Saturday, October 25, 2014

Interview With Author Carole Brown

author Carole Brown
What made you decide to start writing?

I didn’t decide. I can’t remember a time I didn’t write. From grade school up, I’ve always loved writing. It’s so much a part of me, I can’t imagine life without it. In my own mind, I think: Carole, and the image:  “writer/author”  pops up.

I worked hard to support my husband throughout our sons’ younger years, but once grown, I knew it was MY time. I needed to pursue writing--not as a hobby any longer--but as a creative job. Thankfully, I’ve had the support of my husband and family.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Follow God’s leading. He really does know the direction we should take that will be the best and give us the most peace and happiness!
Pursue your dreams. I’m a big believer in this. I hate to see people working at jobs they dislike immensely (although I also understand it’s necessary sometimes).
Find YOUR writing journey and be true to it. Every writer has their own path to tread and that’s the one they should walk upon. My journey may not be yours, but it’s MINE.
Never give up. Enough said!
What does your writing schedule look like?

I never run out of ideas, so it’s usually pretty hectic. I always have more than one story going at a time and spend time alternating between them unless I’m on a deadline.

Now that I’m published, I find marketing takes a lot of my time (but I love it!), so have to be really disciplined to write. Unlike some writers, I find my best novel writing time is either late morning or afternoons.

By evening, my mind is too tired to novel-write, but I can work on extra writing activities: interviews, articles, or just spending time with my husband and family. I strive for at least 1000 words a day, but that doesn’t always happen.

Tell me about your latest release? What are the major themes?
For Tyrell Walker, God is in control. No matter what disappointments from your parents or from your own choices life hands you, if we wait and trust, God will direct our paths.
For Emma Jaine Rayner, patience and tolerance is a biggie. She is so impatient with her sisters’ choices and desires that she can be a little overbearing. If only they would listen! But God has an individual plan for each of us. Our choices for the other person may NOT be what God has planned.
Women shown in foreground, man and piano in background
Who is your favorite character in the story and why?

Since I love ALL the characters in this book, it’s hard to pick one. I’ll take a stab at it though.

Gertrude (Gertie to her friends) is an elderly, well dressed boarder in the Rayner Boarding home. She’s garrulous and smart and funny. Loyal to those she cares about but condescending to those she considers self-dramatists, she’s usually decked out in the best clothes and an overload of jewelry.

 Here’s a bit from With Music in Their Hearts, chapter 5:

            “I never get too friendly with strangers. But since you are going to be my neighbor—so to speak—you may call me Gertrude. Gertie to my friends, Reverend.”

“I’m Tyrell, ma’am.”

“Why haven’t you enlisted, Tyrell? A big, strong man like you.”

(Brusque and a little nosy.)

A little bit farther on:

Gertrude Hanover snorted, and in a voice calculated to reach its desired object, lashed out, “Shameless. Absolutely shameless, that one. She’s after anything in pants.”

“Nosy old witch.” Bette leaned forward to glare around Jerry, who separated her from Gertrude.

“Truth’s the truth, my dear.” Gertrude sniffed.

(A little intolerant of those individuals who constantly need drama.)

And one more example from a later Chapter:

The older lady’s eyes glittered, begging to be part of the excitement. “What decent girl is going to want him? I’d bet on another sleazy man. Want me to follow him?”
            “Absolutely not.” Tyrell gripped her hand. “Promise me, Miss Gertie, you won’t do anything foolish.”

“Of course not, Tyrell. Do you think I want to get killed?”

Tyrell’s blood chilled but he patted her hand.

“Now, listen, there’s more. Twice he’s come home in the middle of the day. Doesn’t stay long. Slips in, slips out. Doubt if anyone else in the house hears him.” She peered at him, and Tyrell was sure her tongue was in her cheek.

“What were you doing in Hank’s room a few days ago? Saw you opening his locked door, slick as a real burglar. Saved your bacon, didn’t I, calling Hank to hang a picture for me? Didn’t need him. Jonah Mason always does my handy work and does very well. But wanted to give you time to make your get-away. The movie characters always talk savvy, don’t they?”

So she had seen him entering Hank’s room. “Uh . . .”

            “Don’t answer. I’m sure you have your reasons. Never could abide Dawson. Emma Jaine should have more sense than to allow the likes of him into this house.” She sniffed. “Mark my words, she’ll rue the day she let him rent here.”

(Caring and helpful with those she cares about, eager to please within limits)

How do you like to spend your time when not writing?

First and foremost: family. Having two sons I love and now, three grandsons means family time is more important than ever. We’ve always spent a lot of time with our boys--reading, visiting and vacationing in interesting areas, devotional fun time, etc. That’s carrying on into our grandparent stage!

My husband and I enjoy traveling. Seeing and experiencing new areas and walks of life keeps life interesting and varied. We have a small hobby farm where we live quietly enjoying our hot tub, walks, garden pond, flowers, pets, a small vegetable garden and projects that go along with owning property.

How can readers contact you and/or learn more about you and your writing?

Here is my bio and contact information. I love to interact with old and new friends!

Brown not only has her award winning (RWA International Digital Awards Contest 2nd place in Inspirational, Laurel Award finalist, Selah finalist; Genesis semi-finalist) debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, available for purchase now, but a companion book called West Virginia Scrapbook: From the Life of Caralynne Hayman, filled with tidbits of information about West Virginia, quotes, recipes from West Virginia and from Caralynne’s life, pictures and discussion questions for the novel.

November, 2013, the first book in her mystery series, Hog Insane, released. It’s a fun, lighthearted novel introducing the characters, Denton and Alex Davies. Look for the second book, Bat Crazy, late winter.

Releasing November, 2014, is the first book in a new WWII romantic suspense series: With Music In Their Hearts. Three red-headed sisters. Three spies. Three stories.

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Connect with her here:


I also am part of several other blogs:

Barn Door Book Loft:
With Music in Their Heart Blurb:
Angry at being rejected for military service, Minister Tyrell Walker accepts the call to serve as a civilian spy within his own country. Across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio, a spy working for a foreign country is stealing secret plans for newly developed ammunition to be used in the war. According to his FBI cousin, this spy favors pink stationery giving strong indications that a woman is involved.  
He’s instructed to obtain a room in the Rayner Boarding House run by the lovely, spunky red-haired Emma Jaine Rayner. Sparks of jealousy and love fly between them immediately even as they battle suspicions that one or the other is not on the up and up.  
While Tyrell searches for the murdering spy who reaches even into the boarding home, Emma Jaine struggles with an annoying renter, a worried father (who could be involved in this spy thing), and two younger sisters who are very different but just as strong willed as she is.
As Tyrell works to keep his double life a secret and locate the traitor, he refuses to believe that Emma Jaine could be involved even when he sees a red-haired woman in the arms of another man. Could the handsome and svelte banker who’s also determined to win Emma Jaine’s hand for marriage, be the dangerous man he’s looking for? Is the trouble-making renter who hassles Emma Jaine serving as a flunky? Worse, is Papa Rayner so worried about his finances and keeping his girls in the style they’re used to, that he’ll stoop to espionage?
Will their love survive the danger and personal issues that arise to hinder the path of true love?
With Music in Their Heart releases November 2014! Check out my personal links to keep in touch for availability! Then look for it on Amazon. Book Launch is scheduled for November 10 on Facebook.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Interview and Book Giveaway with Elizabeth Ludwig.

Do you all ever pay attention to the books advertised at the end of a novel you're reading? I do, and I noticed an intriguing book titled No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig, the first of her Edge of Freedom series: one of the best crafted novels I've ever read. Since then, I've devoured the equally good follow-up, Dark Road Home.

It's my privilege to interview Elizabeth Ludwig. She'll be giving away a copy of the final installment of the series, Tide and Tempest. Rules are below.


Jeff Reynolds:  Welcome to Sleuths and Suspects, Elizabeth. I'd like to hear a little about you, such as how you became interested in writing.

Elizabeth Ludwig: 
Hi, Jeff! Thank you so much for having me on your blog. Believe it or not, I started writing in elementary school. I had a fifth grade teacher who really got into the creative writing stuff, and encouraged us to love it, too. I also LOVED to read, so I guess she thought it was a natural progression for me to also write. So when she learned of a contest for young authors, she pushed me to enter.

I told myself I was going to hate it, but as I got into the story, I found I really liked coming up with my own characters. I did spend most of my time daydreaming about books, after all. I guess that was the spark I needed, because I never forget what it was like to write and began seeking publication in 2001.

Well, I wish I could say success came immediately, right after I submitted my first manuscript. The truth is, I wrote for five years before I sold my first book, and I completed six full manuscripts, none of which will probably ever see the light of day.

JR:  Would you like to tell us about your Edge of Freedom series, and especially your latest release?

I’d love to! I am so excited for the release of Tide and Tempest, although to be honest, if everything had gone as I planned, this book would never have been written. You see, when I first proposed my idea to my publisher, I was only planning for a two book series. Later, I was asked if I could expand my idea. Of course I said yes, though at the time, I really wasn’t sure what the third book would be about. It wasn’t until I finished the first book, No Safe Harbor, that inspiration struck and I realized that everyone I’ve ever met has carried some kind of wound—either pain from a broken relationship, or grief, sometimes even loss.

When I sat down to write Tide and Tempest, I wanted to reach out to those who were hurting and offer some kind of hope. To do that, I had to reach into my own past, and touch on the pain and guilt I carried after the loss of my son. The grace I experienced through that traumatic time, the healing and restoration that God fulfilled in my life—that was the inspiration behind Tide and Tempest, and why I think the main character, Tillie McGrath, resonated so deeply with me.

JR:  I found the setting interesting -- while it takes place in New York a hundred years ago, it seems as concerned with Ireland as it does here. What was your inspiration for writing about this era, and how did you do the research?

You hit on a really crucial point of this series. It definitely required more research than anything I’ve published so far. Set in and around New York City with key scenes taking place on Ellis Island, I knew early on that I would need to conduct careful study on the more than twelve million immigrants who entered the United States through Ellis Island from 1892 to 1954. It wasn’t enough to know how they came, however. I wanted to figure out why, so beginning at the Ellis Island Foundation’s website, I began looking for letters, pictures, anything I could find that would give insight into the motivation behind so many peoples’ journey. This in turn led me to other sites, like and the National Park Service website, which were full of information regarding not only the history of the island, but of the people who passed through on their way to a new life in America.

Along with filling the story with facts about our nation’s history, the Edge of Freedom Series is about an Irish family and a man with dangerous political affiliations, so on top of all of the historical facts I could dig up about New York in 1897, I had to research Ireland and everything that was occurring during the same time period there. That meant learning what I could about the conflict in Ireland—its origins and history. Once again, I tackled the Internet, beginning with a simple Google search on “why Ireland is divided”. This led me to a number of sites, including and Remember those research papers your English teacher made you do in high school and college? Researching my book was a lot like that!

JR:  One question I regularly ask -- and I'm asking now -- is whether an author tends to be an outliner or a blank pager. Having read the first two books, however, I'm going to do something I've never done before and take a guess that you're an outliner, because of how well woven the stories are. Related -- was the outlining for the full series, or was it more one book at a time?

  LOL! Thank you, Jeff! Normally, I would say yes, I am very much an outliner. I always chart out a detailed timeline from start to finish. I also search for photos, locate maps, make drawings of certain settings, and collect samples of historical details that I can incorporate. Only when all of that is finished do feel equipped enough to begin writing. It makes for a lengthier process, but I’m always satisfied when I finish that I did my best to make the story accurate and exciting.

BUT…since I had originally planned for this to be a two book series, I really had to adjust my thinking, and my storyline! Strangely enough, that wasn’t difficult once I had a grasp on what Tillie’s story would be about. From there, I was very careful to plot all the storylines to make sure that everything stayed consistent. Also, it doesn’t hurt that I have fantastic editors and a patient critique group who helped me keep everything straight. My editor even gave me suggestions for deepening my storyline!

JR:  I would consider your books Historical Romantic Suspense. When you enter contests or promote your books, how do you market them? Historical Romance? Romantic Suspense? Or, since I haven't seen a Historical Suspense category, would you consider it more straight historical?

I guess it depends on the contest. If it’s a secular contest with an inspirational category, I usually enter there. Otherwise, I enter in the Historical Romance category, because most readers do not equate historicals with suspense. It’s not a perfect fit, because my stories always have a splash of mystery or a splattering of suspense, but I’d rather the reader felt like they got a little something extra than be put off by the fact that my books are historicals. I’m always afraid they’ll mark down if they think it’s in the wrong category.

On another note…I tried to write a straight historical romance once, and a third of the way through, I killed off one of the main characters. It’s like I have to put action on every page or it feels like there’s just not enough happening. Which, when I think about it, makes sense given that I live my life at 100mph and only slow down when I’m forced to go to sleep (see answer above). LOL!

But yes, I would so love to see a Historical Suspense category!!!

JR:  Since you've finished your series, what's next on the horizon? More historical, or maybe some contemporary? (Or perhaps Sci-Fi?)

  The Edge of Freedom series has been such a labor of love, I actually kinda hated seeing it end. As for the horizon, well…I’d love to do another Historical Suspense series. I’ve never considered Sci-Fi, but I’m honored that you think I could! LOL!

JR:  What else do you do besides writing? Any interesting hobbies? What do you do for fun?

Well, let’s see…aside from reading and writing, I love to ski and I have a ridiculous number of dogs. Someday, I’ll write a book about my life and call it Downhill Dachshunds: Keeping up with the Pack.

JR:  I love that title. Thank you for your time, and I can't wait to read Tide and Tempest. How can we keep up with your writing?

I have a website at and a blog at, but my favorite place to connect is still on Facebook. I hope you’ll stop by!

Jeff to the reader: It's time for the book giveaway! To enter the contest for a copy of Tide and Tempest, there are three easy steps:

  1. Leave a comment.
  2. Share your e-mail address -- it can be spelled out like AuntDotKahm(at)Ant(dot)com.
  3. If you were to write about a group of imigrants or refugees, which group would you write about, and what time era (including the present) would it be set in?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Christy Barritt: Desperate Measures

By K. L. Bridgewater

If I had to list my favorite suspense authors who I enjoy reading, Christy Barritt would fit on that list with Steven James, Terri Blackstock, Lynette Eason, Brandilyn Collins, Colleen Coble, Irene Hannon, DiAnn Mills, Janice Cantore, Kathy Herman, Dani Pettrey, and Dee Henderson are among the top ones. Anytime a new book comes out by these authors, I rush to the store and purchase it.
If you haven’t heard of any of these authors, I suggest going out and trying a book by them. Great writers! I study them and try to see how they write, so I can apply it to my personal writing.

Christy Barritt’s most popular Kindle series is called the “Squeaky Clean Mysteries,” beginning with Hazardous Duty. Currently, there are nine books in the series with a spin-off series featuring the protagonist, Gabby St. Claire’s, best friend, Sierra, appropriately titled “Sierra Files.”  Gabby is a crime scene clearner with hidden desires to actually be a crime scene investigator. Barritt, also, writes for the Love Inspired Suspense line for Harlequin where she has written eight suspense novels.

9780373446209Her latest book, Desperate Measures, came out in the beginning of September. The story features Samantha Rogers, a runaway mother, trying to escape her damaged past with her eight-year-old son Conner, and John Wagner, an ex-Coast Guard member, trying to fix up cottages on Smuggler’s Cove. One evening after Samantha was pretty roughed up by a big man in a grocery parking lot, she runs into John and tries to flee with her life and her son. Wagner offers her a place of solitude in exchange for a helping hand on his cottages.

The story thickens as someone breaks into her cabin, not once, but twice. Graffiti shines on the cabin’s wall. There are bullets flying. Chases through the woods. An abduction. To add to the drama, a hurricane or huge storm is brewing in the ocean, headed straight toward Smuggler’s Cove.

Even though the action is flying across every word of Barritt’s expertly crafted plot, the emotions explode like fireworks between Samantha and John. Both of them have been hurt and let down in the past with relationships, so they do not want to start anything new, but they are attracted to each other anyways. Even though Samantha is trying to save her and Conner’s life, she does not want anything to happen to John because she starts to allow him to creep into her heart.

Barritt’s characters are realistic and will grab you from the first page. As you ride the storm of the plot, you will become invested in the lives of Samantha, Conner, and John. As a reader, I prayed that John would protect Samantha and Conner from their past and allow Samantha to move on with no fear for her life anymore. Barritt does a good job at bringing out the flaws in her characters. They are not two-dimensional who have no emotions. Barritt explores their emotions to make the reader experience what the character feels. 

I hope you go out and buy this book or any of her books and enjoy them as much as I do.

Christy Barritt loves connecting with her fans. You can find her at:

You can purchase all her books at Amazon. Here is the link to her Author page:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

An Interview With Ronie Kendig

I'm a die hard 24 fan - I couldn't wait for the new Live Another Day series on Fox earlier this year. When it ended, however, I found myself in withdrawals. I wanted the action, the cliffhanger drama of waiting all week for the new episode, and that sense of satisfaction when the clock started ticking on a new hour. I was pretty disappointed. Until I picked up Operation Zulu.

I thought Ronie Kendig's new serialized novel concept sounded interesting. I wasn't prepared for the thrill ride that started with the first book. It was like reading a 24 episode. I found myself racing through lunch breaks, before bedtime, any time I could squeeze in a little bit of time to read. This is without doubt one of the best series I've read in a long time.
I was so excited when Ronie agreed to do an interview for Sleuths and Suspects! After you read it, head straight to Amazon and download the first installment of Operation Zulu for free. Just consider yourself warned - you won't stop with this one.

1. How did you come up with the idea for a serial novel? 

My publisher contacted my agent about having me partnering with them for a new venture—the serial novel. During a phone call with my editor, we evaluated series ideas I had to see how they’d fit within the unique framework of the serialized novel. She loved the concept for Zulu and chose that one.

2. How was writing Operation Zulu different from writing a traditional novel? 

Because of the original intent, to have one episode release every week for 3 months, the writing was much more demanding—I had to complete Zulu within three months, so it could go live. Though the publisher’s needs changed, I still had another contracted novel after Zulu due within a few months, so I had to race to the finish. I heavily plotted out Zulu, outlining each chapter with a synopsis. My overall synopsis for the whole series—which is the equivalent of two full-length novels—was about thirty-five pages long.

3. What influenced you write military fiction?

I grew up an Army brat and once my father got out, he worked as a civilian contractor, so I stayed around soldiers most of my young life. Then I married a soldier. My concept of a hero has always been defined with the military in mind, so it’s a natural segue into my fiction.

4. Who are your favorite authors? What writers have influenced you the most? 

My favorite author depends on the genre—in other words, I have a lot. For thrillers, it’s Robert Liparulo and James Rollins, along with a dose of Steven James. For fantasy, it’s Jim Rubart, Stephen Lawhead, Patrick Carr…and so on. As for writers who have influence me most, I’d have to say John Olson has had the biggest ipmact on me, but so have Jim Rubart (whom I call my “big brother”) and Tosca Lee, who have inspired and challenged me to write better, more passionately. 

5. Will we see more from the Zulu team in the future? Or another serial novel?

My publisher has not made a final decision on this, but if I were to guess—which is dangerous, I know—I’d probably say that another season isn’t going to happen. Many readers chose to wait for the whole serial to be release and some are waiting for the print version. Unfortunately, that affected sales numbers, and as a result, the “demand” wasn’t huge. At this point, I do not foresee me pursuing another serial novel. It was an incredible amount of work, and while digital sales are increasing, they are still a small percentage of print copies, and I’m a hard-copy kind of girl—gotta have that book in my hands!

Ronie Kendig is an bestselling, award-winning, author who grew up an Army brat. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her hunky hero husband have a full life with four children, a Maltese Menace, and a retired military working dog in Northern Virginia. She can be found at, on Facebook (, Twitter (@roniekendig), Goodreads (, and Pinterest (!