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Thursday, 12 January 2017

VBT, EXCERPT, INTERVIEW, & #GIVEAWAY - Ghost Witching (Maggie York Paranormal Mystery #2) by Ally Shields





Too many ghosts is never a good thing...

Detectives Maggie York and Josh Brandt's latest murder case comes at the wrong moment. She just moved out on him and wants to "cool it." But complications throw them together more than usual. Even for New Orleans, the case is unique—with way too many suspects and creepy things—ghosts, snakes, curses, not to mention the witches. 

Maggie and Josh try to make sense of it all and resist finding consolation in each other's arms. Then Josh's ex-fiancee, a curvy blonde, arrives from Boston, making a touchy situation impossible.

But this killer won't wait for them to sort out their personal lives, and the situation spins out of control...

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“Valerie Preston, age sixty-one,” said the older of the two patrol cops who’d found the body. He checked his palm-sized notebook. “Lived alone. Widow of real estate businessman, Clive Preston, who’s been dead five years or more. Neighbor last saw her yesterday afternoon about five bringing home groceries.” He put his notes in his shirt pocket. “Looks like the snake killed her.”

“Maybe.” Josh learned forward to inspect the bite marks, and a shock of dark hair fell over his forehead. Maggie’s attention drifted to his strong profile, the sculpted cheekbones, the full black lashes. He hadn’t shaved this morning, and she imagined the dark bristles scraping softly across her skin. Whoa, girl. Another example of why they needed to step back from their relationship. They’d grown too close, too intense, placing their on-the-job partnership at risk.

A week ago, Josh had played the alpha male, stepping into a situation she could have handled, and it had nearly gotten him killed. They’d argued for days, and yesterday—after living with him the past four months—she’d moved back to her own apartment. Ostensibly to think it over, reassess. But Maggie wasn’t sure what would happen to them next. In spite of their casual, matter-of-fact conversation since he’d picked her up at her apartment a half hour ago, raw tension simmered under the surface.

The tightening of Josh’s jaw muscle, as it did when he held back strong emotion, sharpened her focus back to the scene…where it belonged. He looked up at the two patrolmen. “Hard way to die. Who shot the snake?”

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1.  Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Ally Shields is the pen name for Janet L Buck, a full time writer, former attorney, former teacher, who lives in the Midwest in a suburb of Des Moines. Her pen name, originally chosen to differentiate between her fantasy novels and the JL Buck mystery/thrillers (which so far have not materialized) is a variation of her mother's maiden name, making it easy to remember in the beginning. After four years, being Ally is second nature. She has two grown sons who live with their families in California and Texas respectively. Her current writing companion is a twelve-year-old Mini Pin named Ranger.

2.  What book do you wish you had written?
Oh, so many. Tolkien's Trilogy, The Three Musketeers, Emma, and who can forget the childhood horse stories of Walter Farley beginning with The Black Stallion? I'm sure I could come up with a hundred more!

3.  Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I think 167 agent rejections about says it all. I was such a newbie that I started querying my first fantasy manuscript long before it was ready. All I can credit myself with was persistence. By the time I had rewritten it three times, sought advice from beta readers and a private editor, changed characters' names, added and deleted scenes, and switched from first tense to third tense, I had burned my bridges with every agent who seemed even a remote possibility. Having gained a little wisdom and a tougher skin in those three years, I regrouped and submitted the revised manuscript to three small publishers. Two of them responded positively, one offering an immediate contract, which I accepted. Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch #1) was published in 2012, followed by six more books in that series, an elven trilogy, a shifter short story, and two Maggie York novels. Two books, a sequel to the Guardian Witch series, and a third Maggie York are expected to release in 2017.

4.  Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
I have two manuscripts and a collection of related short stories. Pursuit of Terror and Invisible Assassin are spy thrillers involving domestic terrorism. Alexis Giraud is a former CIA assassin now working for a private black ops agency with a paramilitary support team. Both books have languished in a half-polished state for four years. I've sent five or six queries but haven't found or taken the time to market in earnest. My current publisher isn't interested (negligible romantic line) and keeps me busy writing, editing, and marketing the urban fantasy/paranormals.

5.  What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author?
The worst are those comments that are contrary to fact—complaining that plot points weren't explained, when they were—or denouncing a scene that didn't exist! The critique that stung the most was an early diatribe against Andreas, the vampire hero in the Guardian Witch series. "Wooden?" "Unlikable?" Ouch. How could the reviewer dislike my favorite book boyfriend?
Negative criticism is always tough, but it's a fact in every profession. Some readers enjoy dishing it out more than others. I respect their right to say it…but I don't have to like it. :)

6.  Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamour to be heard over the others?
In the Maggie York books, Maggie herself in the primary voice I hear. She's such a contradiction. Tough, competent, a nearly fearless cop with a soft side and personal insecurities she does her best to hide. I constantly have to modify the plot for the  impulsive, sometimes reckless things she does!
But Josh often whispers in my ear. And sometimes a whisper can be the loudest voice in the room.  

7.  What sort of Starbuck’s coffee would your characters order? Simple coffee or some complicated soy-non-fat-extra-espresso-half-caff-nightmare?
Interesting you should ask. Most of my main characters are Starbuck's coffee addicts. Straight black and plenty of it…just like the author. :)

8.  Is there one subject you would never write about? What is it?
Erotica. I'm probably in the minority of readers who skimmed through Fifty Shades of Grey looking for the plot line. I not only find the language used and graphic descriptions in explicit romances unnecessary, but they can detract from an otherwise excellent storyline. It's just my quirk, but I prefer to leave the sex behind closed doors…and ultimately to the reader's imagination.

9.  How important are the names in your book?
Extremely important. I can't hear the right voice in my head until I know the name. For years, my first manuscript didn't work until Samantha became Arianna. Andreas was never in doubt.

Maggie York was much bolder and told me her name on day one. Josh took a little longer, and I tried two alternatives first. I can spend hours agonizing over the names of even minor characters. If I don't, you'll probably never see that character again, because I didn't really relate to him or her. If I'm stuck for a name, I'll sometimes research name meanings or origins, go through baby lists, even the phone book. But I always know when I've found the right one.

10.  Do you read your reviews?
In the beginning I read all the reviews and suffered the consequent ups and down. When I found out the downs stuck with me too long, I quit reading them. But I still wait nervously for the first review of each new book.

11.  Do you respond to them, good or bad?
Other than clicking a "like" button or not, no I don't respond, except to people I already know. How can I argue with anyone's opinion? It's valid for them, no matter what I think.

12.  Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Don't read them. They're likely more a hindrance than a help to your writing. Occasionally they contain a kernel of truth. If you can find it and make worthwhile changes to your writing style, then fine. Mostly that won't happen. Never, never, never respond. You won't change their mind, and your spirited defense may alienate someone else.

Quick Fire 

  1. Early bird or night owl? Night owl! I'm sure the last dawn I viewed was because I was still up!
  2. Sweet pickles or dill pickles? sweet pickles, no contest
  3. Comedy or mystery? Mystery (but I never turn down a good romantic comedy)
  4. Boots or sandals? Love boots, but mostly wear my Birkenstocks anymore
  5. Wine or beer? wine
  6. Baseball or basketball? If its pro ball, then baseball, KC Royals. Otherwise, college basketball and the NCAA tournament, Iowa Hawkeyes, but maybe not this year. :)
  7. Grammys or Oscars? The Oscars
  8. Star Wars or Star Trek Hard choice, but I'm a Trekkie.
  9. Peanut butter or jelly?  Peanut butter - crunchy.
  10. Laptop or desktop? All my serious writing is done on a desktop. Laptops are for research and vacation.
  11. Bagels or muffins?  I have a special love for Bruegger's bagels.
  12. Fiction or non-fiction?  Fiction, by far, if you don't count research.
  13. Bond or Bourne?  Bond. Who can resist elegance in a man of action?

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found HERE

Ally Shields will be awarding a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ally Shields grew up in the Midwest along the Mississippi River, still considers herself "a river rat," and currently resides near Des Moines. After a career in law and juvenile justice, she turned to full-time fiction writing in 2009. Her first urban fantasy, Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch #1) was published in 2012, and she currently has twelve published novels. She loves to travel in the US and abroad and incorporates many of those settings into her books. Ms. Shields welcomes reader contact through her website and can frequently be found on Twitter.

Web links:

Ghost Witching Book Trailer:

Tour Organised by: Goddess Fish Promotions


  1. Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

    1. Thank you for joining us, and good luck!

  2. If you could have played a part in a classic movie, which part would have been perfect for you and why?

    1. Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's (but only if I get to look like Audrey Hepburn)! Holly was such a free spirit, and who wouldn't love co-staring with George Peppard?

  3. Thanks, Archaeolibrarian, for hosting me! Enjoyed the visit!

  4. Great post, it's always fun getting to learn a little more about authors.

  5. I have read both this book and Ghost Witching. I cannot wait for book 3.

    1. Thx so much, Teresa! Ghost Haunting (#3) is started and running around my head. I'll be working on it full time as soon as I finish Embers of Fire (sequel to the Guardian Witch series). #3 should be out by summer or fall!

  6. What books are you looking to read in 2017? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

    1. As many books as I can! I'm hoping some of my favorite authors will have new releases. Thanks for stopping.

  7. Excellent interview! Looking forward to checking this book out!

  8. sounds like a fun one

  9. I liked the excerpt, thank you.