Other Author Wednesday – Jill Urbach

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Other Author Wednesday – Jill Urbach

Today is the debut of “Other Author Wednesday” where each week I will feature an author that I either have read, am reading currently or plan to read. And what a better way to debut Other Author Wednesday than to wet your reading appetite with debut author, Jill Urbach and her romantic comedy entitled, Two-Room Flat (Astraea Press, July 22, 2013).

Sometimes the person we want to hate is the very one we need to love.

A SYNOPSIS OF “TWO-ROOM FLAT” by Jill Urbach

TwoRoomFlat-JillUrbach-500x750Spicy fiction made novelist Claire Gissler a star, but she can’t pen a sentence to save her life since her husband’s accidental death two years ago. Now, deeply in debt, her only hope of reviving her crumbling career is to flee small town America for big city London. Trouble is, she can’t afford the move. That is, not until handsome Adam Lambright — her husband’s best friend and the man she blames for his death — offers to let her stay in his flat… with him.

Adam Lambright used to know how to smile, how to have fun, how to love, but that was before watching his best friend die and his wife wither away from cancer. Now, ticked off at God, he’s vowed never to love again. That doesn’t mean he can’t help out his best friend’s widow. Heck, her life’s more of a mess than his own.

Seeing no other possible option, Claire moves to London. In that exciting city, she faces the challenges of rebuilding her career — and the attentions of her sexy English publicist. But, it’s her growing feelings for Adam that present the biggest challenge: learn to forgive or face heartbreak once again.

Author Bio

JillUrbach-HEADSHOTFormer television actress Jill Urbach is an award-winning author whose first full-length novel, Two-Room Flat, was published in July 2013. She teaches a combined 3rd/4th grade class at a Christian elementary school, and moonlights as a jazz singer. Jill lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children. You can follow Jill on Twitter, her Facebook author page, or check out her website, http://www.jillurbach.com.

I’m Currently Reading Jill Urbach’s “Two-Room Flat”

I’m enjoying this story already. Starting out with an unwanted encounter with an irritating match-maker, Claire Gissler’s day begins abruptly at a coffee shop. The tension is palpable. The author’s knack for conflict and mood-setting sets the reader off with chortles and a sense of embarrassment for each character and before you know it, you’re fully enveloped in the story.

Although I’m not quite through this story, so far Two-Room Flat is a fun tale dappled with moments of sensitivity not usually found in first authors and will make a lovely companion for readers any season of the year. ~Susan Wingate, author of award-winning “Drowning” and the “Bobby’s Diner” Series

Susan Wingate’s Literary Awards Received

For DROWNING

  • 2011 Forward National Literature Award for Drama
  • 2011 International Best Books Award, Finalist for Women’s Fiction

For BOBBY’S DINER

  • 2010 International Best Books Award, Finalist for Women’s Fiction
  • 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Finalist for Women’s Fiction

Susan also received a 2009 Textnovel Editor’s Choice Award & Finalist for an unpublished novella she wrote.

Susan has won various other literary awards for her short stories and poetry.

For Susan’s Kindle Books on Amazon, go to: http://amzn.to/1cdGZBR
For Susan’s Nook Books on Barnes&Noble, go to: http://bit.ly/1cdH9Jr

A Book Review of “Capacity for Murder,” a Mystery by Bernadette Pajer

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A Book Review of “Capacity for Murder,” a Mystery by Bernadette Pajer

I first met Bernadette Pajer, another Pacific Northwest author, when Joshua Graham and I hosted her on our talk radio program, Dialogue: Between the Lines. A little less than a year later, in June 2013, Ms. Pajer’s next book will be released,  CAPACITY FOR MURDER (Poisoned Pen Press), the no. 3 book in her Professor Bradshaw Mystery Series.

CapacityForMurder-BernadettePajer

I have included below the author information and my review of this book directly after the book’s story blurb.

Blurb for CAPACITY FOR MURDER by Bernadette Pajer

When Healing Sands Sanitarium, southwest of Seattle, Washington, sits on the sandy doorstep of the Pacific Ocean. Famed for its restorative rest-cure, fermented diets, and Dr. Hornsby’s electrotherapeutics, no one has ever died at Healing Sands. Until now. When Professor Bradshaw is summoned to investigate, he knows this was no accident, but his only clue to foul play is as insubstantial as smoke–to anyone other than an electrical engineer. In this isolated location, suspects are limited to a handful whose lives–and lies–must be exhumed and examined. A sinister tale emerges as deep undercurrents turn personal, provoking Bradshaw to make a decision about the woman he loves. And then an everyday object provides the key, alerting Bradshaw that one among them is a walking dead man, and another possesses the capacity for murder.

Book Review by Susan Wingate

When I began reading this story, I noted the amount of scene-setting description which not only adds wonderful sensory detail but also a host of clues one might find when reading any classic-style mystery novel. However, what I found lovely about reading Ms. Pajer’s CAPACITY FOR MURDER, is the intertwining of a past and a lost (but not forgotten) romance between Professor Bradshaw, the much older professor at the turn of the century (the 20th century) University of Washington and one of his students, Ms. Missouri Fremont.

As I continued reading this tale two questions kept arising. First, what elements create a good mystery? And second, what elements create a good romance? Mind you, Ms. Pajer has embedded both genres within the fiction subgenre of historical fiction.

Ms. Pajer’s historical information has been thoroughly researched and not only fits well by layering setting–time and place–as a fundamental part of the mystery with clues popping up all over the place but Ms. Pajer has also captured the other two parts of her story very well. She solidly answers my two previous questions with finesse, weaving all the parts (historical fiction, mystery and romance) together seamlessly.

So, to my first question: what makes a good mystery? The riddle plot is one of my favorites and I’m fond of classic and noir styles of mystery. Pajer’s CAPACITY FOR MURDER resonates of the time within the story but it also resonates in the style of the classic mystery. Reminiscent of Arthur Conan Doyle with hints of Edgar Allan Poe, this book pulls the reader in to the problem quickly with a beckoning and desperate letter from someone who needs the help of Professor Bradshaw–a rather reluctant (and not-so) amateur sleuth. Since book number one of this series, the Professor now regularly works as a private investigator, concentrating on issues where electricity is involved. And electricity is involved in this story, not only as an integral part of Bradshaw’s investigation, story and plot but also with a pulsing energy in Pajer’s storytelling acumen. This story lights up! In other words, CAPACITY FOR MURDER is a page-turner. I read until two a.m. getting closer and closer to the end and not wanting to go to bed. Well-executed mysteries also bait-and-switch information so that the reader keeps (mentally) pointing here and then there trying to figure out who dunnit. And if you want murder, the body count is as high as the entertainment count. Ms. Pajer has writing the mystery novel down in spades.

Okay, now for the next question: what makes a good romance? Well, all romances rely on this formula: A boy meets a girl (and falls in love). The boy loses the girl. The boy…

Well, I don’t want to ruin it for you but Pajer, an accomplished and sensitive author, understands the romance reader’s longing for closure. Her hero and heroine have seemingly insurmountable problems with each other with tension between them as hot as alternating current! Any more information than this will have to include spoilers.

Let’s just say that readers of historical fiction, mystery and romance will love this novel too. Heck, readers of any fiction will love this book. Many thumbs up for a story well-told. I highly recommend CAPACITY FOR MURDER by Bernadette Pajer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

BernadettePajer-AuthorPhotoBernadette Pajer is the author of the Professor Bradshaw Mysteries, fast-paced whodunits in the Golden-Age tradition. The books in the series have earned the Seal of Approval for Science from the Washington Academy of Sciences (established 1898.) She’s a graduate of the University of Washington and a proud member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Northwest Science Writers, and the Seattle7Writers.org. Research is Pajer’s favorite activity, and she happily delves into Seattle’s past and the early days of electrical invention as she plots Professor Bradshaw’s investigations. Pajer lives in the Seattle area with her husband and son.

To learn more and read a sample chapter visit her website at bernadettepajer.com.

A SPARK OF DEATH, The First Professor Bradshaw Mystery, July 2011.
FATAL INDUCTION, The Second Professor Bradshaw Mystery, May 2012.
CAPACITY FOR MURDER, The Third Professor Bradshaw Mystery, June 2014

For more information about Bernadette Pajer, you can find her at her website: http://www.bernadettepajer.com

For her books on Amazon, go to: http://www.amazon.com/Bernadette-Pajer/e/B004FP7O3M/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

And for her books at the publisher’s website, head over to: http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/bernadette-pajer/

 

Guest Book Excerpt from RYANN by Paul Dorset

I usually say something brilliant here at the beginning but my guest author here, Paul Dorset’s writing is much more intriguing than me waxing philosophic. So, to avoid further delay, why don’t you just sit back and enjoy this lovely excerpt from RYANN by Paul Dorset…

RYANN, Excerpt from Chapter One

Ryann_Cover_Thumb150Ryann flattened herself against the cold stone wall and closed her eyes. “Don’t say anything,” she whispered to herself as the crack of the whip could be heard once more from the other side of the curtain.

A young girl screamed out in pain and a man’s voice could be heard laughing. “Now that’ll teach you. Just stay still will you and it’ll all be over soon enough.”

Ryann wanted to cover her ears but dare not move in case she gave her position away. Again she heard the crack of the whip and the crying, screaming, noise the girl made as the whip found its mark. “Just don’t say anything.”

She knew she shouldn’t have wandered into the bedroom, but she had been curious. That was all. And it had been typical of Megan to follow after her. At least she supposed it was Megan. As soon as Ryann had heard the movement outside the room, she had quickly run to hide behind the curtain. And then, not twenty seconds later, Megan had been discovered. Ryann heard the pleading as the young man muttered something under his breath. And then she heard the familiar sound of a whip cracking and a girl screaming out loud. It could only be the master, Lord Cala. He was the only one that had a whip. Or his son. Of course it had to be his son. And that meant it would be even worse. No, she definitely had to remain as still as possible and hope she was not discovered.

Another two screams and it was all over. The room fell quiet except for the silent sobbing of the girl. Ryann dared to lift her hand to her face and she bit into it, stopping herself from shouting out. She waited another couple of minutes and carefully peered around the edge of the long velvet curtain. Megan was lying face down on the bed with her simple dress half-torn, exposing her bare back. Ryann counted five deep cuts where the whip had found its mark. She wiped away a tear from her eye and crossed over to Megan. She bent over the shivering girl, reached out a hand, and whispered to her. “Come on, let’s get you back to your room. Come on.” Ryann carefully helped the young girl to her feet and let Megan lean into her as they walked together through the corridors, back toward their quarters.

“Twenty,” Ryann repeated to herself as she counted the marks she had scratched out on the wall. She had made Megan as comfortable as possible in her bed and then returned to her own room. “Twenty.” She slumped to the floor and turned her head so that her face touched the cold stone wall. Then she closed her eyes and savored the feeling of refreshing coolness.

Twenty copper coins was not a lot of money, but it was enough to exchange for her first silver coin. She smiled. Her first silver coin. Another nineteen and she could buy her freedom and leave the castle. How long would it take? She didn’t know. She tried to do some calculations in her head but there were so many variables. She earned fifteen copper coins a week as a sclava for Lord Cala. But it cost her five copper coins for her room and the food she ate. Then there was the cost of new clothes from time to time. And also the cost of any punishments.

Ryann balled up her fists and tried to let the memory of Megan’s beating wash over her. It would probably cost Megan three coins for her disobedience. And it would have cost Ryann too, if she had been found. She sighed. She ought to give Megan one of her copper coins toward her punishment. That would make it nineteen left and then she wouldn’t have enough for her first silver coin.

“Maybe a year,” she said out loud. Maybe she would have enough money saved up after another year. If she was lucky and if she was careful. She prayed she would be lucky. She didn’t want to end up like some of the other sclavas who were stuck in the castle for life, never able to pay off their debts.

Ryann got to her feet and wandered back to Megan’s room and looked inside. “You alright?”

Megan looked up from the bed, still lying on her stomach, and nodded. “I’ll be okay.”

Ryann crossed over to Megan and sat next to her on the bed. “I’m sorry I haven’t got anything I can put on your back. But maybe cook will have something a little later.” Ryann wiped her hand across Megan’s face and brushed back some hair from Megan’s eyes. “Thank you. Thank you for not giving me away.”

Megan gave a half-smile. “You would’ve done the same for me.”

“That doesn’t make it any easier. You know that. And next time don’t follow me. You’re too young to get into trouble like this.”

“I just want to be free and to get out of the castle,” Megan whispered. “I hate it here.”

“I know you do. I hate it too. We all hate it. But getting into trouble just means it will take you longer to buy your freedom.”

“We ain’t never going to buy our freedom, Ree. Not ever.”

Ryann ran a hand through Megan’s hair. “Hush. Don’t say that, Megan. It’s the only way I get through every day here. I live in the hope that one day, one day, I’ll earn enough money to buy my freedom.”

ABOUT PAUL DORSET

PD_picPaul Dorset was born in Poole, Dorset in England in 1960 but has been living in America since 1995. He has been writing for many years and some of his early works were published in ‘teen advice’ columns. He has also had many technical articles published, mostly in the field of Computing.

Paul currently lives in the Pacific Northwest but has traveled extensively and worked many times with teens and youth groups. It is this background combined with a vivid imagination that has enabled him to weave a tapestry of magic into complete novels. His first epic fantasy series, aimed at young adults, is entitled ‘The Southern Lands’. However, the storyline is more than exciting enough to keep adults turning pages as the story unfolds.

Paul is a father of five who has worked as a computer consultant for more than 30 years. His publications include fantasy novels for ages 12-plus, how-to books for adults, and dark paranormal thrillers for ages 16+. He incorporates his extensive experience in computers – and his insightful perspective on the possibilities therein – in novels that include layers of contemporary intrigue, romance and mystery. You can follow his blog at http://blog.pauldorset.com

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PAUL DORSET AND TO BUY HIS BOOKS

Links to purchase book: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/207980 (FREE on Smashwords – but it costs $0.99 on Amazon)

Website: http://pauldorset.com

Blog: http://blog.pauldorset.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jcx27

Facebook: http://facebook.com/pdorset27

Author Photo Shoot, Dogs & Decks

JoanBenney At the beginning of August, amazing photographer Joan M. Benney (isn’t this a great pic of her) came over for my “long overdue” author photo shoot. The day proved sunny and warm. A perfect summer day for the Pacific Northwest. Joan stayed about 2 hours and snapped all sorts of amazing pics. She’s a magician.

102_0229 Anyway, at the end we both sort of dragged our bodies back inside the house making our way from the expansive field, past my hugging tree—a Noble fir and by way of the back deck where my little pooch, Robert waited. He had just gotten a shower the night before and his hair looked wispy and felt silky soft. Joan likes animals. She and Robert hit it off the minute she entered our home.

I was chattering away and not noticing that she had snapped a few pics on the deck, not paying attention, making sure we’d secured the lock on the gate and that no raccoons had come up too close to Robert. My concentration was “out there” not in the moment.

So, when Joan sent the final photos to me, I squealed when I saw the ones she’d snapped out there. What a lovely surprise. Hope you enjoy. Thank you Joan! You’re awesome.

A Day of Pretty Things Like Animals & Sunshine

Some days the weather gets to the point of gleaming up here around our tiny island in the Pacific Northwest. It’s hard not to daydream the hours away, staring out the window and just lolling about the house. 

So, today when I got this video from an old friend, my mind drifted outdoors, spilling off the porch and into the lush moist grass under a pear tree where the blossoms have long since died but the fragrant fruit still permeates the air. That’s where my mind has escaped.

One great thing about my work, this writing thing, is that I can tweak my workday to whatever I wish. Like yesterday, when Robert (once again) hurt himself—his back this time, nothing too serious. But, my efforts shifted away from work and on to matters of the heart and home. This morning after taking Robert to the vet, we have now settled into a low hum of activity, sitting, lying on the sunny porch, listening to goldfinches chip and ring-necked doves chortling out their laughing coo.

Because this will be a lazy day, I decided to post one silly video and a few other pics pets and wildlife around our home. Here they are…

2008 SMW Photos Around Home 015 2008 SMW Photos Around Home 013 2008 SMW Photos Around Home 035 2008 SMW Photos Around Home 028

2008 SMW Photos Around Home 046 2008 SMW Photos Around Home 045 2008 SMW Photos Around Home 056 2008 SMW Photos Around Home 054 2008 SMW Photos Around Home 018 2008 SMW Photos Around Home 017

Rainy Days & Wednesdays NEVER Get Me Down

Moving to the Pacific Northwest from the southwestern desert in Phoenix felt like walking out of an oven and into a refrigerator. (please note map–basically a straight climb north to WA from AZ)

At first my bones chilled and needed constant cover–sweats, sweaters, thick woolly socks. Well, none of that has changed much, ’cause I love these kind of cold-weather clothes.

But, when temperatures plummeted down around 20F about a week ago, they had done so after hovering around in the 40’s for nearly two months. Then, BOOM! The island became an ice cube. Talk about shock value. Holy Molina!

And, we got blessed beautiful snow. I love snow. Shuffling through a thick layer of powder in my snow boots makes me feel like a mountain man when I go out to feed the deer. Albeit, I look a bit like Charlie Brown after his mother bundles him up inside twenty coats, a cap with ear flaps and donning his UGG look-alike boots. I feel like part of the earth somehow and more connected to nature. I don’t know, I think it’s the buttery smell of snow that makes me feel this way.

Oh, you didn’t know that? That snow smells like butter? Yes. It. Does. To me, it does. I love snow. I love butter. It’s seems so logical.

Anyway, the twenty-degree weather only lasted for about 4 days and then the thermometer began climbing upwards again. Then, the rains came and washed all my snow away leaving every step outdoors a huge layer of slush and mud. Greens popped so vibrantly I wondered how I didn’t notice their extreme color before. But, it was just a comparison-contrast game in my head playing out through my eyes. Nothing had changed, just my view of something I’d been seeing daily for months–lush, soggy greens.

I’m so happy to live up here in the Northwest where we experience so many different scenes with each changing season. Like a reel-to-reel of our ever-rolling globe.

The twinkling of growth from winter to spring spotting buds bulging on limbs of wild currant. A happy dance bursting of colors–fuchsia, carnelian, cerulean, cadmium, lilac–all screaming in unison, “It’s summer!” Nostalgic trees and shrubs blushing with golds and oranges as they sachet fully into fall. And, then, once again, courageous flora as they strip bare naked to welcome the winds of winter again. All white and gray as if praying before a peacemaker’s altar–a neutral place with a judgment yet to tell.

Every season I hear myself say, “This is my favorite season.” So, thank you winter for always bringing such joy into my heart. Thank you spring for being just around the corner.

And, thank you for reading this post. -Susan 🙂

 

By the way, the audio book for DROWNING will be available in the springtime!

DROWNING (First Place Award in the 2011 Forward National Literature Awards) available in paperback and eBook at the following online sites:

Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Drowning-Susan-Wingate/dp/0615448127/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327523847&sr=8-1

Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Drowning-Winger-Family-Drama-ebook/dp/B004YTFE2M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1327523847&sr=8-2

B&N.com http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/drowning-susan-wingate/1100542146?ean=9780615448121&itm=1&usri=drowning+by+susan+wingate

Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/drowning-susan-wingate/1100542146?ean=2940012459695&itm=1&usri=drowning+by+susan+wingate

Smashwords (in all eBook formats) http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/57429

Nostalgia–Laughing, Crying… the Whole KittinKaboodle!

I woke laughing around 3:30 this morning. Haven’t done that in a while. Bob asked me if I was laughing. I chortled out a cryptic sleepy sounding “Yes,” filled with morning breath and spoken over a faceful of purring cat (Pinky) who had nestled into my neck and plastered herself to me.

However, if you were to ask me if I could’ve expected waking up this way, I’d have said, “No way!”

I’d fallen asleep emotional and teary, kind of cranky. My visit to Phoenix left me sad and worried for the health of my cousin but also my visit had left me a little nostalgic.

I hadn’t expected getting the nostalgia, not at the end of July in Phoenix with temperatures nearing 115F. And yet it presented itself like a big sooty cloud in front of me as I drove my rental car down scraggy 24th Street & McDowell to Sky Harbor Circle back to the rental car co-op around Buckeye Rd.

The desert owns a certain appeal that old cowboys understood right away. The old west full of grit and danger, drew men and women to its dusty hard-packed basin. With its humanoid cacti and wildlife–rattlers, scorpions and those that ate them, like roadrunners and nightowls.

I was born in Phoenix in 1958 in the summer on a hot Tuesday with all the sweat and tears my laboring mother could spend, I’m sure. So, when I landed at the airport this past Friday and walked from the cool interior of the plane, the waffling heat pushed at me as I exited the tube from the plane’s door to another cool interior, just inside the airport gate. Temperatures change fast in the desert, like walking through a waterfall of cool or searing lava heat. They change as you go from inside to outside and back.

But, I’d forgotten.

I’d forgotten how blistering hot it got at the end of July.

Here’s the funny thing though. After only a few minutes in Phoenix’s climate, it was business as usual. I thought, “Oh, yes, this is what I left.” In part, why I left for the cool wet temps of the Pacific Northwest where I now call home.

My mom wants to move back to Phoenix. She has longed to go “home” (as she calls it) for years. In fact, she wanted to return after almost a month of arriving in Washington State to live, selling everything she owned back in Phoenix and making the move.

I understand why she wants to live there again. I do. Now.

See, most of our family lives there still. My sister and her “team” live there. And what a great team it is! We try to visit each other as much as possible.

This time when I traveled to Phoenix I went to see my sis, of course, but I also went to see my cousin–an old cowboy with roots from Lebanon–from the old country. For me, Phoenix is the new old country. Like my grandfather before me, I sort of got run out. Of course, the running was on my own terms. But, I ran. And, as I sat there in the hospital with my cousin and his family, I remembered the real definition of home. Home isn’t about place. Not really. It’s about people, about family. Sitting next to my cousin chatting, made me think about how wonderful our talks used to be, how we’d laugh and sing and dance the dabke at Uncle Chuck’s and Aunt Madeline’s, in the add-on den. With life abounding and abundant. My cousin, a rodeo cowboy firefighter, who went to New York on 9/11 to assist in the disaster has been feeling rather puny these days and I needed to see him again.

So, after I put it all together–the waking up, laughing, laughing hard, then falling back to sleep. I can remember the fun times. The good times with my cousin, all my cousins, my aunts and uncles, Sitto and Giddo, my dad and mom and sister, our old home on Luke Avenue, then the temporary one on 32nd Street, the 1/4 acre home we had with my pony Apache. There are many other places we searched for looking to find that sense of home, spent back in Phoenix.

I guess nostalgia has its place. Sitting here on my nobby couch with my pups and cats and my feet up on my ottoman as I type, I know my emotional discord occurred in Phoenix because of leaving family and not because I was leaving Phoenix.