Introducing Book Bestie, Bianca M. Schwarz

Bianca M Schwarz was born in Germany, spent her formative years in London, has a US passport and considers herself a world citizen. She lives in Los Angeles because that’s where they make movies and she used to work on them. She writes novels because that’s kind of like making a movie in people’s heads and because she just loves books. Bianca has one son, because that’s all she can handle and she tolerates her husband because, well, she loves him and there is no help for that.

After publishing A Thing Of Beauty with Penner Publishing in October of 2015, she spent some time figuring out how to promote a book. She made some friends and sold some books, but mostly wasted a lot of time on social media. Eventually she threw up her hands in despair and went back to her writing desk.

Since then, Bianca has completed the second Sir Henry mystery, She Walks In Beauty, and is currently working on a related novella and the third big mystery in the series. She also wrote a short story for the anthology Déjà You, to be published by Emerald Lily Publishing on May 30, 2017. Another short story, Wicked House, will be published later this year.

beauty

Hmm, the above bio gives you a snapshot of  the writer Bianca M Schwarz and what she is doing, but it tells you very little about me, or how and why I came to be me. I’m supposed to write a blog to introduce myself to you, my readers and potential readers. So since you already know where I was born, where I live and what I’m working on, I guess I’ll tell you about the things I love, the things that inspire me, the things I dream of.

I feel at home in the world of art and photography, but my first and most enduring love is for stories. Books, movies and the theatre, they all have the potential to thrill me with a well told story. I like to be put into the scene with visual descriptions of time, place and the characters. I try to do that in my stories. I spend endless hours researching the everyday details of life in a bygone era and then do my best to create that picture in the minds eye of my readers. I set my stories in places I have been to so I can describe them in the detail I deem necessary. It’s all part of creating that movie in peoples heads.

Nature always has the power to inspire me.  My landscape photography is my way of honoring nature. Our planet is truly beautiful and in need of our care, love and protection. I also go for long walks in the green spaces around LA, and let my characters loose in my head whilst I do.

I love music and absolutely adore finding it in a lyrical description or a poetic line, but always in the service of telling the story. Less is more, they say, and I agree. I always know when I have found a character’s voice, their dialogue begins to have it’s own rhythm and as the characters get to know each other, there will be rhythmic counterpoints. I love it when my characters start chatting in my head and I can really hear the cadence of their speech. It truly is music to my ears. I also assign melodies to them, like they do in movies sometimes.

My own taste in music is eclectic. I’m mostly an Indie Rock chick with a leaning towards Jazz and a deep appreciation for classical music, but I believe that good music transcends genre. For the second Sir Henry Mystery I listened to a lot of classical piano music and old English folk songs, but because I can’t expect my readers to know the pieces of music I describe or I have my characters play, I use it sparingly and hope that they will use my suggestions for the sound track when it comes to making a movie out of my novels.

And that brings me to one of my long-term dreams. I dream of seeing the movie I had playing in my head when I wrote A Thing Of Beauty, or any of my other stories, come to life on the screen. It would also bring me full circle to the moment I saw Wim Wenders’ movie The State Of Things and realized that I wanted to tell stories like that. I chose film as my first medium, mostly because I’m horribly dyslexic. It somehow seemed impossible for someone who has issues with such a basic element of language as spelling, to become a writer of novels. Writing my own projects for film seemed less intimidating.  I’m happy to report that I no longer harbor such scruples.

My other dreams are of a more practical nature. I dream of  having a room just for writing where I can shut the door and no one is allowed to disturb me when I’m working. I also dream of making enough money from writing to move to a cottage overlooking the ocean. And I would dearly love to travel again. I have been lucky enough to have lived in three different countries on two continents. I have traveled quite extensively in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, but there is still much of the world to explore.

Contact Info

www.biancamschwarz.com

Twitter: @schwarzbianca1

Facebook: @BiancaMSchwarzAuthor

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Introducing Book Bestie, Jamie McLachlan

As some of you may know, I’m Jamie McLachlan—Canadian author of the Memory Collector Series: Mind of the Phoenix (an Amazon Bestseller in Dark Fantasy), Pawn of the Phoenix, and Rise of the Phoenix. The Memory Collector Series follows Moira and Detective Keenan Edwards as they search for the Phoenix, a serial killer intent on eliminating the Elite and freeing the empaths. Moira, an empath and slave to the Elite, must decide how much her freedom is worth and what she’s willing to sacrifice in order to attain it.

I’m delighted to be a part of Book Besties, and I can still remember the first time we reached out to one another. It’s been quite the journey, and I’m glad I got to share it with these lovely authors. The theme and title of Déjà You: Stories of Second Chances came easily to us, while the cover took us a little longer to find one that suited all of our stories. And the actual stories? Well, to be honest, at first I wasn’t sure what to write. I’m used to creating stories that span over more than one novel with intricate plotlines, mystery in any form, some romance, and fantasy. I’ve only written a few short stories, most of which were written years ago.

So, naturally, I went into panic mode. Amanda, Bianca, Cathie, and Kelly all had their ideas formed, and some of them had even started writing. Not to mention I was already overwhelmed with the task of finishing writing and editing Rise of the Phoenix. But part of being a writer is stepping out of your boundaries. Eventually an idea came to mind, and I ran with it. What originally started as a desire to twist the Beauty and the Beast story morphed into something else. So while it’s different from my usual works, “The Eyes of the Heart” still contains the key elements: a strong female protagonist, a hint of the fantastical, and a little steaminess between the two characters.

Here’s an excerpt from “The Eyes of the Heart.”

He swung her arm left and pressed her fingers into a glob of paint. The cool substance pooled around her fingertips and sent a thrill of exhilaration through her. Her mouth parted, but no words of admonishment left her lips. Beneath the musky hot air and paint fumes, Reid’s earthy scent wrapped around her.

            “And you don’t need to paint with brushes.” He lifted her hand and pressed her fingers into the canvas. “You can use your hands. Create something new, something no one has ever seen before. Or you can simply paint for yourself.”

            Reid stretched his hand against hers, weaving his fingers between hers.

            His breath stirred the hair by her ear as he whispered a proclamation. “If I could give you back your sight, I would.”

            His words fell around her, unheard. Heat emanated from his chest and pressed into her back, adding to the inferno burning inside her. Cool air caressed her neck and raised the small hairs on her skin as he exhaled. His hand, large and rough, covered her dainty one. He slid their hands across the canvas, spreading the paint. A streak of light shot across her vision and colour shimmered before her eyes. An electric blue. Rosalina sucked in air through her teeth, mesmerized by the sight. Impossible.

In addition to novels and short stories, I dabble in poetry—some of which can be found on my website. When not writing, I enjoy reading, exploring various crafts, spending time with my husband and son—and looking forward to the little one soon to come!—and letting my imagination roam with the help of great music. Most of the books on my TBR list are of the fantasy variety, though I do sometimes branch out when I have the time. I love creating things, so my house is filled with home-made home décor. Some other activities I enjoy are scrapbooking, quilting, photography, and attempting gardening. And while a lot of authors claim coffee to be their fuel, mine is music. Nothing like a beautiful song to motivate and inspire me to write.

So with that, I’ll leave you with one of the songs that helped me write “The Eyes of the Heart.”

“Still Falling for You” by Ellie Goulding.

Introducing Book Bestie, Amanda Linsmeier

Hi there! Some of you may know me from before joining Book Besties, but for those of you who don’t, let me introduce myself. My name is Amanda and my debut novel Ditch Flowers was released in September, 2015, by Penner Publishing. I have since self-published six short story e-books. I love writing Women’s Fiction and various forms of fantasy. My short story collection will be released in spring of 2017 and I’ve been busy building up the stories for that book for a while now.

I’m thrilled to be a part of Book Besties and excited to share more about our collection of second chance stories. I only have about 2,000 words written in my story so far, but I’m having fun getting to know the characters and figure out the plot. At this point I can tell you it’s a bittersweet love story about two lovers who are separated by death and meet again—in the afterlife. It’s (tentatively) called Joy & Sorrow and the main characters are Imogen and Grady. It takes place, in parts, in a rustic cabin in the woods where they’ve begun to build a life together, until Grady’s physical existence is cut short in a tragic accident. I don’t want to give away any more, but I hope I’ve given you enough of an idea of what my story will be about.

When I’m not reading or writing my own stories, I work part-time at my local library. My family and I live in a cozy home in the country and I generally write when everyone is asleep (and the house is quiet!) but I never seem to get enough time (who does??). My favorite time to write, though, is in mid-morning, with a candle, some music in the background, and a big old coffee within arm’s reach. I usually work on several projects at a time and I’m mostly a pantser, but I usually have a paragraph to start brainstorming my ideas. I’m seeking traditional publication for a completed witch novel, and am revising a middle-grade fairytale retelling right now. At the same time, like I said before, I’m getting ready to publish a short story collection on my own. Whew!

As for already published work, Ditch Flowers is a novel about a woman suffering from recurrent pregnancy loss, who begins working at a daycare and meets a little boy who looks suspiciously like her beloved husband. She has to discover if it’s a case of infidelity or just her imagination. It took me a long time to write, and a long time to get published, and I’m pleased to share it became an Amazon bestseller in four categories this summer! Besides novels, I really enjoy reading and writing short stories, sometimes extremely short! Just this week I released my sixth short story of the year, called Sonja Uncaged. It’s available on Amazon, Smashwords, and soon to be Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo. Here’s more about that:

A short story about a lonely young woman riddled with panic attacks and agoraphobia. Sonja’s only friends are her fat cat Louie, and her new bird Phinny. Despite her crush on her mailman Ben, she is unable to form relationships because of her crippling anxiety. And then one day, everything changes. Sonja wakes up inside her canary’s cage. She and her bird have switched bodies. Sonja is now a human in a bird’s body, unable to speak, barely able to fly. Phinny is mute as a human, even more terrified to leave the apartment than Sonja was, and fascinated and yet still terrified of fat Louie the cat. But before long, the story shifts even odder, and Ben the mailman and Louie find themselves in their own conundrum. Can a cat and a bird fall in love? Can a woman stuck inside a bird’s body learn to love her life in a cage of her own making, or will she force herself to leave it and truly fly beyond what she thought ever possible? Sonja Uncaged is a story of longing, of fear, and the kind of love that makes us spread our wings, and fly

And read an excerpt:

The bird was a gift. Kind of.

I’d had dogs as pets before, and six years ago acquired a large, gray cat from the animal shelter, but birds were new territory for me.

“You’ll love having a bird,” my neighbor Constance told me. She was a singer—a beautiful singer with tawny skin and lips she painted merlot, which made her teeth flash whiter than white when she smiled. She wore printed dresses and tall heels, and had gotten a gig in a Broadway show. It was her big break, and she was moving closer to the city. She couldn’t bring the little bird with her. When she’d asked if I’d like her, for free, all supplies included, I’d said yes without hesitating. It was very unlike me. Hesitation was my middle name. And if Hesitation was my middle name, FEAR was my first. Capital letters. FEAR Hesitation Morris.

“I’m sad to be leaving her,” Constance said with a sincere frown. “But I know you’ll give her a good home. You’ll love her, Sonja. Sing with her. That’s what I do.”

“Mm.” Nodding in a non-committal way, I tried not to look as though I were second-guessing this all.

I was no singer, and as far as loving a bird went, I had my doubts, though I suspected I’d like her well enough. However, I couldn’t find fault with more company. Besides, I’d always liked birds in nature, and this was a sweet-faced little canary who trilled in her cage. It wasn’t a bad gift…or, um, donation. Scooting a stack of books and squat, green plant to the side, I set the bird’s cage in the middle of the antique pedestal table in my living room. It looked perfectly at home there, amidst the vintage, old-lady chic décor I’d mostly inherited with the apartment.

“Wait,” I said, as Constance left quickly, possibly afraid I’d change my mind and the spontaneous decision to accept the bird. “What’s her name? Does she…have one?”

“Of course.” She laughed. “Her name is Phinny.”

When the door closed, the bird stopped singing, slanted her head to one side, and assessed me.

“Well, hello, Phinny,” I said, awkwardly. And then I laughed. Why was I nervous about a bird? “Nice to meet you. I’m Sonja.”

And she opened her beak and sang again.

* * * *

Sometimes, I called her Phin, and she cocked her head and hopped as if she approved of the plucky nickname. When I opened the door of the cage and let her fly free, she stayed high, near the moldings of my old apartment’s ceiling, afraid to get too close to Louie. He, I watched with caution, lest he somehow manage to catch her, despite being a rather hefty cat with a sagging belly, and, I suspected, less-than-stellar hunting skills.

In time, we fell into a rhythm.

For a long time, it was just the three of us. The girl, the cat, the bird.

* * * *

I quickly grew accustomed to having a bird, and Louie loved to watch Phinny from his perch on the back of my armchair, or from the windowsill. She eyed him warily, and flapped away in fright if he got too close. If he heaved his sturdy self up onto the table where I’d placed her cage, I’d give him a healthy squirt of water from a spray bottle I kept nearby. Not only did I become protective of my little bird, but I looked to her for comfort. When I was sad, or bored, I liked to fold myself up in the armchair next to her table and peer into her cage, watching how she moved and how she watched me in return. Sometimes, she would sing and I’d mimic the tune, although it was just to show her I was listening, not so much to prove my skills at birdsong. Occasionally, when I took my place in the chair with a book or sketchpad, Louie sat on my lap, and I stroked his short, thick fur while he kneaded my chest. But whenever Phinny sang, even Louie stopped to listen, and the whole apartment became quiet. The outside, bustling city stilled, and everything seemed to make sense. The fear in my heart subsided, and I was able to breathe deeply.

I did so love to hear her sing.

* * * *

Thanks for reading a little bit about me and my stories! Stay tuned for another introduction to our third Book Bestie soon.

An Introduction to Book Besties Author, Kelly Cain

One day I decided to sit down and write a book. I’d never thought about writing before, didn’t even really like it all that much. I was a business major in college, only taking the requisite English and literature classes required for graduation. Sure, I wrote essays, term papers, book reports, and the like. Not fun, although I didn’t mind the book reports so much. Those allowed me to read. Now there’s something I really did like to do. I read during car rides, sitting by the pool, waiting for class, waiting on a mall bench while my friends shopped – you get the idea. After years of reading, I decided I could write. I sat down and started, and six weeks later I’d written the first draft for my debut novel, Altered. A few months after what I considered editing (removing/correcting erroneous punctuation and grammar), I sent it out to a publisher, and it was accepted and published.  As I met with and talked with other authors, I found out this is not the normal routine for getting published. I have since found that out on a personal level. A few months after completing Altered, I sat down and wrote another novel, Scale Steps, in about two months. No takers on Scale Steps, and after working with a Penner (my publisher for Altered) editor and knowing what actual editing is, it needs an extensive overhaul. I’ve since published a short story, Connections, and am in the process of writing two novels (one or both are part of a series), two short stories, and a screenplay. Writing? Who knew it would become my calling.

If forced, I can write any hour day or night, but my preference is twilight. I seem to be most creative and creatively focused. I can write until late at night, although most times I have to cut myself off since I have a day job.

By and large, I’m a pantser, not a plotter. When writing my first two novels and the one short story, I pants my way through. I had a general idea of what the story was and where I wanted it to go although that usually changed once I started writing. It’s cliché, but the characters really do take control and write their own stories. My latest novel effort is something else though. I’m venturing into fantasy, and about 10,000 words in, I realized I couldn’t continue riding by the seat of my pants. With fantasy, you sort of have to know what the details are in order to weave them together in a sensible way. I had to stop and really flesh out the story. I’m still not sure what’s going to happen exactly, but I have a better sense of the structure, and I absolutely know the long game, especially since it’s a series.

I live in the suburbs of Houston, so most of my stories take place in and around Houston. Even my current fantasy manuscript is set in the fictional town of Spring Oaks (Ha! I live in Spring). I’ve also lived in Northern (born and raised whoot!) and Southern California, and both of those places showed up in Altered.

I tend to put a lot of cooking in my books because I love to cook and eat, especially Creole food. I have several book recipes listed on my website, and I expect to add plenty more. Being a huge fan of the Diana Gabaldon book series, Outlander, I submitted two recipes to the Cooklander* cookbook, and both were accepted. Maybe one day I’ll even do a cookbook myself. Who knows?

I love all my characters, well most of them, but Andrew from Scale Steps was the most fun to write. He and the main character, Faith, meet in Scotland (he’s Scottish, she’s American), and spend a week together while she’s on vacation. I loved researching where they would go for fun, especially given they’re both pretty outdoorsy, and listening to hours of Sam Heughan interviews to get the accent down. Andrew is a celebrity, but super down-to-earth and sweet. And he’ll do anything to get his girl.

Another character I would like to explore more is Rob from Connections. Because it’s a short story, we don’t get a whole lot of face-time with Rob, but he’s a great guy who has his stuff together. Plus, he’s a tattooed nerd… Is there really anything else to say? Here’s a short excerpt from Connections: A steamy short story:

I walk over to the bed and sit, unzipping my boots.

He watches me carefully, and I pat the space next to me. “I think you promised me a look at your tattoos.”

As he strips off his sweater and the T-shirt underneath, he walks slowly towards me, jeans slung low on his hips, allowing me to take in the full effect.

“God, you’re the hottest nerd I’ve ever seen.”

That brings a smile to his face, and he sits next to me on the bed. With my hands, I encourage him to turn away so I can see his perfectly muscled back with some sort of shield covering the top half. On the arm that doesn’t have the sleeve, there’s a tattoo of computer code on the inside of his well-defined bicep.

I look at his back again and try to puzzle out what it is. Finally I just ask, “What is it?”

“It’s a Hylian Shield.”

Since that doesn’t clear anything up for me, I lean forward and wrap my arms around him, kissing the smooth skin of his back.

He emits a small groan and puts his hands on top of mine, before turning towards me. “I think turnabout is fair play.” He smiles devilishly at me.


I’m looking forward to the publication of Déjà You because I’ve formed some great friendships with a group of really talented authors, and this collection will feature some incredible short stories. For my part, I’m including one of two short stories:

High School Hate – A couple has a terrible breakup in high school, and continue that trend over the next few years. Will they have a second chance at love when they meet at their high school reunion, or will they continue to make each other’s lives miserable?

We’ll Always Have Oahu – A young woman goes on a high school graduation trip with her friends to Hawaii and meets a handsome Navy sailor. She herself is slated to go to the Army, but after a whirlwind romance, he wants her to rethink her choices.

Look for Déjà You Spring 2017.

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*Proceeds of Cooklander go to charity:

  • Bloodwise – Formerly known as Leukemia & Lymphoma Research, is the UK’s biggest blood cancer charity. Working to beat, treat, cure and prevent blood cancers. Bloodwise researches, helps, campaigns, shares learning and raises money. Sam Heughan, who plays Jamie Fraser in Starz series Outlander, supports Bloodwise. See https://bloodwise.org.uk/ for more information or to make a direct donation to this organization.
  • NPH USA – supports Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (Spanish for “our little Brothers & sister”) raising children and transforming the lives of more than 3,400 orphaned, abandoned & disadvantaged children, in 9 countries, by providing shelter, food, clothing, healthcare, and education, in a Christian family environment, based on unconditional acceptance, love, sharing, working and responsibility. Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander book series, supports NPH USA. See https://www.nphusa.org/ for more information or to make direct donation to this organization.
  • World Child Cancer – Their mission is to improve cancer diagnosis, treatment and care for children across the developing world. Caitriona Balfe, who plays Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser on Starz Outlander, is the patron of World Child Cancer. See http://www.worldchildcancer.org/ for more information or to make a direct donation to the organization

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