November Monthly Update: Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

Visiting the most magical place! Other than Hogwarts of course...

Visiting the most magical place! Other than Hogwarts of course...

It's finally getting a little colder at home and I can't be more thrilled to finally see some snow!  We're going to need a lot more in the mountains if we're going to actually have a ski season (big deal in Colorado).  

What have I been up to?

  • Squeeeing visiting Disney World with my family.  I did a 5k walk with my mom and ran a few races on my own!  It's pretty awesome to experience the parks with a munchkin in tow (I borrowed my nephew).
  • This month I finally go around to trying some Patricia Briggs and it was a challenge to then not scrap all my reading plans and dive into the series.  I've had these recommended for ages, but never got around to them!
  • Making some progress on the 2016 Reading Challenge - it has definitely intorduced me to some awesome female authors.  A few posted recently and a couple more upcoming!
  • I went to see "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them", did you?  I think they did an extremely good job with it.  It's kind of nice to see a movie that didn't feel the need to match a book so there was a little more creative license for new things.  Have you seen it yet?
  • Reading some graphic novels! I took a break for a while, but find them a wonderful resource to mix things up.  I read both "Boxers" and "Saints" and find myself continuously thinking about them... they address an area of history I was mostly ignorant on and has some very though-provoking concepts.

Book Haul: I've been resisting with Christmas coming up, but I did pick up a few from the library that I'm going to stay mum on until I've gotten a chance to take a look.  There are a lot of new releases coming out this month!

Literary Thoughts:  Here were some of my favorite literary articles I dug up this month!

What are the books you've been digging into?


Happy Reading!
Marisa

Writing With Humor

Good Morning! Today's guest post is brought to you by Carl Schmidt

Carl Schmidt

I’ve been sitting at my word processor for nearly an hour, alternately squirming in my chair, rubbing the back of my neck and watching the clock, hoping that somehow, some way, the Great God of Mirth will sidle up and whisper to me the secret of writing with humor—so that I can reveal it to you. After all, that’s my topic.

I’m not really sure how to proceed, but I’m not flustered; I’m pacing myself. And what’s more, I lied about it being an hour; it’s only been ten minutes…so far.

The problem with writing about humor is that the reader is geared up to be amused. This, more or less, puts the writer on the spot. It won’t be good enough to Google the topic and paste up the seven secrets of comedy writing. I read them already, and they didn’t make me laugh. People don’t laugh while they're analyzing. To paraphrase Cyndi Lauper, “People just want to have fun.” And besides, if I cut and paste all seven, I’ll get nailed for plagiarism. So I won’t go there. My mission is to make you laugh.

Now… Fear of failure has always been a great motivator for me. So I’ll get myself going with a pep talk. Picture a manic, red-faced football coach at halftime with his team down by twenty-one points, and I’m the quarterback:

“OK, wise guy,” coach Ditka yells, looking me right in the eye. “You want to sell your book, right? Then you’d better get off your duff and find a way to be funny. Fake it if you have to, but I want to hear a chuckle in the third quarter. Otherwise, the reader will figure out that you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, and what’s more, she’ll be pissed.”

Jesse Thorpe is the narrator/private detective of my mystery novel, "Dead Down East". Jesse has a cheeky sense of humor, which he allows to leak out now and again, not just because he likes to have fun, but also to maintain calm when things get perilous. The first really dicey moment for him occurs in the middle of chapter four, as he is trying to worm his way through an FBI roadblock. In the first draft, I had chosen that moment to insert a rather lengthy internal monologue, to expose the witty side of Jesse’s nature. I was having so much fun with it that by the time I was done, it was almost fifteen hundred words long. And while I liked the tension it created by suspending the dramatic moment in mid-air—for several pages—eventually I decided that it would be more effective as a prologue for the book. This way, on the very first page, the reader gets a preview of the inner workings of Jesse’s mind, a snapshot of his modus operandi and a quick peak at his girlfriend.

What follows are the first two paragraphs of that prologue. I hope it serves to demonstrate the use of humor in writing, and, most of all, I hope it tickles your funny bone.

Apologies and compliments are two remarkably effective devices for disarming adversaries in life and hecklers in bars. If you consider the socially adept people you know, you’ll see that they use these two conversational tools frequently and with ease. I remember the first time it fully dawned on me how valuable they could be.

Angele and I had been dating for a couple of weeks. Our next planned event was scheduled for Saturday night. So I was a bit surprised when she arrived unexpectedly at my place on Tuesday evening. I guess she decided that there was something that couldn’t wait until the weekend. The moment she walked through the front door, I began to suspect what that “something” was. She had a gleam in her eyes that seared me from the inside of my nimble imagination right down to my insteps. I surmised that she was either ovulating, or she had a sudden urge for a tour of the Thorpe habitat. I began to mentally review the floor plan of the house. “Now, where is my bedroom?” I thought. “I know it was here this morning.”

About the "Dead Down East":

Dead Down East

"Dead Down East", a fictional murder mystery, is both detective noir and smart screwball comedy rolled into one. Jesse Thorpe, a young private investigator operating out of Augusta, Maine, receives a mysterious phone call from a former client, Cynthia Dumais.  She begs to be rescued from an island south of Brunswick, within a mile of where William Lavoilette, the governor of Maine, was assassinated the night before. She insists that her life is in danger, but is unwilling to provide any further information. Reluctantly, Jesse goes to fetch her.

Within a week, Jesse has three separate clients, each with his, or her, own desperate need to have the murder solved. He assembles a motley team of compadres, including rock band members, a tie-dye psychic and his rousing girlfriend, Angele Boucher, to help him with the case. While the FBI and the Maine State Police investigate political motives, Jesse looks for the woman—Cherchez la Femme—as the trail draws him through the lives, and DNA, of the governor’s former mistresses.

Fresh, witty and loaded with eccentric characters, this first novel in the Jesse Thorpe Mystery Series is both clever and stylish. It’s an old-school private eye tale with inventive twists and local charm. If you enjoy a well-crafted and zesty narrative, lively banter, or take pleasure in the company of Mainers, you’ll love "Dead Down East".

Get in touch with the author at:

October Monthly Update: Have a Spooky Halloween!

Things have been a little calmer this October and the weather can't seem to decide if it's still summer or winter.  Today it's in the high 70's but last week it was in the 40's!  We have had some absolutely stunning sunrises and sunset through.  I just with that we weren't already back to the "driving to work in the dark" season.

What have I been up to?

  • Squeeeing over the Six of Crows series sequel "Crooked Kingdom"
  • I finally got a chance to check out the "A Court of Thorns and Roses" series and oh my goodness, it's a challenger to "Throne of Glass".  The second book just blew my mind!
  • Reading "Do Androids Dream of Sheep?" with my book club on Habitica.  The book is apparently the inspiration for "Blade Runner", but I haven't gotten a chance to watch the movie yet.  Based on the previews I've seen I'm somewhat curious to see what the connection is going to be.
  • Getting into the spooky season by reading "The Accident Season" which I absolutely adored.  It's one that will keep you on your toes without giving you nightmares!

Book Haul: I've resisted new books this month since I've been trying to rely more on the library.  I did however get the new "Alien Mine" the latest in the Pruxnae season that just came out!  I love Lucy Varna's stuff, highly recommended!

Literary Thoughts:  Here were some of my favorite literary articles I dug up this month!

What are the books you've been digging into?

Happy Reading!
Marisa

How to Research Historical Fiction

Good Morning! Today's guest post is brought to you by Andrew Jones: 

Yellow Hair

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. I would like to thank Marisa for allowing me to be here today to promote my latest, Yellow Hair, which documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage I write about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in my fact-based tale of fiction were real people and I use their real names. "Yellow Hair" is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century.

Now that the commercial is out of the way, we can get down to what I really came here to talk about: the research that goes into writing an historical novel or an action/adventure novel that uses an historical event as a backdrop.

I want to say that I learned the hard way how important proper research is. But it wasn’t really that hard of a lesson. In my first book, which takes place in the last half of the 19th century, I made two mistakes. I had the date of an event off by one year and I had my hero loading the wrong caliber cartridge into his Winchester rifle. I would have gone blissfully throughout life not knowing how I had erred if not for my astute fans. Both mistakes were quickly pointed out to me in reviews of the book. One guy said he would have given me five stars if not for the wrong caliber bullet mistake. I had to settle for only four stars. Lesson learned!

Before I get into telling you about the year-long research I did for "Yellow Hair", I’d like to tell you how I researched my second and third books and describe what that research entailed.

My second book was a western and the protagonist was a woman. The research took about three months. I had to know everything from women’s undergarments of the late 19th century to prison conditions for women in those days. (I sent my heroine to jail.) That kind of research was easy. Thank God for the internet. But then I had to do some real research. Molly (my protagonist) built up her cattle ranch to one of the largest in Montana, but she and her neighbors had nowhere to sell their beef. So Molly decided to drive her and her neighbors’ cattle to Abilene where she could get a good price. She put together the second largest herd on record (12,000 head) and took off for Abilene.

That’s when I had to really go to work. I wanted my readers to taste the dust on the trail. I wanted them to feel the cold water at river crossing. I wanted them to know about the dangers of the trail, from rustlers to Indians to cattle stampedes.

This is how I learned about all those things and more. First of all, I found old movies that were authentic in nature. I watched them to get a feel for the trail. Then I read books by great authors who had written about cattle drives to soak up even more of the atmosphere of a cattle drive. That was all well and good, but it still did not put me in the long days of breathing dust and being always fearful of a stampede.

That’s when I went looking for diaries written by real cowboys while they were on the trail. After that, I found obscure self-published books written by those cowboys. Then it was onto newspaper articles written at the time about large cattle drives. That’s how I had Molly herd the second largest cattle drive. I discovered that the largest was 15,000 head, driven from Texas to California in 1882.

My next book took place in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. Here new elements were added such as wolves and the extreme weather as adversaries. Dogsledding was also involved. I have seen snow only three times in my life and I have never dogsledded. I knew even less about wolves. I had to learn about those things. I had no idea what it was like to travel across a wilderness on a dogsled at seventy degrees below zero. I also had to acquire knowledge about the dogs themselves, especially the lead dog. I learned about all that by doing the same things I did for my second book. The old diaries were the most helpful. As to the gold rush, there was plenty of material in the form of self-published books by some of the participants. Some were never even published, but I found copies of them in the archives of universities and historical societies. Again, newspaper stories printed at the time were very useful. Concerning wolves . . . I read everything I could get my hands on about wolves—their habits, the pack hierarchy, the alpha male, and the different jobs or tasks the males and females have while hunting.

Now we come to "Yellow Hair". As I mentioned above, the book is about the Sioux Nation from 1805 to 1890. I had to know both points of view, the white man’s and the Sioux’s. Getting to know the whites’ take on things was easy. There are many, many books (non-fiction) that were written at the time. I even found a book written by Custer detailing his strategy for wiping out the Sioux entirely. That was hard reading. And, again, there were universities and historical societies whose archives were a great help.

As to the Sioux’s point of view, there are a few books that were dictated to newspapermen years later by the Indians that took part in the various battles that I weave into my story. I found a lot of material from Native American participants of the Little Big Horn, written twenty to thirty years after the fact.

But I wanted to immerse myself in the Sioux culture and I wanted to give them dignity by using their language wherever possible. I also wanted to introduce them by their Sioux names. So, I had to learn the Lakota language. And that wasn’t easy. There is a consortium that will teach you, but they wanted only serious students. You have to know a smattering of the language before they will even deign to let you in. I had to take a test to prove that I knew some Lakota. I failed the first time and had to go back to my Lakota dictionary and do some more studying. I got in on my second try.

I’m running out of space, so I reckon I’ll wrap it up. I hope I’ve given you a little insight into the research process. It’s time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. But it is also a blast. Every new discovery is like finding the motherlode.

I’d like to sign off with another commercial. The three books I alluded to above are:

I would like to thank Marisa once again for having me over and you good folks for tuning in.

-Andrew Joyce

About the Author

Andrew Joyce

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called "Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups" (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, "Yellow Hair". He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, "Mick Reilly".

 

September Monthly Updates

Fall Book Corner

Fall has FALLEN!

Too soon?  I don't think so, I am definitely a fan of the cooler temperatures, football being back (although, come on Irish - get your act in gear) and SKI SEASON being around the corner!  In Colorado we've already had a few snow storms up in the mountains and I am so excited to get into it.  In the mean time, I have a busy fall coming up with weddings, family events and the last minute stuff that already comes up.  

What else have I been up to?

  • Finally took that exam I've been studying for all summer!  Huzzah!

  • Re-watching the "Ocean's 11" series.  Having finished the much awaited "Empire of Storms" by Sarah J. Maas had me thinking about how complex plot lines manage to come together.  

  • Reading the archive of webcomic "Scandinavia and the World", which is a funny commentary on the state of the world, history and shenanigans from a Scandinavian viewpoint.  Each character represents a country, but be fore-warned, it can be a little risque at times.

Book Haul:

Giveaways! 

I haven't done a proper giveaway in a while - what would you most like to get?  Books, bookish swag or a giftcard?

What are the books you've been digging into?

Happy Reading!
Marisa

August Monthly Updates

Old Crow Medicine Show at Red Rocks

Old Crow Medicine Show at Red Rocks

I'm back!

After my month-long hiatus to focus on life, it's good to get back into my reading schedule.  While I was away I re-listened to the Harry Potter books during my commute to work so be prepared for some official reviews on those coming up!  I was rereading the series in advance of the release of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" - have you read it yet??  What were your thoughts?  See my spoiler-free review here.  Once the play has been out a little longer, I am planning on doing a deep dive on my thoughts.

What else have I been up to?

  • Studying!  I am thinking about going back to school and have been studying like a fiend for the standardized entrance exam.  
  • Watching the Olympics of course!  I haven't been able to watch as  much as I'd like with my study schedule, but I've certainly been hitting up the highlights whenever I can.  I think this year there has been more coverage of some of the smaller sports, but perhaps that's just selective memory.
  • Re-reading the archive slice of life webcomic "The Devil's Panties", which is a great couple minute escape when I can't committ to getting into a book.  It's a comic about everyday life, frustrations of moving and lots of great nerd content.  No, it's not what the title sounds like.

Book Haul:

Of course since I have been too busy to keep up with reading, I've been spending too much time adding books to the "To Be Read" pile.  My most recent additions are:

What are the books you've been digging into?

Happy Reading!
Marisa

July Monthly Updates

As you may have seen from my Facebook Update, for the first time in a year and a half of running Reading to Distraction I'm going to take a short break for a month.  I am currently in the process of studying for a big test and I decided that something had to give.  Never you fear though, I am 100% going to be coming back mid-August!  I already have some great reviews in mind...

In the mean time, I will still be posting articles and literary-themed things that I find on Facebook / Twitter.  Let me know if you find anything fantastic!

That's all for now!  See you next month,
Marisa

June Monthly Updates

It's been really quiet...

But that doesn't mean a lack of activity! I apologize the lack of updates in, well a very long time.  I've been up to a bunch!  Last year I had a few changes going on work-wise, savoring my move to Colorado (living outside) and that meant that I just didn't manage to keep up with the Reading Challenge updates.  Never you fear, if you want to hear some of my thoughts, all of the challenge discussions from last year were posted and can be found in the titles here!  

What else has been going on?

In February I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro as part of a charity fundraiser with work (you can see me in the neon blue hat on the right), which was one of the biggest and most amazing adventures I've ever done.  Mountain conquering is definitely something I'll continue.  I have been training for a bunch (read: way too many) running and biking races this summer and, naturally, reading like a fiend!  I just got back from vacation a week ago and I spent that time re-reading some of my long-time favorites by Tamora Pierce.

The Book Shelf

This year, my favorites so far have been finally reading the "Throne of Glass" and "Cinder" series as well as some new releases like "All the Feels", "The Three Body Problem" and "The Summer Guest".

I'm most looking forward to tacking some of the books in **drumroll please** the2016 Reading Challenge, which was inspired by BookRiot's "100 Must-Read Sci-Fi / Fantasy Books by Female Authors" article.  There are a TON on here that I have been meaning to read and way more than I've never even heard of!  Last year's challenge introduced me into some amazing books so I'm looking forward to some additional discovery.

That's all for now!  See you next month,
Marisa

Ten Most Delicious Desserts Inspired by Novels

Hello All! Today's guest post is brought to you by Andrea Lochen

 As an avid reader with a major sweet tooth, I love when authors include the recipes for the yummy desserts they’ve made me drool over throughout their book.  It’s a marriage of two of my favorite activities—reading and baking!  And if you’re a book club member, what better treat to bring to your meeting than a dessert straight out of the novel?  Here are ten of my favorite book-inspired desserts!

1) Southern Caramel Cake from "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett 

The Help

Who hasn’t wanted to try a bite of the scrumptious-sounding caramel cake that Minny makes in "The Help"?  (Maybe not so much her chocolate pie, however!)  Though Stockett didn’t include the recipe in the back of her book, this food blog has the The Junior League of Memphis Cookbook recipe that supposedly inspired her. 

http://scrumpdillyicious.blogspot.com/2011/03/minnies-caramel-cake-from-help.html

 

2) Coconut Cake from Amy E. Reichert’s "The Coincidence of Coconut Cake"

The Coincidence of the Coconut Cake

The titular coconut cake in Reichert’s "The Coincidence of Coconut Cake" earned its place on the cover of this heartwarming book. To the main character, Lou, baking her grandmother’s cake is the ultimate expression of love. In the book, those who get to eat it earned their slice, which certainly made me crave a piece all the more!

http://www.tipsonlifeandlove.com/recipes-2/grandma-luellas-coconut-cake-recipe

 

3) Crème Caramel Flan from Anita Hughes’ "Island in the Sea: A Majorca Love Story"

Island of the Sea

In Hughes’ newest novel set in Spain, she describes how Majorca's restaurants serve a mouthwatering variety of delicious fresh fish and locally grown vegetables and how many diners like to end the meal with a dessert that satisfies any sweet tooth while not being heavy or cloying.  This creme caramel flan recipe certainly does the trick!

http://www.a2zmallorca.com/food_drink/915.htm

 

4) Lemon Cream Cake from Juliette Fay’s "Shelter Me"

Shelter Me.jpg

Fay introduces the concept of “pology cake” in her first novel, "Shelter Me", as something you bake for someone you’ve wronged in the hopes of that person forgiving you.  Though according to Fay, it doesn’t need to be a particular kind of cake, her recipe for lemon cream cake in the back of the book and on her author website sounds fabulous! 

http://juliettefay.com/pology-cake-bake-as-you-see-fit/

 

5) Peanut butter bars from "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" by J. Ryan Stradal

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Though there are several delicious dishes described in Stradal’s debut novel about Midwestern foodie culture, it was the blue-prize winning peanut butter bars recipe from Lutheran church lady, Pat, that caught my eye.  I made this for my book club and these chocolate-frosted bars are just as decadent as they sound!   

http://www.readthespirit.com/feed-the-spirit/peanut-butter-bars/

 

6) Thumbprint Cookies with Jam from Kelly Simmons’ "One More Day"

One More Day

Baking figures prominently in Kelly Simmons’ book because in "One More Day", the main character, Carrie Morgan, bakes with her grandmother, as she did when she was a little girl. However, it's not clear whether her grandmother is dead or alive!  These thumbprint jam cookies look like just the thing to bake when you’re in a nostalgic mood (or simply in the mood for something buttery and sweet)!

http://kellyasimmons.blogspot.com/2016/02/baking-reading-remembering.html

7) Mantecadas from Tina Ann Forkner’s "Ruby Among Us"

Ruby Among Us

In "Ruby Among Us" by Tina Ann Forkner, Kitty and her granddaughter Lucy spend a lot of time together talking over cookies and tea. Lucy even has a special tea cup that she drinks out of with her grandmother Kitty who is keeping a lot of secrets about Lucy’s past.  Below is a link to Kitty’s secret recipe for Lucy’s favorite cookie, Mantecadas.  Yum!

https://tinaannforkner.wordpress.com/novel-recipes/

 

8) Nanaimo Bars from "Miracle Beach" by Erin Celello

Miracle Beach

Nanaimo Bars are served in the cafeterias of the ferry boats between Vancouver Island and mainland Canada.  In "Miracle Beach", when main characters Magda and Jack come to the Island, they fall in love with the sinfully sweet bars.  Author Erin Celello testifies that they’re amazing!

http://www.nanaimo.ca/EN/main/visitors/NanaimoBars.html

 

9) Damascus' Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake from "The River Witch" by Kimberly Brock

The River Witch

In "The River Witch", a family feast brings an estranged southern family together. When ten-year-old Damascus Trezevant’s summer ends with a bounty of pumpkins, she sets out to heal deep wounds with a sweet, old recipe for Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake and faith in the magic of a mother’s love.  You won’t be sorry you tried this recipe! 

http://kimberlybrockbooks.com/damascus-pumpkin-spice-pound-cake/

 

10) The Best Chocolate Cake Ever from "The Repeat Year" by Andrea Lochen

The Repeat Year

What dessert list is complete without a delectable chocolate cake?  In "The Repeat Year" main character Olive is named after her maternal grandmother who passed away the week before she was born.  In addition to her grandma’s name, Olive also inherited her recipe for the “best chocolate cake ever” which her mom bakes as a peace offering for their family in a time of major transition.

http://addapinch.com/cooking/the-best-chocolate-cake-recipe-ever/

What are your favorite recipes inspired by novels?  Comment below! 

About the Author

Andrea Lochen is the author of two novels, "Imaginary Things" and "The Repeat Year".  She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and her BA in English at the University of Wisconsin.  Since 2008, she has taught undergraduate writing at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha.  When she isn’t teaching, reading, or baking, she is hard at work on her third novel.  To learn more about her, visit her website: www.andrealochen.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures from the Caribbean’s Dark Side

Good Morning! Today's guest post comes from Chris Rogers!

What could be more romantic, I wondered, than sailing the Caribbean the way it was done a hundred years ago, before honking big ocean liners adulterated the experience into a noisy floating Vegas? I wasn’t yet a novelist, but I was aspiring and searching for a perfect setting, so I booked passage on a four-masted schooner that sailed from Saint Martin island. That trip changed my life perspective forever.

Growing up in Houston, I rarely communed with Nature. Cities, despite their efforts with public parks and other green spaces, tend to kick Nature to the curb. Not only are we insulated into air-conditioned buildings, when we do venture outdoors, Nature cowers. Constant traffic noise quashes Nature’s gentler sounds, while odors from diesel exhaust and unwashed dumpsters choke out more agreeable scents of magnolia or honeysuckle. Eventually, I realized taste had become my prevalent sensory pleasure, food and drink my go-to way to daily unwind.

That first day at sea I had no idea what to expect. We were told to be on deck at first bell to hoist the sails. There I was with my camera, hoping to catch some quick shots. But no.

“All hands on the sheets!” So I jumped in line and grabbed hold of a thick rope. “Pull!” And we pulled.

The sweet smell of ocean air was already filling this city dweller with a sense of freedom and adventure. “Pull!” It must have been the same for my neighbors up and down the line, because we were smiling at one another, caught up in the heady camaraderie of shared effort. “Pull!” Then the sails began to belly out in the wind with a soft but resilient popping sound—and a recollection from my youth came to me of bed sheets on a clothes line catching a breeze—and the ship slowly stirred beneath our feet.

Boat

Quietly, languidly gliding over the waves, we were at sail. Some people wrinkle their noses at the wail of bagpipes, but at that moment, on that ship, among the scent and sounds of the ocean, “Amazing Grace” drifted hauntingly on the air, and I felt my eyes smart with tears of astonishing contentment. Then all hell broke loose.

Pirates swarmed the deck. Actually, there were only two, but one had a huge sword, the other a huge pistol. Shots and curses rang out, all in fun, of course. Before long, except for the crew charged with keep us on course, we were all at breakfast in the dining hall. Even the “old salts,” passengers who’d sailed “barefoot” on previous cruises, were clearly enjoying the day. As for me, I’d found the setting for my romance novel.

In fact, I wrote three novels before realizing that romance was not my strong suit. Glowing rejections told me they contained too much mystery and suspense, not enough smooching. Considering that my favorite books had always been mystery, suspense, science fiction and dark fantasy, the news didn’t land as a complete surprise. My first published suspense novel shared nothing of that setting that had so captured my heart, nor did my second or my sixth.

When the notion of immortality caught hold of my imagination, it somehow linked with the pirate farce of my single tall-ship experience, and Captain Cord McKinsey was born. While I had no desire to write an entire novel set in 17th century piracy, I did want to dip into the flavor of that milieu, so I promptly cursed Captain McKinsey to spend eternity on his ship and brought them both into the present. What is a goodhearted pirate to do in the 21st century Caribbean but offer his vessel for island to island cruises?

Unfortunately, his cursed ship tends to attract passengers with paranormal problems that land solidly on McKinsey’s shoulders. With each cruise, adventures emerge from the dark side. He knows they will come but never knows precisely what dangers to expect until they’re upon him.

Pirates are intriguing to us, I think, because they’re the epitome of free spirits, yet they operate according to a true democratic structure. A ship’s captain can be voted out of office if he (or she) doesn’t measure up. Overall, however, the most intriguing part of the story for me is Cord McKinsey’s immortality. Most of us think living forever would be great, but would it?

About the Book:

Paradise Cursed ebook cover.jpg

Captain Cord McKinsey, a pirate cursed in 1716 for doing a good deed, now operates his schooner, the Sarah Jane, as a cruise ship. Doomed to remain effectively ship-bound and within the Caribbean waters, Cord, 34, has often reinvented himself and his ship over these near 300 years.  

Though long despaired of ever breaking his curse, he becomes entwined in solving similar problems for passengers, problems that require extraordinary solutions. When his new Jamaican first mate, Ayanna, confesses she has been cursed by a Bokor, Cord agrees to help her locate a powerful shaman.

But the Bokor’s plan is more heinous and far-reaching than anyone suspects. The lovely Ayanna fails to mention that her mind and body are changing, taking form as a ravenous reptile. Even with the help of a psychic passenger, Cord may lose the people he cares for as well as his ship, the only square footage on land or sea where pain is not his constant companion.

Chris Rogers, best known for her novels of pure suspense, has previously confined any supernatural excursions to short stories featured in her Death Edge anthologies. In "Paradise Cursed", Rogers gives imagination full rein to explore life’s darker mysteries.

About the Author:

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Chris became a writer the easy way: She read voraciously and filled blank pages with drivel until her fingers cramped and her brain defected. Eventually, she learned to craft a decipherable sentence. Author of the Dixie Flannigan series, Bitch Factor, Rage Factor, Chill Factor and Slice of Life, Chris has published stories and essays in, among others, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Writer's Digest.

While continuing to explore the literary venue, Chris inevitably embraced the creative form of paint on canvas, which allows her narrative flair and graphic origins to unfold in unison. While creating new canvases, she also participates in the design of her book covers. Her paintings can be found in private and corporate collections.

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