Saturday, October 25, 2014

ParaMysMo 2014: Juliet Blackwell, author of the Haunted Home Renovation Mysteries and the Witchcraft Mysteries - October 25, 2014

Please welcome Juliet Blackwell to The Qwillery. Juliet is the author of the Haunted Home Renovation Mysteries and the Witchcraft Mysteries.

I live in a ramshackle old house that lends itself to Halloween decorations – and celebrations. For years we have hosted a huuuge themed Halloween party: one year it was Crazy Scientists, another was Creepy Carnival, before that was a Great Gatsby Ghost Fete…my favorite year, though, was Zombie Apocalypse. It’s hard to go wrong with a really good Zombie Apocalypse!

One of the best parts about the party was our Costume Room. This tradition began when people told me they got stressed out having to come up with costumes – -this had always been my favorite part of the lead up to Halloween! So I put all my old costumes (and parts of costumes: feather boas, masks, hats, shawls, capes) in one room, and asked for contributions from other Halloweeny friends. It grew so crowded with costumes that people would come to the party just to play dress-up – and lots of people changed costumes throughout the evening, according to their changing moods!

This year, for a variety of reasons, we are skipping the party. I can’t tell you how many disappointed folks have been calling and emailing…but at the very least I have been able to outfit several friends with costumes. The worst part about not having the party is that the cobwebs – which I allow to accumulate all year because I am adding “authenticity” to my party – are now simply a sign of shoddy housekeeping. Sigh.

Anyway, I think my character Lily Ivory might have to take up my Halloween party tradition in one of the Witchcraft Mysteries. She owns a vintage clothing store on Haight Street, after all…it’s like a ready made Costume Room!

Recent Witchcraft Mysteries 
Haunted Home Renovation Mysteries
(click 'read more' below The Giveaway to see all the novels
in each series with covers, descriptions and buy links)

A Vision in Velvet
A Witchcraft Mystery 6
Signet, July 1, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Lily Ivory hopes to score some great vintage fashions when she buys an antique trunk full of old clothes. But she may have gotten more than she bargained for.…

As soon as Lily opens the trunk, she feels strange vibrations emanating from a mysterious velvet cloak. When she tries it on, Lily sees awful visions from the past. And when the antiques dealer who sold her the cape is killed, Lily suspects a supernatural force might be behind his death.

Then Lily’s familiar, Oscar the potbellied pig, disappears. Lily will do anything to get him back—including battling the spirit of a powerful witch reaching out from the past. But even with the aid of her grandmother, unmasking a killer and saving Oscar might be more than one well-intentioned sorceress can handle.

A Haunting is Brewing
A Haunted Home Renovation
    and Witchcraft Mystery Novella
Intermix, October 21, 2014
eBook 109 pages

In this all-new novella, New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell’s popular characters from her Witchcraft Mysteries and Haunted Home Renovation Mysteries find themselves joining forces to solve a supernatural dilemma…

When Mel Turner is hired to rehab an old Victorian mansion to act as the eerie setting for a Halloween bash, she’s expecting the normal challenges—old wiring, bad plumbing, maybe a ghostly specter or two. But when a young man is killed after spending the night in the house, and the mannequins in the attic start to come to life, it’s clear that this is serious paranormal activity. Maybe this time, a real witch is needed.

Recommended by a mutual friend, vintage clothes expert Lily Ivory arrives to offer her help with the mannequins. Armed with Lily’s spells and Mel’s know-how, the two women must figure out the cause of all of the ghostly commotion—before Mel’s renovation project turns into even more of a deadly haunt…

Includes previews of Keeper of the Castle: A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery and Spellcasting in Silk: A Witchcraft Mystery.

Home for the Haunting
A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery 4
Signet, December 3, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

No good deed goes unpunished.

San Francisco contractor Mel Turner is leading a volunteer home renovation project, and while she expects lots of questions from her inexperienced crew, she can’t help asking a few of her own—especially about the haunted house next door…the place local kids call the Murder House.

But when volunteers discover a body while cleaning out a shed, questions pile up faster than discarded lumber. Mel notices signs of ghostly activity next door and she wonders: Are the Murder House ghosts reaching out to her for help, or has the house claimed another victim?

Now, surprised to find herself as the SFPD’s unofficial “ghost consultant,” Mel must investigate murders both past and present before a spooky killer finishes another job.


Keeper of the Castle
A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery 5
Signet, December 2, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

In the latest Haunted Home Renovation mystery from New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell, San Francisco contractor—and reluctant ghostbuster—Mel Turner gets hired for a job that's to die for.

Lately, Mel has been worried about finding enough historic renovation work to pay the bills. But while Turner Construction is in need of a project, Mel’s boyfriend, Graham, has his hands full managing the reconstruction of an ancient building shipped over from Scotland.

With the job plagued by rumors that the stones are cursed, Graham brings in Mel to look for paranormal activity. And while the ghost of a charming Scottish clansman does seem to be hanging around the site, the real shock comes when they stumble upon a body.

When the original construction crew starts running scared, Mel brings in her team to finish the job. Now all she has to do is nail down the killer, and put the spirits to rest, before anyone else winds up heading for the highlands…

About Juliet

Juliet Blackwell is the New York Times bestselling author of the Witchcraft Mystery series, featuring a powerful witch with a vintage clothes store in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. She also writes the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series, about a failed anthropologist who reluctantly takes over her father’s high-end construction company…and finds ghosts behind the walls. As Hailey Lind, Blackwell wrote the Agatha-nominated Art Lover’s Mystery series, in which an ex-art forger attempts to go straight as a faux finisher. She is currently working on a novel about a woman who takes over her uncle’s locksmith shop in Paris, entitled The Paris Key. A former anthropologist and social worker, Juliet has worked in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France.

Visit her at, join her on Facebook (JulietBlackwellAuthor) and on Twitter @JulietBlackwell

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win 1 Mass Market Paperback copy of her/his choice of a Witchcraft Mystery 1 - 6 or a Haunted Home Renovation Mystery 1 - 4 by Juliet Blackwell.

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on November 9, 2014. Void where prohibitedby law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To see the Witchcraft Mysteries 1 - 5 and the Haunted Home Renovation Mysteries 1 - 3 please click on 'read more' for the covers, descriptions and buy links.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Interview with Amy Impellizzeri, author of Lemongrass Hope - October 24, 2014

Please welcome Amy Impellizzeri to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Lemongrass Hope was published on October 8th by Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Amy:  Thanks for having me!

I have always been a “writer” (And I have the vintage detailed diaries from childhood to prove it …) I love that Flannery O’Connor quote: “I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say.” That’s always been me. Although, before I wrote Lemongrass Hope, I was a different kind of “professional” writer - a corporate litigator, in fact – and what I wrote for a living was very different than what I write now. In 2009, after thirteen years in that world, I left my career writing summary judgment motions, deposition outlines, and closing arguments, and returned to creative writing – both fiction and nonfiction.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Amy:  Are they really, truly, mutually exclusive?

If so, I have to align myself with the plotters. I need to know where I’m going in a general I-already-know-how-this-is-all-going-to-end way. In writing this novel, I did let the characters surprise me, and develop on their own. But I will often mull over the details of a scene, its dialogue, or an entire chapter for days before I actually put pen to paper.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Amy:  Easy. Putting it out there in the world.

For me, the writing itself is a compulsion and a necessity and generally the act of writing is one I LOVE. I wrote about this very issue recently on Caroline Leavitt’s blog. And while, I’m subject to all of the same challenges that other writers face – writer’s block, story structure problems, too many occasions of the same word in one manuscript (in Lemongrass Hope – everyone was “whispering” until I fixed the 143 word occurrences during the editing process) – it’s so hard to put anything I write out there, from articles, to blog posts, to my debut novel. Because it’s not just that I want people to like it – I want them to feel like it was genuinely worth their time to read. Really, what I’m trying to say is - I want them to LOVE it.

TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Amy:  Well certainly I am drawn to those who have done magical realism and done it so well. The great Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Yann Martel come to mind instantly. One of the most joyful moments I experienced on the road to publication of Lemongrass Hope was the day I obtained permission to reprint an excerpt of Life of Pi in my own novel. In terms of current contemporary fiction, I am a huge fan of Jojo Moyes, Jess Walter, and Caroline Leavitt, just to name a (very!) few.

TQ:  Describe Lemongrass Hope in 140 characters or less.

A haunting, unique story – both relatable AND magical – which explores those decisions about love and life that often give rise to some dramatic “What If’s?”

TQ:  Tell us something about Lemongrass Hope that is not in the book description.

Amy:  It will surprise you. Up until the very last page. If you haven’t read it yet, you don’t know what REALLY happens, no matter how many descriptions or reviews you have read to date. Trust me.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Lemongrass Hope? The novel is described by the publisher as "...a captivating and unpredictable love story, with a dose of magical realism and time travel." Why add both elements of magical realism and time travel to a love story?

Amy:  The easy answer is that I had a very surreal dream a few years ago that haunted me and gripped me, and gave rise to the core magic that readers find in Lemongrass Hope. However, as the novel developed – as the love story developed - I really wanted to explore the concept of time travel in a new way that doesn’t involve time machines or flashy, abrupt transitions to the past. I wanted the transition to be seamless. I really wanted the reader to BELIEVE what had happened in the story. To lose themselves in the possibility.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Lemongrass Hope?

AmyLemongrass Hope takes place in three main regions – New York City and its suburbs; Botswana; and the Bahamas. I lived in the New York area for thirteen years and I have traveled to the Bahamas, but not Botswana (yet!) so my experiences in those first two places certainly informed certain sections of the novel. Years ago – before I started the novel - I read about the Elephant Sanctuary in Botswana and the marula forests, and was utterly fascinated. As I worked on the novel, that research was critical to the development of the story.

TQ:  In Lemongrass Hope who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Amy:  Dee was the easiest character to write. Even though she plays a small role, it’s a critical one. And I am absolutely mesmerized by her. She’s definitely a character that evolved completely on her own, with little help from me. I have fantasies about writing another book focusing entirely on her story – which I’m certain would be so very intriguing.

Rob Sutton was the hardest to write, and in fact, I had to spend a fair amount of time working on his character development during the editing process through some pretty hefty character arc exercises. Regardless of what you think about him in the final version of the novel, in the earlier versions, he was just … too unlikeable. That was never my goal for him, and so I spent a lot of time thinking about him, re-writing him, and working on him.

TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Lemongrass Hope.

“Marula fruit,” she smiled. “You need marula drink instead of that,” she pointed to his glass of bourbon and he smiled again, straightened up and glanced over Dee’s head at the door again for the first time since Dee had sat down. “Yes,” he said. “That’s exactly why I’ve come here.”
“That’s how gambling works, Kate. To succeed, you can’t be too practical. Or too conservative.
“Ah, it’s the great inverse of life.” I clinked my glass on his.
Ian actually looked startled. “Inverse? Kate, it’s the precise analogy of life ….”

TQ:  What's next?

Amy:  I’m finishing up work on my first non-fiction book, entitled Lawyer Interrupted (ABA Publishing) due out in Spring 2015. Which means that before year’s end, I can turn my attention to my next novel, and see which one of the two concepts that are sketched out (in true “planner’s” fashion) actually lends itself to a full-length novel. On one hand, I have been working out an idea that will be completely separate from Lemongrass Hope, and on the other – developing an idea that would explore one of my favorite Lemongrass Hope character’s back story . Stay tuned ….

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.


Lemongrass Hope
Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, October 8, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 302 pages

Set in the past, and present, Lemongrass Hope is a captivating and unpredictable love story, with a dose of magical realism and time travel.

Lemongrass Hope weaves together ordinary lives and events to tell an extraordinary tale of connection, loss, renewal, and of course, hope.

As Kate Sutton’s decade-long marriage to Rob erodes and unravels, Kate fears that the secrets she guards from the world, including Rob’s emergency room proposal, and a whirlwind love affair from her past, have always doomed her fate. When she unwittingly receives a glimpse at what her life could have been like had she made different choices all those years ago, it is indeed all she could have ever wanted. A confirmation of her greatest hope, and her greatest fears.

Lemongrass Hope will draw you in with characters so relatable and real, you will cheer for them one moment and flinch the next. A tale that invites you to suspend disbelief—or perhaps decide to believe once and for all—in the potent power of love and connection over time and choice.

Oh, and the dress. There’s this lemongrass dress . . .

About Amy

Amy Impellizzeri is a reformed corporate litigator and author. After spending a decade at one of the top law firms in the country, Amy left in 2009 to advocate for working women, eventually landing at a VC-backed start-up company, ShopFunder LLC (formerly Hybrid Her - named by ForbesWoman as a top website for women in 2010 and 2011), while writing her first novel, Lemongrass Hope, which debuted as an Amazon Best-Seller (Fantasy/Romance and Fantasy/Time Travel) and her first non-fiction book, Lawyer Interrupted, which is scheduled to be published by the American Bar Association in 2015.

Oprah's very first Book Club Selection Author and NYT #1 Best-Selling Author, Jacquelyn Mitchard, has said “Lemongrass Hope is that fine and fresh thing – a truly new story …. Amy Impellizzeri is a bold and tender writer, who makes the impossible feel not only real, but strangely familiar.” NYT Best-selling Author, Caroline Leavitt, called Lemongrass Hope: "haunting, mesmerizing and unforgettable." Foreword Reviews Magazine chose Lemongrass Hope as one of five exemplary titles in romance fiction featured in its fall issue of "Indies We Love!", and Lemongrass Hope has received acclaim from book reviewers, bloggers, and authors alike, including all 5-star reviews on Amazon. Amy's essays and articles have appeared in The Huffington Post, The Glass Hammer, Divine Caroline, and ABA's Law Practice today, among more. Amy currently lives in rural Pennsylvania where she works and plays and keeps up on all of the latest research confirming that large volumes of coffee are indeed good for you.

Website  ~  Blog  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @AmyImpellizzeri

Guest Blog by Alex Bledsoe - Language in Sword Sisters - October 24, 2014

Please welcome Alex Bledsoe to The Qwillery. Alex is the co-author with Tara Cardinal of Sword Sisters. He is also the author of the Eddie LaCrosse novels, the Tufa novels and more.


by Alex Bledsoe

“She is a woman - much woman. Should her perfidy be less than that of other women?”
—John Wayne as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror, written by Oscar Millard

In case you weren’t aware of it, John Wayne—yes, that John Wayne—really did play Genghis Khan in the 1956 movie, The Conqueror. It was a disaster. Beyond the questionable casting, though, what really sank the film was the dialogue, written in the faux epic style quoted above. I mean, come on: no one ever said (to quote another line from the film), “You’re beautiful in your wrath.” People never spoke that way, not a thousand years ago or at any other time. And yet, we somehow expect that sort of thing from both historical tales, and secondary-world fantasy.

One reason is that the historical writing we have from bygone eras doesn’t sound anything like the way we speak now. I mean, people still have trouble deciphering Shakespeare, and he wrote in English. So we assume that, in the generic “olden times,” people spoke in this arch, highly-stylized way.

But that wasn’t the case. Written and spoken languages were very different up until the last hundred years or so. There was no attempt to capture the rhythms and verbiage of day-to-day speech in writing, because that was considered vulgar. The written word was expected to be grammatically, and socially, correct.

Which brings us to Sword Sisters, and the decision about the type of dialogue my co-author, Tara Cardinal, and I would use in it.

I’d already given this issue a lot of thought as I wrote my own Eddle LaCrosse novels (He Drank, and Saw the Spider is the most recent). Like Sword Sisters, they are secondary-world fantasies, but they’re written in a style that deliberately echoes the great noir writers like Chandler, Hammett, and Parker. So the dialogue is completely contemporary, and the characters have contemporary names like “Eddie.”

There’s a reason for this beyond mimicking a style, and it’s one that I hope keeps the stories sincere as opposed to parodies. If you want your reader to experience the same emotions as your characters, you first have to remove the obstacles separating the two. One of them is the way they speak. If your dialogue features syntax like that quote from The Conqueror, then you may succeed in reminding your reader that this story takes place somewhere other than the modern world, but you’ll have a harder time making them care.

Consider that Conqueror quote in detail. What is Genghis Khan actually trying to convey? Well, in the less-than-egalitarian fifties in which the movie was produced, he’s saying, “She’s a woman, so of course she’s sneaky.” So why can he not simply say that?

The answer is, he can. And in the fantasy I write, and like to read, he would.

When I joined Tara Cardinal to write Sword Sisters, we already had Tara’s original screenplay for the film Legend of the Red Reaper as a template for tone, style and pace. There’s very little of the arch Conqueror-style dialogue in it, and I took it as license to use a more conversational style in the novel. It’s not the same style I use in my own writing, because I’m not the only writer involved in this one. But it does allow the dialogue to flow in a realistic, contemporary way, so that the characters feel like people you might know, rather than ones you’d only read about in dusty old books.

The way people talk in stories and novels is one of the most important ways a reader gets to know them. Tara and I wanted to make it easy for readers to step into our world, so we used a style of dialogue that was open and contemporary. We hope you agree that it’s the right choice.

Sword Sisters
A Novel of the Red Reaper
Tara Cardinal and Alex Bledsoe
Ragnarok Publications, October 20, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 248 pages
Cover by Arman Akopian

Cast aside by her mother, tormented (literally) by her father, feared by humans and despised by most of her own kind, AELLA is determined not to care—not to care what they think, not to care if they like her, not to care about anything or anyone. Just so long as no one tries to touch her or imprison her again, Aella couldn't care less.

Until...he pulled an arrow from Aella's back and kissed her cheek.

Until...she carried Aella home and stood between her and a giant spider. And a rioting mob.

Until...they came to Aella looking for help.

Aella, daughter of demon and witch, must find herself once again, as she forges her own route to a destiny she doesn't want to believe. At first a hero in name alone, Aella soon discovers she has the strength and the heart to control her demonic lineage and truly assume the mantle of HERO. In her struggle, she also finds something even more valuable—friendship, as the youthful and spirited AMELIA isn't just a friend worth dying for—she's Aella's true "sword sister" and worth living for.

Based on actor/director Tara Cardinal's LEGEND OF THE RED REAPER motion picture, SWORD SISTERS is the prequel to the film, now available on DVD and download.

About Alex

Alex grew up in west Tennessee an hour north of Graceland (home of Elvis) and twenty minutes from Nutbush (birthplace of Tina Turner). He has been a reporter, editor, photographer and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman.

He is known for his Eddie LaCrosse novels (The Sword-Edged Blonde, Burn Me Deadly, Dark Jenny, Wake of the Bloody Angel and He Drank, and Saw the Spider), the novels of the Memphis vampires (Blood Groove and The Girls with Games of Blood) and the Tufa novels (The Hum and the Shiver, Wisp of a Thing and the forthcoming Long Black Curl) and his own “Tales of the Firefly Witch” series. He now lives in a Wisconsin town famous for trolls, writes before six in the morning, and tries to teach his three kids to act like they’ve been to town before.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @alexbledsoe  ~  Google+  ~  Blog

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: The Penguin Book of Witches edited by Katherine Howe and Giveaway!

The Penguin Book of Witches
Editor:  Katherine Howe
Publisher:  Penguin Classics, September 30, 2014
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
List Price: $17.00 (print)
ISBN:  9780143106180 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Chilling real-life accounts of witches, from medieval Europe through colonial America, compiled by the New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and Conversion

From a manual for witch hunters written by King James himself in 1597, to court documents from the Salem witch trials of 1692, to newspaper coverage of a woman stoned to death on the streets of Philadelphia while the Continental Congress met, The Penguin Book of Witches is a treasury of historical accounts of accused witches that sheds light on the reality behind the legends. Bringing to life stories like that of Eunice Cole, tried for attacking a teenage girl with a rock and buried with a stake through her heart; Jane Jacobs, a Bostonian so often accused of witchcraft that she took her tormentors to court on charges of slander; and Increase Mather, an exorcism-performing minister famed for his knowledge of witches, this volume provides a unique tour through the darkest history of English and North American witchcraft.

Stacey's Thoughts

There is no better time to be reading about witches than right before Halloween! The Penguin Book of Witches is not a short story collection about witches.  It is a nonfiction collection of documents dating back to 1584-1813. This is excellent supplemental reading who anyone who is fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials and witchcraft in early North America. And interesting side note: Do you know who this book is edited by? The totally awesome Katherine Howe! Not only is she an amazing author herself (The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, 2009) Howe is the direct descendant of three accused Salem Witches. So cool!

Howe is a professor and prefaces each document with a summary, which I found very helpful. Reading three hundred year old legal documents is not my forte, so I was very grateful for some assistance. This is not a day-by-day account of the Salem Trials but shows how embedded the belief in witchcraft was during those times. I was intrigued to learn that witchcraft was usually seen as a legal problem and not a social or religious problem (until Salem.) I also learned about the beliefs about witchcraft that the early Americans brought over from England.

Howe guides you through different legal cases and remarks on what was typical and atypical about each trial. There is also a wonderful section entitled “After Salem” where apologies of participants of the Trials were published. There were witchcraft trials after Salem, and I’d like to say that they weren’t as bad as the Salem Trials, but that wouldn’t be true. You become very aware of the deaths of the accused, especially by reading their words. They are no longer just names on a page or a depiction by an actor or actress. Witchcraft fascinates many people, myself included. This gave me a healthy dose of the reality of the Salem Trials and the mindset of the people of the time by also including public writings about the subject. This is a great book that's not just for Halloween and it will stay on my bookshelf permanently!

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a copy of The Penguin Book of Witches edited by Katherine Howe from Penguin Classics. US/CANADA ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on October 31, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway