Friday, June 24, 2016

Weekly Roundup: June 24, 2016

Welcome again to the Oak Tree Press Weekly Roundup! 

What are your reading goals for summer? It's the season for camping, beach trips, sunny afternoons, and long evenings -- all of which go great with a good book.

Don't close your suitcase, picnic basket, or beach bag without browsing our bookstore. We have compelling stand-alone mysteries and mystery series, thrillers, romances, police procedurals, westerns, memoirs, and children's bookseven some paranormal storiesmany of which have been acknowledged as prizewinners or finalists for regional and national book awards. You're sure to find stories and characters for every vacation, every day trip, and everyone who comes along.

Thank you for stopping by for the roundup this week. Here as always, for your reading pleasure, we have the week's news, book signings, events, reviews, blogs, and more from our authors to share with you.


"Half my life is an act of revision."
~John Irving
 

A reminder from Jeana: All OTP books are on Manic Readers!
Need help choosing a great book to read?
Check out our sample chapters on
Manic Readers!
Just click on a title and you will be directed to a free read! These sample chapters are updated frequently, and new releases are featured.



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LATEST RELEASES

We're excited to announce our latest release, Family is Forever by Shirley Skufca Hickman (Kindle, Nook).

The 1950’s come alive in Shirley Skufca Hickman’s memoir, Family is Forever. A typical teenager, Shirley loves to dance, attend slumber parties, play in her high school’s award-winning band, and sing in a girls’ triple trio. Dreaming of becoming an actress, she stars in several high school plays. She enjoys her teenage years until her father’s death shatters her family. Without his love and support, their security is threatened. Shirley and her sisters, Mary and Vera, offer to drop out of school and support the family. Because their mother, a strong and intelligent woman, was forced to leave school after the eighth grade, she insists her daughters continue their education at all costs. Her parents had cashed in her father’s life insurance policy to make the down payment for their house and they have nothing. If they cannot pay the mortgage, they might lose their home. Although relatives and friends offer their support, the family must call upon their courage, resilience and love for one another to cope with this tragic loss.

About the author: Shirley Skufca Hickman grew up in Crested Butte and Gunnison, Colorado. After earning her B.A. from Western State College, she moved to California where she taught high school and college English. One of her many teaching awards is Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. Her award winning nonfiction books are Don’t Be Give Up and Is Everybody Happy Now?, which chronicle the experiences of a young girl growing up in a coal mining town during World War II, and School Success: 500 Ways Busy Parents Can Help Their Children Succeed in School. Currently, she tutors students in Porterville, California where she lives with her husband, Joe. They have a son, Joseph. He and his wife, Lisa, are proud parents of Rylan and Steven.

Shirley is also the author of the novels Fall in Love with an Orange Tree or a Book, and Sarah Darlin'.  
 


 REVIEWS & INTERVIEWS

Serita Stevens was interviewed this week on Fiona Mcvie's Author Interviews blog, where she talked about her writing life, her published written works, and the origins of the inspiration for her creative projects. For example,

"Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I find that shorter paragraphs and short sentences increase the reader’s tension and the speed of writing. I like to use all my senses when my character is in a situation. Before I start writing I do character bios on my major players -including the antagonist – with not only goals and back stories but flaws and other humanizing traits – and then I do a detailed outline. Character always overrules plot and controls it. The outlines help me to do more than one project at a time since they are all at different stages. 


"Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 
Yes, being unable to split myself in half!  It’s difficult to do everything I want.  But establishing priorities helps as does detailed outlining."
 

You can read the rest of the entire interview here.

Serita is the author of the forthcoming A Pagan's Love. 60 AD - Rome has occupied Britain and conquered the tribes there forcing them to pay taxes and homage the Roman gods.  When half-Roman Brita, the niece of Queen Boudicea, begins searching for her long lost father she is told by her Druid master that she must find the raven. Colliding with Quintus, a Roman centurion who has come to Britain not only to help with the conquest but to find his missing uncle, Brita receives hints from Sully -- her talking cat and other omens -- that she is meant to be with this man. She resists. But when the tribal king dies and the greedy Romans refuse to acknowledge a woman's rule, Boudicea refuses. She is publicly whipped and her daughters raped. The furious queen calls all the local tribes to revolt. 

Quintus tries to save Brita, but despite longing for him, she insists she must be with her tribe. Only when her betrothed is murdered by the Romans, and the revolt -- despite several successful battles -- seems hopeless, does Quintus convince her to travel west toward the Stonehenge where his uncle had last been seen. Escaping the evil machinations of the cannibalistic Druids who will destroy the Romans at any cost, the pair escape even as they pledge themselves and return to Londinum only to find that while the city has been destroyed by the queen and her rebels, the general has ordered more men to the island and vowed to have her head. Brita and Quintus help Boudicea in her last hours before finally, themselves, fleeing back to Rome, determined to tell the story of the revolt.

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Richard Paolinelli was interviewed by Barbara M. Hodges in the spring 2016 edition of Mysterical-E, an online literary journal of mystery and the mysterious. The interview covers Richard's writing style, choice of genre, and other details about his life and creative work. For example,

"BMH: How big a part did your upbringing have on your writing?

"RP: Quite a lot actually. Because my father was in the drilling business we were moving around the country quite often. To pass the time in the back seat as we drove to our new state of residence I’d create stories and jot them down on whatever I could find to write them down on. Also, because we were in nearly every region of the country I was exposed to a wide variety of cultures and customs that exist across the U.S. A lot of those experiences and the people I’ve met along the way have found their way into my stories.

"BMH: You can go back in time, meet and chat with anyone, who would it be? What would you talk about?

"RP: The second President of the United States, John Adams. I’d love to talk with him at length about the years leading up to 1776 and what kept him on the path toward independence in the face of everything that was stacked up against him and the country at the time."


You can read the full interview here. 

Richard's most recent novel is Reservations, which is set near Gallup, New Mexico where the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni reservations are adjacent. Three tribal leaders have been murdered —murdered in a fashion that suggests the deeds were carried out by the Coyote, a legendary evil trickster feared by many Native Americans.

The tribal president contacts his old friend in the FBI for assistance in solving the crimes and preventing more murders. The FBI selects its star agent, Jack Del Rio, and dispatches him to New Mexico. Del Rio finds a situation tangled in political intrigue, and must work through those issues on his way to solving the mystery. Assisting him in his quest is Officer Lucy Chee. A romantic interest develops between the two. Del Rio identifies the murderer, but not without further bloodshed and loss.



Amy Bennett was also featured in a Barbara M. Hodges interview in the spring 2016 edition of Mysterical-E. Amy talks about her gravitation to the mystery genre and some of the other types of writing projects she's interested in. She also talks about her writing and personal lives. For example, 

"BMH: You can go back in time, meet and chat with anyone, who would it be? What would you talk about?

AB: I was captivated by the “Little House” books when I was a young girl, especially when I discovered that the stories were based on the author’s real life. I would love to spend time talking to Laura Ingalls Wilder and ask her about the stories that didn’t make it into her books and find out how she decided to tell the stories that she shared.

"BMH: Why crime fiction?

AB: I’ve always been a huge fan of the mystery genre—from Nancy Drew, to Agatha Christie, to Mary Higgins Clark and many others. I get a great deal of satisfaction from seeing a puzzle and working to solve it. And I love to see the interplay of characters and see justice done. Sometimes this doesn’t happen in real life, so it’s gratifying to see it in fiction."


You can read the full interview here.

Amy is the author of the Blackhorse Campground mystery series. The latest in the series is At the Crossroad. Trouble often comes in threes. It's no different at the Black Horse Campground.

On his first day as detective with the Bonney Police Department,     J.D. Wilder finds three cold case files on his desk—three women who disappeared over a fifteen year period. It seems no one has ever taken the cases seriously . . . or even properly investigated them.

Then J.D. receives news that he's about to receive a visitor; a woman from his past who is in trouble and needs his help. Again. The timing couldn't be worse, since he's finally about to ask Corrie on a date, but then Corrie also has a visitor from her past show up, and Sheriff Rick Sutton has his hands full dodging his ex-wife, Meghan, who insists on digging up a painful past.

When three bodies are discovered that prove the missing women were murdered, J.D.'s investigation reveals that all of their visitors have some connection to the victims. But which one of them killed three women and is prepared to kill again?

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Nicholas Checker was interviewed by Barbara M. Hodges on her No Limits program on Blogtalk Radio's Red River Radio. He talks about his work in fiction, film, and screenwriting as well as his writing life. He also talks about his most recent novel, Druids, which Barbara gave high praise.

You can listen to the full interview here.

Druids is a medieval fantasy adventure of an isolated lad born with an eerie sense that earns him the suspicion and contempt of those who fail to see it as a gift. He joins with two renowned knights -- both caught up in a terse gender rivalry -- while on a perilous quest to liberate a ruined land from a druid-lord’s deranged sorcery. It raises images of a nerve-wracking game of chess come to life a broken castle, a captive queen in dire need of being released, a dread knight whose very name terrorizes foes, and underling foot-soldiers deemed “pons” -- who yet harbor a latent strength of their own. 

And rippling through the saga, like a whispery breeze, is the mysterious Cryptic Sense -- possessed by those destined to become druids. A blend of ancient beliefs like animism and the early science of alchemy -- and draped in the Native American spiritualism of Manitou, the Cryptic Sense of this tale explores the tight bond between druids nature.

 Nicholas is also the author of Scratch.






 UPCOMING

Carol Alexander along with Miss Liberty, the only pig author on Amazon.com, will be featured at the annual Assumption Fest in Assumption, Illinois, on Friday, June 24 from 5 to 7 p.m., and on Saturday, June 25, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. The event will take place at the Assumption Public Library.

Carol will be reading from Miss Liberty's memoir The Big Squeal. Miss Liberty's true story tells how the formerly orphan pig discovered Abraham Lincoln and overcame many obstacles in pursuit of the American dream.

Listeners will receive an autographed photo of Miss Liberty and will participate in pig jig and squeal contests. The public is invited.


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Mary Montague Sikes will be one of the artists at the Prince George Art and Frame Summer Solstice Picnic Event on Saturday, June 25, 2016 from 1 to 4 p.m., in Williamsburg, Virginia. She will be painting at the event and also discussing her work will also be available to discuss our work.

Several other artists will be present as well. Jan Ledbetter will be drawing in pen and ink and her creation will be the prize in a raffle. Karen Schwartz, Fran Jones, Bonnie Coyle, and I will be painting a floral still life. Hank Mook will demonstrate his papier mache sculpting techniques and Karen Podd will paint pottery plates. Paula Koz will show how she uses her block printing techniques. Gallery owner Fred Miller will demonstrate his printing processes in giclee and photography.

Per the gallery owner, "For our Summer Picnic we will be munching on Italian style fare in recognition of the fiftieth anniversary of the great flood of Florence in 1966. This is not a 'celebration' but rather to increase awareness of this tragic event. . . . I promise a good time and light snacking. We had great fun last year with our Paris Picnic and expect this event to be as much fun for all."

Mary's sculpture and painting is also part of the Painting, Poetry and Prose: A Creative Encounter show taking place through July 2 at the Bay School Community Arts Center in Mathews, Virginia. The show is part of an exhibition of writing and art presented by the Chesapeake Bay branch of the National League of American Pen Women.

In Mary's most recent book is Evening of the Dragonfly, threatening telephone calls and strange cars with dark-tinted windows plague artist/teacher Farrah Ferand. Recovering from the tragic loss of her mother, Farrah is trying to adapt to the life of a small-town art teacher when she encounters Dirk Lawrence, a mysterious stranger.

Her attraction to him is immediate and electric until Farrah discovers Dirk is part of the Lawrence and Pendesky investment firm that led to her mother's downfall a few years earlier. Farrah's not too perfect dating relationship with Tom Douglas, the town favorite football coach, worsens. An unexpected encounter leads to dates with Dirk and his help with the construction of a dream art studio in her rented house. But trouble looms with Tom who believes he and Farrah are engaged, and the entire town appears to be drawn in. Haunting dreams and lost memories overwhelm Farrah as she creates paintings for a one-person art show. Will shadows of the past ruin all hope for Farrah and Dirk?

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Jackie Taylor Zortman will be a guest on P. J. Nunn's BookBrowsing blog on Sunday, June 26. You'll be able to check out her post here when it goes live.

Jackie is the author of We Are Different Now and the award-winning Footprints in the Frost. In the latter, homicide detective Max Richards is hand picked by the chief of police to work a long and complicated serial rape case involving five beautiful victims with whom he must spend much time, his life with girlfriend and bookstore owner, Sami Murphy, becomes extremely complicated.

Escaping from the city hustle and bustle to his beautiful and remote Colorado mountain cabin, the two of them attempt to relax and try to untangle the knots in their relationship. What will happen to this couple who are tremendously bonded, but have to decide if their jobs and lives can meld permanently or if it  would be better to go their separate ways? 





 

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J. L. Greger will sign copies of her books I Saw You in Beirut and Murder: A Way to Lose Weight at BookWorks in Albuquerque on Tuesday, July 7.

Dieting is hard. So is fitting into a new job where you aren’t wanted. In Murder: A Way to Lose Weight, Dr. Linda Almquist is trying to do both as she investigates two diet doctors who are endangering the lives of their obese patients. When she finds one diet doctor dead, she and the police suspect the other diet doctor.

Maybe they’re wrong. The murders might be related to something in the past—something involving the dean of the medical school. While Linda fears for her job, the police fear for her life.

Janet is also the author of Coming Flu, Ignore the Pain, the award-winning Malignancy, and I Saw You in Beirut.










NEW IN E-BOOKS

In addition to being available for Barnes and Noble's Nook and Amazon's Kindle readers and apps, our books are now for sale at All Romance and its partner site OmniLit. These sites run promotions at times, giving you a chance to fill your library at a reduced cost. We are also making OTP books available as iBooks through Apple's iTunes.

Our latest ebook venture is our storefront at Papertrell, a partnership with Hummingbird Digital Media. Readers can shop online or by using the My Must Reads app. Up to five devices can be linked to each individual Papertrell account.

These are our latest titles available for ebook.

Family is Forever by Shirley Skufca Hickman (Kindle, Nook). The 1950’s come alive in Shirley Skufca Hickman’s memoir, Family is Forever. A typical teenager, Shirley loves to dance, attend slumber parties, play in her high school’s award-winning band, and sing in a girls’ triple trio. Dreaming of becoming an actress, she stars in several high school plays. She enjoys her teenage years until her father’s death shatters her family. Without his love and support, their security is threatened. Shirley and her sisters, Mary and Vera, offer to drop out of school and support the family. Because their mother, a strong and intelligent woman, was forced to leave school after the eighth grade, she insists her daughters continue their education at all costs. Her parents had cashed in her father’s life insurance policy to make the down payment for their house and they have nothing. If they cannot pay the mortgage, they might lose their home. Although relatives and friends offer their support, the family must call upon their courage, resilience and love for one another to cope with this tragic loss.

 
A Frenzied Bid for Murder by Ellie Oberth (Kindle, Nook). Venice Sinclair decides to join her friend, Tanya at an auction at Lock & Go Mini-storage. Buying the contents of abandoned lockers provides inventory for Tanya’s two antique shops in Las Vegas: the higher end, Tanya’s Treasures and the more miscellaneous Junque in the Trunk. When the auctioneer whips open the rollup door on the first unit, Venice and the other bidders catch their breath. This storage room has been set up as a shrine! Tanya wins the bid. While they inventory their haul, Venice discovers a diary in the “shrine” unit. Of course she must read it, and soon Venice is convinced the diary reveals that its author was murdered. Venice’s friends are indulgent but skeptical as Venice starts to research the matter of the death. By the time they take her seriously, so does the murderer…and he is not pleased.
  
The Silent Journey by Michael Bellito (Kindle, Nook). The Silent Journey is a memoir of one man's journey through stroke and its aftermath. Michael J. Bellito had a stroke on August 17, 2012. It paralyzed his entire right side and left him unable to talk. He was only 62 years old, ready to start his 41st year of teaching. It changed his life forever. He could either give up trying or make every day a new day. 






Storm Crashers by Richard Wickliffe (Kindle, Nook). Nature’s most deadly force just got more terrifying. Alexandra, a single mother, hides in her home during a category-four hurricane. She’s suddenly terrorized by dark figures with gleaming eyes who enter –they are the Storm Crashers: high-tech thieves who prey on storm evacuations. They must race the clock and are fearless –until they come across the mysterious young mother who fights back. Dan Holms, a disparaged investigator, and a rookie female detective are disciplined for believing Alexandra’s story about “mystery soldiers.” The Crashers want to silence the woman who has seen them, and a new Cat-5 is on the way. Holms and the officer unravel their origin with action and twists that could inevitably impact our national security. A story inspired by real crimes, and so unique and action-packed, it was optioned by a “big-six” Hollywood studio.
 

BLOG CORRAL

Lorna Collins blogged this week about the arrival of summer. She writes, "After a week of graduations and celebrations of the end of the school year, I’m taken back to my own school days.

"When June arrived, I couldn’t wait to be free for the summer. Although I loved school, I looked forward to spending three months with my friends.

"I remember waking to the scent of lilacs drifting into my bedroom with the warm summer breeze. They weren’t supposed to grow in our area, but my dad was an amazing gardener, and he planted the bush. It bloomed every year, long after he died. So did the sweet peas he planted. Each year, he saved the seeds at the end of the season to plant the following year. Several years after he died, Mom pulled up all the volunteer plants and threw them over the back fence. But those stubborn flowers didn’t die. Instead, they came up on the other side every year for as long as I can remember. Both sweet peas and lilacs are among my favorite flowers. They remind me of Dad."

You can read the full post here. 

Lorna is the author of Ghost Writer.



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That wraps up the Roundup for this week! We hope you enjoyed our news.
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