Monday, October 3, 2022

THE ORCHID TATTOO by author CARLA DAMRON (out September 30th!)

Crime fiction that makes a difference: In The Orchid Tattoo, award-winning author Carla Damron delves into the disturbing world of human trafficking. 

Social worker Georgia Thayer can balance her own mental illness with the demands of an impossible job. Mostly. But when her sister vanishes in the dead of night, her desperate quest to find Peyton takes her into the tentacles of a human trafficking network-where she encounters a young victim called "Kitten."

Kitten is determined to escape. She won't be trapped like the others. She won't sell her soul like Lillian, victim-turned-madam, feeding the dark appetites of international business moguls and government leaders. But the Estate won't let her out of its lethal grip, and her attempts at freedom threaten her very life.

Aided by Kitten and, at times, by the voices in her head, Georgia maneuvers to bring down the kingpin of Estate and expose its dark secrets, but her efforts place her-and the few people she allows to get close-in grave danger.

Early review:

The pages of Carla Damron’s The Orchid Tattoo (Koehler Books, 2022) whiz by so fast, so easily, I have to say it is one of the best nail-biters I’ve read in a while. Not only that, this well-crafted thriller features a smart, likable hospital social worker—Georgia Thayer—as the protagonist. She is pitted against a human trafficking ring. In short, The Orchid Tattoo is a great read with a social message.— Southern Literary Review 

Author interview with Carla:

What are some things you enjoy when not writing? 

READING. I LOVE to read. I also enjoy time in my kayak, playing with our herd of shelter animals, and working with the social work students I supervise.

How do you start your day (a routine of sorts?) 

I’m boring. I get up, grab a giant cup of coffee, feed the critters, and read for at least a half hour. Then I open my manuscript-in-progress and dive in.

Finish this: “I can’t write without…” Caffeine, sad to say.

If I had to spend a week on a deserted island, I would need…. 

Books, chocolate, my husband, and my critters (I have five poorly behaved ones).

What career did you think you’d have as an adult? 

I wanted to be a jockey until I hit 5 foot 7 inches, which killed that dream. Then I thought I’d be a psychologist. Social worker: Close enough!

What is something about you that would surprise people? 

I was a singing extra in the TV miniseries, North and South. Also, my brother is a professional mime.          


Do you have a ‘day job’ as well? 

I’m a clinical social worker. Right now, I serve as a SW intern supervisor for Communities in Schools (part-time).


What was the original title of this book? Girl For Sale


Where do you get your ideas? 

My work (current and historical) gives me TONS of material. I never write about specific clients, but social justice issues I see every day make their way into my writing.


Do you have a manuscript(s) in your drawer? If so, will it ever see the light of day? 

Yes and I don’t know. I hope to pull it out and give it another try soon.


If I wasn’t an author, I might be…?  Richer.


If you have written more than one book, which story would you choose to live? 

None. I’m hard on my characters!!


Do you have a go-to first reader after you feel your manuscript is ready? 

My first reader is my brother. He’s always supportive: “This is the best you’ve ever written.” I need that when I finish a draft (actually, I need a parade!). Then I send it to someone who’ll tell me the truth.


Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write? 

As a child, I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou. I have clear memories of devouring it, of the power of those characters to move me. That book stays with me, even now. I wanted to write books that would impact readers the way I was impacted.


Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (or this book?) 

The Orchid Tattoo had a rough road to publication. My agent loved it, but big publishers shied away because of the content (human trafficking). I kept working on the manuscript, toning it down so there was very little graphic material, but I had to preserve the horrible truth of this crime. After multiple revisions, Koehler Books loved it and offered a traditional contract.


How do you market your work? 

I’m working with a publicist. I’m very active on social media. A colleague put together a book trailer that’s quite powerful, and we made that into a Facebook ad. I’m learning every day about new ways to promote my book.


What are you working on now? 

I have a mystery series out that features Caleb Knowles, a clinical social worker. A few months ago, I dreamed a scene of a Caleb book, and that led to completing a draft on Caleb number four. Working on the rewrite now!


What is a bestselling book you’ve been itching to read? 

ANYTHING by Elizabeth Strout or Louise Penny.


Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences? 

When I was the state director for the National Assn. of Social Workers, I got involved in advocacy for more progressive anti-human trafficking legislation. I met some survivors. I heard stories that stunned me. The Orchid Tattoo was born of that work.


Do you have a favorite chapter or scene? 

I love the scenes that introduce my three POV characters, Georgia, Kitten, and Lillian.


Do you have a favorite character? Georgia. No, Kitten. No… Lillian.


What would your dream job be if you didn’t write books? (assuming this is your dream job!) 

I’d be a philanthropist with VERY deep pockets. As a social worker, I see so much need. I’d love to have the resources to address them.


What was some unique research you had to do for a book? 

For one of the Caleb Knowles mysteries, I researched surviving frostbite after I locked Caleb in a freezer. It proved helpful when my husband saved a hypothermic baby rabbit from a pool. I knew how to warm him without shocking him too much, and the baby lived!


Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? DON’T. GIVE. UP.


What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?  

I’ve had a publisher go bankrupt and had to buy my rights back. 

The best part: my last book, The Stone Necklace, won the WFWA Star Award and was selected the 'One Book, One Community' read for my town of Columbia SC.


Favorite band or music?  BIG Bonnie Raitt fan.


Favorite book and/or movie?  Too many to say.


Place you’d like to travel? Hawaii. Iceland. Costa Rica.


Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?  

Thank you for taking the time to read my work. It means the world to me. 

To connect with Carla:

Facebook: carladamronwrites
instagram: carladamron

tiktok: carladamron

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

THE CHILD BETWEEN US by author ALISON RAGSDALE (debuts September 28th!)

My beautiful girl, you are my missing piece. You came into my life and changed everything, placing your warm little hand in mine, and looking up at me with your sky-blue eyes, so full of hope. Little did we know what lay ahead, but for a while at least, we had each other…

When I first met you, darling Marina, you were just five years old. You took my breath away, with your long, dark waves and pink cheeks. You needed me, and I instantly knew I’d do anything to protect you. When six years ago, my heart was shattered, I was left utterly broken – but I didn’t know just how lost I was until you filled that hole in my heart.

You quickly became the centre of my world, your sweet laugh my favourite sound.
 But then things started to change… I put my pain down to work stress, but when the diagnosis came through it was worse than I could ever have imagined.

Our world is about to come crashing down around us, little one, and I don’t know how to stop it. I’ve finally discovered the truth behind the betrayal that rocked me to my core all those years ago. The pain of my past could be the one thing that saves us – or tears us apart. We’re just becoming a family, Marina, should I risk everything to trust the one person who hurt me? They could be your only hope.

We only have each other… But if I don’t make it, what will happen to you?

The Child Between Us is a heart-wrenching story about an impossible choice and what it really means to be a mother. Readers who love Kate Hewitt, Jodi Picoult, and Diane Chamberlain will be utterly gripped.

Early reviews ~

 The book will grip you, and you won't be able to put it down until the book is read. The story is emotional, with the difficult choices, the losses, and the love that is there.  Even though I finished the book a while ago, this story has stayed with me, and I still think of Cassie. - Joan W. NetGalley Reviewer

 The Child Between Us was a gripping story about unconditional love and second chances. This story was an emotional rollercoaster in the best way possible. - Nikki L. NetGalley Reviewer

 THE CHILD BETWEEN US by Alison Ragsdale is a heart-wrenching and beautiful story of grief, love, family and forgiveness that held me captive from beginning to end. One thing I always love about Alison Ragsdale’s books is the complexity of emotions portrayed and the depth to which relationships are explored. This book is no exception. - Carla S. NetGalley Reviewer

 This was an emotional read for me.  It's been a long time since I have cried reading a book…What I loved best about this book is how well it is written as it was a fast-paced read.  Alison Ragsdale is a new author for me and now my favorite. - Cynthia N. NetGalley Reviewer

  Alison Ragsdale can always be counted on to bring all the emotions to the surface.  This story is another heartbreaker with lots of tender feelings threaded throughout...The characters are fully developed, and you can easily become attached to them all.  Lovely descriptions of the various places transport you away.  Highly recommend! - Cheryl C. NetGalley Reviewer

Author interview with Alison:

Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

I’m a former marketing executive, and before that, in another life, a professional dancer. I started writing at 7 years old with a journal, and putting down words has been my go-to for decompressing for as long as I can remember. I first joined a writing group in 2013, which terrified me as it was the first time I had to share my work, but I learned so much. It was the best decision I ever took as regards my writing, and within a year, I had completed the initial draft of my first novel. I self-published it in 2014, and then my second later that year. In 2016, my third book was picked up by Lake Union Publishing, and since then, I have self-published other titles. I have been with Bookouture since 2019, am working on my fourth book with them, and loving that experience. It’s been a wonderful, scary, challenging, and rewarding journey, but I wouldn’t change a thing. 

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

Aside from being an avid walker, I’m a major foodie and love to cook. My husband and I spend most Sundays in the kitchen, trying new recipes and ingredients. It’s become a weekly food date that we both look forward to as, for that time, we focus on the food and let go of all the stressors of the week.

How do you start your day (a routine of sorts?) 

I get up horribly early, as I’m not a good sleeper. First, I take care of Maddie, our sweet 16-year-old Pointer, who is a morning person ;) Then I make the all-important first cup of tea of the day. After breakfast, I walk Maddie and then go for another, longer walk myself. I average around 6 miles per day. It clears my head and sets me up for getting to work later in the morning.

Do you have a manuscript(s) in your drawer? If so, will it ever see the light of day?

I do. I wrote it around five years ago, but for some reason, I never tried to pitch it to my agent or publisher. I often think about that book and wonder if I should pull it out and re-read it, but my time is so limited with my current writing schedule I keep closing the drawer again. Maybe one day…


Do you have a go-to first reader after you feel your manuscript is ready?

My husband and two sisters read my books as I write them. I send them each chapter, and they send me their feedback. That helps me stay focused on the arc of the story and the pace, and not get lost in the weeds as I sometimes do with descriptions and complex inner dialogue. I value their input as they each have very different tastes in reading and perspectives that bring something valuable to the development of the book.


Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?


There were a couple of authors who initially inspired me to write. (Now there are so many more). First was Mary Wesley - a British author who wrote her first book at 73. She was clever, feisty, and opinionated, as were her characters, and I admired that she wasn’t afraid to push boundaries, write the stories she wanted to write, and not be bound by societal constraints. Next, Elizabeth Berg was, and is, an ongoing inspiration to me. She has a magical way of taking a regular situation, day or life event and writing about it in a way that makes it utterly enthralling. I adore her books and her relatable characters.


What are you working on now?

I’m getting ready for the launch of The Child Between Us on September 28th. My publisher does a great job on marketing and promotion, but as most authors know, it still requires a good deal of work from me.

I’m also writing book number 11. I have a deadline of late November, so am chipping away at that one.


Do you have a favorite character?


I can’t say I have an overall favorite character across all my books, but my current favorite is Cassie in The Child Between Us. She is so strong in the face of a series of unimaginable challenges that pile one on top of the other. Throughout it all, she keeps her sense of humor, rolls her sleeves up, and tackles it all with grace and compassion. I admire her and hope to be her when I grow up ;)


What would your dream job be if you didn’t write books? (assuming this is your dream job!)

This is definitely my dream job. I pinch myself regularly to remind myself that I’m really doing this every single day.


What was some unique research you had to do for a book?

All my books are set in the stunning Highland and Islands of my homeland, Scotland. My parents still live there, and I love my trips home to see them, as I often tack on a few days to visit a particular location I’m planning to write about. One of my favorite trips was to the Isle of Skye when I was writing Finding Heather. I was lucky enough to have an old school friend living on the island, so she and her husband took my husband and me on a tour of ‘their’ Skye. It was a priceless experience to see it through their eyes. Almost getting blown off the side of a mountain, by gale-force winds, just added to the excitement.


Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Just start! I always say this, but I truly believe it’s good advice. Don’t be put off by worrying about what you think you ‘should’ be writing. Give yourself the license to write your own way, as long as you start to get something down. There will be lots of time to edit, develop, change and rewrite, but you won’t get there if you don’t start.

To connect with Alison:







Wednesday, September 21, 2022

LAST PLACE SEEN, by author ALESSANDRA HARRIS (book debuted September 6th!)

In the aftermath of her husband’s life-altering mistake, Tiana Williams grapples with lingering resentment while working full-time and raising their toddler. But when Jay becomes a person of interest in the kidnapping of ten-year-old Zoe Miller, Tiana is torn between trusting her husband and believing the growing pile of evidence. After she gets dragged further into the mystery and discovers her connection to the missing girl, the shaky ground beneath her crumbles.

With the odds stacked against him, Jay does everything in his power to prove his innocence. Racing against the clock, he must uncover the truth about Zoe’s kidnapping before he loses everything he loves—including his freedom.

During a sweltering heat wave and a raging California wildfire, Tiana and Jay will stop at nothing to find Zoe, even if it means tearing apart their marriage and risking their own lives in the process.


"Explosive and filled with drama, Last Place Seen reads like a bingeable crime series, with secret lives, a kidnapping, misdirection, and enough family conflict to spark a wildfire." ~ Jennifer Klepper, USA Today Bestselling Author 

"Author Alessandra Harris doesn't miss a single trick in filling the narrative with tension, intrigue, and well-timed explosive developments, her sense of pacing underscoring the outstanding narrative throughout. The prose and descriptive writing set the book head and shoulders above other works in the genre, effectively using the sweltering Californian heat to add to the atmosphere and create a pressure cooker for the characters in which anything could happen at any moment." 
~ Reader's Favorite

"Alessandra Harris offers readers a first-rate thriller that wrestles with controversial issues and comes off victorious by means of an exceptionally well-structured storyline with some stunning twists... Sublime, compelling, nuanced, and wholly entertaining, Last Place Seen is an absolute must-read!" 
Indies Today

"...the pages fly by with major revelations and marital and family crises..." 
~ Kirkus Reviews

Author interview with Alessandra~

Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

In 2007, I became a freelance writer for a San Francisco Bay Area publication geared toward the African American community named City Flight. I wrote feature essays, interviews, and event reviews. A couple years later my dad gave me three novels for Christmas, and he said I should write one. I told him I write nonfiction, but after reading the books, an idea for my first novel began to brew in my mind. In 2010, I joined a Intro to Creative Writing Class through my local adult education center. I also took a good number of online writing classes regarding craft. By 2014, I had completed my first novel, which would become my debut Blaming the Wind.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I have a husband and four kids, so I enjoy spending time with them, attending their sporting and school events, reading, and hanging out with friends and family.

Finish this: “I can’t write without…” Coffee (of course :)

What career did you think you’d have as an adult?

When I was in junior high, I told people I wanted to be a talk show host like Oprah Winfrey. I grew up in the 80s and 90s during the heyday of talk shows like Oprah, Sally Jesse Raphael, Geraldo Rivero, Montell Williams. During the summer, I would stay up until 2am watching reruns of the days shows.

What is something about you that would surprise people?

I grew up playing chess, and in 7th grade, I won my school's chess tournament and was the Grandmaster. It was short lived because I lost in the championship game in eighth grade. The junior high teacher organizing the chess tournament talked about how great the game is and it is a lifelong skill to play. It came in handy because when my husband and I were dating, we would play chess on our dates! I still love chess and had a lot of fun watching The Queens Gambit on Netflix.  

What are you working on now?

I'm working on my first non-fiction book that is under contract with a Catholic publisher, Orbis Books. IT will examine the history and current manifestation of anti-Black racism in the United States from slavery to Jim Crow segregation to mass incarceration in the light of Christian teaching and the gospel message of justice and liberation. It has been a steep learning curve to research and write this book, but I am excited about the project.

To connect with Alessandra:

Monday, September 12, 2022

IMPOSTER by author BRADEIGH GODFREY (debuts 9/13!)

Imposter is an Apple Best Books of September!

Two sisters, a lifetime of secrets...

Lilian and Rosie were once the closest of sisters, but the untimely death of their parents pulled them apart. Now, three years on, Rosie has reached out to her big sister, asking to meet. Driving on an icy road in the middle of a snowstorm, Rosie admits that she has something important to tell Lilian—a secret she describes as a matter of life and death. But before she has a chance to tell Lilian, a car careens into theirs, with devastating consequences.

Lilian survives unscathed, but Rosie is left with a traumatic brain injury, unable to communicate. Lilian is convinced that someone deliberately rammed Rosie’s car. But why? As Lilian begins to explore her sister’s past, she uncovers disturbing secrets that make her question if she ever really knew Rosie.

The closer Lilian comes to the truth, the more danger she and Rosie find themselves in. But Lilian is certain of one thing: she abandoned her little sister once before and will never do so again. Even if it means sacrificing everything.


Brimming with gasp-worthy surprises, Imposter is my favorite kind of thriller: twisty, unsettling, and emotionally rich. Bradeigh Godfrey expertly amplifies tension throughout her impressive, propulsive debut, one which culminates in an ending that even the most seasoned reader will not see coming.

Megan Collins, bestselling author of The Family Plot

As slick and slippery as a dark, icy road, Imposter has it all. With its rocket-paced plot, and deep dive into the abyss of family dysfunction and traumatic brain injury, Godfrey's deft debut grabs from the electric first pages and holds tight through the stunning conclusion. Tense, immersive, and smart, this is a must-read for fans of Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Last Girl Ghosted

Suspense readers will swoon over Bradeigh Godfrey's Imposter, which is everything a psychological thriller should be: unsettling, totally immersive, and completely unpredictable, with flawless writing and characters that readers will identify and empathize with. Spine-chillingly, jaw-droppingly good!

Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of Local Woman Missing

Author interview with Bradeigh~

Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

I’m a physician and a mom of four, which means that I didn’t have time to write for a very long time. Or at least, I thought I didn’t. Medical training and babies felt so all-consuming that I stopped reading for fun or doing anything creative at all. But when my youngest was a baby, I started getting little urges to write down the stories that had always lived inside my head. For a long time, I ignored those urges—who was I to think I could write a novel? Besides, I was busy enough already. But the desire to write built and built until it felt like pressure inside my head, like my skull might actually burst. One day, during my daughter’s nap, I sat down and started writing. It was such a relief. The words kept flowing out of me, and I haven’t stopped since.

Finish this: “I can’t write without…”

I’ve had to train myself to write anywhere and everywhere, but ideally, I will have a scented candle burning, my Hydroflask full of water, and an icy-cold LaCroix on my desk.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?


Yes, I’m a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation. This means I take care of individuals with all sorts of injuries and disabilities: brain injuries, strokes, amputations, and more.


Do you have a manuscript(s) in your drawer? If so, will it ever see the light of day?


Yes! Several. Imposter was the fourth full-length manuscript that I wrote and polished. The first one will never see the light of day, but it taught me the basics of novel-writing, and several scenes from that manuscript are now part of Imposter. The second is a book that is still very close to my heart, but it’s more suspenseful women’s fiction than a true thriller, so we will see if I ever pull that one out again. The third manuscript is the one that landed me my agent, but when we went on submission, it didn’t sell, though we had several close calls. However, that book is going to be published next year as my second thriller, so things do have a way of working out!


Do you have a go-to first reader after you feel your manuscript is ready?


My critique partner, Alison Hammer, who is also my co-author in my other writing career (we write romantic women’s fiction under the pen name Ali Brady), reads everything I write. And Genevieve Gagne-Hawes, the in-house editor at my literary agency (Writers House), is brilliant at guiding my early drafts through revisions.



Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your book published?


I had a very long road to getting published. As I mentioned before, my fourth full-length manuscript finally landed me a book deal. I had queried three books before that. While that might sound sort of depressing (and it was, sometimes), I knew I was getting closer with each manuscript. When I queried the first one, I only got a few requests from agents, but the second had a fifty-percent request rate, which is quite good. That second manuscript also had multiple agents interested enough to ask me to revise and resubmit, and a few talked with me on the phone. 

I was just about to start revising the manuscript for those agents when I decided on a whim to participate in a Twitter pitch party (#PitMad) with my third manuscript, which I had recently finished. I ended up with four offers of representation. I figured I had it made! So it was a rude awakening when I went on submission and the book didn’t sell. That was a huge blow, and I floundered for a few months, trying to decide if I should revise that third manuscript or write something else. I came very close to quitting at that point. My agent suggested I write something related to my profession as a physician, and that’s where the idea for Imposter was born. That book went through several revisions until it eventually sold to Blackstone, who will also be publishing a revised version of that third manuscript. Although it was a long and winding road, I’m thrilled to be where I am now, and I appreciate all the lessons about perseverance that I learned along the way.


What are you working on now?


I’m soon going to be starting development edits for my second thriller, which is about a social media influencer who shares a picture of her new husband with her followers, and one of them recognizes him as the man who killed her sister and got away with it. I’m very excited about this book and looking forward to diving into it again.


Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?


While Imposter is fictional, I did incorporate many of my experiences during my medical training and career, especially taking care of individuals with traumatic brain injuries. I wanted to accurately reflect a hospital environment and include many of the unsung heroes of the healthcare and rehabilitation world that don’t usually show up in books and TV shows about medicine—like physical therapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, speech-language pathologists, social workers, and more.


Do you have a favorite character?


There are two main characters in Imposter, and I love them both: Lilian is a responsible, studious, somewhat anxious older sister who went to medical school and is outwardly successful. It was very easy for me to relate to her, and I loved bringing her to life. Rosie is the rebellious, spontaneous, stubborn younger sister, and she was more challenging for me to get to know, but I ended up loving her character and her voice.


What was some unique research you had to do for a book?


The story incorporates a rare neurologic disorder that can occur after brain injuries called Capgras Syndrome, in which the person affected believes that their closest loved ones have been replaced by identical-looking imposters. I’ve never seen this in a real-life patient, so I read case reports in medical journals, watched documentaries, and talked with colleagues across the country who work in my field. One of the most fascinating things I learned about Capgras Syndrome is that people affected with it can correctly identify their loved ones in pictures and photographs—it’s only in person that they think they are imposters. This is hypothesized to occur when the neurologic pathways that allow facial recognition are intact, but there is damage to the pathways that evoke an emotional response to seeing people who know and love. So the person recognizes the face of their husband or sister or mother, but because they don’t have an emotional response, they assume that someone must be impersonating their love ones. This can be terrifying for the person affected and emotionally devastated for their family and significant other, and in a few rare cases the delusion has unfortunately led to violence against the “imposters.” There is no cure, and although some people improve over time, many are affected for the rest of their lives.


Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?


If you want a writing career, start acting as if you already have one. Treat it like your occupation even if you’re not yet getting paid for it. You may not be able to write full-time, but you can set aside consistent time on a regular basis to work. Learn about the craft, join a critique group, and get outside feedback from beta readers. When your book is as good as you can make it with your current skill set, start submitting it to agents or publishers. And then, start writing the next book. Professional authors have to maintain this cycle for their entire career—write, revise, submit, start the next book—so you might as well get used to it! It’s also important to develop grit and resilience; this is not a path for the faint of heart. The more authors I meet, the more I realize that everyone faces setbacks and disappointments, so learning to come back after failure is a crucial skill.


To connect with Bradeigh:

Instagram - @bradeighgodfrey