New Orleans

C.J. Bahr brings her ‘cinematic’ writing to vibrant life

Thanks to C.J. Bahr for being with us today. First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc.

Hi, everyone! Thanks for having me today. My name is C J Bahr. I live in sunny Southern California in the town of Tarzana, which was named after Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I’m still single and looking for my happily-ever-after. In the meantime I surround myself with awesome friends and live with two cats, Liam and Gerry. I love to visit California wineries, taking hikes and of course, curled up with my kindle to escape to new places.

Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times?

I’m a tea drinker. A snobby tea drinker! I like the loose leaf tea in all flavors, none of the pressed flat tea bags for me! If I’m writing later, nice glass of wine might be seen next to my laptop.

Is your education relevant to your writing, or have you branched off in something entirely different to create? How would you best describe your books?

I have a BA in Communications with a Film/Television emphasis. Though I use this degree for my “day” music editing career, it has influenced my writing. Several of my readers and fellow authors have described my writing as cinematic. Or in other words, they can visualize my stories on screen easily. I write paranormal romance, supernatural suspense, and fantasy/sci-fi, so my novels have a magic and lots of action. You can escape with my writing. I’ll definitely take you on a journey.

Tell us about your most recent publication/whichever book you’d like to talk about today?

My newest release drops on September 20th, and it is “Redeemed By Fire”. It’s my third book of seven in my standalone Fire Chronicles series. You can jump into the fire at anytime, no reading order necessary! It’s a paranormal romance, set in New Orleans.

What inspired you to write this story? What interesting thing did you learn or research to write it that you didn’t know before?

First, I knew my story would have a musical element which would play an important part to the plot. With that in mind, I couldn’t set it anywhere else but New Orleans! I’ve always wanted to visit. In fact I had the Airbnb  and plane tickets booked for June 2020, but than the pandemic hit. One day, I will get there. So, of course I researched New Orleans so the readers would feel like they were actually there. But the more fun research was for my villain. My killer (trying for no spoilers!) needs the pineal gland (located inside the brain and is also known as the “third-eye chakra”). So not only had I research the gland, but had to figure out how to remove it. If you want to know, it’s through the eye.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?

Well, I finally gave one of my heroes a cat. There’s just something I love about a guy who likes cats. He named her, Catastrophe. Cat for short. She’s half Maine Coon and plays a pivotal roll in the plot.

The special in creating “Redeemed By Fire” is consciously making my characters more reflective of an inclusive society in order to diversify. My heroine is half Haitian. My Cajun detective’s partner is African American. My heroine’s best friend is gay. I want to grow as a writer and a person. As a writer I feel I should be stepping up to show all the colors and lifestyles in this world in which we live in.

What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I love creating stories people want to read. The actual writing, it’s a few things: banter dialogue, action scenes, and strong female leads. The least? It has to be when I reach the ¾ mark of a new novel. I always seem to jump to the end of the story and when I re-read the first draft I realize I’ve skipped a whole portion of my plot! I knew I wanted to be an author by my late teens and even manage to sell my first short story to one of my favorite fantasy author’s anthology in my twenties.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?

I use to belong to a couple of writing groups, but now I mostly write with one fellow author. Writing groups depend on honest helpful critiques and of course participation. It’s tough when you open yourself for critique but your other fellow authors stop submitting there own writing. Now I swap pages with trusted beta readers instead of groups.

One of my favorite websites is www.wordhippo.com. It’s great for finding perfect word or phrase. I use www.prowritingaid.com when I begin the editing process. And I absolutely love www.bookbrush.com when it comes time to create advertising memes, book trailers and covers.

Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?

Music is a huge part of my life since I made a career around it. I listen to instrumental television and film scores. I cannot write while someone is singing! I get distracted by the lyrics. So instead, I “score” what I’m writing. For instance, if I’m writing an action sequence I might be listening to the “Italian Job” or music from one of the “Bourne Identity” movies. If I’m writing a comedic fun or a romantic scene, I’ll look for an appropriate movie or TV soundtrack to play in the background.

Do you belong to a critique group? What do you find most valuable about the experience?

As mentioned above, I no longer belong to a critique/writers’ group. I have a very select group of three beta readers I give my pages to. I found over time, I work better with a trusted few. One is a fellow author, who gets my way earlier stuff. She’s the bomb and doesn’t pull any punches. Another is an avid reader of the genres I write, who’s smart and again, will tell me like it is. My last reader is a copy editor who is one of the last set of eyes before I submit or self-publish. It is so valuable to have the right eyes on my pages, trusted individuals who will always tell me the truth of what is working and what isn’t. This input is invaluable as I continue to develop my writing.

To encourage those still on the path, tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one? What do you think was the key to selling that first book?

I made my first sale in my twenties to the first place I submitted. I was thrilled. Then, it took me another twenty years to publish again! It wasn’t until my late forties I sold my first full length novel. I went the contest route after trying for agents and directly with publishers and getting shut down. “Finish The Damn Book” contest where you enter your first and last chapter of your novel, I was placed second; however, the editor requested a full and then contracted me. I was careful on what contests I enter, making sure either an editor or agent was reading the finalists in hope of getting my work in front of them.

“Walking Through Fire” was actually my second complete novel, but it was the first to sell. I currently have four novels out, and two stories in two anthologies. The key to selling is have an original voice, a great tale and persistence! Never give up. It may have taken me twenty years to sell from my first, but now I have six books out. Hang in there.

What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?

Currently I’m writing two novels. The fourth fire book is in research/plotting mode while I’m writing a first book in a new urban fantasy about a kick-ass, female time cop.

I recently appeared on a vlog/podcast. You can find links to your media listening/viewing choice here: https://www.sheshedstudios.net/event/vloggingpod-interview-w-cj-bahr/

Anything else you would like to add?

Author Bio:

First published in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Sword & Sorceress” anthology, C J was bitten by the writer’s bug and hasn’t stopped since. The Wild Rose Press published her award-winning first novel, “Walking Through Fire”— a Scottish ghost romance. She is currently working on the fourth book in the interconnected standalone series, The Fire Chronicles, as well as a new Urban Fantasy starring a kick-ass Time Enforcer.

When her pen isn’t scribing, you can find her busily cutting and tracking music for film and television.  With over thirty years of music editing experience, her credits range from “Northern Exposure” and “The Muppets Christmas Carol”, to “The Kill Point”, “The Following”, and ABC’s hit comedy, “The Middle”.

In her downtime, you’ll find her curled up with a cup of tea, her cats and a great book in Tarzana, California.

Social Media Links:

Website/Newsletter:  https://cjbahr.com

Twitter: @cjbahr  https://twitter.com/cjbahr

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bahrcj

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cjbahr.author/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9828572.C_J_Bahr

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/c-j-bahr

Amazon Author: https://tinyurl.com/y7jmpqdg

Redeemed By Fire Specific Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09CG6JX5T/

B&N: https://tinyurl.com/273fhhtc

iBooks: https://tinyurl.com/wctyc9xa

Goodreads: https://tinyurl.com/3v6mcsn7

BookBub: https://tinyurl.com/vrxs8nbp

Blurb:

New Orleans, hot sultry nights, and an ancient evil who makes the French Quarter home.

Cassanne Thomas returns to New Orleans to start her life over and becomes the target of a supernatural serial killer. Escaping her close call with death, Casi is the only witness to the crime and finds herself placed in protected custody by a handsome Cajun detective. But with her dark, troubled past, trusting the police is the last thing she wants to do.

Detective Lucas Avery, the top homicide detective in NOLA, is unaware of the supernatural world surrounding him. With the killer stalking the streets, he vows to shield the beautiful, enigmatic, Casi with his life while fighting his growing attraction to her. He’s been burned before.

Danger chases Lucas and Casi from the streets of the French Quarter to the wilds of the bayou. Will they be able to stop a monster, straight out of a nightmare or become victims themselves?

OFFICIAL EXCERPT:

Casi screamed and covered her ears, though too late. The loud boom made her ears ring. Who was shooting at them? She tried to see, but Luc’s weight had her effectively pinned. Squealing tires along with a string of Cajun curses from Luc, had Casi guessing the shooter had fled.

Luc holstered his weapon when Casi spotted the blood dripping off his arm.

“Oh my God!” She pushed at him. “Let me up. You’re hurt. You’re bleeding!”

Luc rolled off her and did as she asked, while gripping his thigh with both hands. Her gaze left his arm drawn to the blood oozing out between his fingers. The thigh wound appeared much more serious. She tugged her phone out and quickly dialed 911. But before it connected, Luc’s bloody fingers grabbed her phone and disconnected the call.

“We can’t call this in.” Luc exhaled harshly and gritted his teeth as once again, he applied pressure to his leg.

“You’re shot. You’re bleeding from multiple places. We need an ambulance!”

He shook his head. “Can’t. We need to leave. Now.”

Drawn into voodoo revenge–#MFRWHooks

When her big trial goes bad, corporate attorney Brianna Ward can’t wait to get out of VoodooDreams_w7507_medPittsburgh. The Big Easy seems like the perfect place to rest, relax, and forget about the legal business. Too bad an obnoxious–but handsome–lawyer from a rival firm is checking into the same bed and breakfast.

Attorney Evan Farrell has Mardi Gras vacation plans too. When he encounters fiery and attractive Brianna, however, he puts the Bourbon Street party on hold. He’d much rather devote himself to her–especially when a mysterious riddle appears in her bag, seeming to threaten danger.

Strangely compelled to follow the riddle’s clues, Brianna is pulled deeper into the twisted schemes of a voodoo priest bent on revenge. To escape his poisonous web, she must work with Evan to solve the curse. But is the growing love they feel for each other real? Or just a voodoo dream?

BUY LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Alana-Lorens/dp/1628300450/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=Alana+Lorens&qid=1591129683&s=books&sr=1-8

In the swamp, the fire illuminated the multi-tiered altar and some of those who gathered around it.  Painted with tribal markings in black and white, the three drummers’ faces
stood out like bare skulls against the reflected flames.
The people in the back row were silhouettes only, dark outlines swaying to the rhythm of the drums.
On the altar, Brianna identified a Damballah cross on the top level, surrounded by a number of unlit candles, and some small statues. On the next level sat a bottle of liquor. A large bowl and some cups on a tray were laid out before it, and what looked like a loaf of bread next to a large machete, blade gleaming in the firelight. Bright, tropical flowers decorated all the levels.
Finally, on the ground to the left of the table was a large box with a screen on the front, that appeared to be a carrying case for an animal, something alive.
A snake. 

It was one thing to see these items laid out in a cold array at a museum; quite another when an actual voodoo ritual was taking place before her eyes.
Avoiding the thrill of fright blazing through her, she focused on the table, searching for clues to why she and Evan had been summoned.
As the drums continued their spellbinding beat, a dark figure eased into the light before nola-pcola-012the altar, a tall, slender person dressed in black. Moving gracefully to the rhythm, the priest approached, bearing a tall black candle, which he used to light the other candles.
Eyes closed, chanting words Brianna could not understand, the priest turned slowly around to face the others. Those seated before him on rough wooden benches rocked from side to side.
She gasped when she recognized the man as Copper, dressed as she’d seen him in her mind’s eye when she’d touched that first note, a red turban on his head and, on his face, jagged red paint slashes like bloody lightning.
Instinctively, she pulled back, hoping they couldn’t be seen in the shadows.
He turned to the altar and lit two long sticks of incense, which soon filled the clearing with an exotic smoky scent. Walking in lock-step with the beat of the drum, he reached for a cup and one of the bottles. He poured red liquid into the cup, then held it up.
The drums stopped.
He spoke loudly in English, gesturing with the cup to the four corners of the clearing.
“By the power of St. Anthony of Padua, Legba Atibon, guardian of the crossroads, Legba, guardian of the bush, Legba, guardian of the house, Ago, ago si, Ago la!”
After the words passed, the drummers played again, even louder. Copper took a drink of the liquid, pouring some also into the fire where it hissed into smoke. He handed the closest drummer the bottle, and he drank from it, then passed it to the man on his left.
mfrw-book-hooks400He drank as well, and did the same. Whatever was in the bottle seemed to inspire them. Their drums reverberated with sound until Brianna could hardly breathe.
Copper leaned down before the altar, shaking something onto the ground. Brianna couldn’t see what he was doing, so she inched up until she stood behind the thick tree trunk next to her. He held some sort of painted tin, and from it, he dropped a white substance on the dirt in a distinct design.
“What’s that?” Evan whispered.
“That would be the veve,” Brianna whispered back. “It’s the sign for a particular deity or spirit. First, there should be the drummer’s veve, then there will be others, depending on which spirit they are calling forward.”
Her heart pounded so hard, she couldn’t believe Copper didn’t hear it.
Copper drew a second figure on the ground. The drums’ rhythm changed. Several people in flowing robes rose from the first row and began a seductive, erotic dance. The dancers thrust their hips forward and sideways in a frenzied manner, moving around the fire
kettles oblivious to each other until the drums stopped again. They froze.
“Gator Guede, le bon ton roulette, ye, ye, ye.”
He raised the cup to the sky, then took a long drink before dumping some in the fire, causing it to flare up.
He poured the remaining contents of the bottle into the large bowl, then added a red liquid Brianna hoped was wine, swirling the bowl in a large gesture before his chest.
The drums beat a new rhythm, so compelling Brianna could hardly keep still. The lead dancer took the bowl from Copper and passed it among the participants.
When all had drunk, the dancers returned to the area before the fire and danced again, the drummers changing rhythm to something more primal. The silhouettes moved between Brianna, Evan and the fire, rotating their shoulders and bouncing up and down.
They left a respectful space between themselves and Copper, who continued to create more designs on the ground, evenly spaced and spreading out toward the edges of the clearing.
He began to chant again, this time echoed by a chorus from those seated on the ground. Brianna felt herself drawn into the give-and-take, her head and thoughts growing fuzzy.
“Do you know what they’re saying?” Evan asked.
Brianna pulled herself back with difficulty. She shook her head, a little dazed.masked girl
Here, hold my hand,” she whispered. “I feel so strange. If I look like I’m getting—” She stopped, unsure how to explain what she was experiencing.
She didn’t believe in this stuff. Not at all.
Then why do I feel like there’s spiders crawling around inside me?

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Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Yes, it’s nearly Mardi Gras, that holiday that transforms the city of New Orleans (and

nola-pcola-013
Jackson Square

 many others in the South) into a major party town. My daughters and I stayed with an old newspaper friend and his wife one year for the event, and had a wonderful time. While those who venture downtown and out to Bourbon Street encounter a lot of drunk, happy people, out in the Garden District, where Hank lived, it was much more a family atmosphere. The whole neighborhood came out into the green area between the street car tracks along St. Charles Avenue, called the neutral ground, set up tall ladders for the smallest kids, and spent the day catching beads, and getting happy. nola pcola 003

 

The French Quarter, is of course picturesque and a must-see. I loved the balconies that stretched for blocks, overlooking the packed streets.

We stayed nearly a week, ate the obligatory beignets and drank chicory coffee at Cafe du Monde, visited the Voodoo Museum. The trip was wonderful, and research done then formed the basis for my novel VOODOO DREAMS. This is the third book in the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers series.

When her big trial goes bad, corporate attorney Brianna Ward can’t wait to get out of Pittsburgh. The Big Easy seems like the perfect place to rest, relax, and forget about the legal business. Too bad an obnoxious–but handsome–lawyer from a rival firm is checking into the same bed and breakfast.

Attorney Evan Farrell has Mardi Gras vacation plans too. When he encounters fiery and attractive Brianna, however, he puts the Bourbon Street party on hold. He’d much rather devote himself to her–especially when a mysterious riddle appears in her bag, seeming to VoodooDreams_w7507_medthreaten danger.

Strangely compelled to follow the riddle’s clues, Brianna is pulled deeper into the twisted schemes of a voodoo priest bent on revenge. To escape his poisonous web, she must work with Evan to solve the curse. But is the growing love they feel for each other real? Or just a voodoo dream?

Visiting this book, for me, is like re-visiting the city. Check it out at your local bookstore, or online at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com  or at the publisher’s site, The Wild Rose Press.  Enjoy this read with your favorite coffee and king cake. Happy Mardi Gras!