Interview with Award Winning Author Lisa Brunette

me-iiI’d like to welcome back two time B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Lisa Brunette today to talk about her award winning book, Framed and Burning. Lisa was born in Santa Rosa, California, but that was only home for a year. A so-called “military brat,” she lived in nine different houses and attended nine different schools by the time she was 14. Through all of the moves, her one constant was books. She read everything, from the entire Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mystery series to her mother’s books by Daphne du Maurier and Taylor Caldwell. 

A widely published author, game writer, and journalist, Lisa has interviewed homeless women, the designer of the Batmobile, and a sex expert, to name just a few colorful characters. This experience, not to mention her own large, quirky family, led her to create some truly memorable characters in her Dreamslippers Series and other works, whether books or games.

Always a vivid dreamer, not to mention a wannabe psychic, Lisa feels perfectly at home slipping into suspects’ dreams, at least in her imagination. Her husband isn’t so sure she can’t pick up his dreams in real life, though.

With a hefty list of awards and publications to her name, Lisa now lives in a small town in Washington State, but who knows how long that will last…

Hi, Lisa! Thank you for chatting with me today. First, I HAVE to ask you how you came up with the name “Dreamslippers” for your series.

lisa-brunette-ii-bragThat’s a great question. Before I published the first book in the series, Cat in the Flock, I’d been mulling over what to call the psychic dreaming gift that my characters possess. I had used the phrase “slip into your dreams,” and one of my BETA readers, Chrysanne Westin, suggested I call it “dreamslipping.” When I released the first book with the old cover (which my husband and I designed) in July of 2014, it ran under the series title “McCormick Files,” after protagonist Cat’s last name. But when I updated with a professional cover, I decided at that point to call it the Dreamslippers Series. It’s perfect for a family of sleuths with the unique but limited ability to slip into other people’s dreams.

Tell me about Framed and Burning. By the way, I love the title.

Thank you. I agonized over the title for quite some time, testing a few with BETA readers. I settled on Framed and Burning because, like the title for book one, it contains a double entendre. Someone gets framed in the book, and there’s a lot of different kinds of burning in the book, that of the fire in the first scene but also burning ambition, passion, truth… The story opens with a fire in Mick’s studio, killing his assistant, Donnie Hines. The evidence shows its arson, and the police suspect Mick. His sister and grand-niece are PIs, and they work to clear his name.

By the way, it used to be part of my job description to name mystery games at Big Fish; I’ve named hundreds of games. It’s never easy, but it can be fun!

Will you give me a little background on Mick Travers?

Sure! He’s often the only dude in the room, since my series is very female-centric. Mick is a fellow dreamslipper, but he uses the images he picks up from other people’s dreams as inspiration for his art. His older sister, Amazing Grace, and his grand-niece, Cat McCormick, use it to solve crimes.

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How is your character(s) influenced by their setting?

Mick is very jaded after living most of his life in Miami, which can be a plastic-y, materialistic place. Grace is a dyed-in-the-wool Seattleite: politically liberal, spiritually open, self-directed, and very DIY. Cat is like a lot of people from the Midwest: practical, skeptical, grounded. But she’s also adventurous and curious, which draws her to the other two locations.

What are the habits of your protagonist?

Grace’s habits form the basis for much of Cat’s apprenticeship. Grace is a lifelong yoga devotee, a practitioner of several different spiritual paths, including Buddhism and New Thought, and she regularly meditates. In book three, she takes up a holistic, barefoot dance practice called Nia. And she does all of this in her 70s! You can tell I have a lot of fun with her. Cat is a Millennial who’s tied to her tech, never without her cell phone and adept at online research. But she allows her grandmother to take her under her wing, learning the value of yogic breathing, for example, and using it.

How long did it take to write your story, and what was your process? Did your process for this book change from Cat and the Flock?

Framed and Burning came out in a rush over two months. But that was just the first draft. I spent another six months polishing it. My process for Cat in the Flock was much different, as I took two years to craft the story, but I was working 50-70-hour weeks at my day job during that time and couldn’t concentrate on it as much as I did with Framed and Burning.

Tell me a little about the quirky Miami art world in your story. What does art mean to you, personally?

I didn’t grow up around art or museums, but as soon as I left home and was free to explore on my own, I made art discovery a priority, visiting museums in every city I went to and covering my walls with inexpensive art poster prints. In college, I made it part of my curriculum in American Studies, and I worked for a time at the St. Louis Art Museum (selling memberships), where I spent hours staring at paintings, especially in the modern and contemporary galleries, coming to think of them as my friends. My first husband was an artist who worked out of our home, so I was surrounded by paint and canvases for eleven years, with artists of all types traipsing in and out, and I acquired numerous pieces of my own through that experience.

That doesn’t really answer your question, though, does it? I guess you could say I fell in love with art on my own first—and then I fell for an artist. Even though the ex and I have been apart now for seven years, the art is very much still with me.

Who designed your book cover?

I work with Monika Younger, a super pro with more than a decade of experience designing covers for Harlequin (both their romance and mystery lines). I highly recommend her.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just launched the third book in the series, Bound to the Truth. It’s about the murder of a brilliant Seattle architect. Her widow hires Cat and Grace to investigate a man she suspects as the killer, a well-known conservative radio talk show host.

Thank you, Lisa! It was a pleasure chatting with you!

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AUTHOR WEB SITE

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A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Lisa Brunette who is the author of, Framed and Burning, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Framed and Burning, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

 indiebrag-team-member

Book Review: Dead Silence (Stillwater Trilogy #1) by Brenda Novak

dead-silenceThere’s a body buried behind a Mississippi farmhouse

Grace Montgomery knows who it is, and she knows why it happened. She was only thirteen the night it all went wrong. And now, like then, she has no choice but to keep her mouth shut.

Grace left the town of Stillwater thirteen years ago, trying to forget, trying to make good. As an assistant D.A. in Jackson, she’s finally achieved the success that was supposed to change her life. But it hasn’t so she’s come back to confront her own history. Which means returning to the farmhouse now owned by her brother and facing the people of Stillwater, a number of whom suspect the truth.

Widower Kennedy Archer is one of those people. He’s running for mayor and needs to stay as far away from Grace as possible. And yetshe’s an enigma he can’t resist. Even though her enemies are close to finding out what really happened and that could ruin them both.

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me-iiMy thoughts:

I connected with Brenda Novak a few years ago on Facebook and even though I followed her post, I hadn’t read her books. Until recently. Dead Silence is the third book I have read by her and I must say, she writes a heck of a story. Having said that, I am not a romance reader or reviewer. Sometimes I make an allowance. The story has to have more than just romance and the plot has to be solid. I do love a good crime thriller and mystery, so her stories fit that bill nicely. I also have to admire how she is not heavy on the romance but gives you realistic relationship situations.

Dead Silence is the first book in the Stillwater Trilogy and I’m really looking forward to the next book. I think what first appealed to me about this book was the setting. As a southerner myself, I am always on the lookout for stories that take place in the South. The second thing that drew my attention was the premise. A body buried on a farm and the family is trying to forget but how can they when the body is buried on their property and they know why? One of the family members Grace-who was probably affected the most-left years ago to only return and face the secrets her family tried to bury along with the body and a town who is suspicious of what happened. Now that makes for a great story!

When she returned to town, she did not expect to stay long or get find a connection in the most likely of men-Widower Kennedy Archer. I enjoyed their interaction and how they come to grips with their problems and how their relationship develops. I look forward to reading more about them in the next book and will be cheering for them!

Last but not least, I really thought Novak did a great job with the supporting characters and they really enriched the story and I thought the small town feel she gives you was perfectly told.

I rated this book three and a half stars!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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Manic Monday & Bookish Happenings

me-iiAs we all know Mondays can be pretty manic but nonetheless I was looking forward to it. Why? Because I want to share all my bookish happening for last week and over the weekend! What can be more exciting for a book blogger? Well, besides reading books and discovering new books to read. Every single day!

Today I am combining two post. Last week- due to the Holidays- I did not post Bookish Happenings. However, last week was a great Thanksgiving at indieBRAG with lots of wonderful guest post from our award winning authors. Be sure to check them out here.

In the last week and over the weekend I received several ARC’s from NetGalley and I am so excited about them. Here is the list:

  1. Bardwell’s Folly: A Love Story by Sandra Hutchinson
  2. We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
  3. The kaiser’s Last Kiss by Alan Judd
  4. Out of Reach by Elizabeth McGregor
  5. His Kidnapper’s Shoes by Maggie James.

For my reading pleasure this week I am hoping to get to, A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain. Julie is one of my favorite new authors and I have had the pleasure chatting with her about her first book last year.

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Here is a few of my fellow book blogger’s book highlights from last week! Be sure to check them out. These bloggers are dedicated to their craft of sharing stories and a big support to the book world. I highly recommend you follow their blogs. #supportbookbloggers

return-to-taylors-crossing-iiHeather’s interview with award winning author Janie Dempsey Watts at Maiden’s Court, here.

Colleen’s book review of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins at A Literary Vacation, here.

Magdalena’s book review of The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin at A Bookacholic Swede, here.

Erin’s book review of The battle of Seattle by Douglas Bond at Flashlight Commentary, here.

all-i-want-for-christmasHolly’s All I Want for Christmas…Review at 2 Kids and Tired Books, here.

And my feature Layered Pages post from last week, Wish-List 5: A little of This & A little of That, here.

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Thank you for visiting Layered Pages today. It is always a treat to be able to talk about books with you all. Be sure to stay tuned all week long for more great posts. Happy reading and God Bless.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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Cover Crush: To Marry an English Lord: Tales of Wealth and Marriage, Sex and Snobbery by Gail MacColl

to-marry-an-english-lordTo Marry an English Lord: Tales of Wealth and Marriage, Sex and Snobbery by Gail MacColl

From the Gilded Age until 1914, more than 100 American heiresses invaded Britannia and swapped dollars for titles–just like Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, the first of the Downton Abbey characters Julian Fellowes was inspired to create after reading To Marry An English Lord. Filled with vivid personalities, gossipy anecdotes, grand houses, and a wealth of period details–plus photographs, illustrations, quotes, and the finer points of Victorian and Edwardian etiquette–To Marry An English Lord is social history at its liveliest and most accessible.

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My thoughts on the cover. Title and premise:

I’ve said this before and I will say it again. I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of books and I must admit I first judge a book by its cover.

I am no means a romance reader. Having said that, I will make certain allowances to that and I think this story has much more than the usual romance we often find in books. The title and cover caught my attention. I love the elegance of the cover and the soft colors. The dress is absolutely stunning. The cover kind-of reminds me of Downton Abby a little and I do adore reading stories from the Gilded Age. When I read the premise, I thought, “Yes, this looks right up my alley.” I am definitely adding this to my wish-list.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary.

Other great book bloggers who cover crush: 

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court-coming soon

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books 

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation -Coming soon

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

Book Review: The Guests on South Battery (Tradd Street #5) by Karen White

the-guests-on-south-batteryWith her extended maternity leave at its end, Melanie Trenholm is less than thrilled to leave her new husband and beautiful twins to return to work, especially when she’s awoken by a phone call with no voice on the other end—and the uneasy feeling that the ghostly apparitions that have stayed silent for more than a year are about to invade her life once more.

 But her return to the realty office goes better than she could have hoped, with a new client eager to sell the home she recently inherited on South Battery. Most would treasure living in one of the grandest old homes in the famous historic district of Charleston, but Jayne Smith would rather sell hers as soon as possible, guaranteeing Melanie a quick commission.

Despite her stroke of luck, Melanie can’t deny that spirits—both malevolent and benign—have started to show themselves to her again. One is shrouded from sight, but appears whenever Jayne is near. Another arrives when an old cistern is discovered in Melanie’s backyard on Tradd Street.

 Melanie knows nothing good can come from unearthing the past. But some secrets refuse to stay buried….

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My Thoughts:

Old homes fascinate me. As I come across one, I often wonder about the people who lived there, what their lives were like and what the inside of the homes look like. I love visiting the historic district of Charleston! Its not often I get to. So when I discovered this series, I was thrilled! The first book, The House on Tradd Street is by far my favorite in the series. I have read the first three books and skipped over the fourth one to read The Guest on South battery. I did not do that intentionally, mind you. When this came up for review at NetGalley, I immediately requested it.

In the first couple of characters or so, I found the story to be interesting and I felt the main characters were a bit different than the first three books in the series. At first I contributed that to that fact that maybe it’s because Jack and Melanie are now married and have two children. Or that because her relationships with her mother and father have changed. But as I read on, that wasn’t the only reason the story-line had changed for me. I am sad to report it wasn’t for the good.

What bothered me the most about Melanie in this story was, she is very uptight on small things that don’t really matter and ignores things that do matter. Or maybe she is just being overly cautious and her insecurities are getting the better of her? Not entirely sure. Melanie’s personality is all over the place and her relationship/marriage with Jack wasn’t believable to me and I couldn’t figure out what they saw in each other anymore. Jack was quite changed as well but not as bad as Melanie. I didn’t like her one bit in this story. The other characters were-just- okay. I liked Melanie’s mother-Ginnette-much better.

The best parts of this story was when there was talk of the old homes and the people who lived there. Also, Jack’s research into the home of Melanie’s client they were trying to fix up and potentially sell. I enjoyed reading that most of all.

Overall, I felt this story was weaker than the first three and I found it too predictable. I had the plot all figured out half way through and I was disappointed with the ending. Hopefully there will be another book in this series and it will be stronger and less predictable.

I have rated this story, two stars.

I obtained a review copy from the publishers through NetGalley, for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Wish-List 5: A Little of This & A Little of That

Today I have a bag of mix titles on my wish-list: 5 this month. I guess you can say I have a collective taste in books! Enjoy!

Be sure to take a look at these fabulous books and check below for my Wish-List 5: Dublin Murder Squad and other great Wish-List from my fellow book bloggers below.

calico-palaceCalico Palace (Rediscovered Classics)

This thrilling story of the California gold rush is not about the forty-niners, the prospectors who came rushing to the San Francisco area in 1849, but about the men and women who were there when it all began with the first discovery of gold in 1848, when San Francisco was a village of 900 people. These were the people who went up to the hills and came back staggering under the weight of the treasure they carried, and who began transforming San Francisco from a shantytown into one of the most brilliant cities in the world.

This novel tells the unforgettable story of how these people walked into one of the most spectacular adventures in the world’s history. They saw the first samples of gold brought to the quartermaster, who said they were flakes of yellow mica. They were there when the first people who saw the gold were laughed at and called “crackbrains.” And they laid the foundation of the golden empire before the first forty-niners got there. Some of them could not meet the demands of this strange new world; others grew stronger and shared the greatness of the country they had helped build. Calico Palace is their story brought to vivid life.

the-thieves-of-threadneedle-street-the-incredible-true-story-of-the-american-forgers-who-nearly-broke-the-bank-of-englandThe Thieves of Threadneedle Street: The Incredible True Story of the American Forgers Who Nearly Broke the Bank of England 

In the summer of 1873, four American forgers went on trial at the Old Bailey ― London’s iconic law court ― for the greatest fraud the world had ever seen. The attempted crime: stealing five million dollars from the Bank of England from under the noses of its unsuspecting officials. In The Thieves of Threadneedle Street, Nicholas Booth tells the extraordinary true story of the forgers’ earliest escapades in Chicago, Louisville, and Manhattan, culminating with the heist at the world’s leading financial institution, the Bank of England. At the heart of the story is the charming criminal genius Austin Bidwell who, on the brink of escaping with his fortune, saw his luck finally run out.

They were apprehended after a manhunt across three continents. There were double crosses and miraculous escapes. There were chases across rural Ireland, through Scottish cities, across the Atlantic on ships heading toward Manhattan and ― most exotic of all ― Cuba, where the most elusive thief would eventually be captured, only to escape again. Hot on their trail was William Pinkerton, “the greatest detective in America,” scion of the famous detective agency.

With its cast of improbable villains, curious coincidences, and extraordinary adventures, it is an astounding international caper with twists and turns that often defy belief. It includes a colorful cast of supporting characters ― crooked policemen, corrupt officials, bribable warders, and love interests of varying hues of respectability: femme fatales, innocent lovers, hookers, and dupes. With access to previously unopened archives, Nicholas Booth has unearthed the greatest untold crime saga of the Victorian Era.

the-pawn-patrick-bowers-filesThe Pawn (Patrick Bowers Files) 

Special Agent Patrick Bowers had only met one man who made him truly afraid. Until now. When he’s called to North Carolina to consult on the case of an area serial killer, he finds himself in a deadly game. Cunning and lethal, the killer is always one step ahead of the law, and he’s about to strike again. It will take all of Bowers’s instincts and training to stop this man who calls himself the Illusionist. And just when the pieces start to come together, Bowers realizes they’re not quite adding up. Can he unravel the pattern and save the next victim? Or will the Illusionist win the game by taking one of his opponent’s pieces? Thrilling, chilling, and impossible to put down, The Pawn will hold suspense lovers in its iron grip until the very last page.

galway-bayGalway Bay

In a hidden Ireland where fishermen and tenant farmers find solace in their ancient faith, songs, stories, and communal celebrations, young Honora Keeley and Michael Kelly wed and start a family. Because they and their countrymen must sell both their catch and their crops to pay exorbitant rents, potatoes have become their only staple food.

But when blight destroys the potatoes three times in four years, a callous government and uncaring landlords turn a natural disaster into The Great Starvation that will kill one million. Honora and Michael vow their children will live. The family joins two million other Irish refugees–victims saving themselves–in the emigration from Ireland.

Danger and hardship await them in America. Honora, her unconventional sister Máire, and their seven sons help transform Chicago from a frontier town to the “City of the Century.” The boys go on to fight in the Civil War and enlist in the cause of Ireland’s freedom.

Spanning six generations and filled with joy, sadness, and heroism, GALWAY BAY sheds brilliant light on the ancestors of today’s forty-four million Irish Americans–and is a universal story you will never forget.

the-book-of-killowenThe Book of Killowen 

What sort of book is worth a man’s life? After a year away from working in the field, archaeologist Cormac Maguire and pathologist Nora Gavin are back in the bogs, investigating a ninth-century body found buried in the trunk of a car. They discover that the ancient corpse is not alone—pinned beneath it is the body of Benedict Kavanagh, missing for mere months and familiar to television viewers as a philosopher who enjoyed destroying his opponents in debate. Both men were viciously murdered, but centuries apart—so how did they end up buried together in the bog?

While on the case, Cormac and Nora lodge at Killowen, a nearby artists’ colony, organic farm, and sanctuary for eccentric souls. Digging deeper into the older crime, they become entangled in high-stakes intrigue encompassing Kavanagh’s death while surrounded by suspects in his ghastly murder. It seems that everyone at Killowen has some secret to protect.

Set in modern-day Ireland, The Book of Killowen reveals a new twist on the power of language—and on the eternal mysteries of good and evil.

Here are some of the wish lists from a few of my friends this month:

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired

Erin @ Flashlight Commentary

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Manic Monday: Books & More Books

me-iiAs we all know Mondays can be pretty manic but nonetheless I was looking forward to it. Why? Because I want to share all my bookish happening for the weekend! What can be more exciting for a book blogger? Well, besides reading books and discovering new books to read. Every single day!

This week is the Thanksgiving Holiday and I have so much to share with you all throughout the week. This past weekend, I was a guest at the indieBRAG Blog, sharing my Thanksgiving tradition. I want to encourage you all to read that post.On Saturday I received a new book in the mail from a book giveaway. Yay! The book is, Roma Amor by Sherry Christie. I have not read any books by her before. So I am curious about her stories.

roma-amor

For my reading pleasure- this past weekend- I read, Dead Silence (Stillwater #1) by Brenda Novak in one day! I devoured it! Great read! I am really looking forward to the next book in this Trilogy. Another book I was reading from and still am is, Ruler of the Night by Davis Morrell. Fantastic read! I am enjoying it very much and I knew I would. Morrell’s Opium-Eater (Thomas De Quincey trilogy) a Victorian mystery trilogy, is truly brilliant.

Thank you for visiting Layered Pages today. It is always a treat to be able to talk about books with you all. Be sure to stay tuned all week long for more great posts. Happy reading and God Bless.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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dead-silence

Grace Montgomery knows who it is, and she knows why it happened. She was only thirteen the night it all went wrong. And now, like then, she has no choice but to keep her mouth shut.

Grace left the town of Stillwater thirteen years ago, trying to forget, trying to make good. As an assistant D.A. in Jackson, she’s finally achieved the success that was supposed to change her life. But it hasn’t so she’s come back to confront her own history. Which means returning to the farmhouse now owned by her brother and facing the people of Stillwater, a number of whom suspect the truth.

Widower Kennedy Archer is one of those people. He’s running for mayor and needs to stay as far away from Grace as possible. And yet she’s an enigma he can’t resist. Even though her enemies are close to finding out what really happened and that could ruin them both.

stay-calm-and-support-book-bloggers