Thursday, September 15, 2016

Love Stories - A Guest Blog by Joanne Lewis

This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome guest blogger, Joanne Lewis. Lewis is the author of two series, the Forbidden Trilogy and the Michaelangelo and Me, and three stand-alone novels. Lewis was our featured writer on July 25, 2012.

It is said that everyone has one true love in life, but I have learned this is not true as I have fallen in love many times.

As a child, I was in love with my parents who protected, nurtured and guided me. Dad made up bedtime stories that carried into daytime hours. Mom encouraged me to be brave and try new things: food, activities, and friends. They told me I could achieve anything.

When I was eight years old, I wrote my first book about the weather. I covered two pieces of cardboard with wallpaper, bound the pages together and was thrilled when it was placed in my elementary school library. I fell in love with writing.  

As a pre-teen, my focus became talking on the phone with friends and testing boundaries with authority figures. I was in love with freedom. While a teenager, I read all of Judy Blume’s books, the Nancy Drew series, and many popular novels as well as the classics. I fell madly and irrevocably in love with reading.

In high school, I fell in love with my first boy, or at least I thought it was love. He was wiry and muscular and had a hint of a moustache. I passed notes about him to my friend in history class. I didn’t mind when I was caught and sent to detention. It gave me more time to think about this new kind of love, romantic love.  

After graduating college, I went to law school and became a prosecuting attorney, specializing in sex crimes and child abuse offenses. I fell in love with helping people, especially children.

Years later, I married my high school sweetheart. I fell in love with being someone’s everything. When my husband and I divorced, I was sad and invigorated. I examined who I was and who I wanted to be. I learned to accept myself. I fell in love with me.

As a novelist who has published seven novels, I do not pen traditional love stories yet I have learned something different about love from writing each one.

Forbidden Room, book one of the Forbidden Trilogy, is a murder mystery about Sara, a woman charged with murder, and Michael, the new attorney that represents her. Michael believes in her innocence, but did Sara really do it? It is a novel that questions the meaning of love. Writing Forbidden Room caused me to reevaluate my definition of love.

Forbidden Night, book two of the Forbidden Trilogy, is my latest release. This novel delves further into Sara and Michael’s relationship, and reveals more about the murder and secrets from the past. From writing this novel, I learned that love traverses time and has no boundaries.

Make Your Own Luck is a murder mystery about a young attorney who defies her father to represent a thirteen-year-old girl accused of murder. Writing this novel I learned about unselfish love

The Lantern is a historical novel about a girl in fifteenth century Florence, Italy who dares to compete with the great Renaissance artists. It is a story of the search for truth in art. I fell wildly in love with Michelangelo while writing this novel.

Michelangelo & the Morgue and Sleeping Cupid (books one and two of the Michelangelo & Me series) are historical fantasy novellas. There are three more books to be released in this series in 2017. Writing this series has fortified my love of research and prose.

Wicked Good is the story of a mother and her son, who has Asperger’s Syndrome. I wrote this novel with my sister, it brought us closer together and I learned about unconditional love.

I was diagnosed with cancer and am now cancer free. From that experience I fell in love with life.


What are your love stories?

For more information, visit Lewis's website at www.joannelewiswrites.com or her Amazon author page at amazon.com/author/joannelewis,

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sue Kotchman - Written With Love

Susan Kotchman has always had a love for children and books. This was first borne out in her career in education and later in her career as a writer of children’s books with heartwarming stories that teach positive values. Her experiences as a former elementary school teacher and principal, as well as a member of a large family, have given her insight into all kinds of people and behaviors.  She writes about real personalities and actual situations that readers of all ages can relate to, especially children, classroom teachers and parents. 

Kotchman moved to Florida from New York in 1969 with her parents and five siblings. She discovered writing while a student at Seminole High School. “I found my passion for writing during a creative writing class taught by my teacher/coach, Mr. Bennett,” she says. “He inspired my creativity so very much. I wish I had the opportunity to thank him.” She went on to St. Petersburg Junior College before earning bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Florida and later a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from Nova University.

Her first assignment was teaching a first grade class. “The students were so full of life and excitement about learning,” she recalls. “I loved watching their faces light up when I read to them, and I think this also pushed me to want to write.” After 17 years of teaching elementary school, Kotchman became a curriculum specialist before becoming assistant principal and finally principal of Madeira Beach Elementary School.

In 2008, something unexpected changed the trajectory of her life. A brain bleed forced her into early retirement. Being a woman of faith, she decided to turn her misfortune into something positive. “I began writing over 20 years ago with dreams of becoming published,” she says. “I always wanted to promote literacy and a love of books.” So Kotchman decided to do this by writing books of her own, books that show children the importance of relationships and learning.  “There are many beautiful books on the market, but there are also many that shouldn’t be in the hands of young children,” she explains. “My books are written with heartwarming stories and incorporate beautiful pictures. They are, so far, realistic fiction.” She purposely chose topics that the average person wouldn’t think were important for elementary-aged children.

Her first book, With Love from Grandma, was written after her mother passed away. She used her daughter as a character. The book’s underlying purpose is to help children learn to cope with grief in a positive way. “There are 2.9 million children being raised by at least one grandparent today,” Kotchman says, “and when they pass, are these youngsters ready to deal with the loss?” The book is currently being used in 23 Pinellas County schools.

With Love from Grandma was followed by a sequel, With Love from Grandpa. This book came about after a request from a former colleague. “A principal friend wanted me to write a childlike book with a more challenging vocabulary for upper-elementary children,” she says. The story follows a grandfather and grandson on a fishing adventure at the beach. According to Kotchman, “I want kids to be able to learn about people by noticing their action, facial expressions and words. I think With Love from Grandpa does all that.”  To help get the concept across, she developed writing activities and discussion topics for teachers to use with their students.

Kotchman’s third book, Sam, tells the story of a little monkey who loves to make children happy and can't refuse their gifts. After trying to please his friends, he learns a valuable lesson about taking care of himself and shares it with them in a special way. Kotchman's newest book, Mason’s This and That Day, (scheduled for release at the end of September, 2016) is about a young boy who is constantly changing his mind and can't seem to stay focused on one project. Kotchman describes her character as “quirky, adorable and so much like many of the students I’ve had experiences with.” Although it is a picture book, it is appropriate for all grades, because, as she explains, “It's a great way to allow the reader to linger on each page and enjoy the artwork, which was done by Linda Cowen.”
   
Kotchman believes that "Life is about relationships and learning new things." She hopes her books will have a positive effect on young readers. “Many people don’t look at the content of books and how they may affect a child’s thinking,” she says. “We must give them books full of stories they can relate to and help them challenge the content with conversation. And you can never discount the importance of a strong value base.”

For more information, go to www.facebook.com/SueKotchmanBooks



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Alyssa Maxwell - Murder in Newport

Newport, Rhode Island, is a study in contrasts. There are the average folks who live and work there year-round. Then there are the “summer people,” the ones who inhabit waterfront mansions and whose names read like the “Who’s Who” of American elite.  Fort Lauderdale writer Alyssa Maxwell captures both worlds in her Gilded Newport Mysteries, a series of historical cozies that give readers an inside look at Newport’s “Gilded Age.”

Maxwell, an avid reader, has enjoyed creating her own stories since she was in elementary school. After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in English, she embarked on a career as an editor and ghostwriter. She didn’t think about creative writing until 10 years later when a friend and co-worker had a book published. “I always thought of writers as rock stars,” she says, “but this made me realize that an ordinary person could write a book—with a lot of hard work.”  She began by penning several historical romance novels under a pseudonym. “I wasn’t having the success I wanted,” she recalls. “I found that I was always writing with a mystery/suspense thread, and historical romance readers prefer a more relationship-centered plot. I loved reading mysteries and realized I was a closet mystery writer, so I decided to try my hand at writing one.”

Maxwell admits that learning to write a true mystery was a challenge. Fortunately, she had a friend to help her. “Nancy Cohen (author of the Bad Hair Day Mystery series) worked with me,” she says. “She critiqued my work to see if I left a trail of clues and to make sure everyone had motive, opportunity, and secrets.” Maxwell decided to set her book in Newport because of her lifelong fascination with the city and her husband’s Newport roots. “My husband comes from an old Newport family, and that gave me an insider’s view of what it’s like to live there,” she says. She chose the 1890s because “the Gilded Age is Newport’s most famous period and would give me the most material to work with.” She also admits a fascination for turn-of-the-century gadgets and inventions that find their way into the story.

Murder at the Breakers, the first of the Gilded Newport mysteries, debuted in March, 2014. It introduces 21-year-old Emma Cross, a distant relation to the Vanderbilt family, who finds herself cast in the role of amateur sleuth when her brother is arrested for the murder of Cornelius Vanderbilt’s financial advisor.  “Emma needed to be connected with the Vanderbilts but with local roots so she could move between both worlds,” Maxwell explains. “Everyone sees her as an oddball because she doesn’t really fit into either world. And I wanted her to have an independent streak, so I gave her a feminist aunt loosely inspired by my husband’s great-aunt.” Maxwell was thrilled when Murder at the Breakers hit the USA Today Bestseller List in September, 2014.

Murder at Marble House, the next book in the series, hit bookstores in September, 2014. In it, Emma investigates the murder of a fortune-teller that may be linked to the disappearance of Emma’s cousin. Murder at Beechwood, the third Gilded Newport Mystery, followed in May, 2015. Here, foul play is suspected when a family patriarch goes overboard during a yachting race at the Astor’s Beechwood Estate.

This month will see the release of the fourth Gilded Newport Mystery, Murder at Rough Point, on August 30th. Relatively secluded at the southern end of Bellevue Avenue, Rough Point is reminiscent of Gothic manor houses in the English countryside—the perfect atmosphere for a murder mystery. In it, a band of misfit artists from Europe have gathered at Rough Point for a retreat, and Emma is sent there to write an article for her "Fancies and Fashions" page. Though they call themselves friends, these artists thrive on conflict, and Emma senses they’re hiding something. Added to the mix are her long-absent parents, forcing Emma to face resentments that have been festering these past few years. When one of the artists is found dead at the bottom of a cliff, Emma investigates with the help of her friend, Detective Jesse Whyte. No one is above suspicion, not even her parents.

Maxwell has just finished the fifth book in the series, Murder at Chateau sur Mer, which should release sometime in the summer of 2017. One of her biggest joys in writing this series has been signing books at The Breakers and Marble House in Newport last year. She’ll be in Newport again this fall, once again signing books at the mansions' gift shops and holding a readers’ chat at the Newport Art Museum.

In addition to her Newport mysteries, Maxwell is at work on a series of historical mysteries set in a country manor house in post-WWI England. Called A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries, the books feature two sleuths with very different backgrounds – the granddaughter of an earl and her lady’s maid. Maxwell describes the novels as having “an Upstairs-Downstairs, Downton Abbey aspect.” The first of the series, Murder Most Malicious was released in January 2016, and will be followed by A Pinch of Poison in December 2016. She is about to begin the third book in the series, titled A Devious Death.

Maxwell hopes readers will enjoy a glimpse into the dual worlds of bygone days. “I want readers to have the fun of experiencing how people interacted in those times and to realize that families like the Vanderbilts were people like the rest of us, with the same ambitions, hopes, disappointments and adversity. Most of all, I hope readers will enjoy following the clues and solving the crime – if they can!”


For more information visit the author’s website at www.alyssamaxwell.com

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Nisei: The Other Heroes of WWII - A Guest Post by J. J. White


This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome guest blogger J.J. White. White is the author of three novels: Prodigious Savant. Deviant Acts, and his latest, Nisei, a historical fiction set in WWII.  He was our featured writer on January 16, 2016.

It’s always interesting the replies you receive from novelists when asked where they get their ideas for books. Most likely you’ll get a different answer from every author. That’s the way it was for me when I decided to write Nisei. It was an odd decision to delve into historical fiction when my previous books were thrillers, but sometimes you don’t choose what you wish to write, it chooses you.

Years ago I read an article about 3,ooo Japanese-American soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team who rescued 211 white soldiers of the 141st, Texas Battalion in the Vosges Mountains. What floored me was that the 442nd had nearly a thousand casualties during the rescue. I thought someone needs to write about this because obviously these Japanese-American soldiers were used as cannon fodder to save those white soldiers. It was more complicated than that, of course, but the story captivated me enough that I knew it would be my next book.

Although I’d never heard of the 442nd Segregated Regiment before this, there was actually a good deal written about them. The good news for me was that almost all that had been written was non-fiction. I decided then to write Nisei from the perspective of one GI from Hawaii who had to overcome internment, prejudice, and the policies of his own government, to prove his loyalty to his country.

The Nisei were second generation Japanese-Americans born between 1915 and 1935. After Pearl Harbor, they were given the designation of “Enemy Alien" status by the U.S. government, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, essentially placing all Japanese-Americans in concentration camps. It’s easy to find fault in Roosevelt’s decision, but at the time the generals and admirals were convinced the Japanese would attack the west coast of the U.S. Those Nisei men old enough to enlist were not allowed to and so most were interned. Finally, in late 1943, those who signed a loyalty questionnaire were allowed to join the Army.

My protagonist, Hideo Bobby Takahashi, like the other proud Nisei of Hawaii, enlisted, and joined up with the west coast Nisei for extensive training in Shelby, Mississippi. Once trained, they shipped off to Italy to fight battles in Anzio, Rome, and the Arno River area. From there, the regiment fought against Hitler’s crack troops in France, Belgium and Germany.

The 442nd RCT was the most highly decorated regiment in WWII and was known for its fierce fighting. Many Nisei soldiers earned the Distinguished Service Cross, the highest medal available to them since the army would not allow Asian-Americans to receive the Medal of Honor.

In 2000, President Clinton held a ceremony on the White House lawn where twenty-one Nisei solders who had earned the Distinguished Service Cross were given the Medal of Honor, including Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii.

It took fifty-five years, but these brave Americans finally received the kudos they deserved.


For more information, visit the author's website at www.jjwhitebooks.com

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Beverle Graves Myers - Music, Mystery and History

Tito Amato is not your typical amateur sleuth. The canals of 18th century Venice are his beat. He’s more comfortable in an opera house than a station house, and he’d rather be singing than solving crimes. Tito Amato is a “castrato” – a male castrated at an early age to preserve his soprano voice – and he’s the unlikely protagonist in a six-book series of historical mysteries by Fort Myers writer, Beverle Graves Myers.

Myers fell in love with Baroque opera in college.  After completing her undergraduate studies at the University of Louisville, she continued on to earn a medical degree and complete a residency in psychiatry. She spent many years as a practicing psychiatrist before deciding to make a midlife career change. “I’d always been a huge reader,” she says. “I was the kid leaving the library every week with an armload of books. I looked at authors as higher beings and thought you had to have some special kind of magic to be a writer. As I grew older, I began to realize that I could do it if I honed my skills and practiced.”  While reading Anne Rice’s “Cry to Heaven,” a novel about at castrato singer, she became intrigued by the main character. Having always loved mystery stories, Myers decided to put a similar character into a mystery novel, and Tito Amato was born.

In the first book in what was to become the Tito Amato Mystery series, Interrupted Aria, Tito tries to find the murderer of one friend to exonerate another. Painted Veil finds Tito on the trail of the head of a shadowy society connected to the murder of an opera employee. In Cruel Music, Tito goes to Rome to free his imprisoned brother and finds himself enmeshed in the world of papal politics and murder. The Iron Tongue of Midnight has Tito facing a menacing and notorious figure from his past, and Her Deadly Mischief follows Tito as he hunts for the assailant who pushed a woman to her death at one of his performances. 

The final installment in the series, Whispers of Vivaldi, has Tito reluctantly thrust into the role of director after the opera company’s maestro is murdered. When Tito becomes the prime suspect, he realizes that he has to save himself as well as his company by finding the murderer as well as the true identity of the mysterious Angeletto, a popular castrato from Milan.

In a departure from the series, Myers has co-written a stand-alone novel with Joanne Dobson, her friend and neighbor. Face of the Enemy is a mystery set in New York City during World War II. The book started as a “fun project” that resulted in a short story. After the story was published in Hitchcock Magazine, the two writers decided to develop it into a novel. “We kept tossing scenes back and forth until we were satisfied,” Myers explains. “What we wound up with was a third voice that didn’t sound like either of us.”

Now that the Tito Amato series has concluded, Myers is on the hunt for another historical period to delve into. “I have a real knack for pulling a good story out of the past and bringing it to life with characters that mirror real-life people,” she says. “I strive to write as if I’m painting with words using a fine-pointed brush, exposing readers to past eras without making it into a history lesson. I’m still very interested in the World War II home front, but the world of Downton Abbey is also very intriguing. I’m doing research on both.”


For more information on books by Beverle Graves Myers, visit her publisher’s website at www.poisonedpenpress.com.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Catherine Underhill Fitzpatrick - That Was Then

In these days of high tech gizmos and information overload, it’s easy to forget that there was a time, not so long ago, when the closest thing to a cell phone was two tin cans connected by a string; when Facebook was an album of black and white photos autographed by schoolmates; and when a laptop was where you curled up to listen to a bedtime story. Bonita Springs writer Catherine Underhill Fitzpatrick chronicles these bygone days in Going on Nine, the beautifully-written tale of a young girl coming of age in the summer of 1956. Reminiscent of Ray Bradbury’s classic, Dandelion Wine, Going on Nine takes readers on an unforgettable journey back in time to an era of drinking from garden hoses, catching fireflies in jars, licking cake batter from wooden spoons and enjoying the unbridled freedom to explore the world and all its wonders.

Fitzpatrick credits her older sister with starting her on the road to writing. “When my late sister went to the University of Missouri to major in journalism, I wrote letters to her. One day, I received a postcard that said, ‘Hey, kid, why don’t you come on over? You really can write!’ So I did.” After graduating from the University of Missouri’s Columbia School of Journalism, Fitzpatrick distinguished herself as a feature writer for newspapers in Hannibal, Milwaukee, and her native St. Louis. Her profession afforded her opportunity to experience some memorable moments. “I interviewed Jimmy Carter from a rooftop while he was working for Habitat for Humanity,” she recalls. “I talked to women on Death Row in Texas, drank cocktails with Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, and stood in the shadow of the Trade Center towers on 9/11.” Her eyewitness account of the aftermath of the terrorist attack earned her two awards from the Milwaukee Press Club for Excellence in Journalism and inclusion in Washington D.C.’s Newseum.

In 2005, as a new retiree, Fitzpatrick found herself with time for creative pursuits. Her two daughters suggested that she write down the stories she often told about childhood friends. One of those stories eventually grew into a four-generation family saga titled A Matter of Happenstance. The tale of a wealthy St. Louis family, the novel explores the impact of coincidence on individual lives and how the power of personal character can alter that trajectory. A fifth-generation member of that fictional family was to become the central character in Going on Nine.

Going on Nine is the story of Grace Mitchell, a feisty eight-year-old who runs away from home after arguing with her parents and winds up embarking on an odyssey of self-discovery. Her parents suggest that she spend a few days living with each of her neighborhood friends to see if she can find a family that’s a better fit. After getting an insider’s glimpse into the complexities of each family’s private affairs, Grace learns important lessons about life, relationships, and outward appearances. Told in the alternating voices of adult and eight-year-old Grace, Going on Nine is written with a lush, lyrical quality that elevates it to the level of literary fiction.

“It was worlds of fun writing this book,” Fitzpatrick says. “I like the diversity of characters that populate the small, close-knit neighborhood of Thistle Way. The story also speaks to a different generational model. We baby boomers tend to look back on our childhoods with nostalgia. The freedom we enjoyed fostered self-reliance, creativity and independence. But there were dark days as well. The 50s were as fabled as they were flawed.” She hopes readers will return from Thistle Way with an appreciation of how “families and friendships are nuanced and often layered in ways imperceptible to those viewing and judging them at a distance.”

Ever since Go9 (the nickname Fitzpatrick gave the book and, now her official Florida license plate) came out in May of 2014, Fitzpatrick has spoken at book club meetings, library programs, women’s group gatherings, discussion groups, independent bookshop events, and big-chain book store promotions. “​In some ways, a new book is similar to a newly-released movie: its moment in the spotlight is finite,” Fitzpatrick says. “The good news is that word-of-mouth endorsements can extend and broaden the readership of a particularly enjoyable, informative, or provocative book for months, and sometimes years, beyond the initial flurry of interest and activity.  This has been the case with Going on Nine. I am pleased to have author talks scheduled for the upcoming fall season here in Florida.”

In 2015, Fitzpatrick and her husband became full-time residents of Bonita Springs.  She also completed another writing project- a memoir based on letters written by her father.  “When I helped clear out the house my late parents shared for more than 40 years, I discovered a hidden packet of letters my father wrote to my mother during World War II, letters he signed Just, Bob,” she says. ​“The cache of more than 150 letters is a family treasure, but to transform it into a memoir of interest to a wider audience, a story that addresses universal themes of hope, honor, longing, love, loss, and abandonment took some doing.  On the advice of a professional editor, I wrote two dozen vignettes, stories-within-a-story to tuck in between the letters. Each vignette is a vivid look back at my exemplary parents when they were in the throes of rearing their six not-so-exemplary kids. With contemporary humor, wistful nostalgia, and the leavening clarity of hindsight, the vignettes comprise half the story taking Just, Bob from World War II to the modern era.”

Three years ago, Fitzpatrick became a first-time grandmother and began writing books for her granddaughter, Lily. “I have created not one but three books for this little spitfire," she says."Each is a picture book with simple text that documents the previous year of her life. Of all the books her parents have sprinkled throughout the house for her, these are her favorites.” Fitzpatrick has also been contributing shorter pieces for periodicals and online literary websites. "Authorwear,” an story she describes as a “tongue-in-cheek essay about a writer’s struggle to find just the right outfit for a book talk,”can be found at www.defenestration.mag.net. “It’s the website of a literary magazine dedicated to humor,” she says. “Being a full-time writer is a serious business, filled with self-doubt, isolation and rejection.  Which is why it’s so critical, sometimes, to throw back your head and laugh out loud.”

For more information, visit the author’s website at www.goingonnine.com.






Saturday, June 4, 2016

Robert Jay - Fables to Fiction

When Robert Jay was telling stories to his children, he had no way of knowing that his tales would someday inspire an award-winning series of novels. But that is what happened to this businessman-turned-writer. Jay is the author of the “Montooth” books, a series based on the exploits of a group of Florida teens growing up in the 1950s. These crossover novels give readers, young and old alike, a slice of life during a time when values and lifestyles were very different.

Jay, an Indiana native, spent his career as a businessman, but that did not stop him from telling stories. “I was in charge of writing a company newsletter,” he recalls. “I always included some fiction to make it interesting.” His creative side also showed itself when he read fairytales to his children. “I’d take a story and tell it in different ways, changing it as I went along,” he says. Unbeknownst to him, one of these tales would form the basis for his first full-length novel.

When his daughter was 11 years old, Jay, who was in Germany on business, found a unique way to tell her a bedtime story.  He wrote a fable about an alligator named Montooth and sent her a chapter every day. Years later, he discovered that she had kept them all.  She encouraged him to write a book based on the story, and he finally agreed.  Jay had developed a keen interest in the Cuban Revolution after hearing about it from a Cuban co-worker. “I started thinking about how I could incorporate the fable into the Cuban Revolution,” he says. The result was Montooth and the Canfield Witch.

Montooth and the Canfield Witch started out as a novel for adults. “I wanted to begin the story with the characters as teenagers so they could be in their twenties by the time of the revolution,” he explains, “and because I wanted it to be something I could share with my daughter, I didn’t want to include anything inappropriate.” When the book was published, Jay was surprised to find that teens comprised a large segment of his reading audience. The story centers around the adventures of Carty Andersson, the feisty teenage heroine, and her four-man “Crew.” Jay wanted a strong female protagonist and admits that he was influenced by his daughter. According to Jay, “She’s like Carty in many ways. They both have strong personalities.” Jay also notes that his characters have a baseball connection. “I’m a Cleveland Indians fan,” he says. “The first names of all the good characters are the last names of Indians players. The first names of the bad guys are the last names of Yankees.”

In Montooth and the Canfield Witch, what starts out as a school science project leads the Crew into a page-turning adventure involving a mysterious female hermit, a group of unscrupulous treasure seekers, and a diabolical Cuban who will destroy anyone who gets in his way. The book has earned three medals from Virginia's Young Voices Foundation for excellence in literature in the following categories: Adult Fiction, Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction, and Mystery/Suspense Young Adult Fiction.  It has also earned the Royal Palm Literary Award for Historical Fiction from the Florida Writers Association. 

 The second book in the series, Race for the Ryland Ruby, begins in Cuba and takes Carty and the Crew on an adventure with roots in King Solomon’s mines. Race for the Ryland Ruby won the Young Voices Foundation Awards for Young Adult Fiction and Young Adult Southeast Regional Fiction and received the Young Voices Foundation Seals of Approval for Adult Fiction and Historical Fiction.

Book Three, Red Cross of Gold, is the latest installment. It follows Carty and her friends to Purdue University where Carty becomes a suspect in a professor’s murder. Carty and the Crew learn valuable lessons in this next stage of their lives, discovering that the bonds of friendship can transcend both distance and ideology. The Crew also learns, however, that virtue may not always win out. As with the first two books in the series, Red Cross of Gold is a multi-award winner, receiving the Eric Hoffer Award and the New England Book Festival Book Award for Young Adult Genre. The three novels are cleverly linked together by the Montooth fable

Jay’s latest release is somewhat of a departure from his Montooth series but is still based on a Montooth story. Explaining ObamaCare to Kids: The Legend of Montooth and the Dillos originally appeared as a small part in one of the Montooth novels, but Jay has transformed it into a classic children's fable with what he calls” homage to Aesop, Lewis Carroll, and Hans Christian Andersen.”  Like Jay's signature fables, it uses a variety of animals to explain life values. Young readers will relate to the characters and will easily recognize the morals of the story as Montooth, and his friends work together to fight for what is right in a society much like our own. Parents will have the opportunity to connect the story to modern world developments, including the establishment of ObamaCare. The book has been awarded the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for Juvenile Fiction and the Global E-book Award for Best Website Design.

Jay hopes his novels will resonate with teens as well as their parents and grandparents. “I wanted Carty to be a spokesperson for the values of the 1950s,” he says. “I want to show teens that you can be rewarded for the good things you do – for being a positive force in life.”


For more information, visit the author’s website at www.montoothbooks.com.