she treats Bud nicely does that mean he'll be nice to her? Of course, you will have to read the book to find out! 

I like the message you’re giving your readers, that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated. Okay, now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I developed the plot line for the published version of Janoose The Goose while shopping for pillows! The original version of Janoose The Goose was a nursery rhyme, and in the 1990's I had begun to think that the old type of nursery rhyme with what the fox was really going to do to the members of the barnyard was not what I wanted children reading my books to have to think about. And while pillow shopping I realized the farm community, especially those who have feathers, had another reason to be afraid of the fox and it gives Janoose the perfect reason to chase the fox away. This might give you a good hint as to what goes on in the story.

I love it! Apparently pillow shopping relaxes you so much that you can think more clearly and come up with great plots. So if you’re ever stumped with another plot, just go pillow shopping! Hahaha! Thanks, Jan, for this fun interview.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Interview with Author Clint G Cox

Clint Cox owns his own plumbing company, which was voted “Best Plumbing Company in Sanpete County.” But that’s not all, he owns three to four businesses which keep him very busy, but he never forgets that family comes first. He also is very involved serving in numerous capacities for his church. Clint has overcome a few challenges in his life, one of them being Dyslexia, which he struggled with throughout his youth and even now plagues him in small ways. The second challenge was the tragic death of his father. This was a difficult and emotional time in his life. He now uses these emotions in all of his writings. Clint is a loving husband and father to a wonderful family.

"Christmas Notes is an emotional life-pondering story that teaches a grand Christmas message." --Merrill Osmond, Entertainer

Hello, Clint. Please tell us about your new book, Christmas Notes.

I wrote Christmas Notes for my children to save them from the “Holiday Numbness” as I describe through one of the characters of the book. It is a book that is meant to be read every year to help inspire the Christmas spirit. Even the cover was designed with a “present look”. This was to suggest it be placed where people can see it, as a gift to be noticed and read, not to be tucked away on a dusty shelf. This story, of a little orphan girl with her interesting way of communicating, and the young couple, will not only remind you of the things that are most important during Christmas but refresh in your mind the cherished, life necessities all year long.

Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

My inspiration for this book came during the holiday season in 2009. I was very busy worrying about the lack of success of one company and trying to keep up with the rush of another. My mood was anything but joyful like it should have been, given the time of year. I tried to hide my ailing mood from my family but was failing miserably. A couple of weeks before Christmas one of my daughters said, “I am just not very excited about Christmas this year!”

My heart tore into a million pieces, because I knew it was my fault. I was ruining Christmas for my family, and my child of 8 years old was not excited at all two weeks before the biggest day of the year for most children. I had to right my wrong. I wanted to write my feelings down to give them something they could read in future years when they were struggling with the same feelings as I was, that would pull them out of their despair. The Christmas Notes story line came as inspiration to me at two o’clock in the morning and continued till day-break. I had the story outline that night but most of the emotional scenes of this book were written on cut up 2X4’s and ripped up cardboard with a construction penciled. I would later put it onto my computer after everyone else had gone to bed. 

Clint uses dynamic, fun and sometimes tragic family experiences to make his story feel real. He told me this helps readers “to connect to the story with not only their minds but their hearts as well.” A Reviewer wrote, “This is not just a Christmas book! It is an emotional inspirational life story which teaches what we should be doing all year long.” Tell us your thoughts about this and what your message to the reader is.

My message for this book is twofold. First, true happiness in this life is centered around family and loved ones. Never ending joy comes from attributes such as, gratitude, forgiveness, hope, love, and knowledge of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Second, acceptance of one’s faults and trials is key to overcoming them. Working for the solution, instead of dwelling on the problem, is pivotal to making changes in our lives. Enjoying the journey no matter what we had to overcome is a must.

I have lived these principles with my family, faith, and challenges, and what have I learned? First, this kind of happiness, centered around these principals, is lasting and not superficial. Second, I have learned the same thing my wife, editor now, and others reading my book are discovering. Dyslexic people can’t spell worth a darn, but they have a gift for putting together one heck of an emotional story.

I love it. That was a great answer. What does your family think about your writing?

My brothers, having grown up with me and my personal struggles, know that I am a terrible speller and horrible with most aspects of grammar. They are still in shock to the fact that I have written a book, let alone got it published. My mother is elated beyond all measures. My in-laws are very supportive and excited. My wife is so excited to see me overcome my barriers, that to most people would just look at and give up. My children, I say this with a tear in my eye, are so happy for me and want to share every part of this journey together as a family.

Wow! Thanks, Clint, for being a guest on my blog. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I mentioned a little of this earlier, but I am probably the only author that wrote the majority of his book on cut up 2X4’s and ripped up cardboard with a construction pencil. When unexpected inspiration hits on a plumber’s job site, in the middle of the winter with freezing temperatures, that’s about all you can find that gets the job done.

Ha! This is hilarious. Now we know the real you… the plumber who uses his pencil for a dual purpose… for construction use and for an author’s story. This is great! Below is my review of Clint's book. Also, watch his book trailer below.

Christmas Notes Will Touch Your Heart
Reviewed by Linda Weaver Clarke

Bah! Humbug! That is Max’s attitude toward everything, including Christmas. The reason for it is uncertain but it has been building up inside him for a long time. When his wife wants to take an orphan child for one month during the Christmas season, he reluctantly agrees. Feeling inadequate to be a father to an orphan child for a short time and his bad attitude toward the season, he isn’t in the best of moods. After picking up the five-year-old girl from the orphanage, something begins to happen to him. Day by day, his heart begins to soften and his relationship with his wife improves. His attitude begins to change for the better. Could this one small girl affect his life so much? But that’s not all. There’s much more! This precious darling changes everyone’s life.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I loved the relationship between Max and his wife. They are such a fun and cute couple. This story is filled with compassion, love, and humor. But make sure you have a hanky ready for those very tender moments. You’ll need it! “Christmas Notes” will touch your heart as it did mine.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Interview with Author Heather Justesen

Heather Justesen didn’t grow up knowing she would be an author—in fact, she only took one creative writing class in college. Even though she was studying English, she wasn’t going to be a writer. The joke was on her, as she started writing less than a year after she finished her BA. She is now the author of three books with two more on the way. Heather is a lazy gardener, volunteers with her husband for local ambulance service, and is a happy chicken mama. Not only that, she raises geese, ducks, guineas, a tom turkey, two cats and two dogs.

Hi, Heather. Please tell us about your new book, Blank Slate.

You’d think waking from an eleven-day coma with multiple injuries would be enough for anyone to deal with, but Adrianna also ends up with amnesia, the loss of her ability to play the piano—a big deal because she earned her living as a concert pianist—and a fiancĂ© she doesn’t remember and has nothing in common with anymore. When you add to that family members who are anxious for her to remember her past, and her growing attraction to her brother’s business partner, she has a lot to figure out. Just as she does, however, another trip to the ER puts everything she’d built back in the blender again.

Your book sounds fascinating. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

Actually the nugget of inspiration came from a news report on TV, and I just twisted and played with it until I had something that interested me enough to build on. Also, some of the cooking catastrophes came from stories some neighbors told me. Oh, and when I was a realtor (about ten years ago), I had a client who had to prove he was still alive in order to get his home loan. (Because apparently banks don’t like to lend money to dead people. Go figure!)

That is awesome that you use so many real life experiences in your book. Since one of your characters ends up with amnesia, what kind of research did you have to do?

I did an internet search on amnesia, the causes and after effects, but probably spent more time researching her other injuries, the plastic surgery she went through to fix facial damage from the accident and other medical issues she faces. Though I have a medical background as an EMT, that really only helps me as far as the ER. Once my characters are actually admitted to the hospital, I’m out of my depth!

A Reviewer wrote, “A slow start from the beginning, but once the story starts to unfold it is one book that is beyond hard to put down.” I have read several books like this and found it hard to put down once I got into the story. Tell us your thoughts about this review.

The ‘slow start’ comment makes me shrug, not because I don’t care if my story starts too slow but because my first chapter actually won an award for being a great start to a story. It placed second behind the first chapter for my book Rebound—that was a fun contest for me! A review like this makes me think about how I could have written the first fifty pages differently; if there were things I should have tweaked or cut. And it helps me look at my current projects from a different perspective to try not to get that comment again. But really, how could I possibly not grin when I have someone say that the book is ‘beyond hard to put down’? That’s about the best comment anyone could get, so the review is A-1 awesome in my book because it’s constructive and positive!

I love your reaction to my question. You’re an awesome author. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

My dad is one of the handiest people I’ve ever met considering he doesn’t work construction, and he’d passed a lot of that along to me. I’ve installed windows, tiled almost my whole basement, built pantry shelving, and a couple of years ago I needed another coop for my chickens, so I built an 8x8 A-frame coop completely by myself in a day (with the help of a handy nail gun).

Thanks, Heather, for a great interview. I enjoyed this very much. Now I know the real you… I can just picture it… an EMT who can build chicken coops with a nail gun in one hand and an author’s pen in the other.